Space Marine fluff

The symbol of the Screaming Eagles (Aquilae Clangens), 1st Battle Group of the Tips of the Spear (Cuspidis Teli) Space Marine Chapter.

The fashion at the moment among space marine players is to paint one’s army as a pre-existing chapter and stick religiously to that set of fluff. I don’t like that. I’d much rather have the freedom to make up my own chapter and give them some fluff. That’s why I made up the Tips of the Spear for this marine army.  Here’s some fluff I wrote about them:

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BaD: New Resources

In preparation for the big BaD playtesting day, I’ve put together a few resources to make the game play as simple as possible for those trying it out.  I envisage these ending up making the bulk of the booklet we hope to create of the rules for Zombie War (or whatever we end up calling it in the end).  For your perusal:

Easter Alone-time

So my fiancee is off at home for a couple of days leaving me home alone.  I’ve got hundreds of things I’d like to do with that time, so I need to be careful or I’ll end up just sitting watching Zulu all afternoon or something. My original plan for today was to brew my next batch of beer, but I’ve got an issue with my new immersion chiller (can’t work out how to attach the hose to it), so I’m going to postpone that until tomorrow (reliant on being able to attach the hose then).  Instead, I’m going to try and make some headway with painting the paratroopers up ready for BaD playtest day.  I also thought I might start thinking about rules for Starship Troopers style bugs, so that we can maybe run 2 games simultaneously.  If I do that, I’ll post what I come up with here so check back later if you fancy it.  My brother has also just lent me his old Canon Eos 10D to see if I want to buy it off him, so I might try and get out with that for a walk around the village, although the weather is pretty terrible.

Anyhow, not entirely sure what the point of this was, but I figured I hadn’t written anything in a while.

BaD: The Problem with Zombies

The last few games we’ve played of BaD Zombie War (still a working title) have had the same problem -there are either too many or too few zombies on the board at certain times in the game.  This is a real issue as too many Zs means the human player gets bogged down fighting their way through and the Z player gets bogged down doing the random movement for the majority of zombies who can’t see the humans yet.  Too few means that the game isn’t enough of a challenge for the human player, and is pretty boring for the Z player.  I’ve put my mind to working this out today and come up with what I think is a workable idea: The Dead Zed Tracker.

The Problem

Most of our scenarios start off with a random number of Zs on the board, kind of randomly allocated.  Lately we’ve been splitting the board into quarters and letting the Z player put 2D6 zombies wherever they like in each quarter.  This seems to start us off with a good number of Zs, evenly scattered around the board and I’m quite happy with it as a system.  The problem comes when we start thinking about when more Zombies come onto the board.  In the last game, we started off with a blanket ‘2D6 come on a turn’ strategy, but it soon became obvious that there were too many stacking up and the play was bogging down.  So that left us at the beginning of each turn having to decide whether more came on or not.

The Solution: Dead Zed Tracker

I’ve decided that we need a mechanism that tells us when more Zs need to come onto the board, which needs to be triggered by how many/few there are currently.  The idea is that you have a ‘track’ on which you place any Zombies once they die.  Once the number of zombies on the track has reached a certain point, you then bring on a random number of zombies.  I think we’ll need to experiment a bit with the right level at which new zombies come on, but I started off thinking that 12 would be good (with 2D6 coming on), but then I thought about the starting situation and worked out some numbers.

For this system to work, you need a set number of Zombies for the whole game.  I figured this would just be the maximum possible starting Zs i.e. 48 (4×12).  You then need to determine you starting Zs as described above.  This will leave you with a number of zombies remaining (between 0 and 40), these then need to go onto the DZT.  If this number is 0, the human player is very unlucky and starts off with a board teaming with the walking dead.  And to add insult to injury, he only has to kill 12 for more to come onto the board. If the number is 40, then the human player is very lucky and has an almost empty board to start with.  However, new zombies will be coming on for a long time before they stop, meaning that it will fill up a bit too much after a while -but I guess that’s just the luck of the draw?

My final idea was to have 2 separate levels on the tracker -one that means you start bringing Zs on, one that means you stop.  The mean number of starting Zs is 28, leaving 20 to go on the track.  If we made it so the human player has to just kill a few to bring more Zs on, that would be pretty balanced, so if we set that point at 24.  The problem with this is that the level will never get below 12, so you may as well just ignore those 12 Dead Zeds.  Unless we make it so that once the DZT is over 24, you bring on 2D6 new zombies at the start of every turn until the DZT drops below 12.  I quite like that idea, but it may be too complicated.  I’ll mock up a DZT for the next time we run a game at school.

BaD – Shooting

For shooting, we wanted to avoid the whole squad having to shoot at the same target. We also wanted to avoid the need for too many tables to look up target numbers. So, we decided to go for a system based on that used by most of the games designed by Spartan Games.

