Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's, New Documents

It's a new year, and I'm proud to present major changes to the site.  I have rewritten and presented the Core Rules as a PDF (click on the picture). 

Core Rules v2
The Core Rules v2

I have also made my first Force Book, describing the Martian Colonists (click on the picture). 

Martian Colonists v2
The Martian Colonists v2

Over the next few weeks and months, I will be writing and adding Force Books for the Free Martians, the Brutes, and the Ancients.  These are all working documents.  I'd welcome any comments you might be kind enough to forward.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Yule Time

When Odin rides across the sky with a bunch of dead people!  For real!

The time around the Solstice is the time when the days are shortest, the world is dark, and getting through the winter is on everyone's mind.  It's also the time when the days start to lengthen again, giving rise to thoughts of rebirth. 

So naturally, people stuck in the dark, with little else to do, tend to have a big winter party: Yule, Christmas, Saturnalia, etc. 

They also tend to think about death a lot.  Christmas time has a lot of creepy stories associated with it, and one of my favorites is the Wild Hunt.  During this liminal season, between life and death, when everything is cold, processions of the dead were believed to ride through Northern Europe.

So when Santa rides across the sky, with his eight tiny reindeer, just remember: it could be a lot worse.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Design a Comp System for 40k?

The Warhammer 40k world is reacting to the release of Escalation.  Warhammer 40k continues to be the train-wreck from which I can't look away, or maybe the abusive spouse I can't bring myself to leave.

This column was inspired by a post by Goatboat over at Bell of Lost Souls.  He asks whether it is possible to create a tournament system by "broad changes instead of just small 'faq's' to fix specific unit rules".  He then gives some suggestions.

More or less, he's asking for a kind of soft comp system.  For those who don't know, a comp or "composition" system judges tournament players' army lists.  It either gives them a score that helps rate their final place in the tournament or outright forbids certain combinations or units.  Various ones have been tried -- I encountered my first ones back in 3rd edition Rogue Trader tournaments -- but GW has abandoned them, and they have fallen out of favor for most players.

I have written about 40k balance issues before here and here.  My conclusion has been that 40k's woes result from several problems combining together: some unit are under-priced, some rules are too powerful, and armies can be abusively min-maxed in several different ways. Any real fix would need to originate with GW and would require a rewrite of all the Codices and changes to the core rules.

But in the interest of amateur game design, I will try to design a fix that meets Goatboy's criteria:  one that is universally-applicable to all existing armies, that changes few or no core mechanics, and does not mess with the sealed box of existing Codices' unit descriptions or point values.

Most 40k abuses involve maximizing specialist units beyond the capacity of a "normal" army's ability to counter them.  So most of my fixes will concentrate on reducing the number of specialized units an army can take.  Largely this means strictly limiting the Force Organization Chart.

1) Let's start with Goatboy's suggestion that there be only one Force Org. I like this one.  So overall, there will be a limit of 1-2 HQ, 2-6 Troops, 0-3 Elites, 0-3 Heavies, 0-3 Fast Attack, and 1 Fortification.  Any allies must come out of this allotment too.

2) Limit all Non-Troop units to 0-2 of any particular unit.  So you could only have a maximum of 2 Whirlwinds or 2 Wraithlords or 2 units of Sternguard or whatever.  Dedicated transports are instead subject to a limit of 0-4 of the same type.

3) Any mandatory Troops who do not purchase a Dedicated Transport must be taken at their maximum size.  Any mandatory Troops that do purchase a Dedicated Transport must be taken at the maximum size that will fit in the transport.  (As an exception, if the player intends to run an Independent Character with the unit, it must instead be taken at the maximum size that will still allow the Character to fit in the transport with it.  The Independent Character chosen must begin the game as part of the chosen unit.)

4) For every 500 points (or fraction thereof) over 1000 points, the player must take another mandatory Troop choice, subject to the rules above.

5) Limit all Fliers or Flying Monstrous Creatures to a total of 0-2 combined.  

6) Disallow any Lords of War, any model with a Str D weapon, or a Void Shield.

7) I also like Chumbalaya's suggestion from the comments.  As a special Tournament rule, no 2+ Armor or Invulnerable save may ever be rerolled. 

The idea here is to prevent maximization of particular capabilities by duplicating units or transports.  It prevents minimization of mandatory selections.  It particularlly limits Fliers, which require a strong investment in unusual equipment to counter in large numbers than other types of model.  Number 7, is pretty much there just to stop Screamstar and/or Jetbike Seer councils.

This is a hardly a fool-proof system.  It punishes some armies more than others.  But it may at least be less bad than current, unregulated Warhammer 40k.  In the absence of competent attention by Games Workshop itself, I think that's the best we can hope for.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I've started revising my core game rules this weekend.  My intention is to bring the quality up to the level of a professional print publication, or as nearly as I can manage on my own.  Right now, I'm doing it in Word.  Eventually, it will become a PDF for the site.

My first pass will be a play test version of the core rules, with only minimal art.

The next step will be a series of army books for each of the four armies I've been developing.  I'll start with the Colonists and the Free Martians, which are farthest along.

I also want to create a generic World War II infantry list. This site is largely an adjunct of www.wwpd.net and a lot of readers come here from www.boltaction.net.  I'd like to lure some of you readers into trying out my rules with figures you already have. 

So, there's not much to show on the blog at the moment, but work continues...

A Sample Page