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Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

Hello guys, first time wandering onto this part of the forum. I used to design rules and such for solo play when I was much younger, before University killed my love of reading and writing!

Getting back into my wargaming/reading/writing hobbies again, I dug up some of the old handwritten rules I scribbled out from way back, and it inspired me to try my hand again at designing wargames rules. I'm already very comfortable with Warlords of Erehwon as my fantasy wargaming rules, and I'm selling off my 40k to make way for different science fiction rules and miniatures. But my love of Interwar games and Alternate History games has meant that I have assembled forces for the Very British Civil War, and some more unusual units. All would fit quite nicely in a Platoon-sized (ie - Bolt Action sized, between 30-60 minis per side) Steampunk Wargame. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of any platoon-sized steampunk wargames on the market, so I turn to you, game designers:

1. Are there any platoon-sized steampunk wargames on the market for me to analyse and have a good look at? What other wargames would you recommend looking at to see similar scales and genres in action?

2. Trying to deal with an unusual, but also simple, method of dealing with unit activation and morale in one fell swoop, I am considering the following:
Each unit has a morale value (for argument's sake let's say between 1-20). Different units will have different morale values depending on their training/discipline/unit size (a 10-man Guard unit may well have a morale value of 20, while an equivalent unit of Regulars might only have 15, or the same of Conscripts having only 10). This morale value will deteriorate as battle progresses (losing points for pins, kills, losing the colours etc). However, the current morale value of the unit will also determine when they are activated as part of the game turn (higher morale value units on both sides will take their actions before lower morale value units). Units will of course break and be removed when their morale value reaches 0, which may well happen before they are reduced to 0 miniatures as a result of pins and losing unit colours.
Is this a decent method to use, from your understanding of game design? I understand it's just a brief description, but I've tried to squeeze as much in as possible.

3. Should I create factions and lore for the game, or should I leave the setting as 'generic Steampunk', with maybe an army generator and some example army lists? The first allows me to flex my writing skills a touch, but the latter allows potential players to use any old miniatures instead of painstakingly following my own lore and armies which will (most likely) never be backed up by a miniatures range.

Just rambling at this point so I'll stop, but any help/suggestions/criticisms would be greatly appreciated.

Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord






1) Warmachine is arguably platoon size or slightly larger Steampunk. However, that's its own animal and not something I'd worry about as it's a highly competitive-based game. I don't know of many other steampunk games (not my favourite genre I guess?).

2) I like the idea of your morale based system. If you can find an elegant way of keeping track it sounds fine. There are heaps of rules you could use to manipulate that; numerous ways to decrease or increase the unit's morale. Maybe the unit's morale must be passed in order for it to activate. Maybe there is a table showing what the unit can do at certain levels of morale...and maybe officers provide a bonus (fixed or random). Maybe officers simply remove pinning (bad officers can add pinning or reduce morale - a function which is not used in nearly enough games - incompetent leadership!).

3) I'd use a system where you can design your own fluff/lore, but have an example (provided by you) in the rulebook. So detail a section on "how to pick national traits for your army" and then detail your build-a-nation as you're going along. This gives you both. If you don't have miniatures don't bother at all with making a heavy storyline/lore. Do you have access to artists who can draw up stuff if you really wanted to world build?

You could perhaps even build two opposing nations in the rulebook as examples for creating your own setting - perhaps you have a couple levels of technology, allowing players to go as minimal or as crazy as they like? 3-4 "eras" or some such. But for each rulebook section you'd have the section following your own builds. "For example, creating my two factions, I've decided to select Era 2, allowing me to take the following types of technology..."


 
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

 Elbows wrote:
I like the idea of your morale based system. If you can find an elegant way of keeping track it sounds fine. There are heaps of rules you could use to manipulate that; numerous ways to decrease or increase the unit's morale. Maybe the unit's morale must be passed in order for it to activate. Maybe there is a table showing what the unit can do at certain levels of morale...and maybe officers provide a bonus (fixed or random). Maybe officers simply remove pinning (bad officers can add pinning or reduce morale - a function which is not used in nearly enough games - incompetent leadership!).


