Tactical Core

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Resolving Hand to Hand Combat

Close combat is fast and decisive in WarSpike, and forms a central focus of the game. Both the Instigator and the Retaliator partake in the resolution process together; with the flow of combat going back and forth between them. The rules are straightforward, but considering all the weapon combinations that have sprung from the fertile mind of mankind, it can be bewildering to cover everything at once. It is seems prudent to introduce the rules in stages to make them easier to learn. Starting with a core of rules, each stage thereafter adds more techniques, weapons, armour and effects.



  • The basic rules of close combat for WarSpike introduce Technique test.
  • For simplicities sake the Troopers are considered to be armed with Sword and Bucklers (one of the more common weapon combinations during the middle-ages) and the techniques thereof.
  • Defence and offense go hand in hand, where one is dependant on the other. The technique tests combines both of these combat aspects of offense and defence into one 'technique' test.
  • Various options are then provided to expand the rule set to deal with other weapons and armour. This is done in broad terms.
  • The advanced rules introduces a detailed framework of rules for weapons and armour types, along with new defences and expanded damage effects. Only use these rules once you are familiar with the above.


Basics of combat

This covers the basics of close combat resolution in WarSpike. It ignores the more complex damage rules for weapon types vs armour and the technicalities of skilled combat.


This is designed with sword and buckler in mind, where the two weapons work very much together. Options are tacked on after.


Step by step: Simple back and forth

  1. Attacker: All the attacker's openings are assumed to be on target and will land unless defended. There is no need to roll for an opening attack!
    > Go to step 2 .
  2. Defender: The defender rolls one die for each of their Troopers under attack
    > Each roll over their Trooper's skill fails to defends against one of the attacker Troop's attacks. The failed Trooper is struck down. Remove a number of the defender Troops equal to the failed rolls from the field of battle.
    > Each roll equal or under their Trooper's skill successfully defends against one of the attacker Troop's attacks. Each successful defence is then used to turn the tables on the attacker, and allows a defender's Trooper to strike back at the attacker's Trooper! The defender becomes the attacker. This is called a counter, and dice that come up 'counter' are called 'counter dice'.
    > Hand the 'counter dice' back to the defender.
    > Go to step 3.
  3. Attacker: The attacker rolls one die for each of their Troopers under counter attack
    > Each roll over their Trooper's skill fails to defends against one of the defender Troop's attacks and is struck down. Remove a number of the attacker Troops equal to the failed rolls from the field of battle.
    > Each roll equal or under their Trooper's skill successfully defends against one of the defender Troop's attacks and convert it into a counter.
    > Hand the 'counter dice' to the defender.
    > Go back to step 2 and repeat.
    Keep looping until someone has no successful dice to hand back to their opponent
  4. Turn ends once one side is defeated, or each side has had 10 goes (match the 10 increments of a turn).

This creates very fast exchanges in combat.


Example: 10 attackers charge 10 defenders. All the models are positioned base to base contact and facing their opposite number.

  1. The attackers hit automatically for the charge.
  2. The Defenders rolls 10 dice to break the charge resulting in; 7 counters, leaving 3 defenders to be removed from play.
  3. The attackers now attempt to stop the counters, they roll 7 dice and score 5 counters (countering-counters!) of their own, with 2 attackers being removed from play.
  4. The defenders seek to stop the 5 counter-counters and score 3 new counters. Another 2 of their number fall.
  5. The attackers now make what turns out to be their final technique rolls as all fail. The attackers are completely destroyed.

3 of the defenders remain standing. This example took 5 turn increments to resolve combat which is roughly 15 seconds in game time. It probably took just as long to resolve it in real time!




These 'options' are expansions to the rules that allow greater coverage of troop types, weapon combinations and tactics. The are arranged in order of importance with core options coming first, that were only removed to simplify the base rules.


Option [ReacH]

If the defender has a much longer weapon (double reach) then the attacker; then when the defender rolls for their first defence any fails do not result in the death of the defender, but instead in the attacker 'closing'. By closing the defender has to go to a secondary weapon or use techniques and their primary weapon in a manner for the shorter range (i.e. Half-Swording, grappling at the sword etc.). Mainly this has pike vs hand weapons in mind. - Expand.


Notes: Basically the attacker has to deal with the defender's weapon first and can not strike the defender directly (else get struck down themselves automatically! - so no one does it). This extra length is creating a 'buffer'. (This could be extended to apply to equal or longer, giving similar length weapons a proper guard?)


Option [Single 1-H weapon]

If a combatant is using a single weapon in combat that is one handed, then apply the 'half and half' rule (round down). This means that half the successful defences will be counters and half with be pure defence (binds, blocks and parries that result in dead ends for attack plans).


Dice that come up 'block' are refered to as 'block dice'. Block dice are removed from play.


Failures remove a trooper from play and a die from teh pool.

Block dice are removed from the die pool..

Counter dice are handed back to the opponent.


