Monday 2 March 2015

Wanted: Good Free Rules (Help Appreciated)

It's been suggested that we look at free rules.  

Now, I don't personally do "proper" reviews on free rules (after all, they're free - you can try it yourself) but it might be interesting to collect good free rules (or simply free rules with good ideas/concepts) and publish them in small articles, with a brief description of each - similar in size/style to the book reviews I've been doing lately.

These will not be "in depth", carefully thought out and playtested reviews, but more "have a look at this - it looks interesting."  There are thousands of free rules out there, so I'm seeking help to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.


In the comments section  (note: you don't need to sign into anything to leave a comment) please note the following:

1. The name of the rules (duh) and a link to their location
2. The reason you think these are a good rules set (it might be only a particular mechanic)


I nominate Sturmovik Commander.
Reason: It's now a commercial game but early versions are still free. It's WW2 aerial combat, covering from the Fall of France to the skies over Berlin. It's by Marcin Gerkowicz who did the excellent Hind Commander helo gunship rules.  It's certainly more game than simulation, but it's extraordinarily thorough and well-produced for a freebie.  Has a bit of an Imperialis Aeronautica feel to it.

(OK, your comment doesn't need to be as wordy as mine, but you get the drift!)


Yes, it's OK to plug your own free rules, provided they are complete, online, and freely available to download (i.e. no "email me at and I'll send you my alpha rules" thanks) 

The blog readers here seem to be pretty energetic - and if I get the feedback I expect, we can make this a regular article. So you can find this post again if you are struck by inspiration, if you look at the labels on the right, there is a "Free Rules" link where you can find this post (and others with free rules in them.)

EDIT: Thanks to all the comments - keep them coming!
The first round up - #1 Sci Fi is here
The second round up - # 2 Historical is here


  1. Two of them for you Both by Sam Mustafa.

    He offers "lite" version of his Maurice(18th Century) and Longstreet(ACW) rules they aren't actually lite they are in fact the full table top game missing only the campaign elements.

    Both use Cards (printable version are available free) for command and control as well as to provide bonuses to your troops or penalties to your enemy. The Card play also break up the traditional IG UG game as the inactive player can interrupt the active players actions.

    Both can be found here

    You can find games on my blog (there are labels for both games on the right and side of the page as you scroll down.

    1. That's an interesting find. Thanks!

      I'm aware of both rules by reputation but as it isn't a genre (mass battle) or era I'm really "into" I thought I'd never end up getting them.

      Would be interested in looking over the mechanics though, so thanks!

    2. @Adam - couldn't find your rules - do you have direct links?

  2. I nominate 'Victory Without Quarter' available here:

    Reason: Its an interesting set of rules and uses a fun card mechanic with integrated 'special events'. Its also a historical genre you don't normally cover and I think you'll enjoy a short change of pace!

    1. Actually I love ECW (I have 100s of unpainted minis for it); and I really like the Renaissance era - I just dislike mass battle rulesets.

      Minis are just glorified hit markers.

      You paint 20 minis to get a "unit" where with a skirmish game a single figure is a "unit." It's 20x more painting for the same in-game effect. Too much like hard work to me - you know how people talk about "rewarding" themselves for their work painting a unit, by "allowing" themselves to paint a leader figure?

      Whenever I have the urge to play mass battles, I look at the work involved, then I break out one of the Total War PC games or similar.

    2. You won't like my new project much then, which is deliberately focusing on mass battles and the Command and Control aspects that come with it:

    3. Well, as long as someone is painting the minis for me, I'd like mass battles too....

  3. Small correction: Sturmovik Commander is not a commercial game - and probably will never be. ;)

    1. Right.
      Sturmovik Commander v.2.0 will be free.

    2. The way I read it, only v1.5 remains free. Apologies.

      Also, the link is broken at the moment!

    3. I planned to release 2.0 comercially, but I finally decided to not do it. When I finally finish it it will be also free.
      Nowadays I share my rules author activity between free and commercial games.

  4. Does anyone remember the more extensive free game that FUBAR was based off? It was made as a 40K replacement bt it was really keen and it was the first instance I saw of the "casualties or suppression" mechanic.

    To self-promote, I'll throw FAD in the mix ;)

    And SLammer which is criminally overlooked and a fairly short read.

    1. In the Emperor's Name? It was never clear to me whether than spawned FUBAR or the other way around...

    2. No, but that's another fantastic game.

      Googling found it though: Forge of War

    3. I believe FUBAR came first, then iTEN. They are by Craig Cartmell, right?

      He then did a commercial set through Osprey - In Her Majesty's Name.

  5. How about those clever companies (like GZG) that released full blown rulesets for free? You can download Full Thrust, Dirtside II, and Stargrunt II from their website:

    Full Thrust is the best fleet satarship game I've ever played. It uses plotted movement, but the rules are light enough to survive a lot of tinkering, and the game plays fast enough that you can have a dozen guys around the table without anyone waiting too long to do something. It also uses a clever damage tracking system that leaves your half dead ships clinging to enough life to affect the battle, with the rare catastrophic BOOM! that lights up the skies.

    1. They were definitely rules I had in mind...

    2. Actually, they weren't free when they first came out but I applaud Jon T's decision to make them freely available pdf's after years of declining sales. They continue to work beautifully but he spent the time on his model ranges instead of the effort required to keep up with the Jones's with rulebook shiny

  6. one page 40k elegant simple rules and quick
    similar to fubar in that the units have a quality value but its based on an alternate actions.
    Its also more specificly 40k, he also has one page kill team, fantasy, fantasy skirmish and a toy soldier set of rules.
    the forum is regularly answered too

    Also their is shieldbreaker
    nice simple rules with a cool army builder a little reminiscient of a song of blades and heroes builder but you cant buy as many special rules so less complex

  7. By the way, thanks for all the responses - already enough for 2 articles.

    Keep 'em coming!

