A constant of all miniature wargamers has always been to come up with your own set of rules. Every gamer has either written a set of rules (unpublished of course!) or heavily modified a published set of rules (just to to improve it), although to be fair to the club a number of home grown rules are used on a regular basis.
Jeremey takes us through such a typical Wargamer project and what happened to it.
Back in 2009 I fancied getting into mass battle fantasy games. I’d played a bit of 2nd edition Warhammer in my youth but was in a period of preferring smaller scales. I picked up a copy of Warmaster but it didn’t really grab me, the movement section with 20 plus pages (slight exaggeration) explaining how to perform a wheeling movement, just looked very similar to many of the historical rule sets that put me of historical wargaming for years.
Like all Wargamers in this situation I naturally started writing a set of 10mm fantasy rules of my own, I went with units based on round bases with no need to worry about detailed facing and movement rules.
When writing rules I’ve always had a weakness in needing actual miniatures to test the game with. I hate testing just on paper or with stand in’s, so I created two whole armies first!
I decided to go with 10mm fantasy miniatures from Pendraken miniatures. Pendraken’s miniatures are cast individually which meant I could put them on a round base. Most other 10mm fantasy miniatures were cast on strips for 40mm wide bases. I used standard 40mm round bases and put 10 foot or 6 cavalry miniatures on each base. I was really pleased with the results but the first crack in the plan appeared as all the miniatures needed to be painted before putting them on the base and flocking the base was a pain to get between the miniatures.
Regardless I continued to torture myself and carried on creating two armies (Undead vs Barbarians).
Unlike a number of other rule sets I’ve written I did get to playtest this set which I called ‘Battle Fury’ (often referred to as Battle Furry!), it was a very simple ruleset with no unit facing so you just moved where you needed to. There were typical bonuses for combat based on charging and having multiple units ganging up on the enemy. Activation was done by players taking it in turns to move a unit. I also went with 10 sided dice as I’ve always found the range of a normal 6 sided dice does not offer enough variation.
Games of this type often suffer from needing lots of markers for activation, wounds etc. But I had the genius idea (in my opinion of course) of making flags for both sides that showed the number of hits the unit had remaining (see the skulls on the flags!). The rules had the units roll a number of dice based on the number of hits remaining so you could see at a glance how strong the enemy or your own units are.
The game worked fairly well on the playtest, the forces came out quite balanced and I got the kind of game I wanted with big beasts fighting it out and plenty of back and forth action allowing for tactical moves.
This project taught me a lot about writing rules, having a clear idea of the kind of game I wanted from the start really helped. But it also taught me a lot about creating games and mistakes that can often be made.
The use of round bases for this scale hasn’t really been done and so the idea that wargamers would be willing to rebase their armies is unrealistic. However the round bases packed with figures looked good and better reflected warfare in an undisciplined world where armies just charged at each other and fought to the death. The flags that could be changed to reflect the hits of a unit felt like a good idea, but having to create enough to show the correct number of hits as units suffered damage became quite a challenge.
And so this project came to a halt and the miniatures are back in the pile of unfinished ideas (which is quite large if I’m honest), although after writing this I might revisit the flag idea for my WOTR army instead of the mini dice added to the base.