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Classic Hammer » Warhammer Fantasy » Rules Development
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Custom Warhammer musings
6th/7th edition Warhammer is my favourite base rule set, but I tend to prefer the army sizes of 4th/5th and like the clarity of 8th. There's also many little pesky things that have just never felt right- and though most of these change from edition to edition, some are pretty constant.

I've decided that one day when I have some free time (ha!) I'll write out my own Warhammer-based rules to try and address some of these problems, but in the meantime I thought I'd share some of the basic concepts and rules I'm currently contemplating. Please note that many of these rules may seem nonsensical, since I can't yet give the full context for them.

Basic concept: Separating unit roles. This isn't just for the different weapons of various infantry units, but also about making the role of infantry and monsters more distinct from that of cavalry, etc.

Rules idea: Being mounted does not grant +1 save (it's a little rough for the poor infantry that the faster, more hard hitting cavalry were also usually much tougher). Barding can still help here though. Instead, charging Cavalry deliver an Impact Hit equal to the strength value of the mount. Cavalry also do not gain rank bonuses for combat resolution. This is partly to discourage the old 'deathstar cavalry', but also gives the infantry a greater role as static combat resolution vs the cavalry's attacks (and impact hits). Brettonians may get some leniency here- I don't know yet. Either way, Champions can help as described further below.
Monsters will also gain impact hits- probably D3, or D6 depending on size (and don't have any kind of Stomp attack). I haven't yet decided how best to balance them, but monster units will probably fall somewhere between cavalry and infantry in role.
For weapons, there's a few specific things I've currently decided on:
Hand weapons and shields give +1 armour save when fighting to the front- no special parry save. This is the same as 6th ed.
Spearmen have the 'Impact Hits (1)' special rule when fighting to the front, so long as they didn't move that player turn. This goes with a general re-wording of how impact hits work so that it can actually be applied this way! They also still fight in 2 ranks.
Two-Handed Weapon units suffer -2 Initiative when determining attack order, rather than striking last. This goes with a change to the charge rule so that chargers gain +2 Initiative rather than striking first.

Basic concept: Terrain. Pre-8th ed Terrain was far too harsh, with forests or any other difficult terrain becoming practically impassable. 8th over-corrected, and terrain became a joke- not assisted by the whacky tables. I like the idea that terrain should be more interactive, though not without costs, and I also like the idea of Infantry being the masters of terrain, while it seriously hinders cavalry.

Rules idea: Difficult ground, such as forests, halves movement and stops marching as usual. Sort-of stealing from the Lustria campaign, units of infantry may attempt to adopt a loose formation to move through the terrain more easily. The unit must have a musician to co-ordinate the action (part of wanting to make command models more important), and has to pass a leadership test at the start of the movement phase. Passing or failing does not reduce movement, but if passed the unit can move through difficult terrain as if it were open ground. The unit is not physically placed as skirmishers (and retains facing, the need to wheel, etc.), but models can be thought of as having broken ranks. If engaged in close combat, the unit can gain no rank bonus while in loose formation, and cannot make use of any command actions (see later). To return to the regular formation requires another leadership test, taken at the end of the movement phase (a musician is still required). A unit cannot go into loose formation and back to regular formation in the same turn. For those wondering, a general's leadership will help, but battle standards will not grant re-rolls to this kind of action.

Basic concept: Command groups. I've always been dissatisfied with command groups in Warhammer. Standards are great, with +1 combat resolution at the risk of VPs, but champions and musicians are rarely of any true value (being a challenge-interceptor is a sad fate for a champion). I want musicians and champions to have their own abilities.

Rules ideas: Musicians still do what they usually do in 6th/7th, but also have the ability to assist infantry movement as outlined above. They also give a unit +1Ld when taking Command Actions.
The presence of a Champion is not just a useful mini-character, but also signifies that the unit is a veteran unit, with various tricks up their sleeve. A unit with a Champion may attempt to use a Command Action at the start of their turn. To do this the unit has to pass a Leadership test- failure causes no penalties other than not gaining the bonus. The exact bonus depends on the unit and/or equipment the unit is armed with. The following are some examples:

Hand weapons and shields: "Shieldwall!"- So long as it hasn't moved this turn, the unit gains +1 armour save against any unit attacking from the front, and from any shooting attack that originates from the unit's forward arc (judge by model majority). This means +2 save to the front usually, so even a unit with only light armour and shields may have a 3+ save so long as it's only being defensive and not outmanoeuvred. This lasts until the controlling player's next turn.

Spears: "Brace!"- if the unit is inflicting Impact Hits these hits are resolved at the same strength as any Impact Hits that are dealt against this unit (to a minimum of the spear-wielder's strength). This lasts until the controlling player's next turn. This should make spearmen a strong cavalry and monster deterrent, though strong infantry are their weakness.

Two Hand Weapons: "Flurry of blows"- If the unit is charging and engages an enemy in the flank or rear then for every successful hit the unit causes the unit may make one extra attack. These extra attacks cannot cause additional attacks. This is obviously quite nasty, but the flank requirement and fact that such units usually have little to no armour should keep it fair (plus the extra hits dealt are unlikely to be more than those gained by the spearmen's impact hits, so it should be equal in power).

Two-Handed Weapons: "Reckless charge"- If the unit is charging then it gains an additional +1S to its attacks (+3 total), however the models suffer a -1 penalty to their armour saves for that combat round. Other ideas included Two-Handed Weapon models inflicting double wounds on a charge (after saves), giving them a monster hunter role.

