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"Wounds in Skirmish Gaming" Topic

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1,752 hits since 29 Mar 2012
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Wartopia Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 7:02 a.m. PST

I did a search on this topic and found a thread that seemed to be intertwined with another thread on micro-scale Napoleonics! In any case, the other thread didn't answer my question since it strayed more into "real-life gory wounds and the guy still fought" stories and away from "what sort of wounding mechanism do you like in skirmish gaming".


You have about a squad per side, perhaps with an attached AT team or sniper team, maybe an MG team. There might even be an AFV or two on table. Roughly 12 figures per side.

Given this scope what level of detail do you prefer for casualties?

A. Alive Dead (completely binary)

B. Alive Dead (using Hit Points but no effect as trooper loses HP)

C. Alive Incapacitated Dead

D. Alive Degraded Stats/Abilities Incapacitated Dead

E. Detailed hit locations and wound effects (eg Leg Wound! Can't Move!)

NOTE: C/D/E may or may not use Hit Points or some similar mechanism.

This is for some home grown rules my boys and I are working on. My older son likes E but is willing to go with C using hit points in the interests of speed and simplicity. For example, a figure with 4 HP would be incapacitated at 2 HP (half HP) and dead at 0 HP.

We might also include a critical hit roll for added color. Something very simple and similar to what we use for vehicle damage in our 3:1 company level rules. (My son really wants to do this but I'd be happy without it.)

In those rules vehicle critical hits can result in extra suppression, a mobility kill, a weapons kill, or complete destruction. For these skirmish rules we could do something similar with leg wound (can't move), arm/head wound (can't fight), or instant death (lucky hit to major organ/artery).

The rules are for near future and sci-fi so everything from pretty standard human vs human combat must work (ie anything out of WWII!) as well as a small mech or battle suit vs giant alien bug.

We're actually modding our platoon v platoon rules for this so the added detail should be appropriate. In fact, those rules already use HP for soldiers/creatures and vehicles. For soldiers/creatures they fight with full capability until zeroed out. Vehicles take critical hit rolls. However, the vast majority of troops have 1 HP (similar to 40K W) while in this mod they'd have multiple HP.

Your thoughts or suggestions on "wound mechanics" in skirmish level gaming?

Gaz004529 Mar 2012 7:08 a.m. PST

I prefer option C- used to use hit locations et al but it slowed everything down….I have seen a die (d6 I think?) that had hit locations on it that I was sorely tempted by- can't remember where from tho'!

Personal logo Brigadier General Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 7:09 a.m. PST

D. Alive Degraded Stats/Abilities Incapacitated Dead

pigbear Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 7:16 a.m. PST

I prefer D but without the 'Dead' category. I don't see the practical use of distinguishing this from 'Incapacitated' in a game. Probably more important than these categories is whether the wound requires care or CASEVAC and the degree to which this will soak up the attention of other team members.

advocate29 Mar 2012 7:19 a.m. PST

I've played with E and enjoyed it. Nowadays I'd prefer C or at a pinch D.

Many rules would use D* Alive – Degraded Stats – Dead.

I like the incapacitated option since it can make 'saving the wounded' an in-game objective in itself; but almost all attacks should have the possibility of an 'Obviously Dead' result (to take a term from Two Hour Wargames). I think I'm right in saying that in many of the THW rules, 'Incapacitated' figures can be checked and healed – or discovered to be dead.

BTW, this would be a useful subject for a poll.

Terrement Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 7:19 a.m. PST

I play solo and prefer hit locations, but a lot of time my skirmishes are less than 12 a side, more like 6-8. I have no problem with shifting gears if I need to within a game, or if it doesn't matter. For example, if I am playing a campaign game then the damage and the effects to my player characters makes a difference as it will carry over from game to game. This is similarly important if the nonplayer characters are recurring characters where the effects of wounds may be of significance. On the other hand, if it is my player characters against a bunch of Mooks then a more simple wound effect for the Mooks is entirely acceptable.


MajorB Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 7:32 a.m. PST


Wartopia Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 7:34 a.m. PST

The incapacitated status is intended to add flavor to the game. You have a comrade down, unable to fight or move, and you need to save him by fighting your way to him (unless you're a Space Ork in which case he provides entertainment value to the non-wounded Orks!) :-D

Maybe "Mostly Dead" as from "The Princess Bride" movie would be a better description? We could call it the Billy Crystal Rule.

