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Hi, I'm Chris, and as many of you may have had, or have, I find myself looking for ways to improve the fun I have with my wargaming.
Taking from observations about wargames and their common complaints, praises, and player feedbacks, it's my goal to create a game that can be played by each player with that player's mechanics of choice, be they diceless, varied dice, close combat rules or not, etc. - similar to how M:tG can have its own subtype genres and win conditions (Commander, Pauper, Infect, etc.).
The core win condition is "If a Player runs out of Units or Objectives, that Player loses", coupled with "At the end of the Turn Limit, the player with the most Scenario-based Victory Points wins"
The core turn mechanics are phases mixed with unit by unit activation, where the Active Player resolves actions with one of their units, then passes off to the next player; the target size is 2-6 players, each with between 3 to 15 units - making each game last from 1-3 hours on average.
Most of the game is based off of solid mechanics that have been around for a while - such as M:tG's timing and effect resolution, Heroes of Might and Magic's Damage system, and Warhammer's movement systems.
In addition, like Malifaux, units perform "Actions", though rather than provided by cards, each Phase (and some special rules!) provides a number of actions units can perform when they're activated, from running to overwatch.
While much of the content I'd like to include can be based on existing precedence, I would like feedback on a few things, as well as suggestions on how I could go about doing anything I might be doing better or more elegantly - I'm not afraid to introduce in-depth mechanics (similar to M:tG's Comp. Rules), but I would prefer to do something with less words and keep the game light-hearted, rather than hammering players who would prefer to be creative.
What I'm Looking For: What are your favourite parts of playing a wargame?
Mine are the endless matchups between players - every time you analyze your army, you might find something new to do with it. Every time you read and re-read your favourite faction's entries, you might become inspired. Rolling lots of dice is also important to me, whether I'm shooting or getting shot, it's always nice to be a part of what's happening.
What sort of issues do you have with current wargames that I can avoid?
My personal issues are that simplistic games often don't have enough mechanical depth to keep me interested once I've found an army I like, while rules-intensive games (like warhammer) often have a lot of holes and abusive or simply busted mechanics that don't work well together (timing is an especially pertinent issue in 6th edition).
What sort of Morale or Combat systems would you like to see included (Special attacks, fear modifiers, different effects, and such)?
I intend to include a Morale system that triggers on casualties, and begins stacking "suppression counters" on units as they take more and more damage and casualties - with increasing effects, until eventually the unit's morale breaks, and they perform differnetly (Humans run, Space Bugs burrow, Robots shut down, Savages go berzerk - there are a few themes I have to work with based on Tropes). Each turn, units attempt to remove suppression counters, and if they can't manage to remove a single one, this also causes them to break (this usually won't happen - even the most cowardly units will find some resolve when there's a lull in the action where they can shoot someone - it's most often seen after a few suppression counters have already demoralized a unit that it fails to Rally).
For combat, I'm using a 20-Tic system, with Armor and Penetration directly opposed. This is a fancy way of saying "Each point in Armor blocks 5% of the damage, and each point in Penetration removes a point of Armour" - Unblocked damage goes into Durability, which soaks up damage at a 1:1 ratio. When Durability reaches 0, a Health Point is removed, and Durability is reset - Humans have 5 Durability and 1 Health Point, meaning that if something does 5 unblocked damage to a human, it loses that health point! Obviously, individuals without a health point become casualties.
The intent is to give each character a threshold where taking that much damage simply won't do much to hinder them. A Human with a kevlar vest can take a few bullets over the course of a battle with minor immediate repercussions, but if a grenade explodes nearby, he's out of luck. Hit Points are intended to give Heroic Characters or Big Monsters more of a dramatic feel - a stab that might kill a human won't inconvenience an elephant much in the heat of battle, after all! And no matter how many firearms and swords you take to a tank, you aren't going to be slowing it down any time soon!
Effects can be applied per-damage, per-hit, per-damage-saved, or any other number of interesting factors - such as armour decay, or lifesteal.
What sort of movement modes should I include, outside of normal, hovering, flying, teleporting, (the usual), etc.?
The above pretty much covers it for me; I never liked 40K's "Jump" infantry, as I feel they shouldn't have to land unless they're specifically hitting the ground for some reason (such as lower target profile, or aiding a melee).
