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Defiance Games Release Free Alien War Rules.

June 27th, 2012 by Mad Dave 4 Comments

The nice people over at Defiance Games were kind enough to send us through a copy of their Alien War rules a bit early to let us read and try and digest them so that we can give you a few excerpts from the rules and give our opinion.

Most tabletop games fall into one of two categories, skirmish or large scale battles.

Ok maybe it’s a bit of a generalisation but to a large extent this is the case, but Alien War seems to have been designed to accommodate both styles of battle, without compromising  the rules.

From The Book:

Each player controls a Force that can be as small as a squad (6-15 models) up to a platoon or even a company in size (40-100 models or more). Some Forces may involve more models than others since they consist either of less skilled human troops (like colonial militia or poorly armed and trained conscripts) or aliens whose strength lies in their overwhelming numbers. As players become more experienced, they can control larger numbers of troops as well as vehicles and incorporate more advanced rules for future warfare. At its most basic size (squad level), a game of Alien War should take an hour or less to play.

What you need to play:
Regular Six-sided Dice (D6) – we recommend a mix of at least 3 red, 3 green, and 6 white dice.
• Tape Measure
• Templates
• Alien War hard plastic 28mm (1/56 scale) models by Defiance Games
• Terrain items for the playing area

Now before I can start talking game mechanics there are a few things I need to explain.

The smallest force consists of around 15 models which will be one squad, which is broken down into elements called fireteams, the number of fireteams depends on the squad size and some personal preference.

From The Book:

Elements are a group of models acting together, even if they are not performing the exact same series of actions. Each model must be within 3” of another model in the element even if there are obstacles between models. An element led by an NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) will usually perform better than one without. Sometimes an element may consist of just one model as in these situations:

• A single model expected to act alone such as a sniper or a medic. These single models are also permitted to act as part of a larger unit whenever the player prefers.

• A model who becomes separated from his initial element will count as an element on his own until he rejoins his element or joins another. 

• In practical terms, a squad will usually consist of two or four elements at the start of the game. These may break up into smaller elements as the game goes on. 

• You may form new elements, or divide the elements you have, when you activate your Force. There is no limit on this beyond the obvious fact that the die roll might not permit all elements to act at once.

Squad and Troops, Stats and Grades.

In Alien War Squads and Troops are graded to represent their abilities on the battle field, along with Leadership which is graded 0 – 6.

Squad Grade:

Each squad is rated according to its training either as Professional (regular squads of high calibre) or Grade 2 (militia, bandits, conscripts, etc). Additionally, the very best Grade 1 squads are counted as Elite which have the highest level of cohesion and mutual understanding.

Troop Grade

Within the squad, each troop has a grade (Green, Experienced, Veteran) which shows his level of combat effectiveness. This is expressed by a number between 2 and 4, known as a Combat Value (CV). Most “arithmetic” in the game is based on rolling a D6 and scoring equal or less than this CV number. The rules will say “Test against CV” when this is required. Experienced troops, with a CV of 3, will thus have a 50% chance of performing any test required of them. Green troops are trained but have seen little combat, or seasoned but poorly trained fighters. Their basic CV is 2. Experienced troops have been in combat previously. They are ‘average’ troops. Their basic CV is 3. Veteran troops have considerable combat experience. Their basic CV is 4.

The Rest.

There is really to much to go over the full rules but heh what you waiting for there free to download HERE.

The rules seem very full and comprehensive from the way you setup to how units activate and perform actions.

Ok so we only have a limited choice of troops at the minute be rest assured Defiance will be plotting and scheming and we will be seeing a lot more figures in the near future.

Also we have to remember this is only a beta version and DG’s want gamers feed back to improve on the system to give gamers the best possible rules set they can, and all for free.

Ok I’ll be honest here, will I be playing Alien Wars? No not any time soon, but that’s more of a personal preference and time constraints I can only play a limited number of systems and at the minute I’m at my limit. Will Alien Wars be a success? I would definitely  have to say yes with a big thumbs up, and for a few reasons but having read over the rules as is  there is a lot going for it so what will the final release be, I can safely say we will be hearing a lot more from Alien Wars in the not so distant future.

Let us know your thoughts below, @NerdFollowing on Twitter or on Facebook

I'm Mad Dave one of the team's growing collection of tabletop gaming nerds. I was raised on a healthy diet of TV like Blake 7, Doctor Who and Star Trek with a side of sword and sorcery / sc-fi movies and a large dollop of board games like Cluedo, RISK and Hero Quest. You know your a gaming nerd if: You bring toy soldiers to work? You bring toy soldiers to work and you work has nothing to do with toy soldiers? Most of you jackets / coats have dice in one of the pockets? You hate throwing away packaging because you know it's actually a ruined building or field generator? You have a collection of old packaging? You can find something relevant to your hobby i.e. books, magazines, figures etc in almost every room in your house? I no I'm a nerd because I've done all of the above, how many of these made you smile and nod yes to?

  • Chris Averiss

    These are not the easiest rules set to read or decipher, but we are giving it a run out next week at our local club as one of our memebers won a pack of the Defiance Games Marines. Have you tried it yet?

    • Howard Whitehouse

      Hey Chris – I’m Howard Whitehouse, the rules designer – so any difficulties you have in following what I said are all my fault! Part of that is trying to explain everything in a fairly limited space, and also that it comes from my background in historical gaming, which carries some different initial assumptions than mainstream Sci Fi.

      Its origins are in a set of WWII rules I designed, so the game looks more like a scene from ‘Band of Brothers’ than a session of 40K – soldiers pinned down under fire, orders that don’t get carried out, and wounded comrades who need to be saved.

      Give it a go, with a squad per player. Don’t worry if you miss some of the minor details. Have a lot of scenery on the boards and use fire and manouevre tactics as much as you can.

      • Chris Averiss

        Hi Howard, I understand it is a skirmish game, and the difficulties communicating abstract ideas and situations through a predetermined set of rules. I have been playing many games for well over 20 years and have designed and playtested rules for a fair few home grown projects and in no way have I imagined it will be like 40k, hopefully nothing like it…..the concepts are fine, infact they are very good. It was the actual communication of the rules that left me a little ‘rules blind’ This is in no way a criticism but let me put this into context. The gaming club that I run caters for players with severe hearing loss and profoundly deaf members. Now although they do not make up the majority of the members there is obviously certain barriers to communication. When I look at anything, especially rules and games I have to work out how to communicate these lovely new games to people who’s first language isn’t English. I play more against this group of gamers away from the club as it easiest one to one so to speak, but this is something the hobby in general does not cater for. So I have to break everything down to ‘plain english’ for me then to translate. As I said, it is not a criticism but this might take just a little bit longer. It is always easier to do after I have played a few games because then I decide how it is demo’d and I am hoping for a good competitive game in Alien War. We have generally found the whole hobby isn’t really geared up for deaf players, different languages are not a problem as they can be written and translated easily, but we tend to take things a little bit slower. Gooid luck with the game, and I would love to give you some feedback after we try it next week.


        • Howard Whitehouse

          Chris, I am hugely impressed that you are bringing wargames to deaf players. I am doubly impressed, because I myself don’t learn rules all that well from simply reading them (even though I write the darn things) but from listening to someone who knows them, and then playing.

          AW isn’t a complex game in terms of mechanics, but picking up a new thing is always an issue of trial and error. In my case, usually the latter – I am apparently a terrible wargamer!

          I’d love any feedback you have, either here or on the Defiance Games forum at


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