Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Solo Grimdark Warfare, Version 1

Wolfdog Artcorner


This is an experiment: a way to abstract a wargame into a solo, no-miniatures experience, which can then have additional story elements and mechanics added to it as one desires.

This template is equal parts Grimdark Future, and a CYOA called A Century At War. It's designed to be played using the army lists in Grimdark Future and Age of Fantasy with no conversion required beyond reskinning to taste.

Battles in this system are abstracted: all that you the player need to care about are the stats and traits of units - position and movements don't come into play.
This is very, very much a work in progress and in many ways just a proof of concept.

Building an Army 

Armies are built using the points values in Grimdark Future and Age of Fantasy - I default in this sketch of the rules to the game's standard 750 points for a standard army and 250 for a skirmish (the former might just be too big, I will have to test and see). The only things you need to worry about are the Attack and Defense rating of each unit, and any special traits they might have. (Special traits will be detailed in a post to follow)

War, Huh? What's it Good For?

Each battle consists of three phases - for each phase, roll 2d6, with any modifiers factored in.

Phase 1: Reconnaissance

  • 10+: +1 to Attack and Defense rolls for all units
  • 7-9: Either no bonus or +1 to Attack or Defense rolls and -1 to the other.
  • 6-1: -1 to Attack and Defense for all units.
Compare the rolls of both armies (factoring in any bonuses you might have) - the winner gains +1 for their Combat roll.

Phase 2: Combat

  • 10+: +1 enemy death rate
  • 7-9: Either no bonus or +1 enemy death rate and +1 self death rate.
  • 6-1: +1 self death rate
This is the part where the actual combat takes place, and at the moment I haven't been able to get it down to less than a metric fuckton of dice rolls. But, you only need to do it once.

  1. Roll 2d6 for every unit (individual soldier!) in both armies (different colors help!) - one for Attack and one for Defense.
  2. Rolls above a unit's Attack and Defense values are successful. If they fail, it means that the shot didn't connect, or they got hit, respectively.
  3. Assign all the successful hits of an army to the failed defenses of the other. If failed defense > successful attack, some folks got lucky. If successful attack > failed defense, some units are going to get hit twice.
  4. Hit units need to make a death roll.
All units have the same default death rate of 2-in-6. If they are not killed instantly, they are considered injured. If you're playing multiple battles in a gauntlet, Injured units take -1 to their attack and defense if they take to the field. They can recover from injury if withheld from the battle.

Finally, compare the rolls of both armies. The winner and loser roll on the appropriate tables below.

Phase 3: Aftermath

Loser of Combat
  • 10+: +1 RP
  • 7-9: Both / neither
  • 6-1:  All injured units must be left behind. +0 RP
Winner of Combat
  • 10+: +1 RP & all injured units heal.
  • 7-9: Either +1 RP or all injured units heal.
  • 6-1: +0 RP, no other bonus

RP = reinforcement point, which is equivalent to 150 unit points. These can be stored up for major purchases, and cashed out between battles.

To Do

  • Figure out general special trait list.
  • Figure out army-specific special traits.
  • Make demo armies
  • Playtest
  • Refine
  • Add tables for story events for longer campaigns
  • Promotion mechanic for veteran units
  • Reskinned factions / setting post.

Still rough, still untested, but I think it could turn into a cool little thing to pass the endless quarantine days. Solo games have a lot of untapped potential, and honestly who doesn't like rebranding properties imprisoned by the litigious iron fist of James Blortshorp.

My primary concern at the moment is just how much rolling there is for combat, which really upsets the flow. Century of War solved this by having units give bonuses to a percentile combat roll, but that game doesn't have any means to determine the fate of specific units, which is something I wanted to do for the storytelling element.

Please dump all feedback in the comments I have no idea what I am doing.


  1. I like the idea of wargames, but not the wargame part of it. This should hopefully fix that.

  2. If you just do a single dice to determine how many units die, maybe have a second dice roll to randomize which units are killed and which did the killing?

  3. All the die rolling doesn't seem too onerous at the skirmish level. Maybe just focus in on skirmish as the core play?

    For larger armies, maybe use a bag of numbered tokens that emulates the 2d6 dice distribution. Pull a token for each unit. Would need to be a *lot* of tokens, which is maybe not great. But the tokens could also serve as wound markers, be color coded for special effects, etc.

    ...Or just number all the units on your army list, and run the whole batch of 2d6 rolls through a die rolling app.

    1. Yeah, skirmish level might be the best way of fixing the problem.