Would you play a game with paper cutouts or legos, or other unstandardized representations?
Papercraft looks like the most interesting route for this! It's practically free, really fun to set up (especialyl with children), and still lets you retain army 'growth'. I'd also like the ability to adapt it for play by post, or play by email, with an octagonal inch-grid system.
What are some of the most important features you'd like to see included?
I've always really liked the option of creating and balancing your own personal units or army creations - M:tG has a really intuitive and easy to learn Mana Costing formula for most options, because it can be easily determined how 'quickly' new cards can help you win the game. As a game of tactics, strategy, and general attrition, I don't feel like this would be easy, or even viable, but that's just one of the things I've always wanted.
Other things I'd like to see would be Unit Cards, like Warmahordes, that let you easily identify unit properties at a glance. Ideally, these would be laminated card that you could write wargear options, unit sizes, and points costs or reminders on - but a editable pdf or phone app might work well for situations with a printer at hand.
As always, thanks for any input on this; I'm new to how I should be going about posting information about my game, so if I should just post what I have in its entirety here, that's easy to do as well. It's in double-row format (like warhammer rulebooks are) for .pdf viewing if I should post that, as well.
Finishing up Close Combat Actions, one that stood out as a great example for the amount of terms it holds, and the amount of interactivity I'd like to display -
OVERWATCH Phase: Combat Members: Each Model Restrictions: A Unit may declare Overwatch only when another Unit Declares a Charge against it
Details: After all Charges are Declared, but before Waiting Units are Activated, the Unit may Shoot at any single Unit that is Charging it
The Evasion of the Unit being Shot is increased by that Unit's Combat Skill against this Shooting, and the Firing Unit uses its Weapon's Close-Range Modifiers for this Shooting, regardless of the Range to the Target Unit
A Unit that performs Overwatch against a Charging Unit only gains Defensive Bonuses, like from Bracing or Wargear, against the Target of its Overwatch
We can immediately see that the Action is called Overwatch. We know it's used in the Close Combat Phase, and can see that Each Model in the Unit has the choice of performing it or not. It tells us that the Unit as a whole can only Overwatch when another Unit Declares a Charge against it (Capitalization implies it's an Action, or Game Term - these are bolded in the document as well for emphasis).
The Details of the Action tell us that it makes the Unit we choose to use it against harder to Shoot - it tells us how it does this, and it also tells us that we use a Specific Case of Rules for a Weapon, overriding the General Rules (a great example of Specific Trumps General, a game rule that deals with Rule Priority).
It then tells us that using Overwatch leaves the Unit vulnerable to other Attackers - again by removing defenses with Specific Trumps General (Because a unit that uses overwatch getting charged is more specific than a unit getting charged!).
To recap, the action provides details on how and when it's used, on who uses it, an when it cant be used, and what precisely it does in game terms.
Each Action uses pre-defined Terms, or bases its own terms on pre-defined actions, building off of what's already been presented to players. Each of the Actions has its own terms described in the space following the Phase Description, and all of those Terms pull their rules from a specific ruleset (such as the section describing movement, or describing shooting, which they'll hyperlink to in the pdf) - letting players quickly reference and reinforce game knowledge.
I got some great, thought-provoking replies from another thread, I'll share them here to pick through.
As someone who is also homebrewing a wargame, I'll wish you luck (though I note that we're trying to build completely different games, presumably for completely different reasons - I for instance would never consider touching GW rules unless extenuating circumstances were involved).
Heh, I don't blame you - they've made a lot of mistakes. Their core movement rules, though, aren't half bad (Pick up a model, move it up to its movement stat, etc. - there's really not many different things you can do with movement, though I'll be incorporating Movement Types into the Movement Rules, rather than the Unit Types rules - it just seems easier that way) - I'll be brewing my own rules for flying, difficult terrain grades, terrain wear on vehicles (one thing that's often neglected in games!), etc. I suggest playing a lot of skirmish type wargames - Force on Force, Warmachine, Saga and Sharp Practice being the ones that spring prominently into my mind. If you want to build a skirmish game and you haven't played anything that wasn't done by the bloated beast of overbearingness then I worry about clarity of vision.
