Age of the Force

Or possibly Age of the Jedi, haven’t decided yet…

A while ago I got the guys in the office to put together two 40k Codexes that brought Star Wars to the game, one covering the Rebel Alliance, the other the Galactic Empire.

And that was pretty good, using the legions of WotC Star Wars figues I have accrued over the years. However, the new film got me thinking, and I had something of an epiphany.

When you get together to play Star Wars, you don’t want to faff around with equipment choices, HQ slots, and all the rest. You just want to chuck Luke and his friends on the table and see how about they get on against a bunch of Stormtroopers. Maybe you want to add Boba Fett too – in which case, you don’t want to worry about choices from the Bounty Hunter mini-Codex. You just want to add Fett to your Imperial force and hunt down Han Solo and that damned Wookiee!

Then it hit me Age of Sigmar is the perfect bed for Star Wars gaming, able to handle an escape from the Death Star as effectively as the Battle of Hoth. Just grab your minis, choose a Battleplan and go.


So, I am going to put some Warscrolls together and see how it goes.

To work properly, the game will also need some dedicated Battleplans and maybe the odd Time of War sheet. The combination of those two would allow the heroes to have an iconic ability on their Warscroll but the other cool stuff they do in the films could still appear in the game without burdening it with too many rules from the outset.

Just think of the games that could be played:

  • Get some Skiffs together and fight over the Sarlacc Pit.
  • Get to the throne room on Naboo.
  • Luke, Han and Leia escape from the Death Star.
  • Battle of Hoth, natch. Above and below ground.
  • Command Imperial forces as they try to take over Cloud City.
  • Defend corridors as the Empire tries to board your Corellian Corvette.
  • Receive Order 66 and hunt down Jedi.
  • Rally the Ewoks to attack the Imperial bunker on Endor.
  • Overthrow the Imperial overlords on Kashyyyk.


The big question at the moment is how silly can I get doing this? I could put together a complete book covering an entire campaign or three, a la the Realmgate Wars. There could be Battletomes for the major (and minor!) forces. I could put those together and actually get them printed.

But that would be really silly, wouldn’t it?


On the other hand, I have already figured out that the old Kenner/Palitoy Rebel Transport is pretty much in scale for 28mm, and I think I have found a kit of the Millennium Falcon that is also damn near in scale…




This is Madness – Dark Angels in Age of Sigmar

When it comes to games, I like fiddling. It is why, in Real Life, I am a games designer. I enjoy it that much.

So, I started thinking about comments people were making on forums about the ‘Sigmarisation’ of 40k. Not that I think this is in any way an immediate plan for Games Workshop, but if they did try it… what might it look like?

As a first crack, I came up with this.


Tactical Squad

Tactical Squads are the backbone of any Space Marine army. They hold ground; provide fire support and charge into bloody melees, as the ever-changing theatre of war dictates.

Move                     5”
Wounds               2
Save                       4+
Bravery               7


Missile Weapons Range Attacks To Hit To Wound Rend Damage
Bolter 24” 2 4+ 4+ 1
Flamer 8” 1 3+ 5+ D6
Grav-gun 18” 2 4+ 4+ 1
Meltagun 12” 1 4+ * * *
Plasma Gun 24” 2 4+ 4+ -1 1
Grav-cannon 36” 3 4+ 4+ 1
Heavy Bolter 36” 3 4+ 4+ 2
Lascannon 48” 1 4+ 2+ -2 D6
Missile Launcher 48” 1 3+ 4+ -1 D6
Multi-melta 24” 1 4+ * * *
Plasma Cannon 36” 3 4+ 4+ -1 1
Melee Weapons Range Attacks To Hit To Wound Rend Damage
Combat Knife 1” 1 4+ 4+ 1



A Tactical Squad has between 5 and 10 models. All Tactical Squad Marines are armed with a Bolter. One Marine may be armed with a Flamer, Grav-gun, Meltagun, or Plasma Gun instead of a Bolter. 1  Marine in every 10 may be armed with a Grav-cannon, Heavy Bolter, Lascannon, Missile Launcher, Multi-melta, or a Plasma Cannon instead of a Bolter.

Sergeant: The leader of this unit is the Sergeant. A Sergeant makes 2 attacks with his melee weapons rather than 1.



