It was the 3rd Doctor Who said, "A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting." That perfectly describes writing your own wargame... It's not easy, it's not always fun, there's many decent games out there and it's loads easier to pick one up.... But if you stick with it, set goals and get on, it's possible to create something fantastic.
When I was young, we garage geeks, mother’s dining-table destroyers and bed-room board gamers didn't have as many options for wargames as we do now. It used to be the done thing to write rules and this could be a dying art. Hopefully this article might change all that?
So why and how did this come about.... I suppose I'll jump into my Time And Relative Dimensions In Space machine and take you there...
One day me and my mate Ant sat down and watched series 12 of Doctor Who. That by the way is a fantastic season, Robot is Tom Baker's first episode, although a week story it's the only one in series 12. Ark in space, Sontaren Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen are all brilliant story's and a boat load of classic enemy's!
I turned to Ant and said "wargame of Doctor Who, but about the Who universe, not about the doctor himself, would be fab eh?"
He looked at me, "well, a wargame without power gaming, patched rules, army lists that contradict the rule book, room on a board for actual tactics, like room to flank and such and a lack of general unsportsmanlike game style would be good...?" These two ideas are what set us on the road.
"That's a deal Ant... Get on with it" was most likely my next line?
Think that's really the way we split the game up. I was mainly in charge of the feel, the way the armies and squads worked and Ant mainly did the way the game worked. Although we both crossed over in our roles.
The rules work around the idea of platoons/detachments on a table top environment were they can engage an enemy tactically.
Most games have the army basically fill the board from left to right on both sides and then basically move the small distance they are apart towards the enemy. To me this feels more like the final push of a much larger battle? It's close combat, or point blank shooting, not war.
What we have is men surrounded by there environment with an enemy in 'almost' engagement range.
It's based not really on individuals but squads. Plus a squads bonus's from things like, Orders from commanders, special rules for that squad or equipment that all give small bonuses to a squad.
We couldn't do all the races in Doctor Who, so we sat down and decided to go for: Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarens and Time Lords, Earth, Vogans and Ice Warriors, who later became part of Earth (who became the Federation with Draconians also... It is fluff).
Daleks are a fantastic race to use. It's not all Daleks, your core of the army is things like Robomen, Mercenaries, Ogrons, basically slaves to the Daleks. These can all be killed and not effect your army moral like all other armies.
These lesser being that Daleks don't care about, go in first and most likely die, the Daleks roll in as a second wave and mop up what's left of the enemy.
Cybermen are perfectly built for war. Elite, highly skilled and armoured and can be supported by Cybermat swarms that act like moving mine fields.
Sontarens are also highly skilled and well equipped. However they become tired as a battle goes on, becoming slower and weaker towards the end of a long game.
So need to engage the enemy quickly.
Federation have a bit of everything. Humans make for perfect marines, not very fast but decent armour and weaponry. Draconions are perfect in combat. Ice Warriors are excellent shock troops with fantastic short range weapons and finally UNIT are light highly skilled troops and the hole army can be mechanised.
Time Lords are incredibly fast. They may lack armour and heavy weapons but can get to cover or objectives faster than the enemy and are highly trained, disciplined and skilled.
Finally Vogans, light troops that move in large squads. The Vogans are hit and run specialist, they engage the enemy, call in Mortar support, pick of any survivors with small arms and then withdraw.
So, all the armies have a different flavour for a gamer.
Sculpting is surprisingly easy and cheep. I contacted a small miniatures company and they sent me a bag of 'dollys' featureless stick men.
I used Modelling putty and poked and pulled it to get what I wanted it to look like (or as close as possible) and without previous experience I was pleased with the result.
I then sent these models back to the company. For less than £50 they make a mould that holds 30+ models.
You can take this mould to a miniatures company and they will spin it for you and poor metal in it.
They charge less the £5 a pop. So you can have a large army for little cost and continue to grow it cheaply.
I think having two writers or at least someone to bounce ideas off is a good plan. Yes, there have been a few arguments, in fact quite a few.
I remember one instance in particular when we were on a walk along a old mining railway line in the countryside discussing Sontarans and the fact that they get tired and how this would effect the rules. This caused such a “heated discussion” and I was going to kill Ant (or more likely me dying, he’s a big guy!). As we argued our points, using past personal history, name calling, bad language, hurtful personal info,
instead of factual points to help our rules I was making plan in my head of how I would get rid of his body .
However If you try and find fault with each others rules, yes it is annoying, but it will end up making for better rules in the end. If you don’t find a fault, then it’s all good too!
We did write our separate sections of the rules, but only about 10% of it is separate in front of our computers with 90% of creative rules making was done, out in the country side of Durham.
You could think up your rules indoors but we are a new breed of day walkers, eating a packed lunch over a view of England instead of eating takeaway in our mams basement under a 30 watt bulb.
After you have the main rules scribbled down in your notepad, get a group of mates together and play. First play the simple version, find problems, walk and talk then rewrite. Then play again, find problems, walk and talk and rewrite again. Once you have it, add new bits, try different missions or larger games, find faults, walk and talk and rewrite. I think you can see the pattern forming…
Looking back it took around one month to write the main rules and around three years of play testing and walking discussions to get it to what is almost a finished rule book.
That’s where we are at right now. Have a think and give it a try, enjoy the experience and keep on going even in the hard times. It is very much worth it.
Doctor Who Rules
Doctor Who, 10mm miniatures Game