I'm actually pulling a lot from Infinity, Warhammer FB, Malifaux, FoW, etc.; the theme of the game is going to be 40K because that's the biggest pull around my area - I'm also interested in capturing the cinematic feel, as it's something I think 40K has slowly lost since its 2nd edition.
The first and most important thing when writing any set of rules is to decide EXCATLY what it is you want to model, before even thinking about rules mechanics. Far too many (bad) wargames start by deciding "I want to use this set of mechanics" instead of saying "I want this result to happen in these circumstances, so what mechanics do I need to use to achieve those results?" Because if you do it the wrong way around, you end up with rules that will almost certainly give you results you didn't want or anticipate; and that people will play to the rules you've written, and not to the game as you envisioned it, if you follow me.
Whoo okay. This one's a jiffy. I absolutely agree, and this is something I'm glad you pointed out, as I can already see that I have rules designed this way, for exactly this reason, and rules designed the wrong way out of negligence. You're a cruel man, making me examine my motives.
Spoiled for xbox hueg post.
Spoiler Alert I'd like to model multiple forces, often of completely separate and opposed factions, with between 3 and 15 units of models on each side. I want the victor to be decided by both a Time Limit with Objectives and Kill Count, and also by the option of Last Man Standing.
I want a game that has playing pieces that can interact with the game - and other models - in a variety of ways, not just moving and shooting. I want a game where having allies around you plays a part in morale, where not every unit has their morale broken in the same way, and where regrouping and rallying don't necessarily make all the bad feelings and scary war sounds magically disappear.
I want a game that involves each player on a regular basis, that feels fast-paced. I want each players' actions to have tactical value - that is, I don't want many scenarios in which a player can do something, and have nothing happen as a result of it. (Due to the cinematic 'setting' I'm basing the armies off of, certain times this will happen - such as when small-arms fire at tanks, or groups of powerful knights (thunderwolf cavalry, nob bikerz, etc.,) wade into lowly peasants (grotz, conscripts...)).
Even then, I'd like for most 'weak' units to have something - be it grenades, or simply weight of numbers - that can help them even the odds ever so slightly, when used just right. Sacrificing a score of guardsmen to get one in position with a vital grenade to the fusion reactor located on the back of a Land Raider, for instance, is something I'd like to see, not exactly regularly, but as a result of one player's good maneuvering, or another player's blunder.
I'd like close combat to be aided by the use of formations on either side, and not what the warhammers and Warmahordes have it as "a free extra attack when I'm close and they're close!" I intend for it to have very dramatic results, such as 40k's sweeping advance, to represent how jarring and brutal it is for those involved. I also intend for Overwatch to be much more powerful against it, and for actions like Bracing to allow units to hold their formations against charges for a round, instead of rushing into a chaotic melee immediately.
I want scenarios with more involvement than a couple objectives and a main goal. For games like Warmahordes, in which killing the caster is a great resolution mechanic, this works out just fine. For games like 40K, in which balance isn't even a consideration, this also works out just fine.
I want reserves and alternate maneuver options that give players a bit more control over when and where things come in; my initial thoughts have been that the table edges provided by 40k's reserves are definitely not a bad start, but their implementation (lolrandumb table edge, can't charge out of reserves, etc.,) as well as their timing for it, could use improvement and modification. I would like teleportation and air-drops to be present, but for once I'm actually struggling with the way to deal with the inherent inaccuracy of these delivery methods other than some form of scatter - though it would be a consistent scatter, none of this 2D6 crap.
I can't think of anything else right now, probably because I'm overlooking it. Distinct factions, lots of unit interaction, rules and scenarios inherently allow for balanced army creation to be simple, attacking deals a lot of damage, multiplayer (3-6 players meta considerations could be one I'm missing), the way you place your troops is important, and good troop formations are easy to identify and perform...
Fog of war is being simulated by a couple of things - gun range modifiers (close range, target range, long range) with penalties for shooting outside of the target range. Evasion begins getting buffs after 18", and significant buffs after 30"; 36" is the sight limit for most human units simply because their Ranged Skill won't be able to hit anything beyond this - necessitating the use of scouts and snipers/spotters.
For weapons, I'd like to go with effects that are easy to identify by name. Strikedown is a particularly good example from 40K; if you get hit by a weapon with strikedown, your agility is set to 0 and you move at a slower speed.
If I think of anything else, I'll add it here, I guess - this is a good post for me to reference.
What level of realism are you going for? Are you planning to make a system that is principally designed to facilitate you push models around for a bit of a giggle and roll some dice, or do you want to make a set of rules that encourages serious tactical thinking (i.e., more along the lines of almost puzzle solving, "how do I attack that position") and maneouver over weapon factors? (The implication is for the former, given that you're basing it around 40K. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a very different kettle of fish it terms of requirements. The type of wargame people play is as or arguably more diverse than the style of RPG games people play, so the question has to be asked.)
I'd like the QJM to play a large part in how terrain factors into to battlefield, providing a definite boost beyond buffs to evasion. Direct damage reduction, morale buffing, ranged skill improvements... I'd like to see, yes, something that in situations will force players to stop and really think about what resources they're going to have to allocate against a defensive position, or if they even think it's worth taking it on at all.
The biggest role maneuvering is going to be playing is getting to desirable positions for objective capturing and weapons fire; infantry and other 'creature' models will have 180* facings and the only way they're going to be able to move is with a movement action; vehicles are going to have their four facings similar to 40K, and draw line of sight from their cockpit, crew, or other sensors, like real life, because 40K assumes that everyone's guns can see.
Overall, I'm aiming for a fast-paced game where tactical considerations can give you a defined and powerful advantage, where formations can be the difference between being murdered in close combat, or forcing your enemy to withdraw, and where terrain, range, and vehicle wear is a factor in the overall strength of your shooting and bombardments.
But it's also going to be a 40K setting for my IRL players, so expect to see a lot of that go to the wind when the space marine players face off to see who's more Rambo. Still, when simulating a setting like a modern or world war, it should perform well, if a tad dramatically.
What's the nominal ground and time scale? (That should have been the very first thing you decided.)
The boards are going to be (usually) 4x4 for 2 players, with 6x4 for 4 players and 8x6 for 6 players. You can cram more onto smaller boards, or play more spread out on larger boards, of course.
Human ground-pounders have a Movement of 5"; since, like most wargames, unit movement and weapons ranges have to be represented in vastly different scales (because we unfortunately can't play the game in a parking lot, and most people enjoy shooting more than .001 inches).
Have you considered how to deal with the single most important - and least paid-attention-to aspect of ground combat, e.g. terrain? E.g. things like dead ground, what happens when a vehicle drives into difficult going, how to cross obstacles?
I'm using an accelerated version of the QJM for calculating vehicle wear; bigger vehicles will wear faster but have more to wear off. Small vehicles and things like motorbikes and jetbikes will hardly wear. For most other unit types, wear is assumed to be included in their combat profiles, and their reduced speeds through various terrains is assuming they're addressing wear as it happens.
What is unit visibilty like? Can they see and react to anything within 360º, or only to things in a more realistic visibility arc? And spotting and visibility of units in general?
Answered this in a previous address, whups; 180* for most models, spotting models will probably provide a turn-face Action as a response to something happening, but they'll also be vulnerable somehow (such as being on the outside of the unit, where normally the heavy Armour goes.) Spotting is reduced over distance until, at 36", all but the best humans have no chance of hitting anything. For units like Space Marines, with their bionics and enhanced genetics, this will probably be around 36-42", as some have really great eyesight. 48" is going to be just about the universal vision distance (I'm looking at special characters with obscene values here). Hence, the importance of spotters and artillery.
What is command and control like? (This is not the same thing as round sequence or unit activation.) Ditto morale/ammunition supply/combat effectiveness?
Things like combat orders and special abilities will be available from your Leader units - Increased firepower or movement, morale boosts, etc.; in general, Units are each led by a sergeant or veteran, and so can function fairly well on their own; their profiles and actions are going to be built around the assumption that "they have been given orders, and perform this well on those orders" - with the addendum that at suitably dramatic moments, their HQ breaks through the electronic warfare with help or new orders.
EW itself will not be making it into the game, as there's a surprising amount of ignorance surrounding the issue.
Morale is going to be done through increasing suppression being compared against units' morale grades and types. Not everyone breaks in the same way - some run to friendly lines, others burrow, or go berzerk, or simply shut down. And I mean this literally - there's robots and space bugs and big green berzerkers! I hope to represent about 5 different types of Morale (researched from tropes), with between 5 to 7 different Grades of morale.
I haven't addressed ammo yet; It'll probably be a basic rule, with most of the 40K' themed units ignoring it for cinematic purposes. Other themes may have units with very limited supplies (heroes of might and magic units can only shoot between 4 and 24 times!). Of course, certain units will be providing ammo-dump functions in this case.
Unit effectiveness is directly tied to morale through suppression effects. Morale will obviously be affected by terrain, but mostly by incoming damage and casualties.
What about hull down positions for armoured vehicles, or fighting positions for infantry (or, for that matter, urban fighting with multiple, different levels of buildings?)
Vehicles and Infantry are going to benefit greatly from Terrain, which will provide Actions (such as defensive positions) based on the terrain type; As well, obscured units and vehicles receive bonuses to their Evasion.
I also want to include terrain decay, as the first thing that came to mind was two tanks, circling a hill, completely ineffective against each other :I
I would also like to know what size of games are you imagining? Are you thinking each player has 1 to 10 models, or are we talking about 80 ish? (80 is a bit big for 40k, but I'm a fantasy player so cut me some slack)
probably about 10-50 models per player on average, with some factions (like orks :I) having a lot more.
As already stated, one of the biggest problems with wargames is terrain. in warhammer fantasy it went from "everything might as well be impassable" to "is there a reason for forests to be there, they don't do anything anyway"
TERRAIN IS AWESOME. YOU RUN TO IT AND HIT THE DIRT, THEN NEXT TURN YOU SET UP A DEFENSIVE POSITION, THEN YOU SLOWLY MANGLE THE TERRAIN UNTIL IT'S USELESS, AND HOPE NOBODY WITH A VORTEX GRENADE GETS IN RANGE.
The second issue with most wargames (especially the warhammers) are the special rules and cost balancing. I don't think your to the point of adding in specials yet, but make sure to play test them a bunch to find out.
Yeah, I'm hoping to use a WARGAME-itized variation of the QJM to validate points costs. If that doesn't work out, I'll probably just wing it with a bunch of playtests. My personal 'balancing' method involved "How broken and can I make this if I put my mind to it?" and then toning it down until it's at an acceptable level and "points cost."
As was pointed out, scenario will have a lot of balancing factor as well, requiring players to take a certain number of units and arrange them a certain way. Not every game will have a scenario, and some will let the players build one themselves with bidding.
Reading over Aetherverse, I see he and I went the same way in a lot of directions. In another post, I'll sort of go over why I feel differently about things with him on certain parts, and give my impressions on what I can learn from it
I think I've got the basics of the Suppression System down:
Whenever a Soldier in a Squadron loses at least 1 Health Point from a single Source, that Squadron immediately gains a Suppression Counter, and must test against Suppression during the Resolution Step.
To test against Suppression, both the Player whose Squadron is testing against Suppression, and the Player whose Damage caused Suppression, Roll-Off on 3D6 (instead of 2D6).
The Player whose Squadron is testing against Suppression (The Defending Player) modifies his Roll based on the Squadron's Morale: +4 for Cowardly +14 for Good +7 for Poor +18 for Excellent +11 for Average +21 for Fearless.
The Player whose Damage caused Suppression (The Attacking Player) modifies his Roll based on the Damage which caused the Suppression test: +1 for every 100 Total Damage against the Squadron testing against Suppression since the last Resolution Step +1 for every Health Point lost by the Squadron testing against Suppression since the last Resolution Step +2 is Squad Leader was a Casualty from any Damage since the last Resolution Step +3 if Squadron was reduced to Half Strength or lower since the last Resolution Step +4 if Squadron was reduced to Quarter Strength or lower (This is on top of the +3 for Half Strength) since the last Resolution Step.
If the Attacking Player Ties Defending Player, the Damaged Squadron receives 1 Suppression Counter. If the Attacking Player wins by at least 1, the Damaged Squadron receives an additional Suppression Counter.
If the Attacking Player wins by at least 5, the Damaged Squadron instead receives 2 additional Suppression Counters. For every step of 5 the Attacking Player wins by (10, 15, 20, etc.), the Damaged Squadron instead receives an additional 2 Suppression Counters (4 for 10, 6 for 15, 8 for 20, etc.).
