Saturday, 30 April 2011

'Geddon on it (2) - Hive interior battles

The second in a series set off by a guest post at davetaylorminatures, by Ron of From the Warp.

It covered the Heroes of Armageddon Project, which will see four Warhammer 40,000 armies painted up and raffled off. Check out the site.

I suggested all interested blogs could run tie-in features themed around the Armageddon setting, maybe fiction, stats or new troop types, even modelling and painting, to draw attention to the project, be useful and hopefully inspire.

My first was a homebrew ash waste events table. Here's my second then, and it's big.

Hive interior battles

The spires of the hives of Armageddon do not dream, but rather sleep restlessly beneath the polluted sky from which their nightmares come. Homes and workplaces to billions, they loom above the haunted jungles and desolate ash wastes, but are barely safer than either, whether in peace or war. In the three great conflagrations to strike the world thus far they were battlefields too, and remain so, infested in their dark spaces by all the vices of humanity, the corruption of both the dark gods of Chaos and the alien Tyranid vanguard, and the ineradicable menace of the ever-flourishing Orkosystem.

The deep domes, halls and corridors, the ducts and access tunnels, the machine rooms and sumps, all are potential havens and potential conflict zones, and what the local security forces of the watchmen and adeptus arbites are unable to quell becomes a task for the elites of the planetary defence force and regiments of Imperial guard garrisoned here from across this region of space; and what they are unable to deal with may require in turn a deployment of the mighty adeptus astartes themselves, striking deep into the cankerous hearts of complexes to break the danger at source.

Conflict in-hive is a challenge even for the greatest professionals of war. Vehicles will only carry an invasion force so far, until the width of the passageways, density of gantries and endless intricacies of device choke off access. Defenders flit from shadow to shadow and launch vicious counterstrikes from the unmapped darkness. Chases end in disorientation, blind alleys, sealings off, and the disappearances of whole squads, platoons, companies. Gunfire and screams echo along metal avenues, and over the spoil heaps and dripping accumulations of the lowest wastes.

The horror of war here is less visible, but no less black.

What follows is an unofficial homebrew system for battles in the hives of Armageddon, but is just as relevant to hives throughout the galaxy, as well as built complexes of all kinds, whether administrative structures, industrial facilities or military outposts.


It's a reworking of the text in the posts Into the depths! (1) and (2), a system for simulating heavy and tight terrain by doing away with true space and measurements.

Instead, each location is represented by a number, with a lot of the usual control of movement taken away from the players. The idea is to suggest the complexity of the deep, confined spaces, the lower light and lack of lines of sight. The system should get a sense of tense, uncertain progress, and surprise encounters, with units suddenly appearing in the gloom and around corners, and following or avoiding sounds of battle.


The turn sequence remains the same, but the system replaces all movement, terrain, mission and deployment rules, unless otherwise noted. Shooting, assaults and morale work essentially as they usually do, with some minor changes related to position, although cover saves are not used except in the case of vehicle wrecks. 

The deep strike and reserves rules are used in modified form, the random game length rules unmodified, and victory conditions may use either kill points or victory points. 

Any deep strike ability representing movement from the sky, e.g. by drop pod, is lost, though tunnelling, teleportation and manifestation are permitted. Barrage weapons and weapons fired from off the table may not be used. Flyers and superheavies are best not used, for obvious reasons, but other vehicles will only add to the fun...

One player is the attacker and one the defender. Once the basics are clear, you might want to allow the sides to take special equipment to represent this, such as drills for the attacker and barricades for the defender.


At the start of the game simply set up the armies anyhow on a bare table. Determine initiative by rolling a D6 each, with the highest roller choosing to go first or second. The player going first is Player A for the purpose of this explanation.


For each unit Player A would like to move, roll a D6 and leave it with the result face up beside that unit. We'll call this a location roll. Group units with the same number.

In Player A's first turn this is all that happens. In Player B's first turn any units moving in the movement phase will also have a location roll made for them. If the result for any of Player B's units is equal to the result rolled for any of Player A's, then both that Player A unit and that Player B unit will be placed together in a free space on the table, with one D6 with the location number. We'll call this group an engagement. 

For any unit on either side the location roll may be modified by as much as the turn number, including by Player A in the first turn. This represents movement deeper into the structure, or what is believed to be deeper, as well as a growing knowledge of the layout and distribution of forces. This will mean that as the game progresses a wider spread of locations will be available and possibly occupied - numbers 1 to 12 in a six-turn game without reserves and higher speeds; these are covered below.

To give an example of this, on turn three, the location roll may be modified by up to three points, meaning a natural roll of five will allow a choice of movement to location 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8. The modifer is chosen after the roll has been made.

Units with fleet or the ability to move above 6" in the movement phase may modify the location roll by an additional one point, as may infiltrators and scouts when deploying, but these re-roll entry to an enemy-occupied location. Slow and purposeful units may have their location roll modified last by the enemy by one point.

When the attacker's reserves enter play, they do so in the same way, with one die rolled for location, and the attacker choosing whether or not to apply a modifier of up to the turn number. The defender's reserves enter play in the same way, but the may modify the location roll by an additional point, e.g. a natural roll of five will allow a choice of movement to location 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9.

Units deep strike by making a location roll as if already on the table, but may re-roll the result. If the re-roll produces the number originally rolled, roll on the mishaps table. 


For each engagement created roll a further D6. This determines the width in models of the spaces being used, and is the maximum number of models able to draw a line of sight to the enemy or fight in an assault.

Cavalry, bikes and jetbikes count two wide, monstrous creatures and vehicles with a highest armour rating of 10 or less count three, vehicles with a highest of 11 or 12 four, and vehicle with a highest above 12 five.

This means a larger model may not be able to join the engagement it rolls, in which case it doesn't move that turn. If it is one of the initial models engaged and the width rolled indicates it foes not fit, it may only defend itself if assaulted and must leave if not in combat next turn; a vehicle is immobilised and unable to use D3 randomly determined weapons.

For each unit joining an existing engagement roll a D6. On a roll of 1-3, the unit appears behind a randomly determined friendly unit and may not shoot or assault until a gap is created. On a 4-5, it appears in the flank of a randomly determined enemy unit. On a 6, it appears behind a randomly determined enemy unit.

Tanks may tank shock an enemy unit and all behind it when leaving a location.


In Player B's shooting phase, each of the units in an engagement is assumed to shoot at the closest possible range without being in contact and have the facing to do so. Smoke is assumed to have no effect given the close proximity of the forces.

Blast weapons may be used, but are assumed to be fired at a unit as a whole. Deviation is determined by rolling a D6 only. On a roll of 1-2, the firing unit is affected, on a 3-4 both firing unit and original target unit, and on a 5-6 the original target unit only. A small blast will cause 2D6 hits on each unit affected, a large blast 4D6. Template weapons cause 2D6 hits on the target unit automatically. Exploding vehicles cause 2D6 on units on all sides. Other effects use either the deviation, template or explosion approach, as seems best.

Vehicle facing is assumed always to be towards the position of the enemy when initially encountered. If units later appear to the side of or behind a vehicle, facing may be changed in the vehicle's next movement phase if location width is at least one point higher than vehicle width. Transports have side access points blocked unless location width is one point higher than vehicle. Disembarking via a rear access point may leave a unit unable to pass its transport.

Any unit breaking leaves the engagement by rolling for a new location; if that location has no units present, the fleeing unit is assumed to have left the table and is removed. Units may not attempt to rally while in an engagement, but continue rolling each turn until they either rally or enter an empty space. They are free to roll for movement as normal once rallied.

Units not in an engagement may run in their shooting phase as usual, and another location roll is immediately made.


If any of Player B's units assault, every model is assumed to be within range, assuming there is width enough. If there isn't, each player nominates a front rank to fight. Pair models off, with Player B choosing the first match-up, then Player A the next and so on. Excess models can be placed freely by their player. A consolidation move is made as a simple location roll, as is the use of the hit and run rule.


In Player A's next turn, movement is conducted as for Player B for any units not involved in an engagement, referring to the results of the dice still face up beside Player B's units. Any units rolling a number already relating to an engagement join it.

The game carries on like this, with roles reversing in turns as usual.


The attacker wins automatically if one or more attacking units and no defending occupy any location numbered 10 or higher at the end of the game. Otherwise, victory is decided by either kill points or victory points, agreed before the game begins.

- - - - - -

Right then, what loopholes have I left? What glaring errors?

I'll say now in case you haven't guessed - this is really only aimed at friendly games and will likely need a spirit of compromise to overcome some of the more unusual situations. I've playtested this idea, but never with 40K so any feedback will help others trying it.

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