Grav-gun/Grav-cannon: If a grav-gun or grav-cannon hits a unit, the unit will suffer Wounds if they succeed in their Saves rather than if they fail. If they fail a Save against a grav-gun or grav-cannon, they will not lose a Wound.

Meltagun/Multi-melta: If a meltagun hits a unit, it will cause D3 Mortal Wounds. If a Multi-melta hits a unit, it will cause D6 Mortal Wounds. If either weapon attacks a target that is within half its Range, then the Mortal Wounds caused are doubled.

Plasma Gun/Plasma Cannon: If a plasma gun or plasma cannon rolls a 1 To Hit, the unit firing it must make a Save or suffer a Wound.

Supreme Fire Discipline: If the Tactical Squad does not move, each model may make an extra attack with its Bolter.



The first thing that becomes clear is that, if I were Person in Charge of Things at Games Workshop, and I wanted to follow the Age of Sigmar system, I would be looking at getting rid of a lot of the equipment available to Tactical Squads – that is just way too many options for a game of this nature. When it comes to special weapons, you really just need something to hurt hordes and something to hurt tanks. And that is about it. Same with heavy weapons.

The next thing I would be vacillating on would be Saves and Wounds. I have a feeling these guys should either be Save 3+ and Wounds 1, or Save 4+ and Wounds 2 (like Stormcasts). The latter makes them more like present 40k (not necessarily a goal, mind) in paper, but with the change to the Rend system I am not convinced that is a good thing, especially when the Deathwing make an appearance.

I went with 2 Wounds for now, to represent their general toughness (as opposed to Toughness), and I kept their Save to 4+ rather than 3+. This was partly to put them in line with Liberators (their nearest equivalent) but also because we are going to have to be very, very careful with the spread range of Saves when (if!) we add more units to the game. Again, something to watch during play.

When I was messing around with this, I did originally tone down the ranges of the guns, but that would favour close combat. That is the next thing I would be looking at during playtesting, and it would need a close look at how the dynamics of battles unfold. Too much range leads to static units, and that is not very interesting. Too little makes close combat monsters king and can lead to the ‘clumping’ of units on the table which cuts down on general mobility as well.

In terms of how weapons actually work, you cannot try to replicate what they do in 40k precisely, and I have probably erred too far in that direction as it is. What you want is to create a general impression, an overall feel, of how they function. For example, the first change I would probably make is to just say that if a unit with a plasma weapon rolls a 1 for it, it suffers a Wound, no Saves. It is just easier (and works well enough if Marines keep Wounds 2).

Using D6 Wounds, we can bring together both Krak and Frag for missile launchers, which is a nice way of maintaining a single stat line for the weapon with no special rules. It is not an awesome anti-tank weapon in 40k, so the low To Wound works, and the D6 damage means you either used a Krak round on a tank or Frag against troops. The only oddity here is Rend -1 against hordes, but it is a small enough issue that I am happy to ignore it.

I have assumed all Sergeants will be veterans, but have not (yet) added their weapon options – it is a complication I don’t think Age of Sigmar needs but, on the other hand, I have plenty of units myself that are armed with Power Swords and Fists… I think people would want to see the option, but it makes a Warscroll for Tactical Squads (one of the game’s most basic units) very long.

As I said before, if I was Man in Charge, I would be hacking out weapon options left, right and centre on this unit. Still, you work with what you have.

Bravery is an issue here. I was going to put it straight up to 10 – or maybe even say Marines ignore Battleshock altogether (though I think that would be better on the Deathwing). Needs playtesting.

Finally, I lumped Supreme Fire Discipline in. This is a very Dark Angel thing and, to be honest, is probably better as part of a Battalion Warscroll. However, I was initially thinking that this rule (called something else) should be standard to all Marines. Perhaps the Dark Angels (as part of a Battalion) get to make an automatic ranged attack against any enemy unit that charges them?

Anyway, that done, the Tactical Squad will need something to drive around in…



Rhino armoured troop carriers are the mainstay of every Space Marine Chapter’s vehicle pool. With an optimal balance of armour, transport capacity and manoeuvrability, the Rhino allows the Space Marine to swiftly redeploy, rush squads into positions of strategic advantage or conduct surgical strikes on the enemy line.

