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The Tiger Roars
Guest Commentary

Free-for-All Rules (Three-Way Battles) by Michael Lietzke
Several 40K players in College Station, Texas, developed these rules over the course of a year. Like most things, they were born of necessity, since often there would be an odd number of players, and no one really wanted to sit a game out.  We just started a three-way battle with a central objective, and worked from there.

Rule Modifications
40K revolves around two opposing sides of equal forces, and so the rules are written to accommodate this set-up. Problem is that they donít work so well when there are multiple sides. If you use the normal rules, the player that goes last often gets pounded in the dirt without a chance to do anything. So, there are three major changes to the normal rules, two of them aimed at the Turn sequence. You can use one of the two, or both.

Turn Sequence
To keep things fair, the players start every turn by rolling the dice. Whoever goes highest conducts his first turn. The remaining players then roll off, with the highest going next. This progresses until everyone has a turn.

The following game turn (after everyone has moved, shoot, and assaulted) you roll off again, but whoever went last doesnít participate in the first roll off. This prevents someone from effectively having two un-interrupted turns in a row.

Turn Order
Free-for-alls are a lot of fun, but they can get boring as you wait for two or three people to finish their turn before you can do anything. To solve this, the turn order is modified. Instead of the normal sequence (Move, Shoot, Assault) each player has his turn broken up. One player moves and shoots, then the next player moves and shoots, etc., until everyone has had a move/shoot phase. Then everyone gets an assault phase.

This simple modification drastically changes the nature of the game. The emphasis is placed on shooting instead of assault, since you can almost always shoot someone before they assault you. It also brings the return of overwatch fire in a very simple way. However, some equipment becomes useless (like the Eldar Crystal Targeting Matrix, which allows a vehicle to always move in the assault phase). Just make some house rules to accommodate these things to keep them useful.

When these rules are combined, it further de-emphasizes assault, since you never know which side will get to initiate an assault, which is perfect for a free-for-all battle. In general, hand-to-hand often becomes more dangerous, since youíll often end up fighting two opponents at once, for three hand-to-hand phases per turn instead of two.

Firing into hand-to-hand
The third modification is allowing you to fire into a hand-to-hand combat where you donít have any models within it: what do you care about shooting two enemies bashing each other?

To keep things simple, randomly divide any hits between each player getting shot in h-t-h. If the sides are roughly even, then one side is hit on a 1-3, the other on a 4-6. If one side outnumbers the other 2:1, then the larger side is hit on a 1-4, the smaller on a 5-6. If one side outnumbers the other 4:1, then the larger side is hit on a 1-5, the smaller on a 6. These rules assume there are only two enemies in a h-t-h, but there could easily be three or four. In these situations, devise your own rules. Just keep it fair.

Remember to randomly allocate hits, not the shots. Itís a "swirling melee" after all; itís also easier, since you may not hit. Also, any hits can be allocated to anything a player has in the particular h-t-h being shot, no matter how many units are involved, as long as itís in range.

Here are some further modifications.

Templates: Use the normal rules.

Blast markers: The firing player places the template wherever he wants, then the player with the most models covered by it (not partials) may reposition it anywhere he wants, as long as he still sustains the same number of models fully and partially hit.

Ordnance weapons: Use the normal rules.

Guess-fire weapons: Use the normal rules.

Remember, these rules are intended for a free-for-all battle, with multiple players and enemies. They are not intended, nor tested, within the normal context of a 40K battle. Also, since there will be more phases per turn, games will take longer. A three-way battle with 500 points a side lasting 6 turns can easily take 2 hours to play. Each 250-point increase will add about 30 minutes, and each additional player will increase the total time by about 50%.

Example: Three-way "Take and Hold" mission
Follow the normal rules for a "Take and Hold" using the Free-for-All rules, plus the following modifications.

Table Setup: Before placing terrain, place an objective in the middle of the table (possibly a large hill or other piece of terrain,) and place 3 Deployment Markers 18" or 24" away from the objective, and equally distant from each other (youíre trying to make an equilateral triangle with the deployment markers as the corners and the objective in the middle).

Now place large pieces of terrain to block line of sight (LOS) among each deployment marker. The point here is to prevent anyone from shooting anyone else before anyone moves. Forests or hills usually work best, since they donít prevent movement. Finish placing terrain in a fashion fair to everyone. Each deployment marker should have clear LOS to the objective.

Deployment: Players now alternate placing their forces, using the normal "Take and Hold" rules. Each deployment zone consists of a rectangle 18" wide and as deep as the table allows, with the deployment marker in the middle of the rectangle (itís the closest point to the objective).

Mission Objective: Follow the normal rules for a "Take and Hold."  However, if there is a large h-t-h over the objective (which is very likely) when the game ends, instead of tying, you may elect to fight out the h-t-h until there is a clear victor. No other units my join this tiebreaker h-t-h, nor may they fire upon it. Whoever wins this h-t-h, no matter where the models actually end up, wins the game. Any unit that flees the h-t-h may not re-enter.

To keep things fair, certain units, such as Greater Daemons, lose their ability to force units to flee hand-to-hand combat. The chance of victory prevents this, but units may still fail Leadership checks under the normal rules. Also, units that normally ignore h-thH morale checks, like Black Templar and Chaos Cult Marines, are forced to take them for this tiebreaker h-t-h.

Game Length: The game lasts a variable number of turns, but can only end if someone can claim the objective.

Line of Retreat: All units retreat towards their deployment marker. If a unit reaches their deployment marker and can satisfy the three rallying rules, then they auto-rally as if they had reached a table edge.

Related Pages
The Texas Chainsword Massacre

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© Copyright  Michael Lietzke, December 2001. Used with permission.


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle