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 What makes a good skirmish game?

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squattingmouse
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PostSubject: What makes a good skirmish game?   Wed 15 Apr 2009 - 16:11

I'm writing a game engine at the moment having finished our first mordheim campaign. We're running another one and I've had a thought. Most skirmish games go for more detail than a full scale battle system. But what about one built for speed and brutality of combat?

I'm basing it in contemporary times/near future and want the firefights to be what my own military experience showed - fast, sudden and brutal. The question is this -

Which would you prefer in a skirmish game -

a) detailed rules allowing for lots of eventualities but leading to lots of extra tables for effects of wounds and other things.
b) a simple system which has limited detail but allows for a complete game to be played in around 1 hour or possibly even less.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Wed 15 Apr 2009 - 17:20

Well i do not a whole bunch of time to go into great detail at this moment, but being in the military myself, I would think that a POW rescue would be a great scenario.

The rescue personnel will have very few men, while the defending force will have multiples, and throw in some rules that the raiders can roll for stealth movements so they cant be seen by the sentries.


Also have snatch and grab missions. Intel missions or just regular sabatoge missions, where the few raiders would have to blow up a Comm center.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Wed 15 Apr 2009 - 23:09

I'd say, go for both options, similar to the optional Mordheim rules. Simple and fast core rules for those who want to throw in a quick game or who are just getting into the game, and lots of additional rules for those who like a more in depth experience.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Thu 16 Apr 2009 - 2:20

Drugart wrote:
Well i do not a whole bunch of time to go into great detail at this moment, but being in the military myself, I would think that a POW rescue would be a great scenario.

The rescue personnel will have very few men, while the defending force will have multiples, and throw in some rules that the raiders can roll for stealth movements so they cant be seen by the sentries.


Also have snatch and grab missions. Intel missions or just regular sabatoge missions, where the few raiders would have to blow up a Comm center.


Kind of like the kill team where the guards roam randomly and the attacker force can't be seen if they dont make noise and are a certain distance away?

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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Thu 16 Apr 2009 - 2:58

Some of the things I've notice about rules: Simple straight forward rules seem to work best. The more complex they get the more opportunities for misinterpretation, unintentional or otherwise. Rules ARE a means of playing a game; the game is NOT an excuse for writing rules.
Avoid chart driven diceless games. Rolling dice may seem old fashioned & silly, but it involves the player in the action. Rolling a fist full of dice gives the feeling of swinging that sword or firing that pistol.
With Skirmish style games rules that add to the character of the mini are a plus. They shouldn't be over powering, but pluses to abilities, physical stuff like peg-legs, eye patches, et al, & developed skills make for interesting characters, which, to my mind, is what Skirmish Gaming is about.
SUPER POWERFUL MONSTER characters ARE boring. Having a hero with minor abilities, armed with nothing-to-write-home-about weapons pull off some daring deed swashbuckling IS exciting & the epitome of high adventure.
Well, that's my take on the thingy at any rate. Suspect
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Thu 16 Apr 2009 - 3:08

Very interesting topic since I too am currently working on a skirmish game system. So let's hear your thoughts, folks! bounce

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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Thu 16 Apr 2009 - 4:18

Currently I'm basing it around a D10 so that mental maths and working out the chance of your men performing certain tasks will be easy (% is something everyone can hold in their heads - some of our mordheim group struggle with the estimating probabilities before making a decision). Characteristics will range from 0 to 10 with the high number always being good.

ALL tests except wounding will involve rolling under a models characteristic for that test (currently down to 7 stats per model).

The campaign system will be similar to the mordheim one for exploration and trading. For experience I'm not yet decided. I've been playing a lot of Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl lately and liked the idea of mod-able weapons (as well as some of the background and environment stuff - imagine gravitational anomalies affecting shooting!). Therefore I've kept the weapon list down to about 7 entries with variety coming from adding one of 5 (currently 5 - another three ideas) upgrades.

When I've got a working system for simple skirmishes with some fixed forces I'll set up a blog and post the rules there for people to try out but please keep any comments coming! The aim is to have any tables limited to force selection and post battle sequence - none involved in gameplay at all!
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Thu 16 Apr 2009 - 6:43

a couple of my pennies.

A skirmish game needs to be action packed and tense, too many rules will slow down the flow and for me I love a game where the fights are so close and constant that you can't take turn upon turn to guess and plot. Think a small 5-10 man squad vs. either a similar force, but on a time limit for both sides, and a small force vs. a huge wave of enemies. Constant fights with quick moves to manoeuvre.

Stats should also be kept to the necessary too many and its annoying, same with charts for hitting etc, too many charts will slow the game down.

An example I was pondering was a very small scale 40k game, not kill-team like but necromunda. Teams are say 250 - 300 points roughly and can only be troop types, no huge creatures or termies etc. but they can all be personalised.

Example:

Marine squad sent out into a hive city to investigate disappearances of the people.