Move                     12”
Wounds               8
Save                       3+
Bravery               7


Missile Weapons Range Attacks To Hit To Wound Rend Damage
Storm Bolter 24” 2 3+ 4+ 1



A Rhino is a single model. It is armed with a Storm Bolter.


Heavy Armour: The Rhino ignores all damage from weapons that have Rend -.

Repair: If a Rhino loses its last Wound, roll a dice. On the roll of a 6+, the Rhino ignores this damage and is kept on the table with one Wound left.

Transport: The Rhino may carry a unit of up to ten models. One of these models may be a HERO from another unit. While inside, the models may not make any attacks or be attacked. They may leave during any Movement phase by moving normally but if they do so, the Rhino may not move at all. Models may enter the Rhino just by moving into contact with it but, again, the Rhino may not move in the same phase if they do so.



I gave a fair bit of thought to vehicles (probably a lot more than I should have done as, you know, I do have a job and all…), and I started by considering Land Raiders. Even if they have a Save of 2+, they are going to get brought down by Bolters…

Now, that need not be a huge issue if we approach it right. I was going to say that the Heavy Armour rule (which would be common to all tanks) re-rolls Saves against weapons with Rend -. This is already done  by some units in Age of Sigmar. However, it still felt a bit off. That might be something to do with other vehicles (just an Armour rule, perhaps?), and being able to ignore all Rend – seems like it could work in 40k. One issue, of course, is that infantry won’t be able to punch a Rhino to death, but some might consider that a good thing.

The Repair rule is very simple and translated from 40k almost directly. Won’t pop up often but it gives a nice durable feel to the Rhino which is what the original rule was meant to represent.

Finally, the Transport rule. Now, it has all sorts of loop holes as it stands but if we were to just have Tactical Squads vs. Tactical Squads (and those are the only units we have dealt with so far), it might work well enough. As we start to add more units, things are going to have to get added and adjusted there. Something to worry about later.


Anyway, those are just my thoughts on some initial tinkering. I have absolutely no intention of doing the full Codex or converting other Codexes, this really was just a thought experiment. However, I can think of all sorts of funky things we could do with Masters and Apothecaries to add synergy between units. From the perspective of a games designer, that could be a lot of fun, and all sorts of rules are popping into my head (must resist!).

I think that this could indeed work as a game, especially if you were prepared to leave out some of the weapons and equipment options available to units.

But that way lies madness…



Well, that has gone and done it. A few people said they liked this idea and I could not stop myself. A whole bunch of more units have been added. You can download them here: Dark Angels.

Fly the Friendly Skies

At the Attack show in Devizes this weekend, we picked up some 1/600 scale jet aircraft, the idea being to play through some Cold War-era dogfights.

The problem I immediately hit was what rule system to use.

You see, I am something of a prop head and while I have tried out many, many different game systems, from Wings of War and X-wing, through Check Your 6 and Air War C21, up to the old GDW Air Superiority, none of them have really got it right. And it seems there are some common traps they fall into.

Dogfighting Games Should be Fast: At the high end, these games try to model everything (Air Superiority comes to mind here) and transition from being games to becoming simulations. The trouble is a) computers have been able to do this better for decades and b) you should not be spending five minutes plotting the movement of one aircraft in a dogfight.

Dogfighting Games Should be About Split-Second Decisions: The Wings of War and X-Wing games get the actual game element right – but they also use pre-planned movement, which is an absolute no-no in a dogfight. No pilot goes into a dogfight thinking ‘I will use manoeuvre A, B and then D – that will get ‘im!’ Seat of the pants is the term to bear in mind here.

Dogfighting Games Should Reflect Real-World Physics: Okay, this is where the casual gamer may start to fall asleep, but many of the current crop of games fundamentally get how planes ‘out turn’ one another wrong. They look at the F-16 (say) and a MiG-21 and decide ‘well, I know an F-16 is more agile, so it can turn better.’ Which is sort of right but the mechanics are dead wrong. What I am saying here is that a game (rather than a simulation) should model the effects of real-world physics but not burden the player with them.

So, I was wondering how to do this. In a quiet moment at the show, I grabbed a notebook and started jotting down some ideas.

