Mechanics Lab – Super Simple Skirmish Rules

Tinkering with rules is what I do. I suppose its part of the hobby you really can take with you, in a boring or slow moment at work when you haven’t got anyone to talk to you can theorise about combat systems, probabilities and hopefully think up new and unique mechanics.

Having played a good few games of my Super Simple Skirmish rules I’ve noticed a few things that niggle me, and I’ve thought about possible fixes. My mantra has continuously been simpler, shorter and deeper. I’m always looking for greater tactical with a simpler rule that’s quicker to explain.

The class system that has been key to previous iterations I’m thinking about dropping entirely. If I can replace it with a system of special rules that allows you to build your own classes then that would be preferable since it adds to the depth of fighter creation. A system like that would inevitably require greater explanation, but once I stripped out all the rules referring to classes I had about half a page of A4 left so there’s definitely room to fit in a good few special rules.

Activations is another simple change, by switching from an Igo-Ugo system to an Alternate Activation system you immediately increase tactical depth with zero additional effort. Then by combining that with a random number of action tokens for each figure when they activate a player is forced to weigh up what they can and can’t achieve and what is the most likely and most beneficial. So the rules could read:

The game is played in rounds. Each round is broken up into three phases – Restock, Activations, Morale.

RESTOCK

Each player gains 1 Fate token for each shrine that is within 3” of at least one of their fighters.

ACTIVATIONS

Players roll a die each and the higher roller can choose to go first or second in the Activations phase. Player’s then alternately activate a single fighter each until all of the fighters in play have been activated once each. When one player runs out of fighters to activate their opponent can activate all of their remaining fighters consecutively.

When a figure is activated they gain D6 action tokens. Action tokens are spent to perform actions. Once a figure has no more remaining action tokens their activation finishes.

The other major niggle was combat, which in a wargame can be an issue, since it is most of the game. Combat should be about interesting relationships. In previous iterations combat has only really had a single factor – Might values. Fighter’s with higher might values are better at killing ones with lower Might values. There’s never really been any room in the rules for fighters with lower Might values utilising special abilities or tactics to bring down bigger targets. The only hope has been to use multiple low valued fighters and weight of dice to tip probabilities in your favour.

So Combat could be:

There are two types of attack: melee and ranged. If a fighter is in base to base contact with an enemy or enemies then they must make a melee attack against that enemy or one of those enemies. If a fighter is not in base to base contact with an enemy then they can select any enemy that they can at least partially see and make a ranged attack against them if they have the ‘Gun’ special rule.

To hit their target the fighter must pass an attack check, using their starting Might stat. Compare the attacker’s  starting Might stat to the target’s starting Might and roll 1D6 on the table below per Action token spent on the attack:

IF the attacker’s Might is half or less than half their target’s then they score a hit on a 6+.

IF the attacker’s Might is less than their target’s 5+.

IF both are equal 4+.

IF the attacker’s Might is higher 3+.

IF the attacker’s Might is double or more than double their target’s then they score a hit on a 2+.

(Yes that sliding scale is stolen from 40k, but it did not originate in 40k)

If a hit is achieved the target fighter’s Might is halved or they lose 1 might per hit scored whichever is higher. When a fighter’s Might value is reduced to 0 they are killed and removed from play.

If the fighter was making a ranged attack and their target was not 100% visible to them then reduce the value on all of their dice rolled in the attack by 1.

Regardless any natural 6 rolled always counts as a hit, and any natural 1 always fails.

While the above may seem very similar, it in fact it allows me to hang more special rules on to it. Rate of fire, armour penetration and explosive damage can be easily modelled in a way that intuitively makes sense.

If you’re finding the way damage is dealt with confusing it is entirely about reducing the number of hits it would take to kill a Might 100 fighter.

So here’s a few possible special rules:

SPECIAL RULES

Piercing – When this fighter makes ranged attacks add 1 to their die rolls.

Explosive – When this figure makes ranged attacks each natural 6 rolled counts as two hits.

Fast – This fighter can move 4” per action token spent on movement.

Berserk – When this fighter makes a melee attack add 1 to their die rolls.

Brutal – When this figure makes melee attack each natural 6 rolled counts as two hits.

Collector – During the restock phase if this fighter is within 3” of a shrine you gain two Fate tokens from that shrine.

Gun – This figure can make ranged attacks.

It would be good to have a few interesting scenarios as well as a ton of special rules to personalise your warband, but I’ll save that for another time.

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