As you probably know, I've been working on a new set of game rules recently. They date back to last summer and are a result of my aggravations with other game systems. StarDust Ground is intended as a 15mm Company-level miniatures wargame. Company-level is probably a bit too large - more like a couple of platoons along with some tanks, etc.
My goal was to create a wargame that meets the rather strict criteria I look for in a game:
1) No fiddly mechanics. Ideally short die-roll sequences should determine outcomes.
2) Quick play. This kind of goes back to "no fiddly mechanics." Movement rules, combat rules, morale rules should all be easy enough to remember without having to refer back to a rulebook.
So what did I arrive at? I took the best bits of all the other games I've played and re-assembled it as StarDust Ground. Chain of Command, Flames of War, Dystopian Wars, Battletech, Warhammer 40K, Space Marine, WarZone, Modern Spearhead and others have all contributed to SDG. Long-time readers will remember my starship combat game StarDust that I rolled out early last year. SDG follows a similar design ethic and has resulted in an equally good game.
Details, you want details... well, I've decided to use Flames of War-sizes bases for the models. They are nearly perfect for 15mm gaming and look nice. Squads are typically composed of two medium stands and often will have a small stand attached with a special weapon - maybe a missile launcher or automatic weapon. Other special units will also be on small stands such as leaders, medics and snipers. 10-12 medium stands and 4-6 small stands of infantry is enough for a good game. That'll give you 5 or 6 squads. Add a few vehicles for variety. Generally speaking artillery is off-board so you can always add a bit of starch to an army that way without spending any scratch.
Squads activate individually and each side alternates activations. As squads take fire or hits in close combat, they lose effectiveness and will need to seek cover and rally to regain their usefulness. Some types of troops like the space bugs featured in recent battle reports ignore hits they've received until it has reached a critical point - they are "mindless creatures" after all.
One of the toughest part of coming up with a game like this is producing stats for troops and vehicles - especially when you're limited by your selection of toys. I've certainly had fun buying more miniatures in the interest of making a more complete game! Most of the obvious tropes have been covered - grunts, elites, space bugs, robots, close-combat focused troops, ranged-combat focused troops. I've worked out vehicle rules for all sorts of vehicles - jeeps, tanks, VTOLs.
Something I've been sure to account for is weather conditions. We tend to only ever play games during clear daytime conditions and that won't be the case with SDG. If you've ever played Blood Bowl you'll be familiar with checking the weather before the match. Ditto for SDG - it could be a snowy blizzard or a sand storm. Either way, if is isn't clear daytime conditions, foul weather or simple darkness is going to change things considerably.
So, what have I got left? I still have one army that has not gotten any table time yet and it needs a shakedown. I'd like to put some scenarios / mission together to include with the rules. Beyond that, I can't think of anything lacking at the moment.
SDG will be ready for its first public outing at Gnomecon!. I'll be running demos from 5-9pm Friday evening, March 6th. Hopefully I'll have the rulebook presentable by then - I've had so much other crap going on recently that perfecting that book seems more and more insurmountable every time I think about it. I'm at 18 pages right now and that doesn't include the QRS, unit stats or counters and I haven't done any example diagrams. Putting the final product together into a single PDF that you aren't ashamed of is a lot more challenging than you'd think.