My credentials here? I am no physicist (though I am currently studying physics for a degree), but I spent a childhood pouring over books about aircraft, my teenage years racking up thousands of hours on computer simulators (everything from instrument-only 737 simulators, through all the F-16 and Tornado versions, and on to the space combat simulators such as X-Wing and Wing Commander – okay, the last two may not be quite so useful), and as an adult actually flying the things, both manned and unmanned (and scratch building the latter).

There are way more knowledgeable people out there, but I know at least a couple of my onions.

I started by thinking what I wanted to model: Jet dogfights from the 50’s to the present day, concentrating on the actual dogfighting and short range missile fire (BFM, as it is called), rather than long-ranged missile duels – though I did also have an idea that, with 1/600 scale models, a ‘fighter controller’ game could be pretty funky, but that is an idea for another day.

This meant we could cross out supersonic speeds straight away – planes may arrive at supersonic speed (and disappear the same way), which we could handle as an exception but, as far as the core rules are concerned, I don’t believe a dogfight has ever happened at supersonic speeds. And there are good reasons why, which brings us on to…

Turning, and the idea of one aircraft being more agile than another. Now, there are all sorts of factors governing a plane’s ability to turn (and out-turn other aircraft), from speed, wing-loading, aerodynamic drag, thrust-to-weight ratios, and all of these change altitude, G-loadings, what the plane has hanging under its wings, and a hundred other things. But we don’t want the player bombarded by a hundred things, so we need to abstract out but in a manner that makes sense.

Here is the thing that many people (including some games designers!) miss, but is obvious when you think about it and what is actually happening at a physical level.

All else being equal (!), two aircraft flying at the same speed and turning pulling the same ‘G’ will turn at the same rate. You could be in a Hawk, an Eagle, or a Hercules, you will turn at the same rate.

There are, obviously, certain things that break this deadlock. Some aircraft can simply pull higher G’s and thus turn in a tighter radius. A ‘clean’ F-16 can pull a 9-G turn, that C-130 cannot – the F-16 thus has a big edge. But what about a fighter versus a fighter?

Speed (and for those of you scoffing at the moment, I am about to change terminology) and how it is lost during a turn is the over-riding factor here. When an aircraft turns, it loses speed (actually, so does a car, but I digress). The tighter the turn, the more speed is lost. The more powerful an aircraft’s engines, the better it can counter this loss. This is why a big, great heffalump like an F-15 is a good dogfighter – it has the raw power to throw itself around the sky with abandon.

I was wondering how to best model this in a simple way, when it dawned on me. Simply give every aircraft an Energy score.

Dogfighting is ultimately about energy – storing it, retaining it, and having more of it than your opponent. What is energy (now that question reminds me of my degree study!)? In this context, it is speed, certainly. It is the thrust the aircraft’s engine has. And it is altitude.

Which brought me to another bugbear of mine in these games – I hate tracking altitude. There is no good telescopic stand for aircraft at this scale, and jotting your ‘Altitude score’ down is boring book-keeping in a game that should have none. It also makes no sense when you look at two planes on the table and have to say ‘well, that one is actually 10,000 feet above the other.’


However, I thought, if we assumed that what was happening on the table was a defined ‘altitude engagement envelope’ (basically a few thousand feet up and down), we  could ignore altitude tracking altogether if we decided that Altitude = Energy.

So, if you are tracking Energy then, in a sense, you are already tracking altitude.


So, what I was left with was that aircraft would all move within a tight range of distance (I am thinking 6-8″ at the moment), but what is being tracked is Energy – and I had already decided that the range of Energy being tracked should be doable on a single six-sided dice that could be just left next to each aircraft, just about eliminating all book-keeping (as I had also decided that, in terms of damaged, an aircraft would either be perfectly fine, limping, or destroyed – only one of those needs any sort of tracking).

Energy would be gained by an aircraft’s Thrust and certain gravity-based manoeuvres.

Energy would be lost by turning, losing more Energy as you turn more in a move, modified by an aircraft’s ‘efficiency’ which represents wing-loading, aerodynamics, and other factors. Many manoeuvres would also cost Energy.

I ran through a few mock turns of the game, with Biggles in his Thrust 3 aircraft, making a series of turns. If he kept things gentle, he could zip around the sky as he saw fit. As he started stacking up turns, his Energy started to fall through the floor, way beyond what his engine could counter, until he was flying low, slow and out of ideas – exactly what I was looking to model.