I agree that poor officers are hardly ever included in games below the brigade level, like Black Powder. That could present an interesting opportunity for matched play; ie you choose to have a poor officer which may reduce your morale/quality of activations, at the benefit of a points reduction?

 Elbows wrote:
You could perhaps even build two opposing nations in the rulebook as examples for creating your own setting - perhaps you have a couple levels of technology, allowing players to go as minimal or as crazy as they like? 3-4 "eras" or some such. But for each rulebook section you'd have the section following your own builds. "For example, creating my two factions, I've decided to select Era 2, allowing me to take the following types of technology..."


Now that is a really cool way of doing it! Just this lunch break I was musing about the way to play 'Turn of the Industrial Revolution' Steampunk Games and late-stage 'End of Empire' "High Steampunk", and whether or not it would require multiple rulesets. Your suggestion hits on the head really well, as while lots of tactics and basics of warfare stayed the same over the course of the 19th century, there was a huge technological leap between say, Stevenson's Rocket and the Orient Express! That's a really nice way of doing things, with each 'era' unlocking new weapons and armour values for nations.

Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord






Regarding the officers, while I doubt many people would choose to take a poor officer, it could be a random table, OR...part of a scenario etc. I know it's not particularly popular in more modern games, but I love pre-set scenarios, or "fake" historical engagements. So part of the order of battle could include sub-par officers.

I know a lot of people don't like randomized stuff, but if it's not competitive, a simple D6 or D10 table is always fun.

D6:
1 - Incompetent officer (penalties, etc.)
2-5 - Normal officer
6 - Exceptional officer. (bonuses, etc.)

You could roll these just before the game starts (heck maybe even keep them secret if possible, if it works within the game mechanics). Having different caliber officers or officers with different traits could be fun, particularly mid-game. It would add an interesting mechanic you'd be monitoring during the game. "Damn my left flank is going to collapse because of that idiot officer....I need to get another officer over there to take charge and hold the line". etc. Command/control is something that's pretty poorly handled in a lot of games. Maybe a poor officer doesn't remove pinning tokens that well, or impacts the operating roll of the unit (i.e. this officer counts as -3 to a unit's morale), so the unit falls down the chart and is less able to charge/advance/fight properly.

Regarding the tech-tree idea...I think there's some merit there to do some fun things. I just think the "don't write fluff/lore" but showcase "how you could" is an easy way to go. Let readers following along through the nation building process, where you inject "your" lore to showcase what you feel like playing. This then lets the players design their own lore or fluff, but can get a feel for it all.

 
   
Made in pl
Screaming Shining Spear





As an avid fan of steampunk I see only one, but an awfully huge problem in designing a proper steampunk platoon scale wargame: this is THE period in which war doctrines had to undergo huge and rapid changes. You can approximate any earlier period with rank and file systems and everything later with skirmish systems, but what is line infantry worth when facing few Maxim guns for the first time? Early XIX forces would get decimated by late XIX artillery without ever arriving at their intended battlegrounds and forming up... And those changes happened during single (and usually short) lifetimes back then. So I would either drop the idea of different „technological eras” as faction traits or force games only within the same era. Otherwise any balance goes out the window.