Example: A group of ten troopers five ranks deep armed with swords and possessing skill:6 attack an enemy unit of the same number, armament and skill > The attackers open with automatic hits > The defenders make a technique rolls and score 6 successes: 3 counters and 3 blocks, and four fails. 4 defenders are removed from play. The Blocks do no count for anything, and the defender hands back the 3 counter dice > The attacker rolls the three dice and scores 1 counter, 1 block, and 1 fail. The attacker removes one of their number from play. The attack then hands the one counter dice back to the defender > The defender rolls the single die and scores a block. Combat now ends.


This can be considered a whole round, or if you are feeling blood thirsty go through the whole process again, with each fresh round of openings countering as the next step. As there is 'no charge', use the 'no charge' rules below. (design note: this does cause temporal distortions in the time step, but think of it as the distorted time of humans under stress and pumped up with adrenalin, where no human gives a correct account of what happened i.e. ignore it!).


Note: Picking up an off-hand weapon gets rid of this limitation, a buckler (or later a cape or dagger). it can also be off-set if the combatant has 'fights-dirty' techniques, which involve various kicks, punches elbows and head butts which converts a 'block' into a 'counter'. However this only works if the opponent is also fighting with a single 1-H weapon. Otherwise it is too easy to counter (i.e. Sword and Buckler with defeat Sword and unarmed attacks, and the incoming limbs are easy targets).


Option [Armour Coverage]

This denotes the amount of armour coverage. Rolling under skill and under the opponent's armour coverage value means the armour is struck. Rolling under skill but over the armour cover value means an unarmoured area has been struck. If armour is struck the Trooper is not removed from play but instead is counts as a 'block' (while they recover). The block dice is removed from the pool.


Example: If a combatant had skill:6 and attacked an opponent with a breastplate (2 points of coverage) then any roll of 1-2 hits the armour, but 3-6 hits as normal.


Shield: Adds a large bonus to Armour Coverage that is much stronger than regular armour. It can also provide a bonus to skill to increase the chance of defence, but also gives a penalty. Shields are very important. Bucklers do not give an armour bonus or skill bonus.


Example: A shield that is slightly larger than a buckler gives a +1 bonus. A combatant with skill:6 would be boosted to skill:7 but also suffer a penalty of -1 to their base skill. This means on a roll of 1-5 the counter as normal, but on a roll of 6-7 they can only block (usually some form of barging).


Notes: The technique tier expands this by adding specific armour locations and target points.


Option [No Charge]

If not opening with a charge in 'step one', then attacks are not automatic and the attacker must roll for their openings. Those that 'fail' do not engage and are ignored. These failures are handled much like 'blocks' in the 'single 1-H weapon' rule above.


Multiple Opponents

If a trooper faces multiple opponents then they are forced to re-roll their technique rolls for each additional opponent. This is done as a group, with the extra attackers in base to base contact (side or rear) giving an equal number of re-rolls.


Example: If a line of 10 defenders face 12 attackers (all base to base, and two attackers doubling up at the ends), then the defenders roll 10 dice for defence as normal (on for each defender) to work out counters. This gives the attackers to force the defenders to make 2 re-rolls. In the ensuing exchange 4 defenders fail the test and as a result 4 troops are removed from play. Of the 6 successes, 2 will be forced to re-roll. One fails and one succeeds, so one more trooper is removed from play (this effectively converted a success into a fail via the multiple opponents rule).


Notes: This is slightly unfair to the defenders; as it's statistically possible that one of the defenders who was ganged up one could fail their defence roll and be dropped, yet the second attacker assigned to this now dropped defender still forces a re-roll of a successful defence. This means a trooper who is not ganged up on, who is not facing multiple opponents is being forced to re-roll. It is hard to single this anomaly out and target is specifically due to the nature of the rules. To explain this away, it is assumed that two attackers who kill their opponent would do so quickly and move in to menace the next defender in line.


Option [Tempo Modifier]

This ties in with the Technique rules on Tempo and altering of the standardised metre (beats) of combat. They are included out of completeness and not recommended for full tactical battles. They can be used for smaller warband conflicts or small skirmisher missions, but they do slow the game and can become tedious and distracting if using many units. They can also be used in single combats between unit leaders/ gentlemen.


Negative mods (tempo): A combatant may take are negative modifier when defending. If successful then the negative modifier is passed onto their opponent when they roll up counters. What ever the negative modifier was is then passed on to the opponent, who is force to take the negative modifier.


Nullifying: A combatant who successfully defends an attack with a negative modifier applied to it can always choose whether to pass on the negative modifier or not (they may even choose to pass on a positive modifier instead; but this is rare unless in practice, which is moot). A Combatant may not take a positive modifier to defend themselves.


Option: Escalation

This is an expansion on the tempo rules above.


On the first opening not modifier is applied (often a charge so moot, unless using the 'no-charge rule). the first counter is at -1, the second at -2, the third at -3 and so on. At any time a winning side can break to reset the modifiers, but they have to win.


Option [Fear]

Similar to the above, except the negative modifier is not passed on.


That's it for now.


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Copyright © Philip Sibbering 2007-2013. WarSpike™ is a Trademark of Philip Sibbering.

This file last modified 06/25/16