Sunday, July 25, 2010

Special Operations Killzone: Skirmish 40k: basic rules changes

Here is the first official entry for Spec Ops week here on Galaxy in Flames. These are the standard rules tweaks to the normal 5th edition 40k rules. We have brought back the dreaded Overwatch, in a limited way, so everyone please stay clam until you try it.

Basic rules additions and changes for Special Operations Killzone games

The Turn

Priority: Each player rolls a D6 at the beginning of each turn to see who has Priority for that turn. The winner of the die roll may choose to go first or second in the current game turn. If the die roll is a tie Priority goes to the person who went second in the previous turn.

Movement Phase

Moving in terrain: To simplify things and help keep the game flowing disregard the 5th edition rules for moving through difficult terrain and replace them with the following; any model that wishes to move in difficult terrain moves at a reduced rate of 4 inches.

Running: Disregard the 5th edition rules for running and replace them with the following. Any model may choose to make a run move in its movement phase; the model doubles its movement rate for a run move. A model that runs may not shoot, in addition it may not assault unless it has the Fleet USR.

Shooting Phase

Killzone: Any time a weapon fires more than one shot, the shooting player picks a primary target and may choose to have the hits allocated to other enemy models within its Killzone. All models within 2 inches of the primary target model are in the Killzone and are eligible as secondary targets. The shooting player must announce if he is going to implement a Killzone before any dice are rolled. The first hit is always against the primary target, any subsequent hits are allocated by the owning player to the secondary targets within the Killzone.

Overwatch: Any model that is armed with a weapon that is listed in its type as ‘Heavy’ may choose to go into overwatch in its movement phase; this will be the only action the model may do in its turn. You should mark the model to remind you that it is in “overwatch”. Any enemy model that moves and is visible to a model on overwatch may be shot at. The model on overwatch may make a normal shooting attack with a -1 to all its to hit rolls. Once the model on overwatch has shot remove the marker it my take no further actions this turn.

Grenades: Any model armed with grenades may throw them with a range in inches that is double their strength statistic.

Frag grenades have a small blast template and may be thrown at anything.

Krak grenades may be thrown at Vehicles, Monstrous Creatures and Fortifications, they have no blast.

Grenades that are classified as defensive operate similar to frag grenades; they have a small blast but do not do physical damage, instead any model hit by a thrown defensive grenade may not shoot unless it rolls a 4+ on a D6. This effect last until the defensive grenade players next turn.

In addition to these new rules, all grenades function in assault the exact same way as they do in the normal 5th edition rules.

Assault Phase

Reactive Assault: When a model is assaulted any friendly models withing 3 inches may choose to counter assault to aid their comrade. To do this they must pass a leadership test, if they succeed they charge into combat, They do not gain the +1 attack for assaulting unless they have the Counter Attack USR.

Break Away: Any model locked in combat from a previous turn may attempt to break away from combat at the beginning of its movement phase; if the model passes a leadership test it immediately makes a full move or run away from the combat it was just in. The model may shoot as normal but may not assault this turn. If the test is failed the model loses one of its attacks in this round of combat, if the models attack statistic is reduced to zero it may not strike back in combat.

General Game Changes

3 Wound Models: No model may have more than 3 wounds in Killzone.

Unique Models: Models listed as Unique in their unit composition may not be used.

Team Leader: Pick one model from your team to be the team leader, preferably the model with the highest leadership. All models within 6 inches may test on his leadership. This model gains +1 wound if he only has one in his base stats; if the model has more than one wound already it gains +1 attack instead.

Area Effect: There are many items in 40k that are carried by one model and effect the whole unit that they are part of or attached to. These items don't work properly in Killzone without some tweaking. These items will have an area effect in games of Killzone. Any friendly model within 6 inches of a model carrying one of these items gains the benefits from the item.

No Reserves: All of the models in your team must be deployed on the table at the start of the game. This means no model may teleport, deepstrike or be left off the tabletop, unless the scenario specifically allows it.

