Tuesday, 20 March 2018

SuperUltimateHammer!

I know it's Shit Curis. It was deliberate....Kind of.



Being an fart of the old variety (oh me back!) I have a hard time remembering basic stuff, like the list of shopping the wife has asked me to get at the shops. Once she's spouted off 5 or more things I tend to stick my hand in the air and shout " Whoa! Whoa! Write me a list. " Now, part of that is laziness, I admit, but it is also a product of 10+ years of sleep deprivation cause by little people and generally just getting older and fuzzier.

This means that actually trying to remember all the rules in a game (which i've never been very good at to be fair) is a right pain in the arse. And it seems this is a problem for a lot gamers who find them selves endlessly flicking through rulebooks trying to figure out where that rule about burrowing creatures attacks is. I'm sure it's here somewhere.




What makes it worse is that half the time it's not even in the version of the rules you are supposed to be playing! For instance, I learned my Warhammer basics by playing a lot Warhammer Ancients. I played far more of that than Warhammer Fantasy simply because it was what I got the opportunity to play. Hence my knowledge of any Warhammer Fantasy game is going to be coloured by WAB. 'What do you mean Cavalry can't countercharge as a charge reaction?'

A Cavalry countercharging yesterday


3rd Edition Warhammer was a lovely book to look at but pain in the arse to use. The layout of books from that period are terrible. The text is dense as fuck and finding anything takes ages. 2nd Edition is much more user friendly from that point of view and weighs a fuck of a lot less and the same can be said of 4th edition. After that you are just endlessly tinkering with the basics.

Your wife and her friend tinkering with your Warhammer while you were out. A couple of minutes ago

You can see why people tend to look for other rules to satisfy their 'big blocks of infantry and cavalry' needs. Kings of War seems popular, although i've never played it, as it's a system that relies on unit being a set size. So you can mount the figures any way you want as long as the unit fits within the regulation (think of a unit as having base restriction rather than the figure) and this is a format that used in historical games quite a lot (DBA etc).

A KoW army, tomorrow 'Almost there!'

Part of the upset with the coming of Age of Sigmar (which I urge you to play, you'll get the 'Warhammer feels' I promise) was that the blocks of infantry game was gone. People like the aesthetic. They like to see an army lined up ready for battle with individual units picked out by their banners, ready to advance to the enemy and route them from the field. It does look bloody cool. It's one of the best moments of the hobby. So I understand that wanting to play a game like that is the ultimate goal for many of us. But sometimes finding the right rules, and remembering them all is incredibly difficult.

What can also be galling is playing a game that is 30+ years old knowing that there are betters ways of doing the same thing already out there, just labelled as historical or as a different branch of Fantasy.

half inched from the lovely Here the Sea Pours out 


What i'd like is a game that takes the best bits from all the versions of Warhammer, all the bits that worked well and didn't need improving (but got changed anyway) mixed in with all the bits of other games that work well and would make the game even better. Then all of that to be presented in two pages of A4 that will give you a fun, challenging, playable game that can get played in evening with blocks of infantry, blocks of cavalry, war engines, hero's and wizards.

So the question is...What would you want in your game?

Here are some of my wishes

1. The Hero as leader of brigade of units like in Fantasy Warlords.
2. Canon shots that you estimate and that bounce.
3. Movement of blocks of infantry without wheeling!
4. Cavalry that has countercharge as a charge reaction.
5. Light cavalry that can fire and flee.
6. Deployment points like in Sharp Practice where units deploy from during the game.
7. Simple Magic system that is seen as part of the game.
8. The fewer modifiers the better.
9. The fewer tables the better.
10. The fewer stats the better.

What about you? What would you want in your SuperUltimate version of Warhammer?

Answers on a postcard.

Or just...you know...reply using technology and stuff.

30 comments:

  1. Hi WP,
    I'm a big fan of Kings of War. (Not so much the KoW "scene"). With the exception of cannon shots that bounce, it fits almost all the criteria you set above, the rules are short, and games go quickly with a lot of action. It does have the strange artifact that your units don't strike back in a combat, you strike in your turn. But that's kind of why it works.

    I got my whole club playing it, and then we went to a Tournament to meet more players, and Holy Shit that killed it.

    To revive it for my club will take a full on Narrative something to wash the stink off (and maybe a priest).

    Anyway, we could do a remote game to show you the basics. Just reach out the usual way. :)

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    1. I think the issue a lot of people have with KoW is the lack of casualty removal. When you get used to being able to judge the health of a unit by glancing at it's size then it's quite jarring when that's taken away. I understand the use of it though, pike and shotte, black powder etc use it too.

