[Archive] [T9A/WHFB] Three Suggestions to Improve Maneouvers in the Wargame


Found also on the 9th Age site:

Movement is king, and often tyrant. The more I play Warhammer/T9A, the more I have come to realize that the rules themselves are rigged with some glaring trifles with regards to maneouvers that have a negative impact on immersion, enjoyment and the play of the game. Common for all of these trifles is a pernickety spirit of abstract rules for the sake of rules, not quite realistic simulation; a major impact on the game itself; and their acting out on tabletop being never surrounded by thrill, laughter or enjoyment among the players unlike the better parts of the game. In particular the rules tend toward a narrowly strict game of angles and minor clipping of insurmountable unit corners stopping whole units dead in their tracks, locking the game when nothing else than the rules as they stand would say it should be locked.

Naturally, a pernickety border of skills and close adherence to rules will always exist in a complex wargame like T9A (somewhere the lines are drawn, and right around these lines the tipping point of games will often be decided), and obviously a game of rectangular formations will always place importance on the angling of units. Likewise maneouvering is where skilled generals generally shine. These are all granted factors and I do not dispute them or wish to see them eradicated, but I do wish to see the pernickety borders pushed further away allowing some room for believable movement with a massed miniature wargame.

Before reading what follows, please note that the following raw proposals are written by someone lousy with rules and that the many obvious and decidedly less than obvious tricky areas concerning unit types and odd special rules (and indeed the proposed rules themselves) that will arise around such implements to the game would have to be discussed and remoulded by others much more in the know about these things, This is to get the ball rolling, and it will take pros to score, if possible. And yes, this would change Warhammer/T9A fundamentally even when all else remains the same, but the aim is to strike at a part of the game which anyway never was much fun nor charged with verisimilitude. Yes, it would add another detail level to an already complex and rules-heavy wargame, but at the very least the rules changes and new tools would be equal to all factions not restricted to one army’s special rules. Here goes:


1) Introduce a secondary front arc (from hereon the 180 degrees arc as opposed to the familiar 45* - although 90* might be more correct in the established sense:
) as a lower level option for charging. The 180* front arc would be relevant for charges, but charges of a diluted kind. Breaking the 45* optimum arc for the lousier 180* arc would mean a loss of all charge bonuses (lances, combat resolution, impact hits…) while any and all defensive charge bonuses for the receiving unit (shieldwall, spears etcetera) would remain active. Furthermore, the 180* charge would break close formation without going into skirmish mode, robbing the charging unit of ranks (perhaps effectively counting as light troops in a negative regard without any of the benefits?). Ranks would have to be closed again, either at the end of the combat or at the start of next combat turn, or similar, and would require a passing of a Ld test. A rabble may prove itself an unruly rabble by Ld testing.

Also, a unit delivering a 180* charge cannot overrun or reform/pivot that turn .

This would represent a breakup of tight formation and a sloggy flow of uncoordinated warriors sideways to catch an enemy in a suboptimal manner, losing all the benefits of a concentrated, unified onrush in tight formation and requiring some self-discipline or more probable yet actions of officers to restore a semblance of order and cohesion.

Furthermore, to limit issues related to long sidelong charges it could be prudent to limit a 180* charge to a mere movement value plus 1D6 (Swiftstride would be 2D6, discard the lower), or even M+D3". This and similar matters is something I am unable to delve into, and would need care taken by others. Along with a loss of any and all charge bonuses, the restrictions on movement aims to balance the 180* option and retain the primacy of the 45* charge while discarding many of the frank stupidities with charge angles in close quarters witnessed in Warhammer games for year upon year.

Apart from a solving of inherent issues with the 180*, I urge the 180* front charge option to be implemented elegantly without excessive ruling that would act as an obstacle to the game. The purpose is not to slow things down, but to cut the cr-p and possibly even speed up the movement phase in a few cases given how much care must go into it to perform well on tabletop.

Thus, the 45* arc would remain as we are familiar with, but the 180* arc would open up silly scenarios were one unit, in a quiet straight battleline of other units, is completely unable to flank charge the enemy unit to the right or left of it which engages a neighbouring friendly unit, because the enemy unit is too thin to register on the 45* radar. Even within the confines of maximizing the number of combatants in CC, I have seen mindnumblingly rules-nibbling side nudging of miniatures (particularly when large bases are involved) to bypass neighbouring units’ front arc completely, adding nothing while subtracting from the experience of the game. The 180* aims at this issue in particular, but other movement-related breaks of immersion as well. It might be argued that 180* is too much and that the direction is right but the degrees wrong, but this is a matter for others than myself, in effect you dear readers, to discuss and remould for the benefit of the game, should you appreciate the direction of this proposal.

