Tuesday, January 4, 2022

In Praise of One Page Rules

As long-time readers of this blog know, I have more than a passing knowledge of GW’s Warhammer 40k universe. Those same readers are also aware that I have not played any GW games for going on three decades. I got sick and tired of how the company abuses the loyalty of their fans (something that apparently has only gotten worse over time). My love of miniature wargaming, however, as never waned.

One of the consequences of these past couple of years is that I have been quite isolated and I have been left alone to try and find ways to scratch that gaming itch without any real access to other players. To this end, I have been looking around at all kinds of games that have solo options. I have to admit that solo roleplaying is not nearly as satisfying as I wish it were. So I kept looking.

This is when I got wind of One Page Rules (OPR).

I was perusing various game-related YouTube channels when I noticed a pattern: a lot of folks were sick and tired GW and had turned to OPR to scratch their Warhammer itch. So I checked them out myself.

The game design is right up my alley. The core rules are as advertised: one page front and back. Each army list takes up one page front and back. They have rules for both sci-fi and fantasy. They have skirmish rules for both genres. They have a Patreon where you can get access to beta-versions of upcoming rule sets, the algorithm they use to calculate the cost of each unit in their army lists, a bunch of optional rules to add complexity to the game if you so wish, access to some beautifully sculpted miniatures in .stl form to be printed out by a 3D printer, and some wonderfully illustrated 2-D miniatures that can be printed out on any old-fashioned printer.

Here is the kicker: they have some rules for solo-play where they have an analog AI for controlling enemy units. While not perfect, it is simple enough to hack for your own needs.

I pulled out some old miniatures, set up my dining room table and played. I had a blast. I convinced my wife to get me a 3D printer for my birthday. I started supporting OPR via Patreon. I have not looked back.

This gorgeous thing is one of the many miniatures
I have 3D printed in the last several months

The DIY ethos behind the game just has me giddy. There isn’t 300+ pages of lore to weigh me down when painting up my armies. The world of 3D printing has made kit bashing easier than ever. Above all: I am having fun.

As I paint, stories begin to evolve in my head about how these warriors came to be. I am not burdened by giant splat books full of canon, I only have a few short paragraphs (at best) to use or ignore as I see fit.

For example, here is the blurb from the quintessential Battle Brothers (aka Space Marines):

Battle Brothers are the most elite and feared fighting force in the galaxy. Massive genetically modified soldiers equipped with heavy battle armor and deadly weapons, they are ready to take on even the most dangerous missions in the name of their immortal god-king.

Soon after reaching the Sirius sector the immortal god-king created the Battle Brothers in order to conquer even the most inhospitable of planets. Born in vats and trained for war all their lives, these fine soldiers are solely focused on victory.

As jacks of all trades they are able to do pretty much anything reasonably well with no particular weakness. Their troops are armed with a variety of advanced weapons and are designed to exploit the enemy’s weak spots mercilessly.

They are the ultimate weapon in the god-king’s quest for power and only find peace in death.

The rest is up to you.