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  2. WP nice post. I feel for you on the graying gray matter issues, texting of shopping list can be a blessing and a curse! “What didn’t you get milk? It was on the list that I texted you along with the 80 other things in and amongst the other 100 lines of texts and 200 emojis I sent!” As for 3ed I have to agree it can be cumbersome, I would suggest trying the post it note tabs you can buy to index it. I use if for the union contract at work with great effect. My issue is more of dealing with rules released outside of the main books. I loved the White Dwarf and have often waxed on about the good old days of when it contained rules and army lists and such. Now I bitch about how it includes rules and units and such since I have to dig through the collection to find said rule or unit stat. I think that is part of what makes it somewhat attractive to us isn’t it? It takes work to play it. Kind of like the old saying “ when I was your age we had to walk to school in the snow up hill both ways!” I have a fondness for 3rd because it takes some effort to play. It has that add RPG aspect of pre game of making army lists, rolling for spells, and such. Now it’s not without its need for improvements but if I want easy I’ll just play a video game or computer game. I do like the thought of a quick reference guide, possibly a WD index for rules released there as well. With a few house rules thrown in. Sounds like a group project!

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    1. I agree with all your points but there are improvements that could be made without breaking the games back. Take some of the ideas I talked about in the post. You brigade your units under a Hero, you give cavalry the ability to countercharge, you remove wheeling etc and simplify movement and you use the guessing artillery range mechanism. This will give you a game that looks and plays like 3rd but speed things up and smooth them out. If you use the deployment points in a scenario game you bring in an extra layer of strategy and jeopardy that Warhammer lacks.

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    2. WP so can we expect a Whiskey Priest’s Consolidated Rules Quick Reference Sheet in the near future? With a Home Distilled Rules Addendum?

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  3. I'm intrigued by 'The Hero as leader of brigade of units like in Fantasy Warlords.' I've not read Fantasy Warlords... how does that work differently? Do you still have unit champions?
    Unit/Brigade/Army could be a nice way to have the heros in a Heirarchical structure reminiscent of champion, Minor Hero, Major hero of 2nd edition.

    I would like to enhance the game by more importance of tactics. I've always imagine Orcs just being a horde army that just charges across the field, so they'd get morale bonuses the bigger the unit for example.
    I'd love to see an integral (and simple!) campaign system. Single battles are fun, but campaigns give them meaning.

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    1. It's a neat system. Your army hero's are rated 1-4. Hero's rated 1 should be unit champs. 2-4 are the leaders of a brigade of that many units. They get to add their leadership bonus etc to those units under their command. Quite a historical way of doing things. Their is a simultaneous orders system in the rules as well which is intriguing but very non-hammery.

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  4. Going along the lines of the bouncing cannon shot, what about the use of the Battle Masters cannon templates? They were always a bit of fun imo.

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  5. I just wrote a game called Mini Gans, which pretty much simplifies these kind of game down to the very basics. You get a single stat and no tables to learn. Its fun as a skirmish game and would work well as a mass combat game with some tinkering

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  6. - Less stats than WH
    - decreasing efficiency with wound loss
    - Initiative based activation rather than IgoUgo
    - Temporisation of actions to allow for reactions (counter charge, counter shooting, escape, whatever)
    - Action based system instead of turn based (so you can shoot and move or move and shoot, shoot or move twice or whatever) as you please
    - Simple bonuses for different formations (svae bonus for testudo, S bonus for spearhead, ...)
    - No special rules

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    Replies
    1. -Yup
      -Yes
      -Uhuh
      -Wha?
      -Aye
      -Good
      -Agreed

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    2. Ah you mean saving an action back in order to react

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    3. That would be cool, like a defend or overwatch

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    4. Maybe use order tokens like they did in Epic. Both sides flip their order tokens at the same time and perform the action. Some thought will have to be given to order priority when enemy units have conflicting actions - but maybe highest initiative performs their order first; such as two enemy units wanting to charge each other.

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  7. I'm sure you have a robust network to develop and playtest such a set of rules if you chose to further develop it...

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  8. A great topic and some interesting suggestions above (like binning IgoUgo).

    To me part of the trouble with Warhammer is that it tries to be too many things (or is perhaps different things to different people?). Or perhaps it's of its time but time has moved on. It wants the ranked up aesthetic, which as you say can look damn cool, but it also wants skirmish-level granularity. To me of these the latter is the important one for a number of reasons. A while back I played a game that was along the lines of seven samurai against a horde, each samurai having a magic sword with a different ability, and I loved that I was sending this chap with this sword to do A while another was off to do B. Similarly having different stats for Leadership, Cool and the rest. I want champions (i.e. great fighters) that aren't unit leaders or generals, I want psychology (especially fear, stupidity, hatred and animosity). I think all of these things can contribute to the sort of scenario-driven, not-everything's-out-in-the-open games that I particularly enjoy.

