Nordic Weasel Games

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Design diary: Laserstorm

One of the games that I always felt a very deep fondness for was Games Workshop's "Epic" line of games. I had started with Epic 40.000 and got into NetEpic (based off the 2nd edition Space Marine/Titan Legions games) later on. I had also helped playtest Peter Ramos' Heresy rules for Epic scale combat. 

For a while it seemed that as Epic receded, other rules would take over the mantle but none seemed to establish themselves as a premier option and I eventually decided to throw my hat into the ring. I had taken inspiration from Space Marine 2e in particular before, with my Trench Storm rules, but this was the first time I would do so more directly.

As such I knew that I wanted the basic mechanics to be similar: Roll to hit for each major weapon system and saving throws to determine survival. This would allow combat between units of tanks to be resolved quite quickly and still allow a fair amount of detail with weapons having different hit rolls, save modifiers and potentially other traits. This was expanded by letting weapons be designated as Anti-Infantry, Anti-Tank or General Purpose. 

An additional tweak to the Space Marine formula is that infantry take their saving throws on 1D6,  tanks on 2D6, Super heavy tanks on 3D6 and so forth. This works pretty well to make those units quite resilient and also helps open up the range of numbers. A weapon with a -2 save modifier is concerning to a tank but a desperate measure against a super heavy tank for example. 

Early in the design process I decided that there should be no tracking of any kind: No markers, status effects or tokens. For the largest units this ended up being a bit wonky. While a "behemoth" (giant robots etc.) has a rather respectable saving throw on 4D6, they do go down from one failed save. In hindsight that was probably taking the idea too far. 

Morale works very well however. Units that fail a morale test are removed from the table but can be regrouped and brought back near a commander later on, making for an extremely smooth experience where units are fought off and then brought back to launch new assaults or reinforce a different area. Its a very cool effect that feels more clever in play than it was perhaps ever intended to be. 

For the turn sequence I went with a card system which I was into at the time, but I wanted to avoid huge decks of cards. As such each army is assigned to only 3 cards making for a very compact deck. This also results in a decent amount of combined arms feeling as units on the same card can move and support each other. A few extra cards thrown into the deck allow some reaction fire to occur to make things a little less predictable.

The package is rounded out by a bunch of unit builders and, unusually for a Weasel game, a full map driven campaign with unit rosters and everything. This was inspired by the "mega wars" campaign system for Epic and 40K, published in the Citadel Journal. 

All in all Laserstorm was a clear attempt to take an existing idea and advance the mechanics to new goals. It was also one of the first cases where I was explicitly targeting a particular figure scale. I am pretty pleased with it as a design though there were some shortcomings to be fixed in a future new edition.

You can purchase Laserstorm here