Friday 22 November 2013

40K skirmish game: Preliminary thoughts

With the rumours not so long ago about a 40k skirmish game based on the inquisition a friend of mine got very excited, and honestly, I did a little. I have played several games workshop skirmish games and they are always fun, so another one that actually got support was an exciting prospect... until it turns out that it’s not going to happen. So with that disappointment, I and a friend have been thinking about how to create a 40k skirmish game, but this one based around small skirmishes with one or two squads per side engaging in a fire fight.

The first port of call for me was to look at the previous games and see what good ideas have been used in the past and steal them, obviously. The games that I looked at are Mordheim, Necromunda, Inquisitor and gorkamorka. The First skirmish game I ever played was Mordheim and I have played it a number of times over the years, it’s a good game and has had 2 little updates about 3 expansions for fighting in different areas of the warhammer world? If you can still get these rules I don’t know but it was great when it was in its prime. The game is primarily based around close combat and while taking some of the rules might be useful, unfortunately I would say I might have to look elsewhere for inspiration. I do like the idea of when wounding someone you roll to see if you kill, stun or knock them down but I think its far to simplified, so maybe come up with my own?

Gorkamorka and Necromunda are very similar in the way they play, bar the obvious exceptions, ones set in a dessert with vehicles, and the other is in a hive with little to no space. They both focus more on shooting with each gun having a large number of modifiers when firing, such as +1 to hit at short range for some weapons. They also have a roll to see what happens when you wound someone and they have a result called flesh wound which reduces your BS and WS, I like this; however they only have 3 results, again a little basic.  Necromunda has A LOT of different war gear to use in the game and some weapons have alternative ammunition to use, a great idea and I would love to use that in a game I created but that's a little far into the future, for now we need to look at basic mechanics. Both games use a system close to warhammer fantasy, practically using their movement and shooting rules including the cover modifiers. Combat is different, more akin to 40k second edition, which is hardly surprising as they both came out before 40k 3rd edition. Still a few good ideas to be found here.

Now the big one, Inquisitor, this game is not quite the same as the rest mainly due to the scale difference but it has a lot to offer. This game is more of a role playing game, uses actions based on your initiative and you can do anything. IT has the largest section of weapons and war gear which could be useful to steal ideas from. The hit location idea could be something to take on in future, but I not 100% on that yet.

While researching 40k skirmish games I came across a game which some guys have made up in the past called DeathSquads, and looking at it, it seems like a great game but unfortunately it’s not quite what I am after. It’s got a lot of great ideas in it but unfortunately I can’t help but feel it’s too much like mordheim which they based it on. While it’s a great game it’s not quite what I’m after, but it does have a massive weapons array each with their own rules... that I like, I’m going to steal that eventually. It uses the more current 40k style of cover as I believe it was made around the 5th edition era but I couldn’t be sure.

Where does that lead us?

First and foremost (at least for the time being) I want to stay as close to the current 40k (6th edition) rules as I can, this way if people want to try and play my game it’s an easier transition from 40k to skirmish and it will hopefully mean people will enjoy playing the game more. Granted in the future I’m expecting certain things to work, others to fall flat on their face and need changing. As long as this progress is slow and is for the better I'm happy with it.

In order to get a feel of what we are doing me and my friend (I’m going to call him LC so I don’t have to keep saying friend) had a few basic games to see how different things work out. In both all models are individual.

Game 1

The first game was a straight up mordheim game but with the 40k profiles and weapon stats. This game was 120 points (we felt it was a reasonable points cost for a skirmish but still have a few small upgrades). The game was Dark eldar (me) vs Space marines (LC). For the fun of it here are the lists:

Dark Eldar 120 points

5 Warriors - Sybarite w/ ghost plate, venom blade
5 Wyches

Space marines 120 points

10 scouts – heavy bolter, 3x combat knife, 2x sniper rifle

Both forces has 10 models, my list was more combat orientated and his more shooting. Using only mordhiem rules the game took about 90 minutes and ended with all the dark eldar models being killed. A large portion of this game was the dark eldar rolling around on the floor after being shot which didn’t seem right to me. The game had a good length of time, and was quite enjoyable.

Game 2

Keeping the game more to the 40k rules set I proposed that we follow some rules that I came up with prior to our meeting to give them a go. The rules changed the 40k rules in the following way:

Movement: Stays the same

Shooting: You can target any model, cover si the same as 40k, if a character gets a placed shot they instead add 1 to wound table.

