Forgetting history for a moment and just looking at DBA as a game - Each side chooses 12 playing pieces each with variable powers to win a battle. However, the problem is 12! Unlike HOTT you can’t elect to have 8 super-powerful pieces or 16 weak pieces. It’s 12 and that’s it. However, because of the history the various options for playing pieces have not been balanced…..at least not deliberately.
Elephants, Artillery and Horde are balanced by costing 2 PIPs to move, while the “rock, paper, scissors” effect balanced Bow, Heavy Inf, Knights and Cavalry and Ps are balanced with the no corner-to-corner overlaps. However, 4Ax, LH and Pk remain unbalanced and so regardless of history a player given free-reign to choose these pieces probably wouldn’t because they are poor choices. So if DBA was a board game I’d suggest more play-testing!
Given this we have 2 options for 4Ax - either strengthen 4Ax (+1 vs foot, no corner-to-corner overlaps, +1 vs solid in GG etc) OR weaken everything else! So how about -1 for fighting in Rough going with the usual exceptions for Ps, Aux etc. Alternatively Aux win all draws in RG and/or QK in BG.
That said haven’t we already mostly “solved” the 4Ax issue with the following existing house rules: +1 to 4Ax in the open vs Sp or Bd, Aux recoil like mounted (either BD or BW). Add to this no corner-to-corner overlaps for Ax in RG or BG or the -1 in RG (above) and we have pretty much balanced them out.
We have been playtesting Aux(s) getting a +1 v. Foot extensively. It seems to be sufficient without a lot of additional rules. It gives DBX a much need Medium Foot type.
As you mention points also help. Aux in general are cheaper than blades/Spears/Knights.
But I feel even in the 12 element game this will be sufficient without overwhelming what is meant to be a simple game with extra rules (ironically the 12 Element format is one of the most difficult to design for unless you just accept that all Element types will not be equal).
Yes I think the simple Solid Aux being 4 against foot is the best solution and one I have now adopted. Gives my spanish and samnites a better chance against the romans
Eh, I'm not really a fan of fast Blades, having that high a combat factor and having additional speed seems unbalanced. Beefing up Auxilia but having them still be 1 less than solid blades seems more balanced.