Marine 1: jump pack, chain sword, bolt pistol
Marine 2: bolter, combat knife
Marine 3: heavy bolter,

you generally get the idea, each marine is taken from one of the listings (in cases where it is say 100 points for 5 men just divide the points by number to get the cost per trooper, and round to nearest 5.

This meant people could use allot of variety for which marines they pick from their forces to be used for the game.

And like in necromunda they are allowed to move independent of the squad they’re in.

To compensate for things that 40k does not take into consideration you could do a basic roll. example for climbing where no ladder use the str roll so on a marine S4, you have to roll 1-4 to climb up. Guardsmen S3 would be 1-3 which keeps it as it should be in relation.

Another good option is to look at some of the great games already out to get ideas for depth of rules.

Space hulk was awesome and used very basic in my opinion, necromunda was a bit more complex, same with Mordheim but a bit less so than Necromunda.

Death squads will be another to take into consideration. I suppose it depends on the speed you want in the games of turns, and the depth you want for things that can happen in the game its self.

Any sense?

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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Thu 16 Apr 2009 - 7:13

If I was doing an indoor system Duce I totally agree - I'd just the Space Hulk rules.

I'm trying to create a halfway house between space hulk and 40k/Mordheim where I get the simplicity of Space Hulk's rules but some of the tactical options from the other games.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Thu 30 Apr 2009 - 16:34

@Duce..excellent Death Squads!

@SquattingMouse...are you looking for fantasy or futuristic. I believe you noted future but couldn't tell for sure.

Mordheimer and myself have just released our Beta Version of Death Squads. It is where GW left off between Space Hulk and Necromunda. The core rules are based off GW's gaming system. We have used Mordheim, Necro, Space Hulk, 40K, Warhammer Fantasy and WHQ for our game.

It is based on 40k races but with the balance of Mordheim warbands.

From what I have come across so far Tiles(Space Hulk and Warhammer Quest) can follow most of the rules of a normal game but there are quite a few special rules needed.

We will be releasing rules for indoor (Tiles, Space Hulks, Tunnels, and etc) after our current campaign. Duce and Eliziar can attest there is a page that is in our rulebook for this. It is blank at the moment as I am still working on the rules but they follow SPace Hulk and Khemri rules for underground.

Vehicles come out next after Indoor fighting.

D10 would be a good way to go but you will have a lot of rewriting to do as none of GW games are in D10.

@cianty...What skirmish game are you working on? You have never brought this up before even though you know we have been working on Death Squad for months.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 0:31

Da Bank wrote:
@cianty...What skirmish game are you working on? You have never brought this up before even though you know we have been working on Death Squad for months.

Oh, it has nothing to do with Sci-Fi. It's set in a more Fantasy/medieval setting (no Orcs or Elves though) with its own background and rules.

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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 7:34

I like the idea of the d10 myself - played a few games that use it and if nothing else gives you a greater variable then d6's and easy to do percentiles and such.

Duce makes some very good points. If you've ever played Confrontation, you can see how bogged down a game can get with too many stats / abilities / rules. While I like the game myself, and play once in awhile, it's a game where, no lie, we played once a 45 minutue game with 3 warriors against 2 - there's just so many abilities to keep track of it does tie you down sometimes.

A nice, quick, action-packed bloodfest would be nice for certain.

@cianty: No orcs or elves!? Already I love it. Having Dark Elves and High Elves as my main Warhammer armies for years now, I'll be honest - I'm sick of the long-eared buggers. Smile Details!
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 9:52

@Cianty...no Orcs?

Yes, to d10 as Ethlorien pointed out it gives you a better "bell" curve for statistics.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 10:38

Some answers to my thinking.....

The use of a D10 is for my benefit in designing the game and for the benefit of the players. Everyone has a conceptual understanding of percentage and it's more understandable and accessible if it's easily visible as 70% or 60% etc.

I've currently got 7 stats for a model with a high stat being good in all cases. All tests that you take for your own troops are done by rolling under the value making life simple and removing the need for to hit tables and things like that.

I've altered the setting going for a retro sci-fi/horror/historical approach following my exposure to a very cool looking game (must not buy more stuff until all ADHQ models painted......).

I'm currently fighting with the idea of squad coherency or whether to go with a more rag tag approach to it and allow all models independent movement to a certain degree.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 11:10

I actually tried doing what you did but with Resident Evil. Yes, this was my original inspiration behind my madness to do something different. If you are thinking sci fi, you will probably need a Game Master or event cards to create spontaneous events. The concept was fielding a squad of elite soldiers (Umbrella Strike Team) to go in and extract the doctor in "x" amount of turns and fly off the helicopter. The trick was other teams were sent in also to do the same thing and the helicopter can only fit so many models. LOL. So some are staying and some are going and from there you could create different scenarios based off that and how things happened in the movie.