As to sources of knowledge: you can learn a lot about how to translate pre-industrial warfare into wargame rules in Henry Hyde’s The Wargaming Compendium. From the other side of the industrial revolution, AT-43 ruleset is now available for free and includes rules for more advanced machines of war like vehicles and walkers. Those, alongside with Bolt Action and Epic/Apocalypse should make a good ground for developing properly „technologically capable” ruleset to represent both huge machines and anachronistic infantry formations. The biggest problem, as I have said, is to glue those two together and not end up with WHFB like „reskinned” fantasy rank&file system that works properly and catches the feeling of steampunk warefare. Warmachines IMHO do not - steampunk in Warmachines is just a „skin” for fantasy game with figurines.
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

nou wrote:
As an avid fan of steampunk I see only one, but an awfully huge problem in designing a proper steampunk platoon scale wargame: this is THE period in which war doctrines had to undergo huge and rapid changes. You can approximate any earlier period with rank and file systems and everything later with skirmish systems, but what is line infantry worth when facing few Maxim guns for the first time? Early XIX forces would get decimated by late XIX artillery without ever arriving at their intended battlegrounds and forming up... And those changes happened during single (and usually short) lifetimes back then. So I would either drop the idea of different „technological eras” as faction traits or force games only within the same era. Otherwise any balance goes out the window.

As to sources of knowledge: you can learn a lot about how to translate pre-industrial warfare into wargame rules in Henry Hyde’s The Wargaming Compendium. From the other side of the industrial revolution, AT-43 ruleset is now available for free and includes rules for more advanced machines of war like vehicles and walkers. Those, alongside with Bolt Action and Epic/Apocalypse should make a good ground for developing properly „technologically capable” ruleset to represent both huge machines and anachronistic infantry formations. The biggest problem, as I have said, is to glue those two together and not end up with WHFB like „reskinned” fantasy rank&file system that works properly and catches the feeling of steampunk warefare. Warmachines IMHO do not - steampunk in Warmachines is just a „skin” for fantasy game with figurines.


Hey Nou, I think that's a really valid point. I think it would be probably correct to enforce matching eras between competing forces; you are right in that an early 19th century force being unable to compete against a late 19th century force without throwing realism completely out of the window. Of course that could be mitigated by options for technomancy and biomancy, which could be implemented, at the further expense of realism.

I think I'd be willing to let limited fanastical elements into the game as unit special rules or upgrades, to allow for a fuller imagining of Steampunk warfare, but not let that become the basis of the game. Kind of like how in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy, the Central Powers relied on the strength of their technology, while the Entente instead focused on biological manipulation, so although they were equally met on the battlefield, one had mechs and airships, and the other had mutant creatures and genetically-engineered monsters. That could probably be easily resolved by choosing either a mechanical or biological special rule for a base profile (ie light combat walker) that would provide different pros and cons.

I think the army generator in what I have in mind, if kept simple, could show some real depth of variety.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Also, I have a copy of AT-43 already, but not yet The Wargaming Compendium. I was wondering whether or not to pick it up, but this may well be the spur I need! :p

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/10/28 17:34:38


Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in pl
Screaming Shining Spear





Just be aware that Wargaming Compendium is solely about historicals (with main focus on napoleonics) and some very broad but at the same time very precise concepts of scale realism in wargames, recreational problems, command chains etc and if your main experience is with modern commercial wargames this book may either come as eye opener or may not be usefull to you at all. For example, your comment about how factions in Leviathan differ does not adress the same concerns about war doctrines and their representations as discussed in WC context of historical wargames, instead you give an example of how factions in Warmahordes or 40K differ in flavor while still being based on the same game elements.
   
Made in us
Yellin' Yoof on a Scooter





The Sword and the Flame is a historical set that covers the era you're looking at. With some changes, it might suit. It is a card activation system, though. GASLIGHT is a Victorian Science Fiction rules set. I never played it, but could have some useful things in it. All Quiet on the Martian Front may also have useful bits.
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

I believe Spartan Games also had a skirmish system in their Dystopian Setting.... but the name escapes me and it is OOP.

You may also want to look at some "Historical" sets such as....

The Men Who Would Be Kings- It covers the officers idea and solo-play pretty well. Colonial era.

Rebels and Patriots- A different take on mechanics for The Men Who Would Be Kings but of a similar flavor. Wars of North America from Rev to the Civil War.

A World Aflame may also be of interest as an interwar period game.

