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 Shields Again! Proposed houserule.

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Pathfinder Dubstyles
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PostSubject: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Mon 28 Apr 2008 - 17:34

Please read the whole introduction before you scroll down to the house rule!

Everyone agrees that there is an inherent imbalance between a warrior with hand weapon and shield and a warrior with two hand weapons. The last rules review brought this up but stated that correcting this issue would take a "major overhaul of the [hand-to-hand combat] phase."

I respectfully disagree with this conclusion. One solution many people have accepted is to give warriors armed as such as additional save modifier. This originates form the newest version of Warhammer if I remember correctly. This is a good solution that does not alter the function of the item in any way. It simply gives shilds a slight boost to make them a slightly more viable option; since it is reinforced by Warhammer the purists are happy.

I'm sure there are other houserules, and unfortunately no one will ever agree on one solution. It is up to the players involved to agree among their own friends. If Specialist Games were to make a rule update official, I foresee dissension among Mordheim players the likes of which would rival the House Weapon lists fiasco in Nemcromunda.... Don't get ma started! Some would accept it, others would find their solution more fitting, and yet others would believe there is no problem to begin with!

So after some thought, I propose a new special rule for shields. Now I know more complexity is never the best solution, KISS (keep it simple stupid) is my motto. But if bucklers and helmets have elaborate and very useful abilities why then should a shield be such a burden rather than a boon? I was inspired by the LotR shielding rule, but doubling your attacks and not being able to wound had no place in Mordheim. (in that game combat is very different, I can't get into that here).

So I thought about how a warrior taking advantage of his shield would fight. He would deflect a blow and counter attack. To represent this it made sense that a warrior should have the option to fight defensively or not and that doing so would force them to strike last with some extra survivability. So if overwhelmed they could fall back on this rule in hopes of surviving long enough to strike back.

Since there are already ways to always strike last, It needed to mesh with those rules and not cause more confusion. I simply applied the logic of two models with "strike first" to two models with "strike last." Double-handed weapons do not specify what happens in this instance so I used a precedent from the rulebook (page 18 Who Strikes First).

To represent the parry-esque shield effect I fell back to what I know best, Necromunda. In Necromunda a parry allows you to force an opponent to re-roll an attack dice. This effect on it's own seems more powerful than the Mordheim parry, so it is balanced with striking last, and other restrictions. Hopefully I succeeded in making a rule that is not overpowered and offers interesting tactical decisions. I'm not sure if this warrants a price increase for shields.

House Rule: Shields
add the following rule to shields:

Shielding: A model may elect to fight from behind their shield before any dice are rolled in a hand-to-hand combat. They must not be armed with a two-handed weapon or a weapon such as "unwieldy" or "difficult to use" that restricts shield use in combat. Models may not shield against attacks with twice their own strength.

The model will strike last even if they charged this turn. If two models both strike last they will strike in initiative order after all other models which do not strike last.

Shielding models may force the first model that attacks them each turn to re-roll one of it's attack dice. The shielding player decides which dice is re-rolled and the second result must be accepted.


Ok guys, what's wrong with it, tear it apart! I did a little dice rolling with equal coasted weapon kits to test it; a warrior with swords & shield, warrior with swords & axe, and warrior with double handed weapon. I am no statistics genious so you tell me what you think!


Last edited by Pathfinder Dubstyles on Mon 28 Apr 2008 - 17:36; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added the double strength clause)
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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 1:48

A very interesting attempt at shields. However, I do see some problems with it.


  • First and foremost you need to be aware that Mordheim is a derivative of Warhammer. The basic rules are the same, the maximum profiles are those from Warhammer generals, etc. Mordheim does provide a possibility to go more indepth into certain parts. Using completely different rules than in Warhammer does not fit with the attitude of the game. Since this is the least important concern (rules-wise) I listed it first.

  • Two defensive rules (+1 armour save and the re-roll) looks strange and is very uncommon for a GW game. If you want to include the re-roll then I think it fits much better as a parry rule.

