Friday, 23 December 2011

House Rules

A post of thoughts rather than pictures.  Firstly, this is just to talk a bit about my army, and the house rules I use for them, as well as how I go about creating my own rules.

So, the Palladian Guard has thirty regiments.  My planned army will represent some units from the First Regiment, nicknamed the Praetorian Guard.  Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted a Roman theme here ... the first Imperial Guard army I own is from 9th Battalion The Emperor's Light, a light infantry battalion.  These chaps are about 2,500 points worth of Cadians.  The current project is for an army of 2nd Battalion troops, Governor's Life-Guards.  These are parade ground troops, requisitioned by an Inquisitor (that's the background to a forthcoming campaign).

So, let's take a look at the universal special rules, first of all.  These apply to all First Regiment troops, so both the 2nd and 9th Battalion get to use these.
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PRAETORIAN GUARD UNIVERSAL SPECIAL RULES
Any units representing elements of the First Regiment, the ‘Praetorian Guard’, benefit from the following special rules:
Steely Resolve
The Praetorians uphold a martial tradition of ten thousand years and would rather die than suffer the shame of retreat. A Praetorian officer demands and expects nothing less from his men. Any unit that is falling back but has at least one model within 6" of a Praetorian officer (of any rank) may attempt to regroup, even if it is reduced to less than half strength.
Brothers-in-Arms
The Palladian Guard have fought shoulder to shoulder with the Cadian Shock Troops for thousands of years and have died together in countless battles. Palladian squads can use the leadership value of any ally with a Cadian army, either an officer in range or through a vox-caster.

Orders
Praetorian squads can use the Imperial Guard Orders rules as detailed in the Imperial Guard Codex.

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So, those are the rules.  Again, the most observant of you will have noticed that Steely Resolve is pretty much the same as some of the Death Korps rules, which it's based on.

The key thing to making up your own rules is playability: would you want to fight someone else who had these rules?  To that end, the key here is to make sure you're not just making up rules to make your army indestructible.  The rules should add depth and character, and ideally:

  • Represent a trait you have as a player:  maybe if (like me) your foes all see you as a heartless armchair general, feeding wave after wave of men into a battle of certain death, maybe some kind of Relentless-style rule would fit.
  • Play up to your army's traits and history:  your army will already have Codex special rules to define it, but you could include a rule based on your army's performance in a campaign. This is where Steely Resolve came from.  In a campaign fighting Space Marines, my chaps never once fled despite being regularly shot up by those damn AP5 bolters ...
  • Follow some background you have written:  this is my favourite reason.  Maybe if you write a short story detailing the exploits of your commander, and you portray him as a ruthless devotee to the Imperial Cult, you could give him some of the special rules borrowed from the Commissar slot?
There are some key rules here, namely:  be sparing, don't go overboard, be sporting, and try and base the rules on something that already exists.  And be sporting!  I can't stress that enough.  My solution is usually to encourage an opponent to make a special rule for every one I make, and we agree them before the battle.  

These rules can unbalance the game and a certain about of trial-and-error is needed, but if you're careful you can add real character to your army, and allow its history and background to shine through on the battlefield as well.

4 comments:

  1. Excellent stuff, one guideline I follow when making up house rules, certainly where troops are concerned is by looking to see if there existing options that have a similar affect to that desired and use that as a basis for rules and points cost where necessary. In the case of "neutral" house rules such as "random" exploding barrels, just agree before hand and don't have too many - as you said the real key is sportsmanship, and restraint - and always agree with your opponent of course. Make sure everything is well backed up and justified. I think 2-4 is the optimum amount of army specific rules - and I always like to have an equal amount of handicap rules to ones that benefit me, I'm a sadist like that.

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  2. If you pick and mix Commissars traits, do you increase the captains points cost accordingly? My approach, for what my manifold nonsense opinions are worth, if the Commissar can lead the army then just have Captain X (counts as Commissar) - it may not always work that way but it's the least disruptive approach to represent character

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  3. Yes, that'd be a perfect way to get it in. That word 'disruptive' is key: do everything you can not to rewrite the whole rulebook. Having Captain X (who counts as a commissar) would be a perfect way because it doesn't involve sweeping changes, just a simple switch. Another way is, as was mentioned, just to let the opponent have an 'equal and opposite' rule to balance out the unfairness of you having a commissar in charge. But you've got exactly the right idea.

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  4. I'm not sure why my original post didn't have a username change but it's still me I'm afraid :p I should say as one of your regular opponents (or will be when I get my arse in gear) I am more than happy with any of your proposals. Well, not any....

    Have a few ideas for special rules for Spears of Mordryn, mostly borrowed from Space Wolves as they coincidentally ended up bearing several similarities. And something for water for the Heralds of Kephis...

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