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Author Topic: Fantasy skirmish rules - a useful list  (Read 79357 times)

Offline Blazmo

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Fantasy skirmish rules - a useful list
« on: April 10, 2019, 11:45:44 AM »
I've noticed that despite popular demand there are a lot of fantasy skirmish games out there flying under people's radars so I thought it might be a good idea to create a thread cataloguing all the different fantasy skirmish rulesets out there, like the thread in the Gothic Horror subforum. At the moment I'm just going to list names with a short description but I may expand on them in future. Please, if you know of any other fantasy skirmish rulesets feel free to post them here.

Thud & Blunder: D10 based system based off the ruleset from In Her Majesty's Name. Most recent skirmish ruleset to be released in this list. Mordheimish feel.
Goalsystem Delves: By the creator of Chaos in Carpathia and uses the same system, only adapted to a strictly fantasy setting.
Bladestorm: Probably the oldest game on this list as it was released in the 1980s. It recently received a 2nd Edition in 2016 which adds a lot of content while still mostly being backwards-compatible with older stuff.
Broadsword Adventures: Another D10 based system. It doesn't have any explicit rules for fantasy races but it's fairly easy to come up with your own.
Wyrdwars: Modern Mordheim-alike.
Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes: Needs no introduction. If you're here you've probably heard of this.
Rangers of Shadow Deep: Another well-known system. Solo/co-op only game by the makers of Frostgrave.
Frostgrave: Not too familiar with this one despite its popularity.
Blood on the Blade: Self-proclaimed microgame that recently got a 2nd Edition. Solo/co-op only.
On Samhain's Eve: Expansion to Chevauchee by Nordic Weasel Games that's based on the author's own FiveCore system.
Sellswords & Spellslingers: Solo/co-op only game by the creators of ASOBAH using a fairly different original system.
Rack & Ruin: A fairly obscure title and not one I'm too familiar with, mostly interested because it boasts a decent amount of content, if its description is anything to go by. Anyone know anything more about it?
Otherworld: Old-school feel. I have heard people say that it lacks flexibility compared to something like ASOBAH for example.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 11:40:36 AM by Elk101 »

Offline Ragsta

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2019, 11:57:11 AM »
This is a good idea, already useful to me as I ponder solo fantasy sets.

Swordpoint by 2 Hour Wargames is free and solo/ player compatible. I haven’t tried it myself but option is certainly there.

Offline D. Brownie

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2019, 12:23:37 PM »
Mordheim, KOW Vanguard and StrongSword are others... ;)
I like very much RelicBlade by Sean Sutter, quite simple but fast and funny game probuced totally by him (painter, sculptor and writer like a Renaissance man), that Is very Little known... ???
And then brink of Battle with Epic Heroes expansion.

Offline CommanderBaker

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2019, 12:35:12 PM »
Warlords of Erehwon: Created by Rick Priestly, Based on Bolt Action (WW2) and Antares (SciFi). D10 system, warband sized armies. Activation is randomized like the aforementioned games. Factions include: Human Knightly Order, Orcs, Goblins, Beastmen, Undead, Olympians, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings and more. sold by warlord games.

Offline Daeothar

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2019, 12:50:39 PM »
Ninja'd on both Mordheim and WoE, but I'll add Confrontation by Rackham Miniatures (now defunct) as yet another nice skirmisher.

Also; Dragon Rampant...
Miniatures you say? Well I too, like to live dangerously...
Find a Way, or make one!

Offline warlord frod

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2019, 12:54:45 PM »
Osprey's Kobolds & Cobblestones is an interesting set of rules that looks a bit like the mordhiem setting. here is their description of the game "Kobolds & Cobblestones is a skirmish wargame for rumbles between gangs in the city of Ordinsport's seedy underbelly. Players hire gangs of criminals, thugs and enforcers from a number of classic Fantasy races, and attempt to take control of the underworld and establish themselves as the city's kingpins. Playing card-based mechanics and a cunning bribery element keep players on their toes, as a one-sided battle can turn around in a flash." It uses a deck of standard playing cards for combat and decision making.

Offline Cait Sidhe

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2019, 01:08:06 PM »

Rack & Ruin: A fairly obscure title and not one I'm too familiar with, mostly interested because it boasts a decent amount of content, if its description is anything to go by. Anyone know anything more about it?

So I picked the game up years ago, I've never actually gotten around to playing it but I really want to give it a go at some point. The game uses rolls of 2D6 + relevant skills e.g. combat is 2D6 + Attack vs 2D6 + Defence and leans toward RPG stuff (a bunch of stats and skills with the ability perform actions such as lockpicking and searching for loot etc) and is really meant to be run with the campaign system.

Parties are made of 4 characters but when you create the characters you can give them followers (henchmen or pets etc) through traits. An interesting part is that you choose the goal of your party which determines how you score bonus campaign points so for example a Salvation party scores extra points for winning "Gathering the Lost" scenarios or for completing Feed the Starving quests (quests are stuff you can do between games by making rolls and spending resources). Like Necromunda and Mordheim etc you can have your party members do stuff between games like the aforementioned quests or visiting the market.

The way terrain is handled is also unusual in that it has points costs and scenarios usually dictate that players set up say 5 points of terrain each. You can search any terrain piece to roll and see what you find. So searching a house for example might let you find supplies (used as upkeep costs) or huddled peasants who you can rescue (or enslave to work your mines if you're party isn't so nice) while searching hills lets you find ore etc.

I had two concerns about the system, the first is that the goals potentially let you make cheesy parties to exploit said goals. The creator actually gave an example of a Salvation party entirely made up of Mouseling Monks who would be small and squishy to squeeze themselves into buildings to loot supplies and rescue people as quick as possible. It allowed them to obtain and complete Feed the Starving quests as much as possible (being monks they each started the game with one such quest). The other thing I didn't like is all spellcasters know every spell by default, they just get bonuses to specific types such as a Summoner can control more summoned creatures.

All in all it looks pretty interesting as a system.

Offline boywundyrx

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2019, 02:11:58 PM »
The original Song of Blades and Heroes is still available, and is a slightly simpler game with more material available than ASOBH at the moment.  I use it for straightforward fantasy, ASOBH for a bit more crunch in specific settings.  SOBH also has the Song of Arthur and Merlin supplement (or standalone rules, can't remember offhand).  Another spin-off is for samurai skirmishing, Bushi No Yume, and it has fantasy stats in it too.

Few more:
- First edition 7TV has a Greek myth fantasy standalone variant, 7th Voyage.

- Pulp Alley has some suggestions for using it for fantasy in one of the supplements, which I think will be in the core book of 2nd edition Pulp Alley.

- Broken Legions from Osprey is Roman fantasy/horror.

- Flintloque for Napoleonic fantasy.

Probably a few more I'm gapping on (and man, I own a lot of rules). Good thread so far though!


Offline robh

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2019, 02:33:06 PM »
Moonstone: Beautiful quirky little self contained skirmish game (5 or 6 figures per side), inspiration from classic Fairy Tale themes, Goblins, Gnomes, Fairies etc.

Carnevale:  Fantasy/Horror skirmish set amongst the canals of Venice. Blends Historical, Vampire and Lovecraftian themes with a Unique setting. "Lacepunk" genre.

D&D Battlesystem Skirmishes:  THE game to get if you want to expand D&D rpg combats into fully fledged skirmish games. (Also the thematically similar, but more complex WotC version 'Chainmail')

Iron & Honor:  A D&D style adventure party skirmish. Can play inside or outside a dungeon/catacomb environment.


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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2019, 02:38:42 PM »
I agree that this is a worthy idea, given the many rules which receive little if any coverage, and may well be worth bringing to people's attention. The term 'fantasy skirmish rules', however, is so broad that almost anything with a not strictly historical, present-day or future setting and not clearly intended for army-sized forces would fit, so a little fine-tuning of parameters might be in order. I would imagine, for example, that Malifaux would be considered both a fantasy and a skirmish game, as would Of Gods and Mortals, though their settings are certainly not of the pseudo-medieval or sword and sorcery types which many immediately associate with the term fantasy. Zombie games would also qualify, in at least some cases, on the basis that they feature fantastic creatures. 

