Elegant Dice & Terrain System For Miniature Battles
Staunch & Stalwart: Rules, dice and terrain specially designed to easily handle most types of fantasy miniature wargaming
My biggest claim to fame in the gaming world is that almost 20 years ago I wrote BattlestorM, a fantasy tabletop battle game for use with Ral Partha miniatures. Since that time I have been a largely a hobbyist like you. My professional capacities have been focused on running my own successful small business. I live in Northern Virginia in the national capital region and regularly game with friends in the area as well at several conventions each year.
I've been playing wargames since the late 1970's. In my youth, I was fascinated by simulation wargames. To play these games, players cross-referenced multiple variables through flow-charts and data tables.
But, a long time has passed since those days, and now computers can very easily run simulation games. In fact, computers calculate simulations better and faster than any paper-based tabletop game.
However, computers will never be able to simulate the camaraderie found in a tabletop game. Computers can't talk smack. And computers certainly can't give you the emotional back-and-forth of a human opponent.
I've lost interest in the games of my youth. I've lost interest in overly detailed rules that bog down in real-life actual play. I have lost interest in arguing measurements and arcs and special powers and nit-picking rules.
These days, what interests me is having fun with my friends while playing a quick easy miniature wargame. In addition, I like a clean table and a game that rewards good tactical decisions.
To meet that need, I designed Staunch & Stalwart.
What is Staunch & Stalwart
Staunch & Stalwart is a tabletop battle game that has many interesting tactical challenges and a measure of simulation. My development of Staunch & Stalwart was guided by these principles:
- No charts required. A game should only rarely need players to reference the rules.
- Rules that are easily taught.
- Fun, important choices for players.
- Plenty of texture. There has to be a difference between an Egyptian chariot, centaurs, and heavy cavalry.
- Dice that are simple, yet provide a spectrum of possibilities.
The game is ready to go and I'd love to share it with you. In fact, I'm including it in this Kickstarter for an impossibly cheap price.
How I Got To This Point
I've literally written hundreds of pages of rules to get to this point. I started working on this this project almost 15 years ago. I was working and reworking the game with the intention of creating a second edition of BattlestorM.
In this revised edition, I wanted to correct errors, but also wanted to incorporate some of what I'd learned from demoing hundreds of games at game conventions around the country. For years, I furiously wrote more and more and more rules. The rules would bloat up to 120 to 200 packages, and then I'd hack them back down to 50 or 60 pages.
I went through several playtest groups, but what I found was that more rules did not make a better game. In fact, fewer rules made a much better game---provided they were the right rules. So, I kept pruning and pruning until what I ended up with a game that bore so little resemblance to BattlestorM that it would have been unfair and untrue to call this BattlestorM 2. I had a new game and a new name.
The rules for Staunch & Stalwart are currently only about 20 pages long. These rules are not short because they are abbreviated or unfinished---just the opposite. They're relatively short because I've tried my level best to distill the essence of a good battle game into as few words and game mechanics as possible. It's actually a lot of work to be brief, make it easy but still give players the flavor of a battle game.
The reason for the Kickstarter is because Staunch & Stalwart relies upon special dice. I have plans and schemes to repurpose these dice for other games and genres, but that's for another day. The reason for the Kickstarter is because custom dice get so much cheaper in larger numbers.
The images on this page show prototype dice but I'd like to get real dice manufactured. I've done the math, and discovered that we only need a handful of friends to take an interest in this system to get the custom dice we need and want.
If you don't like the system, you can still find a clever use for the dice in a game of your own design!
About The Staunch & Stalwart Dice
The prototype dice in the image below are blank dice that were custom engraved with the icons needed to play the game. We've also used stickers to create additional dice for testing. While these dice were useful for testing, they are not practical for marketing and they are relatively expensive. I'll explain more about the differences between our prototype dice and the production dice below.
How To Roll Combat
When attacking each player rolls one die for each model in the fight. A standard troop hits on a skull or crossbones. For each hit scored the defender is allowed a saving roll. A lightly armored defender only saves on a shield, but a medium troop saves on a helm or shield.
The reference chart below contains most of what you'll need to start playing the game and most gamers don't need this reference after a turn or so.
So you might ask, with such a simple system, how do you handle elevation, long range, support, and many other special situations? Many details are managed with "kickers".
What is a Kicker?
A kicker is a reroll of failed dice. A unit might have multiple kickers, from various advantages and part of the challenge is finding advantages and positioning your troops to avoid the opponent's advantages.
In addition, many units will have access to one or more leaders. Leaders include heralds, musicians, and other commanders. Players can use leaders to increase their capabilities by adding kickers to defense or offense. In this way formations are abstracted as are other tactical details.
About The Armies Of Staunch & Stalwart
The system currently includes army lists for what I have in my personal collection. My plan is to release the game with a fairly sparse and generic Army List. In addition, I will provide everything a hobbyist needs to profile any model in his/her collection. Depending upon how well this is received, I will provide a platform for us to share our Army Lists with each other as the game expands and grows.
Is This For Ancients Or For Medieval Or For Fantasy Battles?
To clarify, this is largely a historical-style, slightly abstracted game. If you're looking for incredible heroes that cut swaths through enemy troops, and incredible powers that obliterate opponents, this is not your game. If you're looking for a meticulous, history-driven simulation: this is also not your game.