If the Defending Player wins, no Suppression Counters are added.
What it basically amounts to is that if someone does enough damage to you to kill half your buddies (about 10-11 people) you're probably not going to stick around and shoot them back - or you'll be shaking so badly that your aim will suffer because of it.
Each Beginning Phase, Squadrons with Suppression Counters may Activate to Rally. To Rally his Squadron, the Active Player Rolls 3D6, and modifies his Roll based on the Squadron's Morale: +4 for Cowardly +14 for Good +7 for Poor +18 for Excellent +11 for Average +21 for Fearless
And then subtracts 1 for each Suppression Counter on the Squadron
On a roll of 12+, the Squadron may remove 1 Suppression Counter. For every step of 3 beyond 15 (18, 21, 24, etc.), the Squadron may remove 1 additional Suppression Counter (2 at 18, 3 at 21, 4 at 24, etc).
If a Squadron fails to remove ANY suppression Counters, its Morale Breaks - Broken Morale, and the effects of Suppression Counters, are different for each Morale Modifier.
Normal Morale Modifier
At 1 Suppression Counter, and every step of 2 after (3, 5, 7, etc.), apply the following penalties: -1 to Movement, -1 to Suppression Tests
At 2 Suppression Counters, and every step of 2 after (4, 6, 8, etc.), apply the following penalties: -1 to Combat Skill, Ranged Skill, Reaction.
When a Normal Morale Squadron's Morale Breaks, it begins Falling Back toward the nearest Friendly Squadron without any Suppression Counters. If none are available, it begins Falling Back toward the nearest Table Edge.
Falling Back is unaffected by any Movement Penalties from Suppression Counters, and is a Hustle Action done in the Movement Phase. Falling Back is done using the shortest route possible. Squadrons that are Falling Back can perform no Voluntary Actions, and never gain Evasion Benefits from Terrain (though their movement is still slowed by it).
If a Squadron that is Falling Back reaches a Friendly Squadron without Suppression Counters, it may attempt to Rally immediately, ignoring Rally penalties from Suppression Counters. It may act normally for the rest of the Turn if it manages to remove at least 1 Suppression Counter.
If a Squadron that is Falling Back reaches a Table Edge, it is placed into Reserves. Leave a token or suitable marker where it left the Battlefield - it re-enters the Battlefield from that spot. For each Turn it remains in Reserves, remove a Suppression Counter from it, and attempt to Rally. When it Rallies, it may attempt to enter the Battlefield from Reserves as normal, except that it must Hustle onto the Battlefield.
If a Squadron that is Falling Back is the target of a Charge, it cannot attempt Overwatch. Instead, once the Charge has finished, it immediately attempts to Rally: If this Rally fails, the Squadron is removed as casualties, and the Charging Squadron counts its destruction toward its Close Combat Results. If the Rally is successful, it participates in the Close Combat normally.
For each Soldier / Vehicle in a Moving Squadron, determine if it will Move or Remain Stationary. If a Soldier / Vehicle intends to Move, now is when you determine what form of Movement it will use, if it has more than one.
Soldiers / Vehicles choosing to Remain Stationary do not do the following, while those that choose to Move do so with the following steps:
- Draw an imaginary line on the Battlefield, the width of the Ground Profile of the moving Soldier / Vehicle, starting at a point on the Ground Profile of the moving Soldier / Vehicle. The line on the Battlefield is called the Movement Path, and the point on the Ground Profile is called the Starting Point.
- The Movement Path must be at least 0" long, but may be as long, from the Starting Point, as the Value of the Movement Stat of the moving Soldier / Vehicle in Inches.
- The Movement Path, and the Final Position of the moving Soldier / Vehicle, must not overlap any Impassable Objects.
- Measuring from the Starting Point, you may pick up the moving Soldier / Vehicle, and place it so that it's centered along the Movement Path, and so its Starting Point is within the Movement Path.
- This placement is called the Final Position. The Final Position is not permanent until the Squadron is finished its Movement, and Ends its Activation - until then, the moving Soldier / Vehicle may be placed back at its Starting Point, and moved in a different direction.