    Big battles aren't really the point - for me especially there's the issue of painting all the figures, but also find that it tends to up the cheese factor and the scenarios become more self-important and less interesting.

    I think Age of Sigmar has promise at the skirmish level (but needs psychology and probably a few other things adding). I've only played it once but from what I know of the rules it seems it'd become a bit of a mess with some of the larger units it talks about.

    For the larger battles I have no problem with the element-based thing but if you're going to do that then surely you need wheeling (but not backwards wheels, which are an abomination!)? :)

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    1. The wheeling thing comes from having played the War of the ring game which works with blocks of troops but simplifies movement much more than WH. I may have used wheeling as a catch all term for the general inflexibility of the movement in WH which is something that I really dislike in the game. Your other points are pretty fair though. Smaller, more story driven battles are certainly the sweet spot for the game.

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  9. This all sounds great, can you have it written up so we can take a look at the weekend?

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  10. Here I make for you the system stats, Whiskeys:

    Warrior stats basic:
    Fightingest Guy - 3
    Protect - 2
    Hams - 34

    For battling, get the Fightingest Guy. If the Protect is established? Make the toss.
    Hams are rate for the win it.

    Explode!

    Now it's your turn.

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  11. Beautiful, Colin. Beautiful.

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  12. KoW is the way to go, i based my LOTR stuff with a view to being usable in KoW, LOTR and WH but am currently in the process of converting to full on KoW. GW is not completely to blame for the failure of WHFB for large games-you have to remember that they made role-play figures to start with then came the rule set for "Battles" using your role-play figures, over the years corporate GW wanted everyone to buy a million figures so the game was changed to force players into larger armies without making the game itself more fluid.
    I honestly think if KoW continues to grow GW will bring out a Warhammer "mega-battles" rule set.

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  13. Oldhammer is eminently hackable. So much about later fantasy wargames is that they are sold as an all in one solution. I've enjoyed Warhammer with written orders and simultaneous movement based on int, likewise I've played RT that uses M as an action-point system. So yeah, get your stuff together and tinker.

    One thing I would say in response to your main post - that special rules and stats should be written on roster sheets, and commmon rules are on the summary sheets - there shouldn't be much need for the rule-books when you're playing. Then again I've heard of people actually looking up individual weapon effects in Realm of Chaos books rather than noting them down on their unit roster sheets. The mind boggles. Some basic housekeeping goes a long way to streamline play, and stops stats and tables being a barrier, without dumbing down what is an already quite simple ruleset.

    With regards to what you want to tinker with - I'm not sure why you want to remove the wheeling turn (which in 3rd isn't used if the arc is smaller than 22° - big blocks of medieval troops aren't very manoeuvrable, and I'm assuming a 1:10 figure:combatant relation, because there's no way 20 people need those kind of manoeuvres - perhaps that's part of why you find them tiresome? I'm sure countercharges are covered somewhere, maybe WAB?

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    1. I like a more fluid movement process. The centre point movement that is used in WotR seems nice an easy and it sounds like it is used in KoW too. The issue i have is that it's hard for units to move around scenery. It gets clunky and tedious and slows the game down, reducing the ability to react to movements of the enemy. I hate my units getting bunched up and queuing. Medieval armies were 3 big mobs for the most part. Warhammer doesn't even try to reflect that. I suppose the use of brigades like Warmaster or Fantasy Warlords would trim that down a bit. You'd be surprised how manoeuvrable a late medieval army could be. The Swiss managed to beat the shit out of the Burgundians by sneaking a huge block (3000+) of pike men right into the rear of the army and moved into contact quick enough for most of the officers to be still trying get their armour on when they got their heads caved in.

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    2. Yeah, I can see a superior drilled late medieval elite troop like the Swiss (or high elves) being able to do central pivot manoeuvres (half a unit wheeling backwards!), while early medieval shieldwall Norse types and ancient Orcish types might struggle and have a less elegant rhythm of movement, and a mob of Skaven something else again (rank and file ratmen don't really make much sense). High Ld, a Standard and musician to help improve the quality, definitely some food for thought there.

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    3. Field of Glory has a drilled/undrilled quality which dramatically affects your maneuvering ability. You start needing to look at a chart to realize what maneuvers are simple/complex based on your unit type (light/med/hvy/cav/etc) and the drilled aspect. Probably too crunchy.....but it does give a model to contemplate.

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  14. I kind of like card activation at this point. I bought To The Strongest to try his system and then promptly got distracted. But yeah, 3rd edition is far from perfect.

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