But if you're looking for something that resembles a pre-gunpowder battle, with slightly abstracted concepts that give players a variety of interesting choices, then this will probably be your cup of tea.
I call this a fantasy battle game for a few reasons. Firstly, I don't want to argue with my historian friends about the length of a pitum and the effectiveness of the pike in a column formation versus Polish cavalry going downhill.
Secondly, I've included a simple Magic system to add some spell casters and special abilities into the game.
Thirdly, I want to put my giant (or dragon) on the table without breaking the game. I want a game that feels like a battle, rather than a game where the common troops are largely irrelevant and the winner is the player who kills the opponent's hero first.
Morale and Combat Effectiveness
When a hit is not saved, the defender takes a casualty. Attrition and positioning can also causes casualties. Each casualty causes a unit to lose a little combat effectiveness.
Casualties are not removed from play, because leaders and other factors can restore casualties to play. When the number of casualties sustained exceeds the number of active troops in the unit, then casualties are removed from play.
Casualties are tracked on the table in one of several ways. During development we experimented with turning troops face to the rear. (You'll see that in the orc formation above.) We've also tracked casualties by taking troops off of movement trays. Lately, we like using green pipe cleaners and putting the casualties behind the pipe cleaners.
Players use the leader mechanic, and positioning, and maneuver to affect the following aspects of play:
- Increased offensive or defensive capabilities
- Increased speed
- Flanking / positioning
- Pursuit and break-through
Players have limited resources that allow them to push and pull in a few categories and a few places, but because command and other resources are limited a player must decide where to punch and where to defend, where to fall back and where to pursue.
What Are The Rewards?
Like the game itself, the rewards are pretty straight-forward. Rewards are a specific number of dice and a PDF. The dice in the graphics here are prototypes, and will differ only a little from the production dice. I'll explain those differences in a moment, but first a glance at the PDF sample.
If we reach our stretch goals we'll add rewards for terrain and other add-ons.
The rules call for 2 types of dice: a numeral die and a combat die. (In a few of the pictures above you'll see some of our numeral dice in the background.) The numeral die is has four "1"'s, one face with a "0" and one "2". I've decided that the actual production dice will combine these two die types into one dual purpose die. This will make play easier, and keep the table cleaner. It's fairly easy to add numeric indicators to the dice.
One other change is the "helm". The shield icon can be confused with the helm icon in play, so I think I'm going to change the helm to a profile image of a helm to make it more distinct from the shield. If a backer has a better suggestion, I'll implement the suggestion.
The rules are written and ready to go. But as soon as the project is funded I'll release the PDF to all backers. I will do this to encourage questions and feedback. If there are hidden inconsistencies and vexing vagueness in the rules, let me know.
My plan is to edit the rules based upon your feedback while the dice are in production. The dice should take about 6 weeks or so to manufacturer but let's call it 8 weeks. That should give us plenty of time to hammer out a final product.
I'm still plugged into the artistic and game design community if we have a good response, and I'll see to it that the presentation of the rules morphs from functional, to functional but also a work of art.
Stretch Goal: $5,000 - Staunch & Stalwart Terrain System
As you may have noticed above, we prefer to play Staunch & Stalwart on a hex terrain system. The terrain pictured above is plastic and held together by clips. Our new hex terrain system will be made of a flexible resin with magnets to hold the terrain pieces together. It begins with three pieces: a base, a single hex and a terrain riser.
The second piece in the starter set is the riser. A rise can transition from one level of terrain to another.
The third piece (not picture) is a single-hex with no rise. Taken together these three pieces can create a multitude of terrain configurations.
The prototype terrain system we are currently using is about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch too small for what we want to do. The prototypes are a hard plastic but the production terrain will be a flexible resin with magnets to hold it in place. (Check our updates!) We'll have to cut new masters and build molds to cast the terrain. The delivery of terrain might not be quite as quick as the dice. We will update backers and this page as soon as we have a better handle on our delivery dates.
Other Stretch Goals
We have a few more goals we'd like to reach.
- Printed Rulebook -- It would be nice to have reference book rather than just a PDF. This won't be a big reach but it will be a lot more fun if we have the next goal met.
- An Art Budget -- The rules look acceptable, but they're not fancy. I'd love to spruce things up a bit. I'm even open to the idea of adding submissions from backers. If you have a suggestion, contact me.
- Color Variants On Dice --- At the lowest level of funding, the dice will all be one color --likely either black or white. I'd love to have some variations in colors.
- Expanded Army Lists -- The initial army lists will be fairly basic, but there will be easy instructions to create your own troop profiles. I'd love to open this up to backers for their submissions as well. My plan is to create a platform were we can share army lists and photos of our figures.
- Printed Army Lists -- Like the rules, PDF's are nice, but a printed book would be even better.
- Movement System -- The rules will have instructions on how to easily convert this to a non-hex based system. I think this is best implemented with a custom-cut tile, and I'll provide a template for you to make them with your own materials. However, my preference would be to have these measuring tiles printed and ready to go. It's a pretty simple add-on project but there is no reason to detail it here unless we have some success.
Spread The Word
This campaign cannot succeed without your help and I very much appreciate you tagging friends who might need this.
Risks and challenges
The rules are written and the dice are ready to go. The manufacturer promises us 6 weeks to deliver dice from the time of order so I've left a little room in the schedule to pack and ship to you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)