17 October 2009

Alternative Rules - Forge Of War

And now for one of the more controversial subjects of the Games Workshop hobby - alternative rule systems.

By their own admission, Games Workshop is a miniatures company above all other things. The mechanics of the game we call Warhammer 40,000 haven't actually changed much since 1989 - it has always been IGO-UGO, separate rolls to hit, wound, and save. Through four-plus revisions and editions, these mechanics have evolved into a comprehensive set of battle rules. But they are still cumbersome, and do not represent the flow of battle. To most 40k players this isn't an issue - they want a universal game they can play in a store or club, that is supported by a major corporation, and that will always have a steady stream of new models. But a handful of players aren't interested in a universal game they can play with strangers, and are more interested in finding rules to support the models they have (whether produced by Games Workshop or not).

Many free alternate rules exist, and have for years. And I have investigated them on several occasions, only to go back to 40k every time. The reasons for this vary tremendously. Some are systems like Stargrunt, which are free and supported, but really aren't any less complicated than 40k once gameplay actually starts. Others have been gaining popularity, like Two Hour Wargames and Fast And Dirty. Both are pretty good systems which seem to have been created around fixing specific problems with 40k, and play much faster. But both of these have charts for everything. I'm tired of consulting so many charts! A quick reference sheet should be one or two pages, not four to eight! Also, neither system seems capable of supporting 100+ model games. So none of the alternates jumped out as being viable in my mind.

Until I discovered Forge Of War.

This ruleset is absolutely fantastic. It has an initiative/command system loosely reminiscent of Epic:Armageddon, which has been widely recognized as GW's best system. It introduces a D-Marker system similar to Epic 40,000's use of Blast Markers, so that might be why I enjoy it so much. And it resolves fighting/close combats with a single modified roll, with modifiers very intuitive and easy to remember after your first few games. Best of all, the Yahoo group has very playable stats for most 40k units. One of the group members created a very complex calculator to automatically convert stats - balance is maintained at GW codex levels. I have played a variety of games using Imperial Guard, Orks, and Space Marines - all function exactly as they do in 40k. In fact, I've played two test comparison games; playing a standard 40k game, then replaying the same mission/armies using Forge of War. In both of these comparisons, Forge of War produced almost IDENTICAL results to 40k - in about half the playing time.

So here is my challenge to anybody interested in trying something different. Download Forge of War from The Game Shed, join the Yahoo group, get the most updated 40k stats, and play a demo game or two. I'm not saying you'll never play 40k again... but you will be pleasantly surprised by the gameplay of Forge of War.

01 October 2009

Scratch-built Killa Kans

For some time, I've been inspired by (Bell of Lost Soul's) Bulwark's great article about scratchbuilding Killa Kans cheaply:


Since there are no heavily-supported rumors of new plastic Kans coming out soon, I decided to try my own scratchbuild for my new Bad Moon army. I didn't want to completely copy Bulwark's design, but figured it was a good place to start. So I set aside a few other bits from my collection to use (mostly Rogue Trader Ork heavy plasma guns), and was ready to hit Home Depot for button-drippers (see Bulwark's article) when I looked down at my workbench and saw the humble Citadel plastic barrel.

I immediately began to smile.

The Citadel barrel looked like it was just the right size to hold a Grot and some controls. I looked around the Bunker for a few more ideas, and saw the 90-degree pipes on the Imex Power Plant scenery kit. A few minutes with an Exacto knife, some files, and some superglue, and this is what I produced:

Junkyard constructs meets 1960's sci-fi robots. I love 'em. The parts I used:
  • Body - Citadel barrel
  • Hatch - Imex Syberclicks set (useless as a whole, but a great source for individual parts)
  • Armor - from the original plastic Rogue Trader battlewagon, re-released during the Gorkamorka days in a parts bag.
  • Arms and Legs - piping from the Imex Power Plant (a great set, both as a whole and for parts)
  • Hips - old Epic Ork wagon gun turrets
  • Feet - plastic Epic stompa feet (though almost anything would work for feet)
  • Close combat weapon - Rogue Trader power klaw
  • Grotzooka/Mega Blasta - Rogue Trader heavy plasma gun
Kans 2 and 3 followed the same basic formula. The only difference was that instead of a hatch, I left both lids open and inserted plastic Grots (one was a 2nd Edition Grot, one was a broken Space Crusade figure). I also used different close combat weapons on each... one was a modern buzzsaw, the other is also from the old Epic wagon sprue.

All in all, it was an inexpensive, quick, and entertaining way to produce a Heavy Support option for my new Bad Moon army. My next scratchbuild will probably be a battlewagon... I'm just not a huge fan of the new Citadel version. I'd rather make something like the old epic Battle Fortresses or the Forgeworld gunwagons. If any readers have created major custom Ork jobs like these, let me know and I will post links to your work.