Archive for the Wargames Category

Shootin’ Stuff

Posted in Projects, Wargames on June 10, 2010 by Jeff Russell

So, the first topic I’d like to address here with regard to my skirmish rules is of central importance to a modern/sci-fi wargame: shooting stuff. I’m going to start out a little theoretical and then move into some practicalities as they relate to those theories.

So, the way I see it, in a skirmish wargame, shooting has two main intentions: to control movement and to remove enemy fighters. The second is fairly obvious, but there are some implications to it I want to discuss, so I’ll start with “controlling movement”.

In traditional Necromunda, you have something called “pinning” when a figure is hit, but not wounded. A pinned fighter misses a turn unless he has buddies around to egg him on and he passes a test. In the previously mentioned WWII game, we modified this a bit to make it a little easier to test to get up, mostly because we made pinning a much larger part of the game by forcing characters shot at to test to avoid pinning on a miss. Pinning, then, achieves the aim of controlling movement, and our system had a pretty cool emergent effect of creating “fire and maneuver” set ups very in keeping with the WWII flavor.

The point for this post being I like the game-play implications of pinning, and I think I like pinning even on missed shots to be a possibility, so I’ll probably keep that. Any other thoughts on how shooting can control opponent movements would be welcome in the comments.

Now, the more direct aim of shooting: killing and maiming enemies. In pretty much every GW game, you roll to hit, then roll to wound, and then Armor may or may not come in to negate the wound. Since each step is a simple D6  roll, and you do them all the time, they get to be pretty quick and natural. I’m pretty sure the reason for the separate hit, wound, and armor rolls is to allow for a high level of distinction between different match ups: you can be more or less accurate, shooting with a more or less powerful weapon against a more or less tough foe, and his armor can be better or worse. That allows for a wide variety of characters on each end of the role, and even more possible match ups.

That being said, the intent of shooting is to remove a threat, and so there’s no inherent reason that roll should be split up into three steps. So, in the interest of trying to figure out if there’s something better, I’ve been considering some other options. One that has caught my fancy is something to do with multiple dice, possibly of different colors (thanks to a discussion over at Praxis).

Here’s the rough idea I have: a shooting character looks at his shooting skill (“Ballistic Skill” in the Games Workshop parlance) and at the stats of the weapon he’s firing. Both give a number of dice to roll, which he adds together. Perhaps different colored dice can be specified which “hit” at different probabilities (e.g. something like whites hit on a 6, blues on a 5 or 6, and reds on a 4, 5, 6).  He rolls these and totals the number of hits/successes he’s rolled.

Now, the target looks at his toughness and his armor, which also grant dice (again, possibly of different colors). He rolls that number of dice, and any hits/successes he scores negate hits scored by the attacker. If any hits are left, the attacker then assigns them to the target. I’m thinking that the target has a number of boxes that can be checked off in order, going something like “pinned, -1 die on rolls, -2 dice on rolls, out of action” or something like that, with effects being cumulative, and you can’t skip a step.

Cover would probably be represented as a number of hits scored in the defender’s favor, but possibly as fewer dice to roll for the attacker or more armor dice for the defender.

The notion here is that a character’s accuracy stat would probably always be or start out as white dice, with more meaning more accurate (which might translate into hitting a more vital area, if those dice get you enough hits to wound seriously). The kind of weapon and how powerful it is would also be represented by number and color of dice: automatic weapons would have more white dice, powerful weapons would have more red dice.

Of course, another option would be to have a fixed target number (say, a 6) and then different die types (d6s, d8s, d10s, et cetera). This might allow more variability in weapon power.

So, how does this sound? Would it be too many dice per shooting action? Are the opposed rolls too funky?

Necromunda Skirmish Redux

Posted in Wargames on June 10, 2010 by Jeff Russell

So, awhile back I started on the somewhat ambitious project of coming up with some miniature skirmish rules that would be extremely customizable but still balanced for competitive play. I started with the notion of wanting to play “Necromunda” but with more individuality and perhaps a heavier story focus.

So, a few months back, I went through the Necromunda, Mordheim, and Inquisitor rules and looked for ideas to modify, incorporating ideas from a WWII skirmish game my friend Lance and I developed a few years back (initially based on Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings game, but since modified beyond recognition). I got the basic battle rules worked out, but never got into the nitty gritty of the point-buy character and warband creation.

Along the way, I think I succumbed to feature bloat and ended up with a bunch of cruft that the game doesn’t benefit from. So now, I’m starting “from the ground up” trying to come up with rules from base principles of what I want to happen in the game, consciously working to avoid falling back on old GW based habits.

Once I finish this, I figure I’ll compare the two rulesets and take the best of both worlds. That’s the theory at least. So, some high level design goals:

  • Ideally suited for forces of 6-15 guys per side, but hopefully allowing for simplified rules to run larger battles
  • Quick, smooth play that doesn’t bog things down in endless rolling or rules look ups or the like
  • At the same time, enough detail to make each individual fighter interesting and individual
  • Again, aimed at doing games set in the 40k setting, but hopefully applicable to any modern/sci-fi setting

The main pitfalls I’m worried about are falling into extreme and over detailing of options. I have a tendency to do this, as has recently been pointed out with the clan creation rules in The Book of Threes and from my prior experience with modifying wargames rules. One of the solutions to this I plan on is intense modularity: give a simple, basic set of rules with a number of layers of optional add ons that provide more and more detail, and can be used or discarded by individual groups of players as they like. This is also how I intend to tackle different “levels” of game play, such as campaigns and individual battles, play with a game master or without, and so forth.

Going forward, I’d appreciate any insight into these or other pitfalls I may be blindly stumbling into.