Similarly, the strictest interpretation of a skirmish game would normally be taken to mean one figure representing one man / woman / creature and, for the most part, acting as an individual, but some of the sets suggested  - e.g. Warlords of Erewhon - clearly don't meet those criteria, but perhaps come into the category of large skirmish or even semi-abstract, which has become increasingly prevalent. Two others which would therefore merit inclusion are Dragon Rampant and the apparently imminent Age of Magic for Saga (which some might argue is borderline fantasy in any case).

Other rules I don't see mentioned so far include Darklands by Mierce Miniatures, which has recently been discussed briefly in another thread, Red Book of the Elf King by Lucid Eye, and War of Ashes: Shieldbash by Zombiesmith. (In accordance with the argument in my first paragraph, other rules by Zombiesmith might also warrant inclusion, even though the concept of anteaters fighting an alternative First World War - the subject of Quar - may not be some people's idea of 'fantasy'.)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 02:58:30 PM by Andrew_McGuire »

Offline Calumma

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2019, 02:45:06 PM »
SAGA will soon be releasing Age of Magic that is a fantasy supplement to the popular game. If you've not played it before, SAGA is a small unit based game that uses battle boards to add flavour to the different actions that your warband can take. I purchased a pre-release copy at Salute and recently posted a review on my blog if you are interested:



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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2019, 03:15:31 PM »
Zombiesmith has a new set of skirmish rules in the works, based on Shieldbash (which I may have failed to mention is about Muppet vikings - sorry about that). A free download of a quick-start version of the new set is available here:


Warlords of Aegyptus and Warlords of Olympus by Crocodile Games and a number of oriental fantasy games, such as Zenit's Torii and Daisho by the Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare surely merit consideration.

Offline TheDaR

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2019, 05:29:06 PM »
I have multiples folders full of rule sets that roughly fall into this genre, so I thought I'd throw in what I have that matches the criteria for the thread.   Many have already been mentioned and these lists are hardly exhaustive.  I only bother to keep rule sets that catch my attention in some way.  There's probably another two or three dozen I've looked at or skimmed through.

Fantasy: pre-industrialization setting, plus elements of myth and/or magic.
Skirmish: Single based figures, representing single beings, with no more than roughly 50 individuals per side and usually more like 5-20.
Wargame: Focus only on quick play of scenarios or straight combat, lacking RPG elements like social interaction or puzzle solving.

A lot of these games shade over one edge or another, and there's a lot of other games that would nominally fall outside these boundaries that could also be used for games in this genre.  For instance, Savage Worlds is not fantasy specific, and is intended as an RPG, but has very clear and well known wargaming roots and could very easily be used to run fantasy skirmish wargames.  Four Against Darkness is for solo play dungeon crawls and thus isn't quite a wargame, but mechanically has everything it needs to be a wargame.

The first batch are my "go to".  These are ones I have enough experience to have opinions on and will likely continue playing in the future.
  • 5 Leagues from the Borderlands - Nordic Weasel Games - Primarily solo-oriented play, focused on small bands with a strong campaign-story bent.  Based on the 5 Core system.
  • Dragon Rampant - Osprey/Daniel Mersey - Larger skirmish battles, part of the same line as Lion Rampant and Pikeman's Lament, with an interesting activation-oriented game play
  • Song of Blade and Heroes  Ganesha Games -  Few stats, many keywords, and a risk-oriented activation mechanic.  Quick playing and very easy to build "my guys", especially with Advanced Song of Blade and Heroes and a very large wealth of expansions and third party fan material.
  • Of Gods and Mortals - Osprey/Andrea Sfiligoi - Same engine as SoBaH, focusing on fights between Gods, a few Legends, some groups of supporting mortals.  Adds group activation to the SoBaH engine.  A Fist Full of Kung Fu also uses the same basic engine with additions for Hong Kong Cinema action.
  • Broken Legions - Osprey/Mark Latham - Weird-War-Rome, battle between small bands of myth-bolstered forces in the classical era.  D10 based, sharing a lot of similarity to the GW Lord of the Rings SBG engine.
  • En Garde - Osprey/Craig Woodfield - Renaissance era swashbuckling skirmishes with appropriate strong support for dueling.   Primarily historical but Appendix B includes rules for limited fantasy staples like magicians/priests and traits for creating classic monsters.  Same engine as Ronin also from Osprey, and the Appendix B could probably be applied there as well.
  • FUBAR  - Craig Cartmell/Forge of War - Very simple single page rules for quick games, which default to modern-ish skirmish games.  However, supplements for Dark Fantasy, Medieval, Artorius Rex, War of the Ring, etc can be layered to add appropriate rules for Fantasy skirmish.  Somewhat similar to SoBaH in style, but fewer special rules, a more traditional activation system, and more focus on units over individual models.
  • Thud and Blunder - Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare (Craig Cartmell + Charles Murton) -  Same authors also have In Her Majesty's Name, Blood Eagle and Daisho which are aimed at Steampunk, Viking and Samurai battles but share the same basic engine and also have fantasy appendix material.   Heavily individual-model oriented, good unit creation/point rules, and an T&B in particular has a very solid scenario/complication system.
  • Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game - Games Workshop - At higher points, tends more towards mass battles, but  Battle Companies is aimed at small warbands with a campaign growth type system and has a large wealth of fan-made additions and scenarios.   Shares a core rule set with the Legends of the Old West series and Legends of the High Seas.

