Wednesday 2 September 2015

"Middleheim" Homebrew Rules

While I wait for more talented people to supply my ideal skirmish game,  I've started to make a Mordheim-esque game on this blog. It will be completely "unplaytested" except by yours truly, and make no claims to balance.

I do recommend Frostgrave but it doesn't quite scratch the itch the way I wanted it too, so....

I'm more interested in the process rather than the results, but you're welcome to add your 10c, and if it turns out playable I'll do up a neat copy with gameplay examples, etc.

Here's the design goals I jotted down whilst bored on the bus....

Design Goals:
*Fast playing - handles ~20 minis per side in an hour or so, so you can play 2+ games in an evening.

*Interactive. No wandering off, getting coffee in your opponent's turn. (opposed rolls, reactive moves)

*Plenty of opportunities to make decisions - tactics during the game > army building/dice rolling/initial deployment. 

*Initiative is not IGOUGO but an opportunity to make yet more decisions

*Resource Management or some similar "5th Element" (like Might, Will and Fate in LoTR; or managing the card deck in Malifaux) to add another layer of decision making

*Very little in-game record keeping or counters; limited to maybe 4-5 heroes only. I dislike clutter on the gaming table though not as much as I hate pen-and-paper record keeping...

*Few special rules (~20). Special rules and abilities are universal, and (reasonably short) stat lines are used to describe fantasy units.  Magic is also limited to ~20 spells.

*Optional horde game mode - similar to Space Hulk - one player takes over a band of the local inhabitants/critters. Horde is balanced against current warband points. Perhaps a simple solo-play mechanism for melee-only "NPC" units. 

*Recognizable/quick-to-resolve game mechanics

 *Build-your own character/unit rules (point system).  Use d10s to simplify this? "Official" lists for more recognizable fantasy armies would be comforting for some, and an attempt at balance could then be made (I'm unlikely to bother with this.)

*Advancement rules are capped. Maybe only heroes can "level up" and even if they do, they cannot increase a stat more than 20%; and maybe only get 2-3 extra special rules.  Advances are done mostly randomly to prevent powergaming. (Mordheim dual wielding anyone?)

*Maybe non-hero "grunts" simply level up in overall quality i.e. rookie->trained->elite which stops every man and their dog having special rules, which can make playing with/against experienced warbands confusing..  I'd also like to see a set campaign length (6-10 games?) this would allow advancement to be "balanced" at a reasonable rate.

I want the game to be "evolutionary" not "revolutionary" - I'm not including the best mechanics or coolest ideas I've seen or thought of, but stuff that is approachable enough that the average ex-GW player can quickly grasp it.  Kind of an "airport novel" type of ruleset, with a few interesting ideas.  

1. How far I'll get with this depends on my enthusiasm (I've got a lot of projects on the boil..)
2. Playtesting of rules will be nominal - my focus is chatting about theory first, whilst making a playable game
3. Feel free to try them; if there is any interest I'll type them up properly
4. Don't expect them to be good. I like to think I know what good games are, but it doesn't mean I can make one, just like you can recognize a good football player whilst having two left feet yourself.

I'd like to have a look, regardless...
I'll stick up my collection of ideas on the Delta Vector google group. 
This is an experiment by me to see if the rather chatty readers of this blog are interested in sharing rules, ideas etc.    See here for more information on how to join. 


  1. Look forward to seeing how this develops.

    1. Don't hold your breath for a completed polished ruleset!

      I've been sporadically fiddling with a space ruleset since 2012... :-/

      I tend to be good in the early phases (the fun bit) and bad at the actual work bit (polishing, neatening, testing)

  2. Sounds good, almost all of these are in my design goals for a minis game I'm developing.

    Build your-own units is an interesting idea. I've toyed with this idea before with now shelved games. Personally it feels too hard to balance to avoid player min/maxing to be worth it, but perhaps you can get it to work.

    "Optional horde game mode - similar to Space Hulk - one player takes over a band of the local inhabitants/critters. Horde is balanced against current warband points. "
    I can't find info online, could you sumerize what Hoard mode is? Or do you mean a points-based battle mode as opposed to scenerios?

    "Advancement rules are capped. Maybe only heroes can "level up" and even if they do, they cannot increase a stat more than 20%; and maybe only get 2-3 extra special rules. Advances are done mostly randomly to prevent powergaming. (Mordheim dual wielding anyone?)"
    I've never played a game with character advancedment in-game. A fan made some rules for X-wing where you start with one ship and add talents. I thought this was an interesting idea and was considering some sort of gamemode for my game because of this.

    1. It is difficult to avoid min-maxing. I don't have such lofty aims (it'll be lucky if it turns into a functioning game) but it wouldn't be used for competitive play. I suggest you'd use premade lists for that (dwarf, orc, etc - all the tropes)

      Horde mode = like Space Hulk. I.e. you control a warband or single mini, and an unending swam of enemies "spawns" (# depends on dice roll) and heads for you. Like zombie survival mode in games like Call of Duty.

      Advancement is not in-game, but after the game (between rounds in a campaign). You ever played Mordhiem, or Bloodbowl? (rules are free if you google around, failing that I can probably hunt them up and post them to the google group)

      I.e. you gain experience by winning/killing foes, then with that you can roll on tables that either increase stats (+1" move, or +1 melee skill etc) or special abilities "Deadeye" "Stealthy" etc. Basically in videogame terms, an unlock.

      Many games are designed with them. Some, like Mordhiem, Necromnda, and lately Frostgrave, are designed specifically to be played as a series of games, with minis gaining abilities etc. If your heroes die, you lose that character and all his skills....

    2. Solo play or Versus GM play is something I have been toying with for My homage to the TV show Combat! I can not wait to see other people's ideas on this.

    3. Make sure to post up your homage.

      Just the act of posting it up and getting comments will likely egg people on to complete rules.

      No draft is too incomplete. Heck, post up a concept or random idea....

  3. Nice! I wouldn't congestionate your googlegroup but I like a lot your idea.
    I bought on ebay oldschool GW Empire ( painted and unpainted ) to play SavageWorlds ( Ultima Forsan setting) with my friends but I hope to try some skirmish game, BUT NOT THE OLD MORDHEIM! If I'll find something competive rules system, I could find quickly some players ( And separate'em all from their internet access for 3hour \ weekly... ).
    I hope also in Ivan :)

  4. I have been looking at doing something similar myself and had inspiration from games such as Fanticide, Dungeon Plungin, Barbarians of Lemuria mixing up some of the simple character creation in some of the Simple RPG's but making it more tabletop.

    I was thinking of using IHMN but one of our group kept maxing out his Company making them extremely strong and hard to kill (Grit of 2+ and Tough so they first time the fail a grit roll it is ignored).

    So am looking at each Company/Warband have 1 hero, 1 sidekick and some rabbly types with limits on what each can be to try and stop this.

    1. No, no - make your own rules! Then let us try them!

  5. I've been trying to do the same for a while now.

    At first it was only an improvement of Mordheim, with stuff like opposed rolls, an ability required for dual wielding, you know, standard game-fixing stuff. After a while I just started with my own game, with another stat line, different mechanics, LOTR alternated activations. I ended up with a really long list of skills and abilities, and some of the characters ended up being completely broken, but it was fun, and we did a 2 month campaign with my friends.

    After a while IGOUGO wasn't cutting it for me anymore, and then I started discovering lots and lots of different activation mechanics and turn sequences and started fiddling with it, but I'm still strugling.

    I've been reading your blog for the last couple of days and I find we have the same ideas regarding most of the 'ideal' mechanics for a game.

    My girlfriend convinced me of actually trying to make a decent manual and make an actual wargame, not just for me and my friends. And who knows, maybe even try to kickstart it, if I can meet a decent sculptor.

    1. If you want a bit of input, there's a new gaming google group we've started

      The link is!forum/delta-vector7

    2. Great! I'm aplying right now, that was a neat idea