Saturday, 7 January 2012
Designing The Combat Rules
My problems with Battlelore
I find combat resolution in Battlelore a little odd at times. A unit at full strength is represented by four figures - three figures if a cavalry unit. Each hit on the unit removes one figure. When the last figure is removed, the unit is destroyed. Units are further defined by the weapon they are using, and by the colour of their banner - red, green or blue, equivalent to heavy, medium or light units.
When attacking, a unit usually rolls four dice. These are 6 sided dice, but with symbols on each face: 1 Red, 1 Blue, 1 Green, 1 Flag, 1 Bonus Hit, 1 Lore. An attacking unit scores one hit on it's opponent for each dice that rolls same banner colour of the unit it is attacking. It may score a hit when rolling a bonus hit, depending on the weapon used and the opponent. Each flag rolled causes the opposing unit to retreat 1 hex.
Things I don't like:
1) The attacking unit does not have any penalty for being at less than full strength. A unit with 1 figure remaining rolls the same number of attack dice as a unit with all 4 figures remaining.
2) Whether the target is a red, blue or green banner unit makes no difference. A "heavy" unit suffers just as many hits as a "light" unit.
I tried two different approaches to amending the rules.
The First Attempt
I tried to keep to the rules as they stood as much as possible.
The solution to problem one seemed straightforward - roll one attack dice per figure in the attacking unit. This prolongs combat as less dice will be rolled over the course of the game. To counteract this, I bought some blanks and remade the combat dice: 2 Hit faces, 1 Bonus Hit, 1 Flag, 1 Miss, 1 Lore. Hits are no longer made by rolling a banner colour, but by rolling a "hit".
To resolve problem two I introduced a saving throw. Reroll any dice that are hits. A hit on a blue banner unit is saved if a miss is rolled, a hit on a red banner unit is saved by a roll of a miss or a lore.
I play tested and tweaked these amendments on and off for a long time. I didn't like the amount of dice rolling involved, and I could never balance combat to my satisfaction. This gave me an appreciation about how well balanced the original rules are, despite my dislike of parts of them!
The Second Attempt
There is a set of fantasy wargame rules called Hordes of the Things. I had played around with these rules a long time ago, using scraps of card instead of miniatures. These rules are based on De Bellis Antiquitatis, a set of rules for historical wargames set in the ancient period which I had used extensively. Hordes of the Things fails as a set of fantasy rules as it has little fantasy flavour. But could I drop the combat rules from Hordes of the Things into Battlelore? It took a lot a playtesting and tweaking, but I got there in the end.