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 Shields/two weapons house rules

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Jon Lackpenny
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PostSubject: Shields/two weapons house rules   Wed 3 Jan 2018 - 20:55

This might be more of a fundamental change to close combat than a shield rule per se. But I have been toying with how to fix the "shields are inferior to two weapons" problem for some years now. I can't tell if it's been proposed in an older thread, I just kept finding talk of making shields better to compensate.

Historically, most all people have carried either a weapon/shield, or a two handed weapon. Using two weapons at once is very rare in real life due a number of economic and biomechanical reasons. However, Mordheim doesn't really reflect this reality except that it fighting in streets does reflect one of the few situations in history where sword & dagger was relatively common, which I guess is one tick in the "pros" column for the ubiquity of two weapons in the game.

Aside from (arguably pointless, dangerous) rabbit-holes about "realism" I do get tired of a system where one weapon system is so dominant. So here's what I am going to try in my next campaign. 40k 2nd edition close combat rules. For those unfamilar, here is what it boils down to.

No changes in stat lines or costs for anything. But in hand to hand combat, you roll all your attack dice and choose the highest one. Add your WS and applicable bonuses. Whichever model's number is highest wins. They roll to wound a number of times equal to the amount they won by. Example: two models with WS 3 hit each other. X rolls a 4, Y rolls a 6. Y wins and rolls twice to wound.

If you wield two different weapons, the model is assumed to feint/block with one and strike with the other, applying the special rules to the one struck with. So the advantage to two weapons in this system is, you still get to add a die to your pool, and you can use whichever weapon you think has the best chance of wounding choose to "strike with" your axe if you want to cut armor, your sword if you want your parry roll, etc.

In this system, a total of A2 is very noticeable against A1, but the difference in advantage after that peters off pretty quickly. So an experienced or expensive model with a natural statline of A2 has far less motivation to carry a second weapon.

There is a little bit more to the old 40 cc rules but not much more. I won't post the other details here to avoid discussions of IP violation. Course game rules are notoriously hard to legally defend as IP, hence the existence of so many knock-offs of classic family boardgames.

Any thoughts?

I have also considered fiddling with the in-game effects of shields and bucklers themselves but one thing at a time.
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2704ENG
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Thu 4 Jan 2018 - 1:55

Bit of a radical change just to fix something simple...

It might have issues with several aspects of the game - how would it deal rerolls on missed attacks caused by Skill / Hatred?

The reason why people always go for the extra hand weapon is that statistically it's just so much better. I think this is something that can be dealt with internally without ditching the entire combat system itself.

Usually house rules include giving a -1/-2 modifier to hit with the offhand. We also include the rule that the offhand can never crit.

As for shields we grant them +1 attack but at -1 strength and +1 armour save - so if you really want two attacks on your models then you can either opt for either combinations with each having it's own disadvantages.
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Jon Lackpenny
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Thu 4 Jan 2018 - 4:25

Couple reasons why I'm apt to try this.

Re-rolled fails would be dealt with like in 40K: the attacker can re-roll any to-hit dice they like. Usually this means re-rolling 1's, as any and all 1's rolled count as -1 to your total score. All 6's rolled count as +1 to your total score. So there's always a time you *might* want to re-roll, or might want to force your opponent to re-roll. Also if you know the other guy beat you, you'd be apt to re-roll any dice that rolled lower than his!

I liked this combat system a lot back in the day, but with 50+ models in a game of 40k it just slowed the whole thing down too much. It would work great at the scale of a Mordheim game though. I have heard but I don't know, that it was used in Necromunda in the 90's as well.

My other thing I'm think about is changing shields up a bit: mostly ideas that have already been discussed here but with the addition of making them even more effective against missiles. Not sure if this would matter as missiles in Mordheim are already pretty weak against even un-armored targets.
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Fri 5 Jan 2018 - 3:21

You're right, the 40k 2nd Ed. combat system was used in Necromunda -- but Necromunda was never a hand-to-hand based game. It was a western-style shooting game, where most fighters only carried a single dagger for hand-to-hand.

Before I got into Mordheim, I played a home-brewed fantasy mod of Necromunda for a while. I can tell you two things right now -- this combat system doesn't work very well as the main game mechanic, & it isn't compatible with Mordheim. If you try to swap in this combat system, you'll pretty much have to swap out the rest of the game.

