Saturday, June 8, 2019

I'm getting closer to creating a better close combat system for Kill Team

It hit me like a freight train the other day, the close combat system I'd created and we were using had become this bloated monster in just four short months of playing.

Just like that. I go from a relatively simple system to something that requires charts and slogging through a list of modifiers a mile long. Resolving close combat all but brought the game to a halt.

It didn't happen overnight. It was all the small things added up over time. A modifier here, a small rule change there... You don't realize it while it's happening and then all of a sudden, you wake up and find yourself someplace you never intended to be.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I didn't have this problem with shooting, but that's another story. The biggest reason I didn't is shooting is nothing more than an individual skill check. A model's shooting skill is modified by a few outside things like range and cover, but it remains something that model does on his own.

You don't get a say in how well I shoot. You can only hope I suck or the cover you're behind makes it too hard for me to hit you. Once I hit you though, your armour is your last hope. We don't roll to wound in our games. If you're hit and your armour doesn't absorb it, you're wounded.
Take your damage like a champ.

Close combat on the other hand involves another model. This changes everything. You don't just get to do your own thing like shooting. I'm not going to stand there and let you beat me to death. I get a say in how this plays out. Now it's a comparison of skills.

The system we were using wasn't bad.
It captured most of the differences between models. The problem is that it became too complex and lost the speed in resolving it. If I take out the complexity to get the speed back, I lose the differences between models.

I'm willing to sacrifice a small degree of accuracy for speed. It does me no good to develop an "accurate" system if using it slows the game down so much that it kills the flow of the game. Shooting flows right now, close combat does not.

I realize that GW does not have a base metric they use to determine how good someone is in close combat compared to another. If they do, I have absolutely no clue what it is. If anyone does know, please email me.

In some cases, they'll give a model more attacks, some might get access to better weapons, some will have better armour. When you compare everyone across one aspect though, it all falls apart.

How do you build a close combat system if there's no starting point for all models?

I'm not saying you can't have some models with better weapons or more attacks, but you need a starting point. That's what bothers me most. I've tried to figure it out by looking at model stats, but for each comparison I try, there's an example that makes absolutely no sense at all.

My newest system is based off a model's weapon skill (WS). Even this is flawed when you look at GW's stats, but I decided to start here since it created the least number of problems and lined up with how shooting is resolved.

In a nutshell, my new close combat system goes like this...

Both players roll 4D10. Each player is attempting to get as many successes as possible based on their WS stat. Then players compare hits. Hits are ALLOCATED by the player who reacts better each round (initially determined by a LD test and then by damage inflicted for subsequent rounds) and hits are RESOLVED in order of speed (determined separately by a model's base movement).

There are only two outside modifiers involved. The two "universal" ones we use (being wounded and activating more than once). This helps streamline the process similar to shooting.

After a little bit of testing, I'm really starting to like this approach. It's much better than what I created before. I keep running tests with different models from Harlequins to Chaos Cultists to find problems.

I have two final aspects I'm working through. That's what to do with a model that has more than one close combat weapon (currently it gives the model a reroll when attacking) and then what to do with a model that has more than one base attack.

Having more than one base attack may not need to be addressed in the long run since it's not an accurate reflection of a model's skill when you compare it evenly across the board to other models.

I suppose the real test will be how this system holds up in four months.
Will it bloat out into some unwieldy process or will it stay fast and lean?

The artwork comes from Games Workshop. The Dark Eldar image is Fantasy Flight publishing.

Leave a comment
  1. You might want to check the GCT Bushido's combat system. Pretty elegant IMO. Anyway - fingers crossed for your efforts.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I actually went through that system for ideas. I like their ability to choose between attack, defense and special effect dice.
      I've opted for a slightly more simplified system in our game. Instead of allotting dice for attack and defense, we match successes in a way similar to the way done in Pulp Alley.

      So far it seems to be working well. I've had to make some minor adjustments for force weapons, but most things carry over as is.

    2. Cool. I'd love to see how your system performs live. Also, do you consider putting your rules into a pdf file?

    3. Absolutely. Once I get the final aspects ironed out, I plan on sharing the system. There are a few remaining details that need to be figured out since we recently modified the reaction system.

  2. As for the base metric for close combat – I believe it would be very limiting to create such one factor. Take a look at the real fights like in boxing or other martial arts. There is fighter's technique and strength. There is also a fighter's weight (which seems to not exist in wargaming, although is a very important factor in a real life).

    Strength and weight could be somewhat connected, so we can say that goblin can never have a strength higher than an ork. No matter what. Impossible. But still you need to consider the skills. Weapons might add strength, might add an extra attack. But should not improve the close combat skill (although might decrease it).
    If strength includes the weight factor, it could also work as the resistance against the wounds. Mike Tyson would withstand the punch that would kill Woody Allen or me :) But for two heavyweight fighters it is their skillset that plays a dominant role.

    I would try to build the close combat around these concepts.

    1. You make some excellent points. The bigger question I have now with designing a close combat system is not so much complete accuracy as it is getting something that both feels right and works for the level of detail my friend and I like in our games.

      Some folks like lots of fine detail and others just want to roll 1D6 and compare the results. I like a system that has a little bit of variety, but still resolves fast. If combat bogs down or ends up dragging on forever, it doesn't matter how "correct" it may be, I'm not that excited about it.

      I think I have the speed aspect down. Now it's a matter of deciding which details to include and which ones to leave out to capture the correct feel.

      Hopefully I can get it sorted out in the next couple weeks.

  3. Hey man a little bit off topic here, but I was just wondering if you still have your truescale terminator conversions/tutorial around? I had bookmarked it but the link seems to be dead now. Cheers!

  4. No worries.
    Which one were you looking for? I have two.
    The first is just a resculpt of the abdomen to add a bit of height and adjusting the position of the arms. The second is a complete resculpt of the whole model. Obviously way more involved and I'm not sure it's worth it after doing one.
    Either way, email me ( and I'll send you all the info I have.

    1. Hey mate, so I believe the page I was looking for was linked to from here:

      I probably wouldn't do a full resculpt for a full army, but I really liked the look of your artscale guy, and thought something like that would look cool for a diorama. If you could send some info through I'd greatly appreciate it.

      I attempted to email you but the email was bouncing back saying the mailbox was unavailable - If you could send that info through to though, that'd be awesome.

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