Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A Wargaming Education

So I've had a lot of secondary exposure to Wargaming. When I was a kid, an older friend created a WWII boardgame for mass battles. In our current WFRP game, I've had to look-up rules in the WFB rulebook. And in general, you hear occasional wargame discussions in RPG sites.

But when I watched this video of a WFB game the other day, I was surprised by how relatively smoothly this big 100-troop battle ran.

1. No Grid

I remember hearing that ODnD movement is in inches like a wargame, but I didn't really get what that meant until I saw this video. They actually each have a tape-measure and you can move your troops along any diagonal axis you want. That's pretty cool!  And quicker than counting a ton of grid-squares.

2. Group Movement

The movement are per group, rather than per individual unit. That's a really good way of managing a ton of troops in a lightweight fashion. There's even a little rectangle underneath each group so you can move them together easily. I have to remember to do the movement by group next time I'm DMing and I run a big battle. Maybe that way it won't take all session.

3. Group Attacks

Attacks are also a lot quicker because they roll a handful of dice for each unit's attack. For WFRP, where it's a percentage, this might be a little unwieldy, but for d20 based systems it seems very do-able.  Like when the archers fire, you can just roll a handful of d20's and then divide them up between the PCs. Or if a group charges the party's front line, then you can roll a handful of d20's and divide them up between the PCs in the front line.

So in conclusion, I think there is what to learn from wargames about running big RPG battles smoothly, and I'm excited to try this out next time I DM a fairly big action.


  1. Coming from a wargaming background it's a bit jarring to see what seems blindingly obvious to me, isn't to someone from a different background. Live and relearn I guess.

    On another note.

    Here's how to speed up a percentage based system. Add up all the percentages for a unit. Every 100% means a 'hit' and you only roll for whatever % is left over.

    e.g. 10 figures with a 35% of hitting = 350% translates into 3 hits and roll against 50% for a 4th hit.

    It isn't a completely accurate statistical model (it eliminates outliers) but it is quick for larger groups.

  2. Sounds like a great tip Stu. I guess my point from this post was: can I come up with a system somewhere between RPG and Wargame for those occasional large RPG battles. The adding percentages definitely fits the bill--thanks!