Personal logo Martin Rapier Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 7:46 a.m. PST

I quite like the mechanism from Stargunt II.

'May be dead until someone sees to him'

So, figure is hit and goes down, treat as dead until…. another figure gets to him to and check him out, then you throw the dice and see how he is – OK (just stunned), lightly wounded (degraded stats), WIA/KIA.

I'm not sure you'd do medevac in the context of an active skirmish, although you might require all WIA/KIA figures to be dragged to a place of safety until the firefight is over.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 7:53 a.m. PST

Alive Incapacitated Dead

At that level, I like to know status of each trooper. the Stargunt II rule sound like something really worth adding.

pigbear Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 7:59 a.m. PST

Perhaps not Martin, but the idea is the same. Basically one casualty might cause an entire fireteam to become essentially ineffective for a significant part of the fight. Rules that take this and the surrounding circumstances (cover, morale, proximity of the enemy, etc.) are appealing as long as not too complex. Although not modern and not a low level skirmish, I'm reminded of an anecdote from "The Story of the Malakand Field Force" in which Churchill notes some units being completely paralyzed by single casualties and others performing energetically despite being under fire and taking casualties. Little things mean a lot.

I agree that the Stargrunt II mechanism is a good idea. But I still don't understand the need to differentiate between Incapacitated and Dead. Seems to add an extra unnecessary level of complexity and just another thing to keep track of.

Mainly28s Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 8:18 a.m. PST

C or D for me!

tberry740329 Mar 2012 8:18 a.m. PST

But I still don't understand the need to differentiate between Incapacitated and Dead. Seems to add an extra unnecessary level of complexity and just another thing to keep track of.

Depends on the type of game you play. If you just play one-off "last man standing" type games then all you need is "Alive – Dead".

If you are playing linked games, where is outcome of a game effects the next game then you might want to have an INCAPACITATED state. These will be figures that need to be pulled off the battlefield, are available to be captured, etc..

If recovered he might be available for future games.

If captured that could set up a hostage rescue scenario or even a hostage exchange scenario.


Altius Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 8:39 a.m. PST

I like D. I think of it in terms of: Alive/Lt. Wound/Hvy. Wound/Dead.

Although, I have tried E. Years ago I played a campaign game set in WWII in which we used a set of rules written by a medical doctor, which calculated the hit location and determined the damage + blood loss (which accrued every turn) for that location. I remember one game in which I tagged an assistant gunner for an MG-34 in the elbow. The initial damage wasn't too bad, but it bled a lot. The gunner stopped firing to try to bandage up his buddy, but the man eventually bled out. That one shot effectively took out the LMG for several critical turns.

I think we eventually stopped using those rules in that campaign. It was interesting to see that even seemingly minor wounds can wind up having a huge effect, but my opinion was that it bogged down the game a bit, having to cross-reference the hit on several charts and then keeping track of the accruing damage.

pigbear Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 8:42 a.m. PST

Makes sense Tim. I had forgotten an old solo board game called "Ambush!" that used this system . I'm going to guess that I haven't played that in 25 years.

I suppose then 'Dead' means not just KIA but any wound that would require hospitalization or other prolonged absence from the unit. 'Incapacitated' then means that the figure is no longer willing or able to fight (or move if the rules allow the figure to be kept on the table). It's similar but not exactly the same as a morale result in some rules.

And yes, I realize I'm overthinking this.

Steve64 Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 8:49 a.m. PST

Schroedinger got it right I reckon.

As the 'squad commander' in the skirmish game, all you know is that so-and-so is down at this point in time.

They are in some sort of undetermined limbo between life and death …. until you expend command points to have them checked out.

They could also randomly appear back in the order of battle after they get themselves back into shape of their own accord.

pigbear Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 8:59 a.m. PST

Yes, I like that. That way 'incapacitated' can represent the unobserved cat state and 'dead' is something you may or may not find out later.

RTJEBADIA29 Mar 2012 9:36 a.m. PST

Generally I agree with THW's set up:

Fine-Stunned-Reduced Stats (only present in some rules)- Incapacitated/Unknown Status-Dead.

