DBM gives a more complex game than DBA, with more historical flavour. It can look better simply because there are more stands on the table, combat lines tend to be deeper, camp elements are bigger and exotic troop types are more often encountered. It is usually easier to make historical scenarios work well in DBM than in DBA because of the possibility for grading troops.
However, the elegant simplicity DBA offers is unique. With the advent of BBDBA (Big Battle DBA with 36 elements per side) the visuals of DBA, along with the possibility for making historical scenarios work right, has also improved dramatically. DBA provides an excellent introduction to DBM, and fulfils all the gaming needs for a large group of gamers.
You'll be OK with both rules sets. We need, however, to consider the different visuals of the rules systems with respects to 6mm gaming. After all, we do 6mm because it is the best looking way to game DBx.
You'll most often have around 60-80 bases on the table. This is, in my opinion, the ideal size for 6mm figures on 15mm-size bases. Although there actually aren't more than around 1500 figures per side on the table, this is enough to really look like an army. If you play large DBM battles (500-600 AP) you will frequently find you have 6000 figures all in all on the table. The visuals are stunning.
Later Carthaginian DBM army. There are 80 bases in the picture.
For 36-element BBDBA the visuals are pretty similar to small DBM battles. It looks very good. Standard (12-element) DBA looks good with 6mm figures on 15mm-size bases - far better than larger scales. Some people, however, feel the extra effort involved in filling the larger 25mm-size bases with 6mm figures instead of sticking to 15mm-size bases is worth it. For DBM-size armies this doesn't really add to the visual appeal and involves a great amount of effort, but for small DBA armies it can pay off.
Classical Indian DBA army, 6mm figures on 15mm-size bases.
The Macedon army, 6mm figures on 25mm-size bases. Peter Berry, Baccus miniatures.
Even if you start out with straight DBA, I think you should keep the option of moving to BBDBA and DBM open - and you simply will not manage to make that many bases of 25mm size. There will also be little point in 25mm-size basing for your DBM army. What I personally do is base everything on 15mm-size bases, and go quadruple DBA for games of DBA and demonstration games. This works quite well.
Quadruple DBA Carthaginians: 1 element of Cav, 3 elements of Sp, 1 Spanish Ps, 1 Spanish Aux, 2 Libyan Ps.
Pictures and figures by Arnstein Orten, Espen Sturlason, Peter Berry.Last modified: Wed Apr 24 16:04:15 MET DST 2002