For a start, you lose the combat order (ie who hits first) which is such a big part of Mordheim -- & which charges & some weapon choices affect. You'd have to rewrite spear & double-handed weapon rules, & any skill affecting combat order. It also shifts the balance of power to anyone with a high WS (if someone gets to about WS6 they can dominate every combat), while the Mordheim HtH system balances WS against charges, weaponry, & Initiative. That's OK in Necromunda, where a character who dominates HtH can be shot to pieces, but frustrating for everyone else in a fantasy setting where most characters don't have any missile weapons. Fun fact: I had one character who reached WS6 & used a special weapon that gave a +2 WS boost, & after maybe two games no-one was willing to play against that warband any more.

The 40k system of rolling off & applying modifiers is also quite fiddly to use, meaning you have to do at least as much admin as for Mordheim. It does have the benefit that one model will definitely win a combat, unlike in Mordheim where two warriors can attack, swing, miss, repeat indefinitely. But it's not much of a benefit, especially when so many attacks fail to wound.

Oh, also we tended to have every model dual-wield anyway. It looks cool & the extra attack dice are more use than a 6+ save that disappears against a S4+ attack. So it doesn't solve that problem.

If it seems like I'm going on at length here, it's because I'm serious -- dude, don't do it. it's such a fundamental rewriting of a core gameplay element that you'll break more than you fix to end up using a less balanced, less interesting mechanic. 2704ENG's solution of -1 to hit an off-hand weapon & allowing a shield-bash attack sounds a pretty sturdy fix if dual-wielding's a problem, while trying to slot in part of a different rules system... It'll be messy & painful.

Personally, I'm happy with dual-wielding as a major game mechanic. It fits with sword and dagger fighting of the Renaissance, it speeds up the game as there are more attacks to actually land (just, statistically), & it doesn't end every game because the rulebook limits the ability to use extra attacks to shank downed opponents. But if you don't like it, & want to make other combinations more attractive (which is fair; I sometimes get fed up with the limited usefulness of great looking models that have the wrong equipment for the game), reducing the strength of the extra attack &/or making shields more aggressive is a much better solution.
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Fri 5 Jan 2018 - 3:26

How would it affect combat order? It was the same in both games. Chargers hit first, great weapons hit last, initiative order otherwise. The only thing is, spears hit first regardless of charging/initiative. A rule that is just fine without changes.

As I pondered it last night though I did think of something. I am concerned that you're correct that it won't limit 2 weapons much. Because the 1st extra attack die is the most statistically significant one!
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Fri 5 Jan 2018 - 4:02

It affects combat order because there was no combat order in the 40k system; which makes it very difficult for the 'Strikes Last' rule to make a difference. It's a simultaneous roll off by both players, rather than one after another, then modifiers are applied, & the higher score wins & gets to wound. That's very different to Mordheim.
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Fri 5 Jan 2018 - 4:32

Oh that's right. Chargers got a +1 S or WS or something or other.

I was thinking it just won't have the balancing effect on two weapons. In close combat WS 3 orks with 2 weapons and terrible armor routinely destroyed WS 4 marines with one weapon and a good armor save. That first extra attack die is a doozy.
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Fri 5 Jan 2018 - 15:43

Charges grant a +1 modifier, equivalent to +1WS, yes. & extra attacks are very attractive, as they increase the odds of a high roll & chance of criticals (multiple 6s, which give extra modifiers). The list of modifiers is substantial. So no, from my experience it doesn't neutralise the appeal of an extra weapon.

That'd explain why Necromunda rules stopped models using a second hand weapon if they had a basic or heavy weapon; it was an effective balancing mechanic. A model couldn't be both very shooty & very fighty. Works well enough in such a shooting-based game as Necromunda, but I don't recommend such mechanics for Mordheim.
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PostSubject: Re: Shields/two weapons house rules   Fri 5 Jan 2018 - 18:17

Well there was a point of diminishing returns in 40k around 4 attacks(!) or so. Every chance to roll a 6 was offset by a new chance to roll a 1, they cancelled each other out with their +1/-1 modifiers. Anyone with more than 3 or 4 attacks was pretty much hitting in the same league.

I'll probably just try letting people hold a buckler and dagger in the same hand, and up the save on shields.
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