Basic Shooting Rules

Range is measured in a series of ‘bands’, each of 8″.  We reckon most weapons will only work in the first 3 range bands, to make sure people have to move about on the table in order to shoot.  Each weapon will have a table which tells you how many D6s to roll when firing in each different range band  Each dice does not necessarily represent a ‘shot’, it just shows an increased chance of hitting your target.  Of the dice you roll, all of those that come out as a 4+ count as a hit.  Any additional hits above one give you a +1 modifier when rolling on the damage table.

For example, if Frank is firing a bolt action rifle at a zombie who is 10″ away, he looks at the rifle’s table and finds that he has 2D6 to roll.  He rolls them and gets a 5 and a 2.  This means he rolls on the Zombie damage table with no modifier.

Cover

In terms of cover, we haven’t come up with an exact system yet, but are at the moment working with the idea that any obstacles in the way create trouble for the model shooting.  This halves their shooting pool, rounded up.

Multiple Targets

If there are more than one target in the same range band, and a model has more than one dice in their shooting pool for that range band, they can choose to split their fire between these targets.  You should split the dice physically and place them next to their targets, then roll hits and damage for each target in turn.

A machine gun (or similar) can also choose to ‘spray’ an area, hitting as many targets as they can.  To do this, choose a target on which to start, and one on which to end your ‘spray’. You then roll your shooting pool of dice and place any ‘hit’ next to a model within your spray, starting with the first model in the spray, moving in the direction of the last model.  In doing this, you obviously forgo the modifier to the damage roll given by more than one hit, as you will only ever roll one hit per target.  Any hits ‘left over’ once every target in the spray has one assigned are simply lost (spraying with a machine gun is much less accurate than firing aimed shots, meaning the damage is likely to be lower).

For example, Frank is firing an LMG at range band 3, meaning he has 5 dice in his shooting pool.  He decides to spray a group of 5 zombies moving from left to right.  He rolls his 5D6 and comes up with 4 hits.  This means that all but the furthest zombie to the right get hit.

Shooting in Zombie Scenario

We decided that most of the soldiers would be armed with a bolt action rifle for the scenario, similar to what soldiers would have been armed with in WW2.  The sergeant of the squad will have a pistol, and there will be one soldier with a Light Machine Gun or similar (maybe medium?).  The armaments will have the following statistics.

Range Band 1 2 3 4
Pistol 3 1 X X
Rifle 2 2 1 X
LMG 1 3 5 X

The theory was to make all of the weapons suitably different, having strengths and weaknesses in realistic areas.  As with other areas of the game, playtesting will determine whether or not this has worked.

BaD -Movement

When it came to movement, we wanted to keep it nice and simple. Each race will have a set movement rate in inches. In their movement phase (we’re using phases right now but that might change) each model can move upto their movement rate. They can also choose to run, which adds a racial dice roll to their movement. When moving through terrain that we deem to be enough to slow someone down, movement will be halfed. We wanted it to be as simple as possible, so went with this. Play testing will determine whether this is too simple.
We’re starting everything off by coming up with stats and rules for a scenario involving human soldiers fighting zombies so as I post here I’ll put what we’ve come up with for that here too.

Movement in Zombie Scenario

-Humans can move 6″ and gain an extra D6″ when they run.
-Zombies can move 4″ (we went with slow Zs). They cannot run.
-Zombies must move towards the nearest human in Line of Sight (more about that later).
-If no human is visible by a zombie, their movement is determined randomly (by a scatter dice or similar) this sometimes means they walk on the board only to wander back off again.

BaD -Guiding Principles

We set out with the following ideas in mind for our game:

  • It should be small scale (as in size of battle, not size of miniatures), with only a squad or two on each side for each game.
  • It should not be winnable at the army building stage through combinations of killer units.
  • It should be scenario based.
  • It should be winnable through tactical skill, but there should be a significant random element to contend with.
  • It doesn’t need to be balanced, as war very seldom is (either in SF or real life), and as it is scenario based, any ideas about balance can come in at the scenario design stage.

So the basic concepts that the rest of the game is built on are:

  • Each model represents one person/entity.
  • Each person/entity is the member of a squad, but this does not dictate anything about their behaviour (the squad don’t all have to take the same actions as each other, or stay together).  Remaining together will give benefits to the squad, mostly morale-based.
  • Each ‘side’ takes it in turns to move all of their models, and this will possibly be split into phases (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix) but the order in which players move is determined in each turn.  This means that you might go last in one turn, but first in the next.
  • We will not have complex, point based army lists for factions or races.  Instead, models can be ‘skinned’ with various layers (e.g. race, squad, individual), giving different benefits or hindrances.
  • The level of training that a model has will also be important to their abilities to do certain things.
  • The results of damaging a model will be determined by a race/faction specific damage table.