We have run these rules through six games and it was awesome, the changes really give that skirmish game feel to 40k. Both armies used were almost identical Imperial Guard including a Sentinel; we did this so that the forces would be more or less equal, giving us a good idea about the balance of what we have added here. My team included many of the Last Chancers, that's why I picked the photo. We plan on running some more games on Tuesday night.

One last thing you may notice is that we changed the name, replacing Battles with Killzone, at the behest of my buddy Joe who is deployed in Afghanistan. He thinks adding Killzone to the title makes it sound more Spec Ops. So I said what the Hell.


  1. Loving the rules mate, overwatch has always had a special place in my heart - lol.

  2. Thanks Col. Corbane, I too always had thing for Overwatch. The way I have implemented it should stop any sort of abuse issues.

  3. No, No! Not overwatch! That ability was the bane of my existence when I first started playing 40K.

    Okay, I am over my nostalgic fit - actually very interesting set of rules. We might have to use them in a game or two come October!

  4. Well, I have been having a blast with Kill Teams of late. Going to give these a try tomorrow or the next day. I am split on overwatch, in some games (like Space Hulk) I love overwatch, in others (yes, I am looking at you Battletroops) I hated it. But like you suggest, I am going to get in my shell and clam down until I try it.

    I'll let you know what I think.

    Also, would Photon Grenades count as frags? My Fire Warriors wanna play too.

  5. Thanks for the feedback guys.

    Mags, that is a great idea.

    Counterfett, Photon grenades are defensive grenades, check out the added text. It should help, and thanks for reminding me of this grenade type.

    Keep the feedback coming!


  6. Wow, simple, intuitive, effective. Excellent rules but I feel Overwatch may go against what the rest of the rules are trying to do (simplify/speed up) because it would take time to look at the board and try to estimate distances to decide whether overwatch would be better than shooting. On the other hand there is that "it just makes sense" factor.

    How do you deal with one player having two back to back turns at a critical point in the game?

  7. Thanks for the comments. The reason I simplified/sped up the movement rules is to alleviate having to roll for 5-15 individual models in the movement phase. I will be recommending at least 50% tabletop terrain coverage for Spec Ops games.

    Overwatch just makes sense for skirmish gaming. Besides with all the time I just saved everyone in the movement phase overwatch shouldn't slow things down at all.

    When the game is getting down to those critical moments plan to go second. The uncertainty of priority gives a more gritty real feel to a skirmish game. Combat is unpredictable!

    Thanks again,

  8. Tremendous. I only know overwatch from my unbalanced affection for Space Hulk, and I'm glad to see it working in "normal" 40K... as such.

    Naturally, I am practically giddy with anticipation for the time when Pitmann and I can get to grips across the table with these rules in hand. These will make an ideal new wrinkle in our mini-campaign.


  9. Ah, thanks Big Jim, I see it now.

  10. B.smoove, I look forward to the Glorious feedback from your field test.

    No probs CounterFett, I aim to please! Thanks again for bringing the issue to my attention.

    Coming tomorrow on Spec Ops week is the updated Team building article.



  11. Well this has turned out well. Because I'm not a hoary old vet this 'Overwatch' thing is new to me, so I'll have a few rounds and decide whether or not to metamorphose into a clam or not.

    I like the idea of Priority, and at some point will try combining it with an I move/you move etc system and see how it turns out. I like that sort of thing.

  12. With difficult terrain being a set 4", how do you handle guys with Move through Cover? Just let them move the full 6"?

  13. Yes, models with move through cover ignore the movement penalty, so move 6".

  14. The overwatch rule is very interesting but I will say that the -1 to hit hurts low BS races a lot more than it does others. In the case of BS 2, you lose 50% of your chance to hit. BS 4 models only lose 25% of their chance to hit. I like the idea of overwatch but you are killing my poor Orks :)