If you are just looking for idea, In Her Majesties Name is a skirmish game, but definitely a Steampunk game with all sorts of fun bits and bobs.

Most of the games I can think of are not platoon scale, they are either skirmish or big battle.

All Quiet on the Martian Front has a very different scale then I think you are looking for and is focused on asymmetrical battles where the Humans are the horde.




As for your morale system, I think the basic premise is good, and thought about such a system myself. The biggest challenge is tracking and the not all players like such an attrition style of game. Units don't explode, they just wear down.

Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

 Easy E wrote:
I believe Spartan Games also had a skirmish system in their Dystopian Setting.... but the name escapes me and it is OOP.


Ah yes, Dystopian Legions. I've been tempted to get my hands on an OOP copy, but they're beginning to rack up a fair old price.

 Easy E wrote:
Most of the games I can think of are not platoon scale, they are either skirmish or big battle.


That is both a curse and a blessing I think; a curse inasmuch as there is not much well trodden ground for me to lift ideas from, but also a blessing in that a ruleset for it potentially fills a niche in the market.

 Easy E wrote:
As for your morale system, I think the basic premise is good, and thought about such a system myself. The biggest challenge is tracking and the not all players like such an attrition style of game. Units don't explode, they just wear down.


I freely admit I'm more of a fan of units getting worn down, and thanks to nearly a decade's exposure to the likes of Kings of War, have really come to enjoy games where miniatures are not removed, or where otherwise breaking and unit destruction is a matter of continually applied pressure, instead of a jack-in-the-box superweapon.

I think that most likely the easiest way to track this, in a platoon to reduced company size game, would be to put a D20 marker next to each unit, tracking it's morale value and associated modifiers, like how pins are tracked in Warlords of Erehwon, or wounds are tracked on multi-wound units in WFB or W40k. It might not be a system easily scaleable up to, say, Brigade level (without reducing model scale/unit composition and making companies/regiments the core unit in the game, instead of the individual/squad), but at this juncture, I think that it's a simplistic enough tracker that won't get too complicated in the midst of a heated game.

Really loving all this feedback, guys! My 'Project Bible' has gone from half a page of brief notes to nearly 2 pages of semi-structured rules and a 4-page excel document listing weapons. It's coming back to me !
Please send more advice or suggestions; I'll be trying to write up a working draft of the rules mechanics in the next couple of weeks, so I can start to move plastic around my table and see whether it works or not.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Also, just disclosure; I'm not really a fan of unit cards/card driven special abilities in games, although I do like random event cards like A World Aflame or Went The Day Well. Seems like unnecessary paperwork to me if a simpler solution exists.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/10/29 16:42:23


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Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

I think you and I have similar sensibilities. I am sorry for you as I have recently come the conclusion that I have no idea WHAT people want to play anymore. Therefore, I design games I want to play instead. It is much easier.

If I can be so humble as to direct you to the Wargame design series on my blog AND on the Delta Vector blog. I think you will find both rewarding. Be warned, there is a lot of content between the two.

Blood and Spectacles- Getting Started on Designing your Game
https://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/2018/09/wargame-design-getting-started-on.html

Delta Vector
http://deltavector.blogspot.com/search/label/Game%20Design

Sadly, on my blog you will need to use the search function looking for the keyword Wargame Design. EvilMonkeigh is smarter than me and put all his Delta Vector design content into one category link.

I look forward to what you put together.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/10/29 17:04:29


Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in us
Yellin' Yoof on a Scooter





WRT your morale system, it may be easier to have a flat minus for % casualties instead of each kill. Say at 25/50/75%. Then you could track with a colored marker instead of counting each time. Each unit state then induces it's own penalty, marked how you like.
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

Easy E, I have already read your game design blog posts, and very well written they were! An easy, but informative, experience. I shall give the Delta Vector posts a look also.