Some also use hit locations, but in recent rules those have more to do with cover than with wounds…. That is, a wound to the leg doesn't cause just a problem for the leg, but likely results in Incapacitated or Reduced Stats in general….. but its relevant that if a leg is in cover then the leg can't be hit.

The reason to have dead as a possible result BEFORE "checking" a body is that sometimes someone is, well, Obviously Dead.

Head is blown off by an explosion… obviously dead.
Massive hole punched through the heart area. Obviously dead.
Generally any time there is brain matter flying about, or multiple body parts (not just limbs, but parts of the body) flying in different directions, or the really fundamental organs (heart, brain, etc) are clearly destroyed…. Checking isn't necessary if you see that happen.

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 9:36 a.m. PST

A) Most wounds worth noting are going to put a man out of the fight anyway. With this system, if a hit ends up being no effect (made the armor save or whatever) then the man might be wounded but not badly. I do like using wounds for hero types.

Murvihill29 Mar 2012 9:48 a.m. PST

I have a space skirmish game, basically rather than worrying about the actual wound location it measures the degradation of the figure's capability. You have four boxes for "fire", four for "movement" and four for "life support". When you roll a hit you roll a d6 for which is affected, each box after the first affects your to hit roll, movement dice or initiative respectively. Once all the boxes are marked off you can't do whatever it is, except life support where the figure is hors de combat. All overflow goes into life support.

Wartopia Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 10:24 a.m. PST

I like this spin on the "Mostly Dead" state where you don't know the actual state until you examine the body. Maybe the actual mechanic could work like this:

REALLY TRULY DEAD: When reduced to zero HP the figure is eliminated from play ("He got blowed up reeeel goood!"). A Mostly Maybe Dead figure may be Really Truly Dead (see below).

MOSTLY MAYBE DEAD: When reduced to less than half HP the figure may not take any actions until a friend or enemy inspects the figure. On a roll of 1-3 the figure is Really Truly Dead and 4-6 the figure is only Stunned. If Stunned immediately return to active status restored to half HP.

NOTE: medics might provide a greater chance of a "Stunned" result???

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 10:28 a.m. PST

I really like infinity's system: Fine, unconscious, dead (option C).

Unconscious matters if you have a doctor/medic in your force, because docs can see if someone is just out from the surprise, or bad enough to be hors d'combat.

There is a book coming (soon, I hope, it's been delayed again) that has a campaign game in it, where some of the other details in the rules will matter more than they do now.

That said, there are also models with multiple wounds before they go unconscious, and models that will not go down until they really are hors d'combat. And a couple that not only take multiple wounds before the would normally need to be checked by a medic, but also will simply not drop until they are *really* hurt.

Dragon Gunner Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 12:29 p.m. PST

A. if skirmish is more than 30+ miniatures.

C. if less than 30 miniatures.

CeruLucifus29 Mar 2012 1:02 p.m. PST

Mordheim uses a D6 roll with three wound levels (I may not have the terms right):

1-2. Knocked Down; put the figure on its back. Stand him up on his next turn.

3-4. Stunned; put the figure on its face. Next turn he becomes Knocked Down (flip him face up).

3. Out of Action. Remove him from the game.

Knocked Down figures that take another Knocked Down result become Stunned. Stunned figures are put Out of Action by an adjacent enemy if there is not an adjacent friendly.

After the game, for your Out of Action figures, you can roll on a chart to see if they recover and if there were any permanent effects.

It's a very playable system. More lethal attacks have a bonus to the wound roll or count Knocked Down as Stunned.

You could adjust the duration of Stunned switching to Knocked Down, or require a recover roll, with an adjacent friendly giving a bonus for medical assistance. And Out of Action models could be left on the table, with some possibility of returning to play with reduced stats if given medical attention.

Yesthatphil Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 3:13 p.m. PST

I like the system Martin describes.

Bob Faust of Strategic Elite Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 4:46 p.m. PST

I used something closer to C for Brink of Battle. Models are in one of three states while on the board: Active, Ready, or Shocked. Models that are Active are just Ready with an Action Token assigned to them. The injury levels are Ready, Shocked, and Wounded. Wounded models are removed from play.

Skarper29 Mar 2012 9:26 p.m. PST

This is what I did and still would if doing skirmish scale…

Roll 2d6 – one red and one white.

Red gives you how bad it is.

White tells you where it is..