In my game you could make a choice to save a hot girl being attacked by zombies and an old lady. Whoever you picked would give you positive and negative modifiers.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 11:21

Always love games with random event cards. No two games will ever be the same, lots of possibilities there if you design your own, and a lot of detail can go into a stack of cards.

Also, depending on the games mechanic, with the right random deck you can play solo games as well.

@Da Bank: I would always choose the Old Lady; what she lacks in looks she would make up for in 'experience'. Especially if she had removeable dentures... Oh, I've said too much. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 11:53

@Ethlorien. LOL. Actually yes, as the hot girl would have caused a nasty side effect and the old lady would have given a leadership positive modifier.

Yes, random event cards are great. It will take some time to create and you would need to group of people who have an imagination.

One would be looking for a "cinematic" feel or "movie" feel to the game. Crashing cars, finding a liquor store or gun store to get equipment.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 12:09

Da Bank wrote:
Yes, random event cards are great. It will take some time to create and you would need to group of people who have an imagination.

One would be looking for a "cinematic" feel or "movie" feel to the game. Crashing cars, finding a liquor store or gun store to get equipment.

You'll always find help here for coming up with ideas - that's for sure.

As far as the feel or tone of the cards, Da Bank's got it exactly. Make them feel important - add something the the play and tactics.

The thing you would have to watch out for is the detail of your cards and what roll you want them to play in the game.

Some event cards give you an idea, some dictate the situation, some add modifiers, random happenings etc...

What you don't want is for the cards to play the game for you. I played an old 'tactical' game, forget the name of it now, where you could really just sit back, flip cards, and figure out where the game was going from there - not bothering to even move the pieces. At that point, you're playing Candy Land with lead figures.

Hell, even Candy Land my daughter and I tweaked the rules a little to make it more exciting! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 12:42

Candyland? What did you do put in a event card that a big old spawn jumps out on the table and eats the closest model? LOL

My daughter is starting to design her own games and it neat to see her make them up with rules, of course the rules always let her win. LOL
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 12:57

Da Bank wrote:
Candyland? What did you do put in a event card that a big old spawn jumps out on the table and eats the closest model? LOL

My daughter is starting to design her own games and it neat to see her make them up with rules, of course the rules always let her win. LOL

My daughter want's everyone to play Candyland with her, so she puts the cards in an order to let the OTHER person win.... she's 6 by the way...

Back on track: I like the single D10 die, as well as not having a lot of stats, lots of checks, etc.... check to see if you can make another check for checking to see if you can do that...

Yeah, sucks. Cards, I dont mind, as long as they aren't always game enders. I like those that can help out the underdog, to make it more of a fair game, so things like, "If you have less ??? than your opponent, then you gain +XXX..." "If you have MORE ??? than your opponent, then you gain +1"

Something like that, not overwhelming either way, just balancing out a little more if needed.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 13:18

I was planning for strategy type cards similar to the 2nd edition of 40k in the Dark Millenium supplement. These would allow some element of randomness to play and allow you to build a moment of surprise into your plan.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Fri 1 May 2009 - 13:43

I like that idea, squatting mouse. Sounds good.

Candyland Rules Update:

-You had to get to the castle AND back
-Each player chose a colour they gained +1 square on when drawn, but also chose a colour they got -1 move on.
-Once per game you can hand your draw over to your opponent.

Hmm... it's been a few years so I don't remember all the stuff we came up with. There was a die roll in there somewhere too, I think. Something to do when you landed on the same spot as an opponent I believe (like a knockback rule).

Anyway, staying on track...

Another idea is to make cards purchasable. At the start of a game, each player can 'buy' a set amount of cards to be played. That way, even knowing what your opponent is playing, you can surprise them and bring something unique to the table. The cards I was thinking of earlier, would be a general 'draw a card at the end/start of the turn and see what happens' type thing.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Sat 2 May 2009 - 3:04

Ethlorien - I like the idea of buying cards a lot. It could work very well with defense missions where the defender has to buy a set number of cards giving him a smaller, but better prepared defensive force/position.
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Sun 3 May 2009 - 9:18

Just one thing that i think is very important - especially if you want to keep the games short and action packed..

ALWAYS have minimum 2 win conditions!

Skirmish games are fun, but giving the opportunity of winning in a way besides shooting the other band to shreds can prevent one guy just camping up behind sandbags with heavy weapons and stalling the game (or something else the like, i have had a Mordheim experience with a skaven player against dwarves where he killed the dwarf shooters and then climbed up onto stuff higher than 3" where the dwarves cannot physically go and wouldn't come down - that is of course not illegal, but it kills the game for one of the players entirely, or both if the dwarf just move out of range and wont go closer. This could be prevented if the dwarves could win another way.)
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PostSubject: Re: What makes a good skirmish game?   Sun 3 May 2009 - 9:51

MyLittlePwny - the intention was to have patrol size forces so approx 12 figures per side or so. Think small groups with a specific purpose. So you can either achieve your objective OR beat up the opposition to win.
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