When a model loses its last wound you roll on the following to see what happens (if they don’t go out of action they regain the last wound)

1 or 2: Knocked down (the model is pinned)
3: Flesh wound (-1 to WS and BS for rest of the game)
4: Leg wound (half movement for the rest of the game, a second results goes to 5)
5: Down but not out (the model is permanently pinned and has WS and BS reduced to 1)
6: Out of action (the model is removed as a casualty)

If a model is wounded by a weapon with a strength higher than their toughness they added +1 To the roll on the wounded chart, if the weapon strength was double or more their toughness they instantly went ooa.

Assault: The same as 40k

Moral: I added in if a model gets shot at by more than 1 model they had to take a moral test, if they failed while behind cover they became pinned, if they are not in or behind cover they run.

This game has the space marines this time take on the imperial guard

10 veterans – plasma gun, autocannon, flamer, power axe, plasma pistol

This game ended very quickly with most of my guard dyeing or going down but not out whenever the scouts shot at them. I would say this game was more enjoyable though with the focus on shooting and trying to decide if you could risk taking a shot or going to ground to try and live another turn.  

Now what?

Now me and LC have to decide on what way to go with the game, what rules to change, if we should stick with 120 points etc... Now it’s the real hard work unfortunately but hopefully it will lead to something.

I think I want to keep with the Game 2 rules for now as while it was quick I think it can be expanded upon. I would like to try it again with a few changes such as reducing the points down to 100 points, that way forces like IG can take more people than most any one (they could just get 20 basic men) and the more expensive armies like marines are forced to be smaller, they could have 9 basic scouts or go for 8 plus weapons. How other forces will go, that is yet to be seen.

As much as it hurt the Imperial guard I want to keep the +1 roll on the wounding chart if you are wounded by a stronger weapon, I just feel that if you are hit by a heavy bolter you are going to take more damage than from a laspistol and it should be represented in the rules somehow, even if it’s just this little thing.

With the mordheim rules the thing that irritated me the most about the damage chart was that if you get knocked down nothing bad happens, you get back up and you carry on. With the second game the chart defiantly made damage more punishing forcing you to stay in cover, which isn’t a bad thing in my book. Would it be worth going 1 step further? Adding in a similar to inquisition style damage location chart? it would give placed shots something better to do.

How about 1- right leg, 2 – left leg, 3 – right arm, 4 – left arm, 5- body, 6 – head. Each would have its own damage chart or even just a case of light, heavy, fatal kind of system so if you get shot in the arm 3 times it gets ripped off and you bleed to death? I don’t know right now it’s something I should work on a little more.

So why am I posting this on my blog? Well I would like you all to help me by giving feedback on the idea, what you think might work, what won’t and point out anything which I missed. Hopefully this will stop me making any stupid mistakes and leaving massive loop holes in the rules that people can take advantage of.

What do you guys think so far? I know it’s very basic right now and I will attempt to put up a post once a month to give you what we have come up with. 


  1. Have you looked at the two editions of kill team?
    Also rules for the games above are on the GW website for now under specialist games except apparently for gorka morka.


    check this out could be things you enjoy

  3. Knight of Infinite Resignation22 November 2013 at 14:38

    have you tried using the skirmish variant described in the back of the 40K rulke book? Works quite well.

    You might also try looking at Laserburn, a small scale skirmish game that was written by Brian Ansell and was a big source for 40K. The weapons, equipment and ethos are so similar that it takes very little work to use it as a 40K skirmish game. May be too detailed for what you want though and takes a bit of learning. You can buy the rules cheap or download from Scribd.

  4. You should look at special operations kill zone and also check out in the emperors name

  5. I tried to think of some rules for a small moon base attack game for my friends who don't have time to play full 40K games.
    Me playing the cultist and my friends playing Marines/Scouts on a kill mission.
    A bit like the old Hero Quest really :)
    I've tried to base it loosly around the 40K rules, with some reaction actions in like the 40K overwatch and the reaction in Infinity.
    It was good fun, as there was always something to do, instead of the I go, you go..
    I'm going to try for a bit of in-fighting next time around, and have the teams try and kill each other, using secret mission cards or something like that.
    Next time I will also try and write down all the rules we come up with ;)
    Good luck...
    Looking forward to see what you guys come up with :)

  6. Do the models still move and shot as units or are they individuals?
    Seems like you post wound mechanics would be pretty hard to track for 20 models on a side.
    Also you probably should not try to use the points values assigned from 40K. You have changed the wounding mechanics so that high strength weapons are better and multiple wound models are worse.
    Good luck figuring it all out.