Tuesday 28 April 2020

Eternal Projects - Homebrew Rules

I recently dusted off a hard drive from 2015 and had fun digging through my old wargames folders. I had many hundreds of rule sets (I think there is 150 or so reviewed on this blog alone in that period) and I found it interesting to compare my dozens of ongoing projects compared to my relatively small array of projects nowdays (post-children).

However it was interesting to see how my rules had progressed. Some had gone through many iterations and changed radically. Others share the same core. Others have interesting ideas I abandoned but might be quite interesting to use in another context.  I can even tell the games I was playing at the time I was working on them - an Aeronef game had "command points" suspiciously like Robotech tactics mixed with orders borrowed from Battlefleet Gothic mixed with SoBH.

Many projects continue to be worked on. Others I really need to revive as they have interesting ideas.

Here are the homebrew rules I continue to play with and tinker with. Generally I have a few out on my bench at any given time.

I like Brigade's Aeronef but no rules have ever captured the feel I am looking for... the flavour of 1990s GW with more clean rules....

Supercavitating fighter submarines. A mix of sneaking on electric engines mixed with high speed dogfights using solid fuel rockets, it is a mix of helicopter gunships, sub warfare, and 1950s Sabres vs MiGs style dogfights at 400kph under the sea.  I every few months I come back to work with it because it interests me and is a relatively unique setting.

Intercept Vector
A spin-off of my first game, Delta Vector, it continues with the "vector movement" trope with PT-boats-in-space. Think the Rocinante from The Expanse TV show meets Descent and the dropship from Aliens. The focus is close-combat around atmosphere and asteroids and I have expanded to include ground support with simple tank and infantry rules.

 Middlehiem was designed for my collection of Confrontation minis, but my Perry 100YW models have somehow taken over, evolving their own gritty setting (low, psychic-powered magic and mercenaries).

This is due to my dissatisfaction with modern skirmish games to replace Mordhiem.  It's been radically stripped back and simplified, with characters able to take very limited actions and minimal tokens and recording. I use it to fight with 100-Years-War psychic knights mounted on dinosaurs but I aim to make it open to any melee-focussed setting.

Supercavitating sub fighters patrol the mineral refineries of Europa moon.

Jet Vector (currently working on)
This is again due to not enjoying any current air combat rules (they are all painfully gluggy). Currently I have abstracted it to "high energy" "normal" and "low energy" with special maneuvers forcing pilot checks and changes of energy state.

I use Iron Winds Battletech power armour as my mechs (as they stand about as tall as a 15mm mini and compare well to 6mm sci fi tanks).
Mecha (currently working on)
I want my mecha to feel like mecha (aka sense of scale, jump jets, heat management and limbs being blown off) rather than just infantry game with different models. I also do not enjoy record keeping or table clutter.  I tend to get bogged designing weapons that work simply without too many modifiers, ranges or special rules, yet feel different i.e. railgun vs laser vs low velocity howitzer.

Tankettes scout ahead of their mothership/carrier.

Aeronef (currently working on)
I want to evoke the old feel of GW games like Man O War, BFG, Titanicus with a more streamlined modern game with little to no recording of damage or height or speed (at most, a token under the model's base).  I've tried a few rules but none (even my own!) have ever captured the feel I am aiming for.

I enjoy Tumbling Dice's cheap 1:600 jets - they are fun to paint and are great playing pieces. Pity all air wargames suck so much...

Modern Pulp
Basically, a simplified Infinity with d10s meets the activation of SoBH. Aimed for a minimum of special rules, and restricting models from acting too many times, this is focussed on shooting-centric games (like a modern X-COM style aliens vs soldiers game).

 Middlehiem troops clash in a playtest which removed reactions in an attempt to simplify the game.

Landships & Tanks
This was originally a game for 15mm FoW style Tigers and Shermans but has evolved into a 1:300 warband campaign game with those quirky 1930s tanks, where you have a giant landship mobile base and field a team of ~12 tanks.

