Forge Of War

This set of rules is born of frustration with many mainstream and professional rule sets for this genre. Most of these treat the figures as automata and rarely consider the view from the foxhole, except with highly abstracted break/flee tests.

The idea was to produce a set of rules that could be used with any range of SF figures and their background.

I was also fed-up with the almost universal IGO-UGO mechanics of many of the more popular rule sets. This meant in reality that the gamer who got the first turn got an almost totally unfair advantage over his opponent.

These rules are based around two key mechanics, the Activation Roll and the D-marker:

The Activation Roll is an attempt to break away from the taking turns mentality of the more popular rules sets available for this ‘period’. In those rules one player can move, fire and attack with every single unit before his opponent can do anything, regardless of the skills, readiness or order of his units.

The Activation Roll makes the Player-General consider carefully which units to activate, and in which order, because to fail an Activation Roll passes the initiative to his opponent. It also makes him use his valuable leaders carefully as they often have higher command values than ordinary troops and are best used leading their men than zooming around like helicopter gunships.

The Activation mechanic represents the fog of war and the responsiveness of units to commands from their HQ which may have been made without an accurate understanding of the situation from the point of view of that unit.

The D-marker impacts considerably on the example above. When a unit or leader takes hits it has a choice. It can lose figures or take D-markers. The ‘D’ stands for Disorder, Disorientation, Demoralisation and Damage. A unit can only have a limited number of D-markers on them at any one time depending on their training and experience, and each marker places negative modifiers on their Command, Shooting and Fighting values (as described later) as well as their ability to move quickly.


This set consists of:

1. The Basic Rules: Forge of War – Second Edition (Word Version).

1.1 The Basic Rules: Forge-of-War Second Edition  (PDF Version)

2. Suggested W40K force lists by Kyle.forge-of-war-stats1

3. Suggested W40K Weapons Stat’s by Kyle.weapons


Since FORW was originally published  in January a development team has formed on a dedicated Yahoo Group. They have been beavering away on the second edition which we hope to publish in April. This clarifies all the parts I left hanging in the original set and has been based upon many hours of play testing.

Suggested AT-43 Stats: forge-of-war-at43-stats


One of these is Adam, a fan of AT-43. He has created a set of stat’s to make FORW work for that game. I have absolutely no experience of these rules so I’ll leave this entirely up to him 🙂


45 Responses

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  2. Hi Joseph,

    Thanks for the offer.

    To tell the truth we have been concentrating recently on FUBAR and In the Emperor’s Name. I have been tinkering with a new edition of Forge of War in order to release a new edition later this year.

    If you want to have a go at converting FoW into a medieval versio that could be used with Warhammer armies be our guest. All our rules are free for people to adapt.


  3. let me know if u plan on a rule set for warhammer – i’d be all about helping

  4. Hi Shawn,

    No it isn’t – my bad 🙂

    There is a Yahoo! group called Forge of War, which you will find here:


  5. This is the right site that you recromended i join right Craig?

  6. Hi SRM,

    Painkillers methinks 🙂 or perhaps the way WordPress allows me to load up files.

    Click on the link listed above, either 1. Basic Rules: Forge of War – Second Edition (Word Version), or 1.1 Basic Rules: Forge-of-War Second Edition (PDF Version).

    This takes you to a second page where there is another link and below it a comments box. Clicking on this second link gets you the download. Don’t aks me why it works that way I’m old enough to have met Charles Babbage so all this new-fangled teckerknowitall has me beat.


  7. Hrm- I followed a link here from TMP, hoping to peruse the Forge of War 2 rules (or the original set, if it’s around), but I can’t seem to find them anywhere.

    Are they actually not here, or am I just missing them because my brain’s all fuzzed up with painkillers?

    – Monk

  8. Thanks Greg.

    I rarely like randomized results for tactical choices. It takes the power too much away from the player. There’s enough dice rolling in the rules to make outcomes sufficiently uncertain yet still reward the able tactician.

    Anyhoo you’re welcome to add your tenpennorth to the Yahoo Group if you wish.

    Craig <o..

  9. Hey, these are pretty nifty rules. I’ve always been a rule tinkerer myself but have never had the motivation to actually write a set to completion. I really like your D-marker system. Without having played the rules, it seems like the choice to take a casualty or a D-marker should somehow be randomized rather than being player’s-choice. Perhaps using Jason’s “Stance system” to skew the results one way or the other.

    Keep up the great work!


  10. Hi Phil,

    You’re welcome to come aboard and see how the beavers are doing 🙂

    I’m pretty sure that they have sorted the weapons lists now for a number of systems, but would welcome questions and suggestion from somebody who can stand back from the fray.

    Tell me, are you interested in the W40K version or one of the others such as AT-43 or Star Wars, or even WW2?


  11. I take it that the nuts and bolts of the rules will be sorted out in the group. I have a bunch of questions about the weapons list.

    Phil 0

  12. Hi Nick,

    The development beavers are working day and night (I kid you not) on the Yahoo Group. You’re welcome to give your feedback here or to join the group (called Forge of War, surprise).