The following are ones that I've collected mostly because they have some mechanical or setting details I liked enough to want to be able to refer to them later.  Some of them I've not played or played only little and am not familiar enough with to discuss in depth.  Others, like Mordheim, I've played a lot, but I am unlikely to play again because better options have become available.
  • Ares - Daniel Kast/MajesticTwelve Games
  • Havoc - Bombshell Games
  • Extra Terrae - Daniel Wall and Martin Penneck.
  • Gang Fight Skirmish Game System - Tim Kline/Gangfight Games
  • Sellswords and Spellslingers - Ganesha Games
  • Battlesworn - Ganesha Games
  • Mayhem: Warrior Kings - Two Hour Wargames [Warrior Heroes and Swordplay also qualify]
  • Kings of War Vanguard - Mantic Games
  • Frostgrave - Osprey/Joseph McCullough
  • Blood on the Blade - Gottardo Zancani
  • Malifaux - Wyrd Games
  • Dungeon Scum - Nordic Weasel Games
  • SAGA - Studio Tomahawk - (with upcoming fantasy supplement or fan made additions)
  • Sengoku Monster Hunter - Alternative Armies
  • Age of Fantasy: Skirmish - One Page Rules
  • Chevauchee - Tom Mecredy + Nordic Weasel Games - with On Samhain's Eve expansion for fantasy
  • Mordheim/WHFB Skirmish - Games Workshop

edited to add some simple descriptions
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 10:17:54 PM by TheDaR »

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2019, 10:36:12 PM »
Two that haven't been mentioned so far are Battlesworn and Rogue Planet. [EDIT: Oops - I see Battlesworn was mentioned above, but not described.]

Battlesworn's from Ganesha Games, but very different from Song of Blades and its cousins. It's a great game - very tactical and more chess-like than most skirmish games (in a good way). Movement's unlimited unless stopped by an obstacle or change in terrain, and the core mechanic is based on blind bidding. It's really good.

Rogue Planet is from Brent Spivey of Bombshell Games. He also wrote Havoc, mentioned above. Havoc is - I think - a really good game, but suffers from an overly long and poorly edited rulebook. The later Bombshell games (e.g. Mayhem and Rogue Planet) are much more concisely written and are properly edited, which makes them far easier to use. And they're great. Rogue Planet is ostensibly a science-fantasy game, but the author states that it works equally well for fantasy - so long as it's of a suitably heroic stripe. The game can involve psychics levitating their foes, or warriors hurling them against terrain items. It's radically different from most other skirmish games, although movement is similar to Battlesworn. A nice feature is the use of miniatures ('pawns') as hit points for heroes - so a hero's right-hand man might augment his hand-to-hand fighting, but that upgrade would be lost when the hero takes a hit (as the right-hand man is killed instead of the hero). It's a ruleset that would go exceptionally well with Age of Sigmar miniatures and similarly over-the-top stuff. Or Elric or Corum or other stuff in a Moorcockian vein.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 10:37:52 PM by Hobgoblin »

Offline hubbabubba

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Re: Fantasy skirmish rules
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2019, 11:22:37 AM »
Excellent thread, can it get stickied as this us a question that pops up on a regular basis?