Ork-En-Man, I see what you're saying, but as its a platoon/company level game, I wanted to have a more 'blow-by-blow' tracker of morale, especially as that value will be have modifiers such as officers and flags. This could be solved by, instead of a coloured marker, a D20 with an rolling (pun not intended) morale tracker. If what I am suggesting does not survive playtesting however, I will give your marker suggestion a go!

Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

Easy E, just started reading the Delta Vector Games Design blog, and a really good rule of thumb from the comments of #3 stood out; When should it be a "STAT?" - when every unit in the game uses it. When should it be a "SPECIAL RULE?" - when it is actually "SPECIAL" aka, rare, specific to a faction or particular unit.

Really stood out to me as I was thinking about going statline-less in this game. I think I should revisit the humble statline and find a way to make it accessible without it becoming too big, too small, or too paperwork/special rule heavy.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Update:
Just finished my first playtest; Era 1 (early 1800's), basic rules (Morale & Activation, Moving, Shooting, and Melee). Only a few morale modifiers in place.

Force composition was as follows:
Team 1:
1 Regular Line Infantry Leader with 2-handed sword (for the morale buff mostly)
Unit of 10 Regular Line Infantry with muskets
Unit of 5 Regular Skirmisher Infantry with muskets

Team 2:
1 Conscript Rabble Leader with 2-handed sword (again, for the morale buff; Rabble leaders provide an extra morale buff to Rabble units as long as they are alive in this draft)
2 units of 16 Conscript Rabble Infantry with swords.

Team 1 won outright, breaking all 3 of Team 2's units and losing only the Skirmisher Infantry in return.

Things to note:
The core differences between the 3 'ranks' of unit (Line, Skirmisher, and Rabble) are shaping up well. Line Infantry have the ability to volley fire (+1 shot for every Standard weapon - muskets, rifles, shotguns and pistols if the unit does not move), which is devastating on open ground; however, given that Era 1 muskets are Move OR Shoot weapons, I think it gives the most basic of Standard weapons a very ridiculous buff. Any suggestions to streamline this?

Skirmishers can move through rough terrain without penalty and be fired through by friendly units, which makes them excellent screens; a single 5-man unit of Regular Skirmishers tied up two 16-man Conscript Rabble units for 2 turns, allowing the Regular Line unit with muskets to volley fire each turn and break both (although there is a 1 in 5 risk of friendly fire).

Rabble units are like line infantry that cannot volley fire. But instead, if the unit is over 10 models strong, they can 'drag along' a fellow Rabble unit within 3", regardless of the fellow unit's morale value. This allows Rabble units to move forward in a horde, which can either reduce the risk of Line Infantry volley fire or provide a larger and more dangerous frontage to protect friendly units than Skirmishers, at the expense of not shooting through them.

I've noticed that the morale system has a couple of interesting quirks (not decided if they're good for the game or not): Each turn I had to place an extra dice next to each unit's Morale Value dice to track damage sustained each turn, so as not to upset their position in the order of activation. Secondly, I noticed that with some lucky rolling and good positioning of higher morale value units, it is possible to chain some unit breaking combos together; the Regular Line Infantry poured a volley into the already damaged Conscript Rabble, putting enough pressure on them to allow the Skirmishers they were in combat with to break them with just a couple of successful rolls.

Interestingly, and maybe it's just because I was dealing with basic human infantry units, and no vehicles, monsters or heroes, I did not have a need of statlines; most things were determined by weapon stats, each unit's Discipline (Guard, Regular or Conscript) and Rank (Line, Skirmisher, Rabble), and the simple damage mechanic (6+ on a D10 per model in the unit, +/- modifiers for range, armour, cover, weapons etc).

One other hitch I've noticed with the morale system's arbitrary Morale Value number for each Discipline (20 for Guard, 15 for Regular, 10 for Conscript) is that it does not take into account unit sizes. Therefore, before modifiers, a unit of 5 Regular Skirmisher Infantry had a Morale of 15, whereas their opposing unit of 16 Conscript Rabble only had a morale of 10. Is this a bad thing? I'm not sure, as it does seem to invalidate unit sizes which is relevant for purposes of shooting and combat (especially as models are not removed in this current draft of the rules), but also does go some way to simulate the effectiveness of trained and drilled troops against masses of irregulars.