    As far as I can make out we have at least five versions on the go for different SF rules and now a Historical version as well.


  13. Are these still the most up to date of the rules and lists? We have played the game a couple times now and really enjoyed it. But there were a couple questions that came up (can’t recall them now of course…) and I was just wondering if maybe there was a update to the game that maybe worked what ever it was out.

  14. Hi John,

    I’d prefer no acronym at all :), but I can see you have a point. Never played Flames of War so I have no idea if they are equivalent to what we are doing.

    ForW sounds ok to me.

    I’ve approved your Yahoo Group membership so I’ll see you in the shed.


  15. Oh, I forgot to add should the acrynom for the rules be something besides FOW? Most will think Flames of War. How about FORW? I know it’s a small thing.




  16. That sounds great Craig! Just sent you an email.

    I’m looking at the rules for use with Stargate, ALIENS and Terminator vs Humnas games too. Got a bunch of 15mm figs done and a whole lot more on my painting table.


    Hope to see everyone on the group soon!



  17. OK the Yahoo Group is up and running. I’ve sent out invites to Adam, Jason and Kyle already as I have their e-mail addresses.

    If you want to join this small group of playtesters and designers then drop me an e-mail at: craigcartmell(at) I’m looking forward to getting mails from Lance, John and Mysterious Hu.

    Anyone else is welcome on the understanding that:
    1. This is a working group, and
    2. It is a cooperative effort to produce a copyright-free set of generic rules with specific milieu adapations.

    I’ve made the group private to prevent spammers and other intrusions. I’ve tried public groups before but the amount of time you have to spend on admin deleting posts and ejecting people who either want to sell you viagra, porn or Jesus is counterproductive.

    The idea will be that we can work there in peace and then publish stuff here.


  18. Hi John,

    A Yahoo Group is not a bad idea – I’ve actually set up and run those before. I’ll see what I can do today as I have a day off.


  19. starship troopers! Star Wars! its getting better and better – oh just bought 80 fig pack of warzone minis on ebay – their are another 8 packs going for £18 each if anyone else is interested

  20. That’s pretty coincidental craig. i was just looking over the rules and lists last night considering how to create new sheets for Starship Troopers and Star Wars.

    Do you have any interest in starting a Yahoo Group for these rules? I could set one up for you if interested.



  21. Hi Adam,

    I agree, but we are going to have users who will like to have some sort of power/ability relational tool.

    Anyway I think we are getting ahead of ourselves. If the core rules are robust, then things like points/no-points will be easier to solve. So I’m ging to concentrate on those for the time being 🙂


  22. I been playing 40K for about a year without a points system – to be honest a moderate experienced wargamer can kinda estimate a forces “points”. Like after playing a couple of games its quite obvious that “3 orks are worth 1 marine” and so forth.

    I view points system as more a tournament tool – the best wargames i have ever played have always thrown points systems out the window 😛

  23. At the moment, and until we tested them more, I’d leave unit sizes and army make-up along GW’s codex lines.

    If these are to become a generic alternative then that would probably be the best way to go. Personally I like the background to W40K and most of the forces represented. Like many I have invested money and time in GW’s figures and don’t want to just chuck it all away because I’m not happy with GW’s rules and corporate policies.

    That said we will have to consider a points system eventually that reflect FoW’s unique characteristics. I prefer narrative games personally but there will be people who want a traditional and more balanced ace-to-face encounters.

    Thanks John – I have a got a few sets of rules on Pete’s excellent FreeWargamesRules resource site. Many are quite old now and are showing their age. I’ll be updating them here over the coming months. One conversion I’d like to do is my Mobile Infantry (Starship Troopers) rules using FoW as the basis.

    Cheers all,

  24. Wow, it’s nice to see all the activity going on. I just realized that it is Craig Cartnell who wrote the rules. I have seen some of the other rule sets you have done. I’m quite pleased to see this set.

    There is a lack of big game generic scifi rules out there. Looks like these may fit the bill.


    John Leahy

  25. @ Adam-Warzone stats will be up soon! Am going to try to add Capitol before I submit them to Craig.

    @ Lance-In line with your question, I am wondering how large of battles are possible without bogging down the game. I am hoping to try one with about 100 models per side later tonight. It seems the mechanics should handle that much more easily than 40K would.



  26. If you want me set a forum up or want a sub-section on the AoA one just shout.
    By the way, played with my 9 yr old son today who has recently got into 40k. He said it was fun. It kept him involved the whole time whereas IGOUGO can leave you wiaitng around a bit. Not being a 40k expert what are the unit sizes you’d expect in FOW? i’ve played SG2 and Defiance where squads are 6-10 in size. I get impression they should or need to be a bit bigger here.

  27. Oh really really sorry Kyle – just noticed you did the W40K stats…. SORRY!!! 😛

  28. If Jason reads this… PLEASE PUT THE WARZONE STUFF ON HERE… ahem. Anyhoo played first game used mysterious’s 40k stats. It was Space Marines vs Orks again and must say was a very close match with victory yet again to the space marines (but with only 2 units left). So as far as Mysterious’s stats go – they are dead on the money.

