Next up: Conqueror: Fields of Victory version 2.0

I've been rather quiet here of late and for that I apologize.  I started the year with grand ambitions of a new trilogy but I've gotten sidetracked in a much-needed revision of my fantasy/historical miniatures rules, Conqueror:  Fields of Victory.

This project has languished for years.  In fact, getting Conqueror into a publishable state took a decade.  In that context, the revision isn't that far behind schedule.

This isn't so much a new edition as it is a revision.  Naturally I'm fixing typos and cleaning up the language where it needs it, but that's not enough to justify the extra effort.

The changes fall into four areas:

Spells and Magic items -  These got a full review and as a result there are a lot of new spells and magic items.  The Magic School of Death got the biggest change and is now as scary as it should have been from the beginning.  Magic items also got a major workover, particularly in weapons.  The end result is more potent, meaningful options for your troops.

Special Rules:  Some big changes here, largely a result of feedback from players.  The list is still short but is comprehensive.  New additions include "horde" troops that gain an extra morale bonus for outranking as well as "rebellious" troops that get sidetracked into infighting during the battle.

Army Lists:  A glaring weakness of the original was that I didn't give you any ready-made options for armies.  This has now been corrected.  Players can still make up their own custom units, but I've provided pre-generated stats for a variety of iconic units like orcs, elves, dwarves, undead, and of course various flavors of human.

Point Values:  The "how-to" section has also been extensively rewritten based on player feedback over the years.  The process for making your own units is now easier and more consistent.

Oh, and the cover art is going to be much better.

I've promised myself that I can't do any fiction writing until this gets done, so I'm hoping to have this wrapped up very soon. 

Until then, Happy Easter!

Warhammer 40,000 2nd. edition

If you aren't a miniatures gamer, you probably have no idea what this post is even about, but if you are vaguely aware of a company called "Games Workshop," odds are you've heard of their flagship product:  Warhammer 40,000.

The game system has changed quite a bit over the years, and I'm one of those geezers who think it's been getting worse for 20 years.

The edition I prefer is the one that went out of print back in the 20th Century:  the second edition.

This post is dedicated to my thoughts, optional rules and is a resource for late-comers to what I consider to be the definitive version of the game.

Even fans like me acknowledge the game has some issues.  Long ago, there was a web site called and together with like-minded people, I generated a list of fixes and rules clarifications.  One of the interesting aspects was how widespread these patches were - a lot of people saw the same issues and came to the same conclusions about how to fix them

Download Warhammer 40k summary

One of the main problems with the game that I didn't address is that hand-to-hand combat tends to bog down in larger games.  Here is my solution.

Instead of rolling dice equal to the number of attacks, roll a single die and add a +1 to the model that has the higher attack characteristic (if it is a tie, neither side benefits).

When additional models attack, retain the +1 but omit the additional die.

For each parry, add +1 to the model's combat score.  Use all the other modifiers (charging, cover) as normal.

The purpose of this is to speed up combat resolution while retaining the stats and feel of the old system.  The odds are the same, but you spend less time on adjudication.

Get your free download of Conqueror this weekend

At the start of the month, wargaming web site came back online after a devastating hack. 

Conqueror was actually designed and tested with people from Warseer, so I decided that although I should be promoting A Man of Destiny, we needed to celebrate this great event.

So from December 9th through the 13th, you can download Conquer for FREE from Amazon.  Take a test drive, see how the rules work and send me feedback.  Over at the Conqueror page, I have a number of lists and articles about its development.  You can also comment on the Conqueror thread on Warseer if you like (and see how it was developed as it developed).

New Warhammer 40k Combat Resolution System

I alluded to this in an older post, but it really deserves to be highlighted on its own.

One of the problems with Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition is that the close combat system required a lot of dice rolling.  It was one of the areas of the otherwise excellent system that needed revision.

As we all know, GW decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater and trashed the whole thing.

Still, the definitive edition of the game lives on.   It is fascinating to see how valued that edition remains on ebay and elsewhere, despite its publisher's efforts to kill it.

Anyhow, here is my method to resolve close combat with only two dice - one for the attacker, one for the defender.

The key to the concept is understanding that rolling multiple dice, forcing re-rolls, etc. are really only tools to change probability.

40k (in all its editions) is a game of probability.  You roll lots of dice, not matter which version you use.  If you understand the odds, it is a simple thing to reduce the number of dice you need to roll.

In 2nd ed., a higher Attacks rating gives you more dice to choose from.  However, the odds of rolling a 6 and a 1 are the same.  In fact, as you continue to add attack dice, the fact that 1s hurt more than 6s help becomes apparent.

In addition, the bonus of the parry ability to force a re-roll loses some of its utility.

Instead of piling dice on the tabletop, an easier method is to just roll a single die and use modifiers.

Thus, instead of rolling dice equal to the Attacks stat, give the player with higher number a +1 on their die roll.  If it's a tie, it's a tie and no bonus is awarded.

A parry is also equal to a +1 bonus.  If both sides have them, they cancel, just like in the rules.

In the case of additional combatants, you add the usual +1 bonus for each additional model engaged, but the +1 attack is instead added to their stat.  This may or may not result in the outnumbering player getting a +1 depending on the models engaged.

Here's how it would work in practice.

Imagine a space marine with chainsword and boltgun fighting a genestealer.  The genestealer is charging.

Under the old rules, the marine would roll two dice, add its WS (4) and force a re-roll.  The genestealer would roll 4 dice, add its WS (7) and +1 for charging. 

So you'd have to roll two dice for the marine while the genestealer has to roll 4, re-roll one and then add the numbers.  The highest dice for each player are going to modified by +4 for the marine and +8 for the genestealer.

With the new system, each player rolls a single die.  The marine would add his WS (4) plus 1 for the parry while the genestealer add his WS (7), +1 for attacking plus +1 for having a higher Attacks rating.

The end result is similar (+5 for the marine and +9 for the genestealer), but less dice are rolled.

Now here's the important part:  The modifiers are really what decides the combat.

It isn't the 4 dice the genestealers roll that make them scary, its their WS 7.  Same with the other combat monsters.  The extra dice and re-rolls are a distraction.

Now having the luxury of choosing the best result from multiple dice is an advantage, but it's a limited one because of the fumble rule.  With this system, the fumble rule has to go away because rolling a 1 is it's own punishment.

The end result is similar odds with less rules and die rolling.  I've tried it out and combat goes much faster.

Against evenly-matched characters it holds up just as well, and the advantage of piling in is still significant - the extra +1 A will first eliminate a character's +1 bonus for having more attack and (if the numbers are there) flip it to the other side.  That's what happens with the dice-rolling version, but it takes more time to resolve.

I will note that this is the kind of system analysis I performed in Conqueror:  Fields of Victory to eliminate useless stats and dice rolling.  Too many game designers focus on aesthetics and ignore the numbers. 

Give this a try and let me know how it works for you!