1 = arm
2 = lower leg
3 = upper leg
4 = abdomen
5 = chest
6 = head

You then total the dice rolls

11+ = dead – game over
8-10 = severe – very hard to do anything more and will die if not treated – needs evacuation.
5-7 = serious – can fight on a bit but needs evacuation
2-4 = minor – can be patched up and carry on as before

What rules you have for medics etc depends on the era. I was doing Vietnam skirmishes so screaming 'medic' and dust off – figured prominently.

But I think the 2d6 system has it covered pretty well. Detailed but quick enough to handle 2 dozen plus a side.

Personal logo Dances with Clydesdales Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 9:44 p.m. PST


Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2012 11:24 p.m. PST

The reason I like OK-"somebody check on Hudson"-hors d'combat is because it's actually pretty realistic for firearms combat. In firearms combat, for every story of people taking multiple shots and still fighting, there are dozens of others where someone has been hit in a non-vital area and has gone down for the count.

Later, once the shooting stops, we can figure out how hurt Hudson is. I don't want to waste a lot of time during the game figuring out how hurt Hudson is, I still have a battle to win!

This is for pretty small-scale SpecOps gaming, max of 20 models per side. The success of the mission is more important than any individual's life.

For larger battles, the Ambush Alley/Stargrunt system (OK-status unknown->either OKish or hors d'combat) is better, because you can assume some breaks in combat and frankly, surviving to see the next day is more important to our troopers!

Personal logo Martin Rapier Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2012 2:07 a.m. PST

" But I still don't understand the need to differentiate between Incapacitated and Dead"

I just left it as an option – both states remove the figure from play, but depending how much granularity you want you may wish to differentiate.

I mainly do ultra-modern for this sort of game level rather than Sci-Fi, and I'm not sure our chaps in Afghanistan would be too chuffed at just being left lying in the field if they were 'incapacitated'. I generally do the whole call for casevac etc as sub game routine, and obviously the guys have to secure the LZ, move the casualty etc.

If your game system is more aimed at modelling brief firefights, this is probably of less relevance as it comes into the post fight reorganisation, but it certainly seems to affect real unit behaviour, even in the middle of a fight.

Lion in the Stars system is pretty similar but is simpler. I also like to idea of having someone go to at least check on casualties in a fight.

Skarper30 Mar 2012 4:54 a.m. PST

Badly wounded is worse than dead in the short term unit disruption impact.

A man down obviously in serious danger can take two or three others out of the firefight – or require a lot of command and control to manage the situation.

A soldier killed outright might go unnoticed until after the firing has died down.

I think you emphatically do need 'dead' and 'incapacitated' states.

I think you need 4 states and possibly degrees of each one – hence my 2d6 system so a 10 is worse than a 9 cos neglected he will die sooner….

I dunno – I think the appeal of skirmish games is detail that a larger system must abstract out.

Personal logo DuckanCover Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2012 5:11 a.m. PST

I spent some years wrestling with this one when I was trying to design a broad spectrum set of modern skirmish rules of my own- I felt that choices "D" and "E" both had merit, during different stages of development.

I think I felt the time could be spent on more detailed wounding mechanics, since there were intended to be fairly small numbers of figures on the table.

As can be seen from the many posts here so far, it would be easy to get bogged down with the flow on effects of each casualty.


Wartopia Inactive Member30 Mar 2012 5:21 a.m. PST

"I dunno I think the appeal of skirmish games is detail that a larger system must abstract out."

That's one reason we're working on this project. You can get away with fewer figures and still have even more flavor.

We're sort of taking a FPS approach to the game. Those who have played the Battlefield series of games will have an idea of what this might look like. You get, say, 8-12 figures, and arm them as CQB, assault, MG support, sniper, etc. Some get special abilities for leadership, medic, engineer, etc.

Phrodon Inactive Member30 Mar 2012 8:14 a.m. PST

Face of Battle uses:

Alive – Wounded – Incapacitated – Dead

Wounds get a save to ignore them, or some are automatic (i.e. no save). A wounded counter is used so you do not have to keep track of HP, etc.

Wounded units may still fight (at a penalty).
Incapacitated is out of action.

Both wounded and incapacitated can be treated by a medic and can come back (if skill rolls are good). This gives something for medics to actually do and adds some nice flavour to the game. "Medic!"