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 2019/10/30 22:04:13


Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord






I think there are some simple options regarding some of your observations:

1) Unit cards is an easy off-board way to keep track of stuff, depending on how big you plan your games to become. Likewise, using a simple number of tokens (easily designed) to indicate the status of the unit can be placed on the card if you want to keep the game surface clear of dice/tokens.

2) An option for morale with unit sizes can definitely be addressed, in varying degrees of depth. Units over X gain Y....Units under X lose Y. Perhaps each unit generates an additional point of morale for each friendly non-broken unit within X". Meaning a larger mob (or mobs) of rabble will operate better together. Likewise, broken or seriously smacked units within X" may decrease your unit's morale "Oh god, the guys to our left are fleeing!", etc. By elaborating on this mechanic you can introduce additional officer traits/abilities/quirks. Maybe one type of officer simply has your unit ignore nearby units morale (for better or worse), etc. Does cover grant a morale bonus? Perhaps just being in a proper defensive area would bolster someone....i.e. rabble behind a trench might fear leaving it?

3) Do Skirmishers have a bonus to avoid incoming attacks? That'd be a nice buff. Harder to hit, but minimize their ability to put out damage appropriately. Literally skirmishers should just be scouting, light engagements, raids, etc.


 
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

 Elbows wrote:
I think there are some simple options regarding some of your observations:

1) Unit cards is an easy off-board way to keep track of stuff, depending on how big you plan your games to become. Likewise, using a simple number of tokens (easily designed) to indicate the status of the unit can be placed on the card if you want to keep the game surface clear of dice/tokens.


That's an interesting one. Given that the ruleset with be for 3-6 units of 5-20 infantry (or 5-10 cavalry, or 1 vehicle/artillery piece), unit cards could be feasible. I'm not greatly opposed to tokens in that regard; so an 'activated' token could be useful to keep track of who's been used of a turn.

 Elbows wrote:

2) An option for morale with unit sizes can definitely be addressed, in varying degrees of depth. Units over X gain Y....Units under X lose Y. Perhaps each unit generates an additional point of morale for each friendly non-broken unit within X". Meaning a larger mob (or mobs) of rabble will operate better together. Likewise, broken or seriously smacked units within X" may decrease your unit's morale "Oh god, the guys to our left are fleeing!", etc. By elaborating on this mechanic you can introduce additional officer traits/abilities/quirks. Maybe one type of officer simply has your unit ignore nearby units morale (for better or worse), etc. Does cover grant a morale bonus? Perhaps just being in a proper defensive area would bolster someone....i.e. rabble behind a trench might fear leaving it?


Because it's still largely a squad level game, where individual miniatures still have some value, I was considering that a unit's Morale Value could be X (the number of models in a unit) + Y (the benefit of their Discipline). So, a unit of 5 Regular Skirmisher Infantry could have a Morale Value of 10 (5 miniatures + 5 for being Regular). Maybe Rabble units don't get a Discipline benefit, so their morale purely relies on unit numbers and neighbouring modifiers. I am still undecided about whether I want model removal as a result of taking casualties, as that could lead to the unit being destroyed before they have actually run out of Morale Value. I like the idea of units gaining Morale from neighbouing units being strong, and that deteriorating as their fellows take damage. However, with all the modifiers flying around, and to simplify the process, maybe a unit with over 15 Morale Value generates a +1 Morale Value for units within 5", and a unit with under 5 Morale value generates -1 Morale Value for units within 5".

