Renaissance DBA


The rules for this variant were published in August 1993 in Wargames Illustrated [Issue 71]. The author was Stephen O'Leary who refers to an earlier set [published in WI 61 by Andrew Thomas] which I have not seen.

They may be based on the original version [i.e. DBA 1 rather than DBA 1.1] but I doubt that it matters much. They came complete with extensive army lists, presumably converted from DBR.

As an adaptation of the rules they work pretty well, possibly the best I have seen and used. Any DBA player could use these with only minimal reading of the modifications and glances at the tables during play, no major changes have been made. The alterations & additions fit well with the period, at least up to the end of the ECW, after that I'm not sure how well they 'fit', I know very little about that era. The only advice I would give is to avoid the optional rules, they complicate matters unnecessarily.

There are 6 new troop types

  • Pike & Shot - Small composite units with pikes giving support to shot. Introduced by the Dutch and developed later by the Swedes. Good v Foot [+5] but less so v Horse [+3] due to low ratio of pikes to shot. Move as other Other Foot.

  • Reiters - Horse armed with pistols or arquebus in deep formations and using the caracole at close range. Pretty poor all round [+2] but Foot get less adds against them and can't destroy them. Move as Knights. If these are intended to represent Pistols in DBR they are too weak.

  • Dragoons - Mounted infantry. Move as Horse but fight as Foot [+3 v Foot & +2 v Horse]. Can shoot.

  • Arquebusiers - Foot armed with light or early firearms and operating in loose order. Same factors as Auxilia [+3 v Foot & +2 v Horse] but able to shoot. Can get rear support from Pikes and not affected by bad going.

  • Musketeers - Foot armed with heavier or later firearms and better drilled in their use. Similar to Arquebusiers but better [+3 all round].

  • Bayonets - Musketeers in closer formations and armed with bayonets or other close quarters weapon. Good [+4] all round but only appear quite late in the period.

The last 4 elements are collectively termed 'Firearms' and can shoot at a range of 200 paces. Reiters and Pike & Shot can not shoot.

All the old types are still used but some now represent additional troop types as will become apparent on reading the army lists.


These new types are shown below with some suggestions for which blocks to use, basing colours and some illustrations of my painted elements.

Pike & Shot [P&S]

I never did work out why Irregular made so many different arrangements of Pike & Shot but they do allow a bit of variety in at least one type of element. Here are 5 of the 7 possible variants [RBG1  to 7]. They paint up quite well.

Illustrated are (top down) RBG4, RBG5, RBG6, RBG2 & RBG3.

Pike & Shot [RBG3]

Reiters [Re]

Use either of the 2-rank cavalry [RBG17 & 19] for Reiters and paint early types in armour, later ones unarmoured.


Dragoons [Dg]

Dragoons are made up from half a mounted dragoon block [RBG22] between the two parts of a cut up dismounted dragoon block [RBG11].


Arquebusiers [Aq]

For Arquebusiers I use the 2-rank, loosely spaced bowmen [ABG24].

Don't use the option from the Ancient/Medieval DBA version to use this block as Crossbowmen if you think that you might get them confused even with different marking colours.


Musketeers [Mu]

Use two forlorn hope [RBG12] side by side for Muskets, you could use a 2-rank block but my idea was to make them easily distinguishable from Bayonets.


Bayonets [By]

Use any of the 3-rank H&M infantry for Bayonets [BG2 or 15 or 16]


I have also used some other blocks to represent the existing DBA types for this period.

These are optional alternatives

Cavalry [Cv]

I originally decided to use the 8 man cavalry blocks [RBG16, 18 & 19 or BG5] for Europeans and to stick with the various 6-man Ancient/Medieval types for non-Europeans.

See also the note at the bottom of the table.


Knights [Kn]

Use RBG 13 or 14 but see note at bottom of table.


Light Horse [Lh]

I use the Cossacks for lance armed LH such as Border Staves and Stradiots, Javelin armed for Genitors and Bow armed for most others.

Light Horse

Artillery [Ar]

Use any combination of guns from the Renaissance range [RBG26 to 29] based in pairs. RBG29 is particularly impressive.


Psiloi [Ps]

Most skirmishers were armed with either crossbows or firearms so the Dismounted Dragoons [RBG11] do well for this period though you could use the H&M skirmishers [BG3].


Second Thoughts

Having looked at the Humberside 1500-1900 variant, I may change my mind and use the 6-man cavalry blocks [RBG22 & 23 or BG4 & 11] for Cavalry and the 8-man blocks [RBG16, 18 & 20 or BG5] as later Knights (which represent hard charging horse such as Cuirassiers, Royalists and Swedes). This would be more consistent with the original basing.

Distinguishing troop types

Telling one type of element from another or even which way an element is facing can be difficult during a battle and so I paint a coloured dot on the two front corners of the base. The colour is used to distinguish between different elements with similar appearance (e.g. Sp, Bd, By & Bw are all close order foot).

El, Ar, Pk, WWg, SC, Dg, Mu & P&S don’t need dots as it should be obvious what they are from the blocks used.

CF have no dots, they are made obvious by their position.


Green Base

CO Inf LO Inf OO Inf Mounted Chariots Sand/Earth Base
Red Sp Wb   Cv LCh Red
White Bd Aux   Kn HCh Black
Yellow  By  Aq   Cm   Green
Light Blue Bw Cb Ps LH SCh Light Blue

                Elements on a grey background are not used in the Renaissance variant


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