Bows: "Volley fire!"- This would apply to all bow units, and maybe crossbows. Every model in the unit can shoot, so long as at least one model in the unit can see the target, however all shots have a -1 to-hit penalty in addition to normal penalties (this even applies to models that would have had a clear line of fire). I liked 8th ed's volley fire rule, but counting models from ranks 3 and further, then halving the number, is just weirdly awkward.

Combat Cavalry: "Devastating charge"- If charging, the cavalry unit gains +1S to its impact hits for every full rank of models it possesses (note that that this includes +1S for a single rank). This may be enough to compensate Bretonnians for the loss of rank bonus, as their impact hits would be devastating (and Bretonnian Knight Champions would be fairly cheap).

I haven't fully thought through some of these yet, and the way I've assigned them based on weaponry is just to give an idea of those likely to have the rule- it won't be final. I haven't yet thought of ideas for flails, halberds, and probably other weapons. Light cavalry may have a 'fire and flee' option.
Part of the goal is to give each unit an area where it excels, hopefully enhancing an area where they're already good- therefore the hand weapon and shield unit is tough and defensive, spearmen are excellent defence against the charges of strong cavalry and monsters, etc.
A unit of charging Knights with a Champion against a unit of Spearmen with a Champion should be quite brutal with the initial impact, which is how I think it should be.

Another goal that goes along with the above is that I want to encourage the presence of more combat characters (which usually have higher leadership, to help with the various tests), and to also encourage the general to stay with his troops rather than fly around on a monster all game.

Obviously this won't be your average Warhammer, and can get pretty involved, but I think it can work when, as I said before, armies are more like those of 4th/5th ed, where 1000pts can be just 3-4 units plus a war machine or equivalent.

I'll add other ideas when I think of them- apologies for the awkwardness of a 'stream of consciousness' post
I really like some of the ideas here. Especially your concept of making command groups have more of a purpose. I may shoehorn some of your ideas into my games.

Matthew Masiello
"Prepare to embrace your creators in the stygian haunts of hell, barbarian", gasped the first soldier.

"Only after you have kissed the fleeting stead of death, wretch!" returned Grignr.
Just Tony
Some of your ideas seem fairly decent, but a part of me that's planted firmly in 6th sees a bit too many special rules for certain things. I think a LD buff of +1 would be enough for Champions, and the +1A or +1BS should stay as well.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
It is a lot of book keeping, but that's why it would build armies from a 4th/5th ed points frame, so armies are much smaller. I think smaller armies are a great improvement to the game, as they allow space for manoeuvring. I have seen countless 6th-8th ed battles where the table is filled with models, and players do nothing but push their models to meet in the centre- there's no room for flank attacks. 8th was the worst for this, but it started around the time of 6th. Shooting also has more impact in smaller games, as panic tests are much more likely, which helps bring back some of the shooting/combat balance I feel the game lost (particularly in 8th).

A friend also suggested the +1 Ld for champions, but my problem with that is the higher leadership goes, the less relevant leadership tests become. When all armies have high leadership then psychology stops being a game factor- it's one of my greatest bugbears in 40k- anything that requires the opponent to fail a leadership test is a waste of time. This could be countered b dropping the leadership of all units (so the champion brings them back to modern standard), but that goes too far the other way, and makes champions an absolute requirement. If basic human soldiers were leadership 6 they'd fail more than they'd pass, before modifiers, and terror-bomb units and the like would be everywhere (whereas my rules are intended to keep such units useful, but reduce their power and prevalence from 6th/7th times).

Another option would be to simply go back to 4th ed style characters, but that treads on the toes of combat Heroes, and my memories from this time are mainly of loading up such champions with horribly broken one-use magic items to be used in a suicidal manner. I prefer that the champion actually complement the unit, and like the idea that a unit champion represents more than just a skilled individual, but a whole experienced unit.
I like where you are going with this, Geep. I feel like a lot of it would need some playtesting, but the core thoughts behind it are more about a game of units and maneuver, which I like.
A lot of playtesting would be needed. I've recently decided that the Spearmen 'impact hits' rule should only apply if they didn't move in their last player turn, not simply 'in this turn'. It makes them more defensive and less manoeuvrable, as they should be, and means they're not treading too much on the toes of more aggressive, mobile, multi-attack units.

Units and manoeuvre is exactly what I'm going for! I like the big monsters and magic, but they shouldn't dominate the game and all things should have a place.

I think army selection rules also need some tweaking- possibly combining the percentage system and 6th/7th ed tables. That'd be a bit complicated, but I've always hated people referring to a 'core tax', and before that simply filling the core slots with the fewest, cheapest troops possible. The 'core' units of an army should be just that: the core! The important centre around which specialty units can hinge.
For alternative force ideas (eg. 'My army is a cadre of mages from Hoeth, they should have a lot of Swordmasters!'Wink, I think it's fine to make alternative lists, but those lists must then have their own restrictions. It's just not right in background or in game to have an abundance of Swordmasters backed up by many Bolt Throwers, while the token unit of Spearmen try to hide in a forest.
Multiple specialist forces could be combined, but each would effectively act as its own mini-army ('But the army has just crossed the ocean!'- well that's great, show me your sizeable number of Lothern Seaguard that'd have come with those Bolt Throwers, and the Captain whose leading them).
Just Tony
I'd also throw in that you can't have more magic using characters than combat characters.
Father, soldier, musician, Transformers fan, masochistic junior moderator type thing.
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