I love the idea of different officers having different roles, as well as different specialists: Two specialist models I have in mind are: 1) The ubiquitous Doctor/Medic unit, that allows nearby units to ignore certain damage, and 2) What I'm entitling a 'Song Major', who rallies the troops with his gusto and singing voice (everything from Sea Shanties to Opera, depending on where he hails from!), and can therefore restore morale to nearby units, instead of just ignoring damage a la the Doctor unit. The idea of ignoring nearby flagging morale might work well as a cheap 'slave driver' officer or specialist (Can just imagine him screaming "Eyes Front!!" to his troop of militia as the rest of the battleline crumbles about him).

Cover as a morale booster definitely makes sense, and would bring some period flavour to a game I am cautiously trying *not* to turn into a 40k clone, even though it shares the same kind of scale (30-60 models a side). I can imagine garden walls providing a slight benefit (+1 Morale in addition to cover benefits), trenches even more so (+3 Morale), and bunkers maybe even more so again (+5?), making even Rabble a dangerous proposition if they are holding a strong defensive position.

 Elbows wrote:

3) Do Skirmishers have a bonus to avoid incoming attacks? That'd be a nice buff. Harder to hit, but minimize their ability to put out damage appropriately. Literally skirmishers should just be scouting, light engagements, raids, etc.


They don't as it stands, but they do have a sizeable unit coherency boundary compared to other units (5" max between each model instead of Regulars' and Rabble's 1"), which means that a single 10-man unit can cover an entire 4' table edge. If I give them a further defensive upgrade for going to ground, I may also have to allow enemy units to shoot through skirmishers, as otherwise I fear they may be too powerful, unless perhaps I only arm them with Standard weapons and do not give them use of 'Projectors' (special weapons, such as the Congreve Projector, Heat Ray Projector, or my favourite, the Lightning Projector).


I am very much thinking on the fly in regards to your feedback, but I am incredibly grateful for what you have provided. It is much to chew over in the coming days

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2019/10/31 09:39:05


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Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

Did a third playtest on Saturday afternoon, went very quickly...

The introduction of cavalry showed me that certain melee weapon statlines I have devised are far, far too powerful! Hopefully the amendments I have made for my next playtest will bring things back into order. Next stop, the addition of Projectors (special weapons operated by 1 individual in a unit, or by vehicles/carriages/monsters); I can't wait to give the Lightning Projector a spin!

Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in us
Powerful Phoenix Lord






Glad to hear you're still working on it, and having some of those "wow...that...didn't work" moments We all have them!

 
   
Made in gb
Dakka Veteran






Cheltenham, UK

Yes, the "that didn't go how I expected it" moment is always a good one. Important to airways check that the outcome wasn't a statistical outlier, though. I've had moments in playtesting when something improbable happened, so you check the maths and find it's a 1-in-144 chance of happening and I'm "Yeah, that's fine".

   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

I will admit, this whole playtesting business is helping me sharpen my head-maths... I haven't sat down and done mathematics for nearly a decade!

Last playtest, the cavalry did as well as I hoped, and I forgot to try out the Projectors, but I instituted an order system (to let 1 nearby unit move/shoot/melee a second time) to actually make Officers and Leaders useful besides a Morale Value buff, and... well... it's crazy destructive. Might have to impose a limit on it, because a unit of 10 Regular Line Infantry, in volley fire formation with boxmag rifles, firing twice a turn, under half range? That's 60 shots that will decimate most infantry and cavalry formations, *per turn* if it is unrestricted.

In addition to remembering Projectors, and instituting checks and balances on the order system, my next playtest will also introduce minor officers: Doctors that can negate damage taken by units, Song Majors that can restore Morale Value, and cheap-value Drill Sergeants that negate the effects of nearby low-Morale Value units. I don't know if I'll hit my 17th July deadline for the 1st proper rules draft, as I've been ill the last couple days, but I'll be trying my darndest.

Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in gb
Dakka Veteran






Cheltenham, UK

a unit of 10 Regular Line Infantry, in volley fire formation with boxmag rifles, firing twice a turn, under half range? That's 60 shots that will decimate most infantry and cavalry formations


A question we have to ask ourselves is always "is that reasonable?" This is a tricky one for you, thematically, with the whole steampunk thing. After all, the reason that the massed cavalry charge stopped, historically was because of exactly this: the march of progress made it lethally easy for well-armed infantry to cripple cavalry even at medium - let alone short - range.

From your perspective, the first question has to be "does the volume and deadliness of massed infantry firepower against unarmoured targets accurate represent the level of technology I want to represent?" - to which, I assume, the answer is either "yes" or "pretty much".

The next question then must be: "Do I still want the cavalry charge to be a thing?" Again, presumably the answer must be "yes" because it's a thematic accent that's worth retaining.

At that point, then, we must ask ourselves "given that small arms technology has reached X point, but the cavalary charge has not - as in our world - been rendered obsolete, what additional technological step must have been taken or what historical technological step must have not been taken to make this scenario plausible and what ramifications does that have on the rules?"

Now, in a steampunk environment, you kind of have to avoid the idea of technological steps that haven't been taken yet, because part of the charm of the setting is that it's set in a time and place where anything is basically possible if you put enough gears on it.

So in this case, we have to imagine that we have horses capable of weathering the short-range volleys of massed infantry. What might that be?

Brain-storming it for a few minutes, my thought is "energy shields". Bear with me. The cavalry can be equipped with small energy shields that require one hand to use (so they can't be used at the same time as s a cavalry lance) and which need a small generator (carried on the horse, so they can't be used by light infantry). These project a field a few feet in front of the horse (so both horse and rider are protected) but can only be sustained for a few seconds before the capacitors must re-charge, so they can be used defensively on the charge but can't be used all the time.

This will provide the cavalry with a means of personal defence that ensures the cavalry - whilst obsolescent - isn't quite obsolete and can still mount a credible charge of isolated infantry units, but will still get cut to pieces if they try to charge a square.

You will probably come up with a better idea that suits your particular steampunk setting. But this is how I would tend to approach this sort of issue.

   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

I like the sound of that, a "forcefield projector" of some description that nulls small-arms damage if you are within charge distance of an enemy unit, but can only be used once per game.

Late era cavalry will no doubt be armoured, which means that over half range, they stand a fair chance of survival against standard weapons (more so if they use cover/are shielded by vehicles and infantry). When they reach charge range (approx. 20") they can engage their forcefields, and either make them invulnerable to small arms fire, or give a -damage bonus, *or* give a +armour bonus. I'll have to try out different ideas and see what suits.

Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
Made in gb
Jealous that Horus is Warmaster




Cornwall UK

Well, I had an evening spare, so I did another playtest, a Cavalry based force (with a Morale-renewing Song Major in addition to the leader) against a run of the mill Line Infantry force. By turn 4 I thought it fair to call a draw, although if I had played another turn the 1 infantry unit of the mostly Cav army could have won the day.

I tried out Projectors (unit special weapons) and while they aren't super spectacular, I like the way that they buff the unit's abilities instead of being inane and overpowered.

I tried out the 1-turn only Forcefield Projector for a unit of Heavy Cavalry, and while I liked the effect (-D6 damage from every ranged attack for 1 turn), it was most definitely OP. Will be amending that next playtest.

Limiting the number of times an Officer can give an order made the game much more tactical, but the limit of 1 order per game in my mind lessens the value of the Officer, he's otherwise essentially a big target to make the rest of your force crumble all about him should he fall.

A funny moment also ensued: firing a volley into a melee in the late game, when the melee-engaged units are low on Morale Value, is a sure fire way to wipe out everyone involved, thanks to friendly fire!

Blood Bowl: Wolverinehampton Wanderers (Chaos Chosen Team ) (0W/0D/1L)
Warlords of Erehwon: Hradgar Skinbeard's Expedition (Dwarfs ) (2W/0D/0L) 
   
 
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