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    Building a better Warhammer

    Over the past couple of days, I've been thinking a lot about fantasy miniatures, mostly due to the fact that Narnia fully rocked. As I left the theater, I turned to my wife and said "If only Warhammer could do battles that cool."

    Veteran (and frustrated) High Elf player that she is, she agreed.

    Having read and participated in lots of discussions about Warhammer over the past five years, I distilled the criticisms with it into four main areas:

    1. The profile
    2. The game system
    3. The army selection process
    4. The magic system.

    I immediately dropped magic because it's really an add-on that is the easiest to fix.

    That left me with the big three.

    It is kind of a paradox that the profile used in WHFB is both the strongest and weakest point.

    It is strong because it has stood the test of time and is pretty intuitive. Most people can easily relate to how fast something moves, how well it hits something, how tough it is, etc.

    GW has tweaked this from time to time, but the basic concept is pretty much set in stone.

    My first question was: Does this really work?

    After some of the debates this summer, I don't think it does. WS doesn't count for enough and Strength counts for too much.

    In fact, looking over the profile, it seemed to me that many of the aspects didn't need to be included.

    So my starting point was to consolidate the stat line into what was really useful.

    Now as a veteran gamer, I understand that we like numbers. Indeed, the more possible variants the better. You can see this in the old hex-based games where they went from one "combat strength" to "attack" and "defense" and later to "Close attack," "armor attack" and so forth.

    We love numbers.

    So I fully expect that a lot of people are already wary of cutting down on the stat line.

    Anyhow, the first thing I did was agree on what SHOULD stay. That was easy: Movement, Ballistic Skill and Leadership.

    All of these are very important. For my purposes, I renamed them to make them fit better with the RPG I'm also working on (the rules are over 100 pages and I think we've got the magic system down - finally).

    Some measure of health is also important, so I kept that.

    This left the main melee combat skill - which I creatively named Melee Skill.

    This is a catch-all for WS and S. A combination if you will.

    Finally, armor is important and so is toughness. I combined these into a Save stat.

    So the final profile looks like this:

    MS AS SV HL MV ML

    MS is Melee Skill
    AS is Archery Skill
    SV is your armor/toughness save
    HL is Health level
    MV is Movement
    ML is Morale

    So what does a "normal" human look like?

    Well, that brought me to the second point: the system.

    GW uses a 10 point system with 6-sided dice, which doesn't work that well. Originally, it meant that a lot of troops couldn't hurt other troops.

    GW figured out that people didn't like this, so they toned it down. The effect is that it is effectively a 6-point system with some outliers.

    My reasoning was that it would be easier to just use a 6-point system and have special rules for the outliers, so that's what I did.

    MS is rated 1 to 6. That way, everyone has at least a chance of hitting everyone else. I use the same table as the GW wounding one (so if it's equal, you hit on a 4+, one better a 3+, one worse 5+ and so on to a maximum of 6+ and a minimum of 2+).

    In practice, the MS 1 troops do rather poorly against their "betters," but that was my intention.

    This allows un- or lightly- armored troops to plow through the rabble as they should.

    an MS 4 Elf will simply tear up a bunch of MS 2 gitlings (my version of goblins).

    Of course, MS isn't all there is to it. Once you hit, you also need to wound.

    In WHFB as we all know, this is where S and T come in and a lot of problems start.

    High Elves and other high WS troops simply don't matter as much as S. Indeed, as several folks have pointed out, S is arguably the most important stat in the game as it can negate Toughness AND armor.

    I'm using a similar scale for armor (light armor 6+, add +1 for shield, etc.) but the maximum is a 2+. Particularly tough creatures might get a bonus on their save, but the maximum is still 2+.

    So basically you hit and then they save.

    I'm getting ahead of myself, but I know people are already saying "Great, so how do you kill cavalry?"

    I have two answers for you. The first is that weapons have an Armor Penetration number that helps cut into armor. Great Weapons are AP 2. Lances are AP 2 on the charge. Spears are AP 1 if used two-handed (no shield).

    The other way is that certain big creatures (ogres, for example) get an integral AP on their profile.

    The final change I made was to morale. I really don't like how you are either broken or totally fine. There is no "disorder" or anything like it.

    So rather than go with a number, morale is a letter from A to E. When you need to make a morale check, you roll on a table and the results are no effect (you're fine), disorder (ranks disrupted, may not charge or fight/shoot in two ranks) and rout.

    The table uses 2d6 and A is similar to Ld 10 in terms of odds, but the results are more graduated. Basically it's easier than doing a "margin of failure".

    So a basic human man-at-arms with sword, shield and light armor would have the following stats:

    MS 3
    AS 3
    SV 5
    HL 1
    MV 4
    ML C

    For contrast, here is what an elf looks like:

    MS 4
    AS 4
    SV 4
    HL 1
    MV 5
    ML B

    Finally, here a gitling:

    MS 2
    AS 3
    SV 6
    HL 1
    MV 4
    ML D

    Anyhow, that's all I have time for right now. I'll post the whole rules once I get them tightened down a bit.
    Last edited by Commissar von Toussaint; 07-08-2008 at 01:07.
    Want a better way to fight fantasy battles? Try Conqueror: Fields of Victory!

    Do you like Star Wars but hate the prequels? Ever wish someone came up with a decent story about how a decadent galactic commonwealth descended into chaos and civil war? Look no further.

    A proud player of 2nd edition 40k.

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