Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Small Scale Skirmish Rules - What's In

As promised, the rules for my next big mini-project. Tentatively titled 6-4-6-Skirmish, these are the rules I've worked up for quick and easy battles between aliens, colonists, and the marines who protect them.  These are for battles that are small scale in every sense of the word: the scale of the figures is small and the size of the engagements is small.  They should work for forces of less than 20 figures to a side.

We're all adults here, we've played enough of these games - I'm not gonna bore you with all the introductory minutiae of wargaming.  This is a basic set of rules suitable for convention style participating games.  It's not the sort of game to get bogged down with the difference between running figures and prone figures and unit cohesion.  It's just another bug hunt focussed on moving some dudes and rolling some dice.  Let's not make a big thing out of it, mkay?

These rules should be printed up on cardstock 6-inches tall by 4-inches across, and all you need is a single d6. Hence the name of the game.

Print on 4-inch by 6-inch cardstock.  Or on standard letter sized
paper if you like those ranges better for whatever sick and twisted
reason (like you use 28mm figures on a full sized table.)
Let's break this down to its rudiments, shall we?  For every figure you really only need to answer three questions: how does it move, how does it shoot, and how does it fight.  You can add a bit of complexity by asking how hard it is to kill as well.  That gives you four main stats, some of which don't apply to every figure.

As you can see, my basic unit of measurement is the card.  Slow things move 4" and fast things move 6"; Things that can shoot a little ways can shoot 4", things that have medium range can shoot 6", and if we ever need it, long range stuff like snipers and artillery can shoot across the table.  Those numbers, not coincidentally, match the lengths of the rule card.  Yeah the ranges are short - we're abstracting things here, so consider them effective ranges.  Your little mans can spray ammo all over the table, but beyond the range listed, they're just wasting it.

Those who have an open shot in range roll a d6 to see if they hit. The only thing that influences this is cover, which effectively adds 1 to the difficulty.  Big guns fire two shots per turn, that abstracts out flames, high rates of fire, and burst effects. Nice and easy. 

When you get stuck in each side basically rolls a d6 and the winner kills the loser.  Weak fighters subtract one from the roll, strong fighters roll two dice and pick the one they want, while experienced fighters can re-roll the die if they aren't happy with the first one.  If you can gang up on a figure then you get to add one for each extra goon in the fight up to two helpers, but just roll once for each side.

The wound-slash-morale system is easy - there aren't any.  Really tough or armored things get a saving throw to negate the hit.  Otherwise, if you're hit, you're out.

Oh, there is a bit of a morale system.  If you are stuck in hand to hand combat and win, instead of killing your foe(s), you can run off.  Everybody who does this should roll to see how far they make it; on a 1, 2, or 3 they move S and on a 4, 5, or 6 they move L.  Doesn't matter what their 'real' move is - this is pure panicky flight from a fight, so they'll take what they can get.

That's it.  Fight until one side is dead or meets the victory conditions.  Ahhh, victory conditions - that's where these wargames really shine after all.  More on that later.


  1. If these aliens are an even match for marines one-on-one in hand-to-hand, they're a lot weaker than the ones in the films - to my mind, the essence of a game like this is that the marines have to kill the aliens before they get up close.

  2. Indeed they do - while these aliens are an even match in hand-to-hand, the alien's lack of ranged fire i nthis game will be balanced by numbers. The humans need to whittle down the alien numbers as much as possible before melee if they want to stand a chance.

    That also has the advantage (from a design perspective) forces both sides to use cover to the best of their ability. I ain't making this terrain just to look pretty you know. For all the time I'm putting into it, my players darn well better use it.


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