    One I only just realised was free was "Dark Age" - a commercial ruleset like Infinity with its own minis and universe - which makes its "free-ness" so much more unusual.

    1. Also, "This Quar's War" for the epic world of the Quar. Some of my favourite presented rulesets - quirky, whimsical, and actually fun to read.

  8. Just took a look at that Shieldbreaker. You're right, it looks like a streamlined version of SoBH, which is pretty streamlined to begin with. Normally I'm not one to go on about formatting, but man oh man they packed a four page rule set into 16 pages. On the other hand, the army builder on that website is pretty darn sweet.

  9. Skjaldborg from Shieldwall games. The rules are a bit slow regarding movement of units but it has got interesting concepts in morale, motivation and melee. It is worth a reading at least.

  10. @evilleMonkeigh
    I lost your e-mail. Could you contact me? orders (at) ?

  11. Age of Blood - fun Viking battle and campaign system. LOTS of flavour incorporating RPG style elects in war band management, which takes up most of the rules. I had a very enjoyable campaign with these free rules (lots of posts on my blog if you are interested, use the "Age of Blood' tag to find them)

    1. I remember looking at these a few years back and being impressed with them, but I was playing LoTR at the time and didn't actually have viking-specific minis.

      +1 to "upvote" this one!

  12. What about Carnevale? It looks like the rulebook isn't finished (at least the one you've got for downloading, but seems to be okay, although I have heard the translated version isn't so well translated (it is spanish). It is based on a modified Renaissance-Venice with Cthulhu creatures and Assassin's Creed-like crews. It uses d10 and has some "karma" management (if I recall correctly, not sure about this).

    1. I need to take another look at that. I intitially discounted it as it was another 'boutique' wargame - expensive, 'named' minis, who are specific to the game.

      I didn't delve into the rules too much - I'll have to have another read through.

  13. Dear EvilleMonkeigh,

    have you tried Nick Lund's Killzone?

    I fondly remember it from the time I did my A-levels. Very quick, very dirty and even for today it can boast with a number of highly original features:

    - Units are either gangs (punx, rebels, scavengers) or squads (troopers, cops, also rebels) and both units have slighty different rules for morale and suppression.
    - No unit coherence necessary if your unit is equipped with headsets, otherwise to change orders you need to be in "calling distance, something I remember like 12".
    - Units can only act according to their orders which give huge boni on certain actions and disallow others. (Run, Snipe, Assault, Take Cover etc.)
    - Some (easy to remember) tables to check for suppression, order acceptance, shooting.
    - Shooting is tricky. Base number to hit is 6 on D6 (!) that means a lot of cinematic dakka dakka. (Unless one side is using snipe orders or brings in heavy rocket launchers). Once hit however, it's deadly. 2-5d6 added together (2d6 light handgun; 5d6 rocket launcher) and if > or = model's toughness (usually 7) its dead, if its at least equal to toughness-5, model is suppressed.

    Only problem I remember is that the core rules are gritty cyperpunk and lack anything from vehicles to monsters to psi/magick.

    Otherwise, I'd still recommend it. You can get it for free on Gisby's excellent page with a lot of free scenarios and other cool support:

    Best wishes,

    1. Nice, it looks a little chunky but this will definitely see play the next time we game. Thanks!

  14. Recommendation: Mobile Frame Zero

    Tabletop tactical 'mech skirmish game. Handles initiative in a unique and dynamic way. Inherently supports multiplayer free-for-alls, not just 1v1. The designers provide an appendix with lots of guidance for players who want to tweak the rules with honest advice about what should and shouldn't be changed, and why. I'm seriously impressed by the level of design that's gone into the whole thing. (Way too much fluff in the beginning of the rulebook though, IMHO.)

    Recommendation: Turn or Burn

    Hexmap starfighter dogfighting game. Interesting basic mechanic where a single short deck of cards does triple duty as custom ship-building, hidden information, and damage resolution. Ultimately I think it's impractical, but I found it novel and interesting.

  15. I run the freewargamesrules website/wiki so could name several but one's I use regularly are:
    FUBAR as mentioned above
    One Page Fantasy Skirmish :
    AR:SE zombie rules:

  16. "I run the freewargamesrules website/wiki so could name several"

    This is a bit of an understatement, I'm thinking.

    By the way, I'd like to thank you for your site. Back in the day, as a poor uni student, it was an invaluable resource and kept me in wargaming.

  17. You should maybe take a look at my Intercept space combat rules and ship design system. From the summary:
    Vector movement.
    Double-blind sensor rules without referee.
    Excel based design system.
    Gravity rules with multiple stable orbits.
    Totally deterministic (dice-less) rules (optional).
    Traveller compatible.

    Yeah, I am very much banging my own drum here but hey, it is free...

  18. I realized I posted this in the wrong article... My apologies...

    I have a set of company level WWII rules called "Hail Of Fire" available for free on my website, . Originally intended as a way to reduce Flames Of War down to 3 pages, and introducing a new turn sequence and opportunity fire, it's slowly developed into it's own thing. Still very much a work in progress, but its received a lot of positive feedback. Thanks! :)

  19. The platoon scale combat system from Diaspora RPG is a small wargame in its own right... Quite a few unorthodox features too...