There needs to be a lot more work than this, of course – a plane needs to do more than turn, we need to factor in the high speed yo-yos, snap turns, square corners and all the rest. And I haven’t even got on to missiles yet (you can bet Energy is going to be a big factor there!). Pilot ability is also going to be paramount, and I have some ideas about spotting rules that Aces will be much better at – you need to be able to see an enemy before you can attack him, after all.

Anyway, I have some big projects to clear off my desk right now, but I think this game (working title either Combat Air Patrol or Air Dominance) will be getting some attention quite soon…

They Are Here! Codex: Star Wars

It took a long time (may not be using that particular printers again, but they are finally here – the final printed versions of the Star Wars/40k Codexes!


The ones I pictured before were just  prototypes – these are the final versions with proper binding and spot UV laminated covers (that is the process by which the lead character on the cover is glossy and the background matt, just like official 40k Codexes). Doesn’t really show up in these photos but they look spectacular in real life.

So, what next for this project? Well, given the amount of time it has taken to get this far, a little rest is in order! I also have about 97 other projects all demanding attention at the moment, so Star Wars is going to take a back seat for a little while.

However, the next obvious step would be to do Codexes for the Old Republic and Separatists, allowing us to fight out the Clone Wars (it is not as if I don’t have enough of the old WotC models to do that era justice too). There is also the possibility of Codex supplements, mini-Codexes and Dataslates, much as Games Workshop do with their own ranges. A Dataslate on force users in general or perhaps the Sith could be fun, and Codex: Bounty Hunters would be all kinds of awesome as an Allied force for, well, anyone who can pay.

And what about Codex: Ewoks or Codex: Gungans?

The possibilities are endless…

Star Wars 40k – The Codexes are Here!

I am about to out do myself. The proof copies of Codex: Galactic Empire and Codex: Rebel Alliance are finally here. Star Wars has come to Warhammer 40,000, and it is good…

Disclaimer: This is a personal project with a tiny, tiny number of copies being printed for me and my gaming buddies. If we even thought of selling them Games Workshop’s and Disney’s legal departments would jump all over our heads and go cock-a-doodle-doo. So we are not selling them. To anybody.

In no way are these books designed to challenge the ownership and copyright of Games Workshop and Disney in any way, and they are not official in any capacity. They are no more than the product of a bunch of gamers and fans who have a passion for both Warhammer 40,000 and Star Wars.

And no. You cannot have one. Start up your own gaming company and you can do cool things like this.


For the past few months, we have been working on a very special project. For years now, I have been waiting for a company to come along and do a ‘proper’ Star Wars miniatures game, with plastic multi-part, multi-pose Stormtroopers, resin AT-ST variants, and Epic/BFG-type spin-offs. In short, I wanted a Star Wars game similar to Warhammer 40,000. Given that this is not likely to appear any time soon, I made the decision to take the 40k rules and do our own Codexes for the Empire and Rebellion.

This involved doing all the army lists, collating the background (Wookieepedia came in very handy here), diverting our playtesters to make sure everything was balanced and then passing it on to our graphics people to make them look pretty.


It was, inevitably, a lot more work than had been initially planned for! However, the arrival of these two proofs (the finals, coming in a couple of weeks or so, will have better binding and spot UV lamination to mimic Games Workshop’s own Codexes) makes it all worth it. We have officially done Good Work here.


Codex: Rebel Alliance

We tried to ape the approach of the official Codexes as much as possible. At all times we asked ‘how would GW do a Star Wars book?’


So, we hunted down the nicest artwork we could find and started to put together the background for the forces, starting with the Rebel Alliance, from the birth of the Rebel Alliance to the destruction of the Death Star and beyond (Codex: Galactic Empire goes on further to the founding of the New Republic, ending with the – final – death of the Emperor).


This then goes on to chart out the major confrontations between the Alliance and Empire, and a showcasing of the most famous leaders (you can guess who they are in Codex: Rebel Alliance).


Then, of course, are the army lists. These cover just about every model and unit in the old Wizards of the Coast range of Star Wars miniatures, which are the models we principally use for the games (let’s just say that when these miniatures came out, I went a bit silly as to the number purchased – mostly because I always planned, some day, to use them for games of this scale).


Codex: Galactic Empire

The Empire book follows the same format but ended up a few pages bigger because, well, there are more cool things to say about the Empire!


