View Full Version : Are there house rules to balance armies?

07-10-2009, 03:38
Just like in computer games, often down the line there are balance issues. So the developers create a patch to fix it and make it better. I know that GW doesn't update their books once they're released until another is made years later. And from what I've read here, there seems to be a power creep with the newest armies. So I was wondering if anybody has come along to make house rules to help balance out the other armies? With such a huge community, I'm sure that with enough playtesting we could find combinations that work.

07-10-2009, 08:06
We have a number - terrain is getting re-examined since our WoC player feels ill done by everyone choosing hills so that they can LoS their missile weapons more optimally.

Also BoC get their Raider rule with 5 model ranks.

07-10-2009, 08:18
It would be nice to have some compilation of house-rules. Like some list with issues and house rules on how to correct them. Sort of an "add on - rules list" that you can play by if you want a more fair game.

It is a very big project tough, since even small changes migh have big effects. I myself have been stuck on the problem on how to solve the sliding/clipping issue in an easy way that not interferes with the battle system too much.

Jetty Smurf
07-10-2009, 08:40
A friend and I have recently been trying out something a bit different in regards to terrain. I am not sure if it has become a house rule as of yet, but we are working on it.

I believe he saw it somewhere online or something, but the basic idea is that the terrain gets randomised. For the time being, we just stick to 2 forests and 2 hills and roll 4 (could be 5) dice to determine how far from the centre of the board the terrain goes, and roll the scatter dice to see in which direction. If 1 piece of terrain "hits" another, it just bounces back with its remaining inches.

So far this has led to some interesting terrain deployment, and some even more interesting unit deployment. We have had much more fun with our games this way rather than the standard "my army has warmachines so I will place a hill on both sides of the table".

I do think this is a way to balance some armies (albeit rather indirectly) as gunlines are usually dependent on hills and some other armies are dependent on forests (like my lizardmen and their terradons :D).

We have only just recently started using this as a means of terrain deployment but I doubt we would ever go back to player 1 places terrain player 2 places terrain etc etc. We also try to randomise the actual rotation of the terrain, as in the hill does not always sit sideways to allow for the warmachines to sit nicely next to each other without issues etc.

07-10-2009, 10:00
I know that GW doesn't update their books once they're released until another is made years later.

Yes they do - well, they did once, with the Dark Eldar book - there was a Dark Eldar reprint which incorportated the White Dwarf issued alterations to the army.

Aside from that spot of pedantry, many people seem to talk about scenarios as a good way of balancing games - if an army has to take an objective to win, then it makes no sense to max out on a gunline just because the army is good at it - Scenarios are a good way of forcing variety and alternative approaches to army selection and use.

Also, with people mentioning terrain, I like to set up a 4'x4' battlefield for smaller battles and randomise which of the 4 edges an army will deploy on. By doing this, nobody wants to set up things like all the hills in one deployment area, because they only have a 1 in 4 chance of getting that area, so a more balanced terrain setup is the result.

07-10-2009, 10:11
Here's a very elaborate attempt to balance armies:


07-10-2009, 10:13
Scenarios are a real equaliser here. Try to getahold of the UKGT rules pack for this year as there are 6 scens to try out and for the mostpart they are quite refreshing, giving the more conventional powergamey armies something else to think about.


07-10-2009, 11:58
We do it constantly in my gaming group. My friends and I have never viewed the rules as if they were etched in stone as some people on this board like to see them, I'm not sure which of GW's game designers said it but he had a quote along the lines of, "It doesnt worry me when people make their own rules, it worries me when they don't."

If our group are all agreed that we don't like how a certain rule works and think it can be improved then we discuss ways to do it and if we all think its better, bam! We have a house rule, we even have a sheet of paper up in the games room that has them all listed out.

Some of them include...

-Vampires don't get ward saves vs. crumbling
-ASF vs. ASF negates each other and the situation is treated as normal.
-1+ armour is the best save you can get
-High Elf mages know Drain Magic regardless of the lore they choose.
-Runefangs for Empire are 60 points
-The ASF wardancer dance doesnt remove one of their attacks
-Bretonnian characters may opt to be fielded on foot

Those are just a few of our more drastic ones, since all of us have no interest in tournaments it really doesnt matter that we arent playing EXACTLY the same game everyone else is.

08-10-2009, 10:30
Firstly, I love the idea of compiling everyones house rules together. There have been some very good ones posted here over the last few years. A few even seem to have crept into some of the rulebooks.

However - put on your flame proof suit if you decide to post such a compilation, one can only imagine the cries of woe it will inspire from the fault finders and rules lawyers.

Good Luck!

08-10-2009, 12:06
I heard or read that certain armies if you play them give the other side a handicap in points. Only 3 armies come into play for this.
If you play either DoC or Vampire counts and are NOT playing against Doc, VC, or DE then your opponent gets to field an additional 500 points. If your opponent is a DE player then he gets to field an additional 250 points. If you are a DE player and are not playing against DoC, VC, or DE then your opponent fields an additional 250 points. This is based on a 2250 point list. I've tried it with Orcs and Goblins 2500 pts vs. 2000 pt VC and still got my ass kicked (massacred actually!). No real stopping raising, raising, WS 7 skellies, or GG w/regen banner.. Speaking of which in some tournaments the Drakenhoff banner is not legal to take! They feel it really is that overpowering. I'd have to agree. What army out there can buy a banner that gives them regen? (none, except TK with the undying legion banner d3 wounds back) but even that is different. Well, I will stop the rant. The idea is that house rules can be good but all parties involved need to agree. Once you do that - Your finished!

08-10-2009, 12:32
House rules are one of those things that look good on paper but really just tear the game mechanics apart.

08-10-2009, 14:48
House rules are one of those things that look good on paper but really just tear the game mechanics apart.