  • Striking last is among the biggest penalties you can get (for money). I don't see this rule increase the use of shields in any way. Shields are meant to be cheap means of defense used by the masses. You have regiments of Goblins, Ungors, etc. and even better units such as Orks, Gors, Dwarfs wielding them. Shields are meant to be a mass item. The whole purpose of a shield "fix" is to really make them more used. Now having the masses strike last is not desirable. Striking last should be a special penalty for certain and few weapons (such as 2-hand-weapons).
    Imagine a warrior wielding a shield attacking another one with a shield. Both would strike in Initiative order. It wouldn't even matter which one attacked. I think this is a very boring game situation that would occour a lot (since we're trying to increase the use of shields here).

  • Mounted Warriors suffer a lot from the strike last rule. They spend a lot of gold crowns and a skill to be able to ride a mount. Now a mount is basically nothing but ca. +4 Movement, a +1 armour save modifier and a more severe injury table. The high movement of mounted models is almost negated if the rider strikes last. You might say mounted warriors don't have to use shields but the highly increased armour save (basic armour, shield, mount, barding) is really the reason for using horses. I think this shield rule weakens mounted warriors and makes them even more unviable than they are already (which is defiantely not desirable).


That's all I can think of for now. I do think that the widely accepted rule of +1 for using a hand weapon from Warhammer is much better because it adds only one rule to the shield rules set (yeah, KISS) and it is taken directly from Warhammer. Mordheim really is not the game system to rewrite the game mechanics from Warhammer. As I wrote above I think your idea of a re-roll fits the parry* much better (like in Necromunda) and combined with a strike last this does not help making players choose a shield over a second hand weapon more often (think about it: +1 Attack vs. strike last and re-roll).

*But the parry rule is not bad as it is in Mordheim so let's not even try to fix that one (if it ain't broke..., you know).

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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 8:19

Your points are good Cianty. I know this topic may be pointless to many since the best available alternative exists already, but I enjoy inventing and discussing new house rules even if I never use them. Not only do I learn more about the game mechanics, but I get to learn what others think about the rules and what is important to them in a game. Even if you folks have no intention of supporting my efforts, Iíd still like to hear your thoughts. I wonít be offended, I appreciate the food for thought, and it makes work less boring. If I want boring I come to Tomís Boring Mordheim Forum!

Bear in mind that shielding is optional. If a warrior is concerned about not getting to attack they can simply forgo hiding behind a shield and strike normally. Low initiative models would benefit greatly from my house rule; to them there would be nothing to lose unless they charged. That I think is the main flaw in my house rule besides the utter strangeness of it.

Originally I had the rule decrease a warrior's initiative by 1 or half. Perhaps if I replace the cumbersome re-roll with something more original and mordheimy and reduce the penalty I'll have a valid house rule. I'll think about it more today while at work. Maybe striking order is not the best way to go about thisÖ

How I can make this work so that charging is still an advantage... Maybe charging models are better off not taking advantage of this rule. It makes sense that they would take forego safety to strike first while the person being charged would hide behind a shield. But there lies another flaw in my rule; if the charger has higher initiative it is in his best interest to shield only if the defender shields leading to a stand off where neither player will reveal their action before the other...

I think shields should have always had the parry rule (the Mordheim parry that is, which is actually far better than Necromunda in itís execution not power level), making them better that bucklers in every way; I would gladly pay 10 gc for a parry and +1 armor. But without altering the cost of a shield the +1 armor in unmounted h-t-h is simple, and works well. My rule just doesnít word well for mounted warriors, true.

Lastly Iím sure everyone has noticed this but a sword & shield and sword & axe cost the same. All other things equal the axe negates the armor and gives an extra attack. Much better!

As a side note: I enjoy writing rules, alternate settings, and game variants. I have a ton of material I wrote for Necromunda which never saw the light of day. I even have some 40k rules additions. I expect to come up with more Mordheim ideas once I get much more familiar with the game (only 4 games you guys!) and digest all the available articles.


Last edited by Pathfinder Dubstyles on Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 8:34; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : edited for clearity)
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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 9:34

Pathfinder Dubstyles wrote:

I know this topic may be pointless to many since the best available alternative exists already, but I enjoy inventing and discussing new house rules even if I never use them. Not only do I learn more about the game mechanics, but I get to learn what others think about the rules and what is important to them in a game. Even if you folks have no intention of supporting my efforts, Iíd still like to hear your thoughts.

This is a fair point!

Pathfinder Dubstyles wrote:

I wonít be offended, I appreciate the food for thought, and it makes work less boring. If I want boring I come to Tomís Boring Mordheim Forum!

Maybe I am simple but this was funny to me when I read it.

Pathfinder Dubstyles wrote:

Bear in mind that shielding is optional.

Oops! I have to admit that I got it wrong. I didn't get the optional part of shields. So you are adding another option to shields instead of changing the current rules. That's something different then.

Anyways, personally I don't like the amount of rules because it's really unhandy. But if it works for you and your gaming group then that's totally cool.

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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 9:58

One reason why I think that allowing a shild/handweapon combo a extra +1 AS in closecombat is that this also helps make armour more viable ... ie. with this rule I would actually consider light armour ...without it ...NEVER ! (ok ok the rare instance that I have everything else money can buy)
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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 10:05

Boehm wrote:
One reason why I think that allowing a shild/handweapon combo a extra +1 AS in closecombat is that this also helps make armour more viable ... ie. with this rule I would actually consider light armour ...without it ...NEVER ! (ok ok the rare instance that I have everything else money can buy)

I agree 100%. Actually it is very suprising how this little rule - which is even taken straight from Warhammer - all of a sudden makes completely new weapons/armour options viable all by itself. As you said, light armour and shield becomes a viable option, even heavy armour sees a lot more play. In my group we like the rule a lot.

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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 11:46

Pathfinder Dubstyles wrote:
If I want boring I come to Tomís Boring Mordheim Forum!

???

Also: I agree with Cianty. I think your "defensive stance" shield idea is not bad, but I find it bulky. I think the normal +1AS in CC will do (KISS, I like that Very Happy ).

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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 12:04

Admin Tom wrote:
Pathfinder Dubstyles wrote:
If I want boring I come to Tomís Boring Mordheim Forum!

???

Uh oh, this smells like trouble! affraid

*runs for cover*

Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 13:31

cianty wrote:
Admin Tom wrote:
Pathfinder Dubstyles wrote:
If I want boring I come to Tomís Boring Mordheim Forum!

???

Uh oh, this smells like trouble! affraid

*runs for cover*

Wink

Ha! That was intended to be a joke, I just forgot this little guy --> Wink

Like I said the best solution is already available, especially if it makes armor more useful as well. I'm just brainstorming b/c I have nothing better to do! What other ideas have been tossed around that I might not have heard of for shields/armor in general?
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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 16:09

I'm very much liking this rule. I've felt that shields have been underplayed in warhammer for a while now after gaining some experience using them in 'real life'. This feels true to how they work in real life. Indeed shields only become to be used less once armour began to be more common for the wealthy and the likes of bastard swords became the mainstay because of this. Even so they're viable weapons when combined with a shield.

Shields are a strong defence to begin with. I believe the rules should reflect this a little more.
Considering the game however, to make thme truely more realistic would mean needless complications.
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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Tue 29 Apr 2008 - 17:01

It's OK, keep up the brainstorming Pathfinder! I think it's interesting! Smile
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Thu 1 May 2008 - 1:50

Admin Tom wrote:
It's OK, keep up the brainstorming Pathfinder! I think it's interesting! Smile
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Ditto - its nice to have someone other than myself try to start houserule discussions here ... - Im actually more of a wargamer than an artist ...so this is more down my alley than talking about which shade of green will make u look more green Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Shields Again! Proposed houserule.   Thu 1 May 2008 - 10:25

Boehm wrote:

... this is more down my alley than talking about which shade of green will make u look more green Wink

Ha ha! I would go for scaly green, oh wait it was discontinued, dooh!

How about making an offensive ability for a shield? It could be a basic rule or even a new combat skill. This shield bash would give an additional attack and -1 strength, that had a disorienting effect, possibly causing the target to strike last if they haven't attacked yet this turn... The bludgeoning concussion rule might be to strong here, unless it was a skill.
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