Experimental thoughts on ways to break up the 45* tyranny in cramped close quarters included extending the front arc to the back of the first model’s base, or the to the back of the rear model’s base or something like to the back or front corner of the third miniature (infantry) in a file’s base. Among other variants, these were discarded for the elegance of retaining the primacy of the unit’s front for charging, and to solve issues of unit types and larger bases by not venturing thither.

Spoiler Substitute

2) Make multiple miniatures in a single file (congaline) automatically break in close combat; or crumble, self-destruct or suchlike if Unbreakable, Daemonic or undead. According to passing hearsay, miniatures in a single file automatically broke in WHFB 3rd edition, which sounds quite reasonable.


3) Introduce an option to charge through friendly units. Possibly also to pursue through friendly units as well. The limits here would have to be laid out carefully in particulars (not least on Chariots, and e.g. would single infantry miniatures have any impact at all?), and obviously one always need to draw line of sight to the target (meaning friendly monsters would block LOS). That aside, for charging through friendly units, a dangerous terrain check stacking with terrain effects would be in order for miniatures overlapping (i.e. those models running through the friendlies, and the particular friendlies run through), that is BOTH chargers and charged-through.

To balance this rule, a loss of movement upon charging through could be in order (-1", -D3"?), and furthermore the discipline and drill of a host would become apparent in this situation. Therefore, it could be in order for the unit charged through to take a Ld test, which if failed will result in the unit charged through to flee in the direct opposite direction from the charging unit (i.e. through it), and in the violent tumult and trampling BOTH units involved - chargers and charged-through - would take a dangerous terrain check at an extra +1. Rising from failing at 1s normally to failing on 2s when panicking. Dangerous terrain would of course be extra dangerous for larger models involved to confer no odd advantage at say Ogres or Chariots, with more dice used as per normal DT checks.

Having infantry or perhaps swarms be the safest unit for charging through is only logical. Some factions, or even unit types, could be equipped with special rules allowing e.g. Orcs to charge through insignificant Goblins or Ogres through Gnoblars, either without any risk involved to the bigger brutes per automatic, or by passing a Ld check for the charging unit which if passed makes it immune to charging-through-related dangerous terrain checks. Friendly skirmishers could maybe be charged-through without risk to oneself, neither for chargers nor charged-through.

This is obviously something of large impact upon the game and charge-through limits on unit types, non-light infantry or whatever might be in order, maybe maybe not.
The wargame is sorely lacking in ways to break the rigid rectangle, so to speak, for it is filled with pitfalls dug by its own rigidity. Too many games have seen a dumb little clipping of corners with major impact on the course of the game. Likewise, the thing with units blocking each other often make little sense at all, particularly when large units blocked by small friendly units are concerned. Kroxigors charging through Skinks was a worthy example to follow up on.

Spoiler Substitute

All this would require widescale gametesting to see how it pans out. It is a major deviation from the Warhammer Fantasy of old with wide ramifications. In my opinion something in these directions are necessary to get rid of very rulesy stupidities inherent in this complex wargame, and I hope many share that thought. With the 9th Age, we have an opportunity to fix it for ourselves as tabletop gamers…

What do you think? Do you have modifications or additions to the above ideas, or brand new ideas of your own in similar directions? Critique and feedback? Please share!


These are all very sensible changes which I think essentially every fantasy wargammer ever has always wanted, their are always those times and elements which feel distinctly unrealistic, and break immersion in the game, because of the absurdity they often create “My trolls can’t charge through those eight goblins? really?” and “My warriors cant attack those guys standing right next to them?”. To be entirely honest after all these years of war-gaming I’m surprised these kinds of basic changes haven’t been made already.

Even a very ridged and abstract game like Kings of War could really-really benefit buy the simple inclusion of a short range reduced power side arc charge, and from the ability to pass through another unit (although the way multi-charges are handled this very nearly exists in some ways in KoW, for example larger units standing behind smaller units can see their target and can often participate in a multi-charge).