As well as similar background material to the rebel Codex, we also went into some detail on how Stormtroopers are equipped, organised, and what tactics they use in battle.


And both books have a ‘hobby’ section, with some cunningly put together photos by our graphic designer and photographer, Amy Perrett. I don’t know about you, but the photos above just get me itching to (re)fight the Battle of Hoth. We have three AT-ATs and plenty of Snowspeeders, and I have already worked out that the old Palitoy Rebel Transport is pretty much the right scale for 28mm!


Not sure this page needs much of a description! Darth Vader may not be an absolute killing machine compared to, say, a Hive Tyrant, but he is very well scaled to kick Rebel units around!


And at the other end of the scale, we have the TIE Crawler as a Heavy Support choice whereas the AT-AT is (naturally) a Lord of War. The other Lords of War in these Codexes are Yoda and, of course, this guy;


Yeah, we figured he should be a Level 5 Psyker, taking a cue from Nagash in Fantasy Battle…


We had to do Force Powers, of course! The Primaris Power for both Light and Dark are the same (Farseeing – seems appropriate for all Force Users), but we worked hard to get Light Side and Dark Side feeling distinct and different. The Dark Side concentrates on, well, kicking ass with the Force, whereas the Light Side depends more upon buffing other units rather than directly attacking the enemy. However, the Sever Force power proved popular for Light Side users, effectively nullifying Dark Side users for a turn!


We even went as far as doing a Formation for each, a specialised detachment (the Rebels have the Heroes of the Alliance detachment) and Tactical Objectives, as well as all the rules needed for weapons, equipment and other wargear (Lightsabres are S User, AP 1, Fleshbane, Gets Hot, Melee, and Smash – but Force users ignore Gets Hot and derive either a 4+ or 3+ Invulnerable Save, depending on their level).


So, What is Next?

We are really proud of what we have accomplished with these books, and look forward to re-enacting all our childhood fantasies when we had loads of Star Wars figures but no rules to play with. Now, as adults, we have both!

Now, we would not be true wargamers if additional and related projects had not already suggested themselves! The obvious next step is to do Codexes for the Separatists and Old Republic. Or maybe PDF-only Codexes for Bounty Hunters (Boba Fett!), Wookiee-only detachments, and there is a lot more we could do for Force Users in general. I have threatened my gaming group with a Gungan-only detachment, if they do not behave.

Will we do any of these things? In a world where we did not have to work for a living, oh yes. Realistically, it is probably going to be another year before we can even begin to justify the time it takes to do something like this. However, it is Star Wars, and I have little doubt we shall at some point return to a galaxy far, far away.

Now, if you will excuse me, it seems that there are some small forest savages that need a lesson in Imperial discipline. Commander, warm up the AT-AT!


Final Note: If you are interested in the design approaches we used for these books, you can have a read through some of the development posts we did here, as well as see some games in progress.

First Peek at Codex: Galactic Empire

Well, my planned painting this weekend was completely shot. I had planned to polish off a Grot Mega-Tank, a Deathwing Knights squad and Belial, all of which are about half-done (some more half-done than others). However, the arrival of an XBox One and the trinity of Battlefield 4, Forza 5 and Destiny pretty much put paid to that. Efforts must be doubled and I’ll see if I can get through at least one of those units during the week…

However, not all is doom and gloom. Layout of the Star Wars Codexes has actually begun! A lot needs doing here but I am hoping to get them both finished this month. The background chapters have started to go into the final layout, and I am hoping the army list chapters will be done this week. Then it will just need the rest of the background, the ‘hobby’ section and final tweaks done. I already have a printers primed, so it looks like I may succeed in getting these done before Christmas!

Anyway, a quick peek inside Codex: Galactic Empire…


Star Wars Codexes

Now, how cool are these?



My plan for a Star Wars 40k continues to take shape! I am hoping to have these complete for Christmas, hopefully in hardcopy (though time is short for that).

As for the game/army lists themselves, playtesting continues. The army lists seem to be hanging together very well, with just the odd adjustment and (ahem) correction being made. The games are getting larger, and vehicles are beginning to make their presence felt, as you can see in the photo below. We have yet to try an AT-AT, but my worry about the Rebels being undergunned seems to be largely unfounded right now.

Oh, and Jedi are working out well!