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Whats the best of these 2 combat systems for my wargame?

2 replies [Last post]
Joska Paszli
Joined: 05/25/2012

Dear reader

For many many years i am still working on a fantasy wargame. A part of this work is visible here
A unit is represented with a counter that has 2 sides, where one side represent a full unit (2 lifepoints) and when flipped on damage the other side has half life (one life point).
Every first succesfull hit -each combatround- on the unit is absorbed and the second succesfull hit results in turning the counter. In doing this an unit has

BTW hits sustained during shooting and such arent add up. The first shooting hit that arent saved by armoursaves is absorbed by the unit, resulting in a one hex push back. This represents the unit moving slower by taking cover..

Right now i am in doubt of my combat system so far. SOmehow the outcome can give odd results. Heavy cavalry could lose versus archers. Although the odds are small but still.

Right now i have something like the Warmaster combat system:

1) Hit on 4+ for each attack dice
2) Modify hitvalue and number of atatck dice on modifiers for higher ground and such
3) For each hit the enemy can try to save by rolling equal or under his armourvalue
4) Unsaved hits are wounds where the first and 3rd hit are absorbed that combat turn. The second unsaved hit result in loosing a lifepoint by flipping the counter and every 4th unsaved hit result in removing the counter from the game.

Cavalry (4att, 3def) charges light infantry (2att, 1def)
Cavalry attacks with 4 dice and 2 for a lance = 6 dice
Lets assume it results in 3 hits, where the infantry saves none
The infantry is pushed back, looses lifepoint and is pushed back again...after it must make a routtest.
Immediately the infantry attacks back with 2 dice... in theory it can result in 2 hits where the cavalry can save by rolling 3 or less if it fails the cavalry is pushed back and looses a lifepoint too...
On some throws it may even result in the cavalry not causing any successful wound...
of course this may happen in most combat systems but it made me think....

Alternative method
For each attack the units compares it att vs the enemies def value. He adds modifiers if applicable and throws only 1d6. If the combined value is 6 or more than the enemy looses a lifepoint and is pushed back. If its less but more than the enemies score in the returning attack than it pushes the enemy back. Only a score between 1+ result in a push back.

Same example
Cavalry (4att, 3def) charges light infantry (2att, 1def)
Cavalry attacks with 1 dice with a +3 (4-1) and +2 (lance) resulting in an autowound of the infantry.
The infantry attacks back... 1d6 + -1 (2-3) could never result in a wound for the cavalry as the score with the 1d6 will never result in a 6 or more.Which means light infantry could never kill heavy cavalry unless it collects bonuses like higher ground flanking and such or by help of other units (support bonusses) or by rule additions like ... if one side throws a 6 and the other throws a 1 than this last side looses a lifepoint....

If it wasnt a charge by the cavalry than it was:
Cavalry attacks with 1 dice with a +3 (4-1), the 1d6+3 must be 6 or higher to result in a wound of the infantry, it looses a lifepoint...


Advantage of the alternative method is that both sides can roll simultaneously instead of waiting for one side and reroll for armour saves by the other side and vice versa.
I also like it when units of comparable strength need 1-3 rounds of combat to have a clear victor.

Nice thing is it works also good with shooting.
Bowmen with shooting value 2 shoots on heavy cav (def3) must roll a 2 or more to push back the cav one hex but will not be able to make it loose a lifepoint. If 2 units are shooting at the cav than the att value are added up 2+2-3=+1 and still one dice is rolled to check if the total gets to 6+...

How you compare this with your own experience and is there an even better gamesystem out there?

Thanks in advance!

Soulfinger's picture
Joined: 01/06/2015
Joska Paszli wrote: Heavy

Joska Paszli wrote:
Heavy cavalry could lose versus archers. Although the odds are small but still.

Why shouldn't heavy cavalry lose against archers? Look at the battles at Crecy, Poitiers, or Agincourt. English longbowmen fired an average of 1 arrow every 10 seconds with a range up to 300 meters. I've seen it estimated that 5k archers could fire 40k arrows every minute. By the time that plate armor became an effective proof against this weapon, most armies had started adopting gunpowder weapons (and even then, archers took to targeting the horse instead of the rider). Add to that, archers in a defensive position would have the benefit of sharpened stakes placed to deter a full-on charge.

Much like the Greek phalanxes, heavy cavalry were really only at their best on open, level ground with firm soil. Anywhere else and they became vulnerable, which is why the infantry in your example likewise should have a chance at destroying the heavy cavalry, particularly if "infantry" is an umbrella term that encompasses spears and/or pikes. I can't help but suggest the movie, Braveheart, here. Heavy cavalry relied upon that initial charge to break and demoralize the enemy. It was not uncommon, particularly for Polish hussars, to charge straight through an enemy formation. This allowed them to wheel around for another charge, as opposed to becoming mired in hand-to-hand combat, where it was quite possible for infantry to unseat and dispatch them. An unseated knight was liable to be trampled to death or just flat out suffocate in the mud.

I would suggest that the lance bonus augment a bonus for attacking on open ground. The heavies should be devastating when they first hit, but units that survive the initial onslaught should be able to make an effective counterattack. Stationary units that have had an opportunity to entrench should be less vulnerable to cavalry. Keep in mind that war has traditionally favored the defender.

If you are going to use a system where certain units are effectively invulnerable against some other types then you may want to consider diversifying the designations a bit more for tactical depth. For example, spearmen could be viable against heavy cavalry, whereas pikemen could also negate the lance bonus.


Infantry = Irregulars, Swordsmen, Spearmen, Pikemen, Halberdiers
Archers = Skirmishers, Bowmen, Crossbowmen, Gunners, Mounted

The most important thing with a game like this is to let history inform you, rather than fantasy or game examples. I've never tried Warmaster, but I know that they had to shift the unit balance to better fit reality when drafting Warmaster Ancients. Having played Warhammer though, I know GW frequently pits outmoded units against technologically advanced ones, buffing the former and nerfing the latter to give them parity. For example, chariots, which were viable in Biblical times and only then on flat, open ground, versus cannons and handgunners à la the Renaissance. Loads of fun when you are a teenager, but I've come to see that older games gradually gravitate toward historic systems, because seriously, Logan Grimnar? Murderfang? WTF Games Workshop?

Joska Paszli
Joined: 05/25/2012
Here excel examples.... i am

Here excel examples.... i am happy with the result of the alternative method....!examples-of-combat-results/cf0j

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