But as Tim stated, another reason TFoB differenciates between wounded, incapacitated and dead is for campaign play, prisoners, etc. at game end. For example, incapacitated units most likely will be captured , etc. As well, it may be victory condition related.


11th ACR30 Mar 2012 11:37 a.m. PST

Try Hit Location Dice:

This is the one I use and works great. And for any time period.

Caesar Inactive Member30 Mar 2012 4:53 p.m. PST

I like the system in Rezolution, which is like D. Models have hit points and when they've taken a certain level of hits they either pass out or fight degraded. The more hits, the greater the degradation.

Dunadan Inactive Member31 Mar 2012 7:41 a.m. PST

I like Necromunda's system. When you lose your last wound (most grunts have just 1), you roll a D6. 1=wounded but still in action, keep fighting at -1 skills, 2-5=down, can crawl 2" and rolls again next turn, 6=out of action, roll for more detailed injury (or death) at the end of the game. You also go out of action if you accumulate enough minor wounds to reduce your skills to 0. Medi-packs and the like can improve your in game die roll, or improve your after game injury rolls.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2012 2:50 p.m. PST

But a squad leader cares that Hudson's OK/Hurt/Incapacitated/Dead. The platoon leader will care that Hudson is hurt after the fight, but neither one cares *where* Hudson was wounded.

Binhan Lin Inactive Member31 Mar 2012 4:19 p.m. PST

I use C but would prefer D. I use C because its easier to mark on figures (i.e. standing, lying down w/wound marker), remove from board.) for wounded just add a standing wound counter.

We differentiate between incapacitated and dead for 2 reasons – 1 medics can revive an incapacitated figure (merely stunned or temporarily knocked out, minor wounds but shocked etc.) and we run our games as campaigns – if you don't bring back the live ones, you don't get to play with them the next game. So there is a high premium on bringing back your troops. Dead is dead, so you don't spend as much effort in treating and retrieving them during a battle as you do the incapacitated.


Patrice Inactive Member09 Apr 2012 6:10 a.m. PST

I use A: most people stop fighting when they are hit.

Only some very special characters/heroes can have 2 "life points", hit location dice for the first wound and continue fighting with what's left of their body.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2012 3:45 p.m. PST

For a squad level game, I think a five stage system works best.

Okay / fighting wounded / walking wounded / incapacitated / goner.

I'd prefer this kicks in after some sort of "recovery" or "check the bodies" roll though, rather than right away. You are hit, you go down, but you might be back in it, or you may have to be hauled out.

Surferdude Inactive Member20 Apr 2012 3:59 a.m. PST

I still prefer the old,
Still in the game (will figure realise what their injuries are later) but have to check after game.
Out of Action – can't do much in the game but can be rescued etc and checked later.
Possibly Dead – Out of Action until checked and then determined if KIA or not.

angelofmenoth Inactive Member17 Aug 2012 12:15 p.m. PST

Alien War has a nice system that covers two states of being wounded, with subcategories in both of them. It is not very complicated though. It does encourage taking care of any casualties instead of simply ignoring them and leaving them to fend for themselves. It might be what you're looking for, or at least a source of inspiration.

PDF link

Detective Malone Inactive Member17 Aug 2012 5:16 p.m. PST

I mostly play linked skirmish games.
So when a figure is wounded he's taken out of action.
After the game a dice is rolled to determine if the figure is taken out of action (1 or 2 he dead, 3 or 4 wounded and misses X amount of games, 5 or 6 recovers and returns to combat).
Being shot or stabbed REALLY hurts.
I can't imagine a chap in so much pain and bleeding everywhere getting up and rejoining the fight.

Thorfin11 Inactive Member17 Aug 2012 11:29 p.m. PST

Depends on the game focus – for lighter games/games with my kids we play OK – Down – Out – Down & Out:

Downed figures are laid down on their backs but can recover themselves by using an activation.

Out figures are laid down on their front but can be recovered by a friendly figure spending an activation next to them.

Down & Out figures are out of the game but still need to be carried away/protected (to avoid losing them for the next fight or avoid losing victory points).

Whilst not entirely realistic it does provide some interesting sub plots and avoid bad luck crippling one side too early in the game. It also avoids any record keeping.

For realism, I like the Two Hour Wargames system mentioned above – Ok – Stunned – Out of the Fight – Dead.

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