These are the games I have on my current hard drive, but there are a few I'd like to revive. Both have strong resource management aspects.

I've always wanted to use my 15mm for something that isn't ripped from  Vietnam-in-Space or Star Wars.

Alpha Projects
These are very early alpha sets of rules that never make it to the proper playtesting stage.

In one, the player is a "demon" who can possess (and buff and boost) models by placing possession tokens on them. However, when a possessed (buffed) model is killed the points are lost. So a player only "dies" when he loses his possession points.  I.e. a real risk vs reward - do you buff a fighter to be mega powerful, but lose too many possession points when he dies?

The other is a sci fi game (for my dusty-from-disuse 15mm sci fi) where there is a strong scissors-paper-rock between humans (squishy but reliably immune to hacking/EW/EMP) and robots (tougher but vulnerable to cyber attack), chipped or cybernetically augmented troops (a bit of both). AI processing relays provide AoE boosts to cybernetic troops in range, and nanite swarms add a "magic" element.  Basically, hard sci fi which strays so far from "Vietnam in space" to stray towards the feel of space fantasy.


  1. Sounds like my hard drive! Though you get into a broader range of settings. One of my projects that hasn't been given enough love is a sci-fi game where most movement is done via teleportation and opposed by teleportation denial units that are line of sight. Blind jumps are less accurate, and jumps into a denial zone have a chance of pasting the unit, a chance that increases when closer to the denial unit.

    It really creates a different feel for the battles because it changes how maneuver is done, and though weapons have changed over the millennia a human on for has always moved the same. Changing that fundamental touchstone of human experience really have the game an alien feel.

    1. I think I toyed with a teleportation mechanic as well - I went through a phase few years back where I was bored with the 15mm rules on offer. I even tried to make it where you could "rewind" your turn and fiddled with "time bubbles" - an area of effect where you were frozen/immune to any fire in/out of the bubble, and you got go to take extra turns either inside or outside the bubble (speed up or slow down time).

      Area of effect rules interest me as it adds "interesting terrain."

  2. This is the most interesting 'potential' rules post I have read!
    You have some great ideas here. If any 'kick up the ass' required on this, I'd be very keen to part with cash to see some of these developed and finished and presented on 'wargames vault'.

    I agree, there is a lot of mindless dross out there. I like your approach and would love to see something new.

    1. Well, except the last 2, they aren't potential, they are beta-level functional (i.e. written up, and have been/being playtested). I guess I can put the newer versions up in the google group (I tend to make them only for my own entertainment - usually because it is a genre that is either niche - like supercav subs - or poorly done - like jet rules.

  3. Is there any chance to get an eye on a "Mecha" rules?
    I doing research for my own mecha-style game and Your description tell exactly what I'm trying to achieve.

  4. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/delta-vector7

    ^ Join the google group and remind me to post them there?

    Currently the core rules works, I'm just unhappy with weapons - its hard to make a laser not like a howitzer without too many modifiers and range bands and special rules....

  5. A good list. I recently did one of these myself....

    Anyway, what I find funny is how some of my thoughts on game design have evolved over the past few years as well. I sold some of my older workers to publishers, and going back and looking at them again I am like..... hmmmm...... I may need to re-think that. However, the Publisher bought into the older, clunkier ideas..... so do I want to revamp it now? I also get a bit concerned about going too far away from "familiar" styles of games, as players react "poorly" to them in many cases.

    Anyway, a good list and I look forward to seeing more. You always spur me on to keep tweaking and working on things......

    1. I tend to only make games for myself - if there was a satisfactory game in the genre,I'd use that. For example, I'd use LoTR and SoTR rules without bothering to make up my own. And since Dropfleet Commander I am doing less with my large-scale space games as it kinda covers the BFG zone.

      I'd certainly vary my mechanics if I wanted to sell them, tending towards those that are familiar in that genre.

      Evolution, not revolution to be popular and publish, I suspect.

  6. Mecha looks really interesting. Have you made the rules.

    I think about to buy Lightning Strike. No Construction Rules?