    My only additions are that when using Power Weapons – ignore AV when it comes to hand to hand combat modifiers.

    And had an idea for Tank Shock – the FV of a vehicle could be eqaul to their AV aslong as they go 6″ or more – and their attacks only effect models in “intial combat” all other models close by get pushed aside.

    What do you think?

  29. Nice idea Lance – but way out of my competency range 🙂

    I think we can handle it here for a while and if it takes off then I believe your idea has merit.

    First we gotta make this wreckage into a flier…


  30. Craig, have you considered setting up a forum for more detailed discussion on the rules and other things? I’ve set one up for Armies of Arcana, its quite striaght forward.

  31. Hi guys,

    Thanks for the fedback, especially the playtesting Lance.

    Jason – go ahead with the Warzone variant. As with the other guys full author credits go to anything you produce, this is an open cooperative effort.

    It is looking like we’ll have to put a number of sets together for each SF Milieu being developed. Each one including the core rules and integrating all the milieu specific variant rules, as well as force lists.

    Give me a little time and I’ll try to add some pages, one for each milieu. I’m a luddite by nature so it might take a day or two;)

    Pete’s given us a plug on Freewargames rules and yesterday we had over 300 hits, so we have an audience who are interested in what we produce.

    Lookin’ good 🙂

  32. I agree with Lance-this ruleset shows a tremendous amount of promise. They more I play around with it the more I warm to it.

    I have been doing a little tweaking myself today. I added some unit stance house rules. Essentially, each infantry unit has one of four stances from normal to cautious to taking cover to hitting the dirt. Each successive “lower” stance below normal adds a bit more protection (-1 penalty to SV of targetting unit) but also incurs successive penalties on the unit itself to both its own SV and its movement rate. At the lowest, hitting the dirt, the unit basically face down in the mud and extremely hard to hit-but it can’t shoot back and can barely move (crawl!). Also, units hitting the dirt can recover from D-markers faster that normal.

    I like this addition because it allows a few more tactical options and keeps units from just getting shredded when they move from hard cover-but at a price.

  33. played a game tonight using the 40k lists for marines and IG. Completely unbalanced forces but the intention was to try the rules. Really liked the d-marker system. Made us think about taking losses or getting pinned down as the d-markers really crippled me trying to activate the IG squads. Shows a lot of promise. I would look to add in Covering/Opportunity fire. Easily done I think. When a unit activates if it doesn’t fire it can hold its fire over until a target wanders into view. Place a marker next to the unit to show this. When target presents itself the covering unit gets to shoot first (with -1 mod plus any other mods if it moved etc) then any surviving models from the activating unit get to retaliate.

    Why the name Forge of War by the way?

  34. Just saw the thread about these over at TMP. They look good. I’m gonna try them out using the warzone variant by Jason.



  35. Craig,
    I am working out some Warzone conversion tables for Forge of War- some basic Bauhaus and Imperial forcelists- that I am still playtesting. I plan to add the other factions as I can.

    Would you be interested in a copy?

  36. I grew up with games before points but they were mainly historical and had a referee who ‘balanced’ the scenario before hand.
    In theory a formula can be constructed based on the unit attributes but I agree some fun playing is in order first. As for GW points……………

  37. For the moment Lance, I’d stick with W40K’s points and codices. It’ll allow you to playtest the rules.

    Once we have a better idea of how the forces work out against one another then we can begin looking at how to balance everything.

    There again I think balance is highly overrated and based on the concept of tournament play. I wonder how GW would handle fighting Rorke’s Drift? Yes, I know they did a version using Praetorian IG and Orks in White Dwarf but it was so set-up and botched as to be actually unplayable.

    To me what is important is how much fun you have with the game and the narrative you create around it. Rules generally just get in the way… said the rule-writer 🙂

  38. just found Forge after spotting a thread on TMP. Only had a very quick glance but like the concepts. Been looking for a ruleset that is better than 40k and less complex/clunky than SG2 and Defiance. I’ll have a proper read and feedback further. Any thoughts on points value on the units? I know some hate points but they have their place I think.

  39. I’m looking forward to your next contribution Adam 🙂

  40. hey hope ppl think the AT43 stuff is ok – will updated with the Karmens and Cog units as soon as i get their force books

  41. Being a W40K player for 14 years now – i must say your rules are ALOT better – when will some suggested force lists be made?

  42. Very impressive! I like the clear, accessible layout thatt many home-grown rulesets seem to lack.

    I imagine that the lack of saving/armor throws speeds things up quite a bit. This would probably be fun with a really large battle.

    And very nice work with the D-markers!

    I am looking forward to trying this out at home.



  43. This looks to be a really fun set of rules. Once I see some lists I intent to give this a try.

  44. Hi Chris,

    I must admit to being caught by surprise by my appearance on Free Wargames Rules [cheers Pete 🙂 ].

    The rules have been up on my blog for some time now so I suppose I’d better step up to the plate and get some lists done.

    I’ll have something done by next week [I’d like to playtets some combo’s first].

    Craig [aka ‘mochenddu’].

  45. I’m impressed! When might you have a couple of force lists ready?

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