Thursday, 6 December 2018

The Greatest Battle Report 2018

Zhu Bajiee, a prominent member of the Oldhammer Forum (of which I am a casual member), has pulled together, for the second year running, a competition to vote for the Greatest Battle Report of the year, over at the The Realm of Zhu.

This year, for the first time ever, I have submitted one of my own reports.

My entry, A Dream of Gold, is, I believe, my most successful battle report to date, of what might also be the most successful game session I've hosted so far. It is, unsurprisingly, the only competition entry in the 90mm scale, and possibly the only entry that uses non-Warhammer miniatures in a non-Warhammer setting, yet using Warhammer rules.

A Dream of Gold: 90mm Cowboys fight it out with Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader rules

As I very briefly alluded to this post, I found Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader to be a highly effective ruleset for achieving what I wanted to achieve with my 90mm models (at least in comparison to what I'd worked with before). It was flexible, fairly streamlined, yet offering sufficiently crunchy rules with which to conduct firefights in a small area with a small number of models.

However, four things about it frustrated me:

  • I was, obviously, forcing the rules to do something that they weren't designed for, and while I derive a certain amount of perverse pleasure from this, at the same time I don't really like it (it's also quite annoying to flip through a rulebook of which you are ignoring about 90% of the content)
  • The IGOUGO system doesn't feel right when using such a small number of individual characters, especially the rigid turn sequence (i.e. move phase, shoot phase, close-combat phase)
  • Hand-to-hand combat becomes a really odd experience when two men with pistols are fighting another man with a shovel, at point-blank range, and nobody is able to land a hit for about six turns in a row
  • The 1980s rulebook presentation is extremely cluttered and a lot harder to work with than modern systems, which generally place a greater emphasis on visual cleanliness and streamlined presentation

Rogue Trader: a flexible, crunchy, yet overly cluttered rule system

Although this particular skirmish, I felt, was a great success in itself, afterwards I did not feel comfortable (as I had previously imagined I might) using Rogue Trader as my wargaming Holy Grail: a universal ruleset which can be applied to any setting. The drawbacks mentioned above were just frustrating enough to tip me over the edge of giving up with that plan.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my battle report, and I hope you might also feel able to vote for my entry in the competition! 


  1. man, there's just something inherently satisfying visually about games being done at this scale, it all looks really neat. Particularly having terrain in that scale n stuff.
    Carry on!

    1. Thanks, Emmy! I agree. There is also something inherently satisfying about wargaming with what are supposed to be toys for children; binding tools for childish imaginative play to rules for adult imaginative play.

      And, I say again, there is also something inherently satisfying about using a ruleset such as TDS, which allows one to do that perfectly, without having to modify or ignore the rules in any way. TDS makes no assumptions whatsoever, right from the start, about what miniatures you will be using or what sort of table you will be playing on. Even better, this is not just a case of ignoring such things as if they didn't matter for their own sake, but the rules themselves prove that they do not require a specific scale, as they are perfectly suited to any. The significance of this is invaluable to me, as it cuts right through most of the issues I have experienced in the past with other systems.