I 100% disagree.

08-10-2009, 15:05
Very common at tournaments around here:
- Beastmen rank up minimum 5 guys wide
- Everybody's BSBs can take equipment normally, not just the latest six books
- No more than 10 Shades per unit

At the next tournament I'm going to, they are basically removing Animosity (and Waaagh!) from Orcs & Goblins, which I don't think seems like a terribly good idea. It also gives more points to use for armies with a lot of overpriced units (not O&G) and fewer for the armies with a lot of underpriced units (DoC, VC, DE). It also gives you less or more VPs when playing against those armies.

And then there is the limit on 3/2/1 of the same Core/Special/Rare units, and limits on magic dice, flyers, etc, which is not an attempt to balance armies as such, and more an attempt to limit dull builds in any army.

08-10-2009, 20:08
There are lots of elaborate systems for balancing armies but they tend to fall apart because they try to enforce whoever wrote them's idea of how to play the game and be just as poorly balanced and open to exploitation as the army books they are supposed to fix.

In a friendly game there is a very easy and balanced way of making sure your lists are of equal power - deliberately balance your list to match your opponents. So if you are playing dark elves against a balanced empire list then tone your army down and avoid the obvious power units and items so you both get a fun game.

08-10-2009, 23:51
Some demon balancing I've been working on;


-All demons have the old demonic ward save unless they are within 12" of the general, in which case it is bumped up to a true ward save
-Gifts and magical banners can't be taken multiple times
-Skulltaker can only join khorne units
-Epidemius can only join plaguebearers


-Flamers are S3 in close combat
-Screamers have 2 wounds each
-Master of Sorcery can allow a tzeentch herald to know all spells from the demon lore of tzeentch


-Flesh Hounds have MR (2)


-Nurgle herald locus is -1 to hit from shooting and close combat rather than regeneration OR regeneration replaces their 5+ ward
-Nurgling swarms have 4 attacks and 4 wounds


-If a greater demon is taken as the general then there must be 1 core unit with the same alliegance
-If a greater demon is taken the player is limited to that god's rare choices only
-Demon Princes are 50 points cheaper

See i would really like to try out a demon army but i think they are currently overpowered.

*puts on flame retardent suit*

09-10-2009, 10:29
We get rid of that silly "minimum 3 to cast" rule, it hurts vampire counts too much.

09-10-2009, 10:32
House rules are one of those things that look good on paper but really just tear the game mechanics apart.

Well some indeed do, but at this moment the army books tear the game mechanics apart.

10-10-2009, 08:52
Talking about balancing. Only 1 army other than VC can take ethereal units. That would be the "Green Knight" from Bretonnians. No other army can have as a unit immune to normal weapons and only hurt by magic only. In some cases, such as Empire, Dwarves, all Elves, Tomb Kings, Beastmen, Ogre Kingdoms, and many other armies except Skaven - You MUST have a character with either a magic weapon or spell to injure it! Seriously, that is messed up! The Cairn Wraiths are way - I say WAY over powered! I've seen them roll the flank of a WOC player to the tune of over 1000 points in three combats. They take away ranks move 12" and are immune to regular mundane weapons. Also the Spirit Host with the Wind of undeath is another combo that needs to be addressed. Me and my friends played a massive game and that spell went off irresitble .. 42 wounds of Spirit Hosts were created.. YES 42 wounds worth. They won the game on that side of the board. No body could do anything. All the characters were involved fighting other stuff. Since when is a d6 s4 magic missile going to do anything to them now when they are in combat? Don't want to rant but this ethereal bit is too much on top of the power builds and combo stacking they can do. VC is well known now for being broke. I have a few friends who do not play them because of them being broke. They toned down their lists and still won without trying.

I'll go so far as to say, that I could get a draw with VC every game with only casting the basic invocation. I'll only take zombies with max casters and power dice. Add the vampire power or character that makes it cast on a 3+. Have about 18 PD in a 2k game. Guaranteed draw. Say the other guy stops 10 of the castings and 3 of them fail.. got 5 off a turn. That's 5d6 + 20 zombies a turn which averages about 37 Zombies. Seriously whose going to do 37 wounds in one turn of combat? That's my point any how.

Your turn. My rant is over.

10-10-2009, 12:04
The old D&D method used to be that monsters with a certain amount of Hit Die could affect creatures that could only be hit with magic weapons.

That would qualify the Giant, in this case.

10-10-2009, 19:27

Tomb Kings actually have a unit that can deal with Wraiths. The Tomb Blades of the Tomb Guard and the never-used Icon Bearer count as magic weapons (and grants them Killing Blow). Catapult shots are also magical and flaming attacks and the Light of Death from the Casket of Souls is also a magical attack, assuming said player is dumb (or unlucky) enough to let it go off.

But I agree, if you don't have easy access to magical attacks on units, Wraiths are imba.


So would we use the US or wounds of any given model as it's HD? And what would the base be? 4?

10-10-2009, 23:15
-ASF vs. ASF negates each other and the situation is treated as normal.
...Sucks to be a DE assassin vs HE or VC then...

11-10-2009, 01:10

So would we use the US or wounds of any given model as it's HD? And what would the base be? 4?Mind you, you do need a consensus with everyone concerned.

It used to be scaled, but since there's none apparent in Warhammer, maybe 5 wounds.

11-10-2009, 01:32
...Sucks to be a DE assassin vs HE or VC then...

Only if you're getting charged, which you really shouldnt be with a flying scout ASsasin.

11-10-2009, 06:21
Only if you're getting charged, which you really shouldnt be with a flying scout ASsasin.Right, so I'll be playing a DE army with magic dominance over my HE opponent then, eh?;) Then reveal my assassin in my move phase and try to cast the spell and no-one will see that coming.?:rolleyes: