Chapter One: Gameplay
|Almighty Benny and Major Natalya settle their BrikWars differences over a high-stakes game of Nano-BrikWars, proving themselves to be deadly metagamers.
|Elements shown: LEGO, Nanoblock, die
Little is known about Humans, but this much is fact: young or old, rich or poor, all Humans harbor secret toy armies and dreams of conquest. Anyone failing this requirement is either not a real Human or has forgotten how to be one.
BrikWars provides a safe and comfortable setting
for construction toy armies to mutilate and slaughter
one another for the entertainment of their Humans. Unlike less serious wargames, BrikWars is about combat between the toys themselves. Players take turns moving toy troops and toy vehicles through toy terrain to attack one another with toy weapons and die horrifying toy deaths. The conflicts can be large or small, balanced or skewed,
orderly or chaotic, as long as they deliver the mindless
violence on which minifigs' psychological health and happiness depend.
Elements of Play
Bricks are the fundamental physical material making up the worlds of BrikWars. An individual brick is called a component - the smallest physical piece of an object that can't be disassembled any further, like a brick in a wall, the head of a minifig, or the entire body of a horse.
Most objects in BrikWars are built from plastic construction bricks, but non-construction toys and other items are incorporated as components as well; minifigs can't tell the difference.
|It's good to have a supply of spare bricks close at hand. Players can whip up a costume change for their hero, craters and random debris from explosions, support stands to hold airborne minifigs aloft between turns, and any other objects that might appear as the result of events spinning completely out of control. Extra blood and fire elements become increasingly useful as a battle drags on.
Minifigs and their violent passions are the heart and soul of a BrikWars battle. The minifig is the basic example of a unit - an active combatant within the game with the ability to engage in independent Movement and Action.
Dice are spirits of chaos that power all meaningful events in BrikWars, bound in plastic and geometrically determined to thwart their Humans' plans. A minifig's ability to take Action and do Damage is determined by the dice under his control.
|The more dice, the better. Players can pass communal dice back and forth, but play goes much more smoothly if each player has their own set of dice to roll, preferably in their own color.
Gratuitous violence is both the means and the justification for all minifig behavior. Every minifig activity from peace negotiations to gardening to basic dental hygeine has gratuitous violence as its end result.
Players prepare for BrikWars by assembling armies, fortifications, and scenery as dictated by the imagination and toy collections of the Humans involved. Plastic brick construction is best, allowing forces and landscaping to be modified on the fly to reflect damage, equipment changes, and dramatic posturing, but armies of stuffed animals and action figures can march through book-stack mountains and shoebox buildings using the same rules.
Serious builders can spend hours crafting polished infantry, vehicles, and scenarios. Serious tacticians can put thought and care into balancing the distribution of minifigs and equipment, guided by a misconception that
battles should be fair or conflicts should make sense. More commonly, BrikWars armies are mustered through the time-tested military strategy of dumping bins out onto a table and grabbing whichever units come most immediately to hand.
A typical BrikWars battle has two to four players with a dozen units each, fighting over a tabletop-sized battlefield (either a literal tabletop, or a tabletop-sized area of the floor), lasting two or three hours or until players decide to stop. Battles can of course be much larger or smaller, from single-combat duels between lone Heroes in tight arenas, to quick-paced skirmishes between several dozen small teams all seeking to steal the same prize keg of Maniac Beer, to epic multi-faction zombie invasion campaigns run online with thousands of minifigs and taking months to complete.
|Your First Battle
| When players are first starting out, they should aim for teams of around five units each - either five regular minifigs, or if they're playing with the Hero rules in Chapter Six, four minifigs and one Hero. This is a good number to get a feel for how units move and work together, and for the overall pacing of how much happens in a single turn and how long a turn takes.
For the battlefield, new players should start small. Place the armies a foot apart with some simple buildings in between to break their line of sight. This will give minifigs the opportunity to seek out cover and maneuver for advantage without needing to cover a lot of ground to reach direct engagement range.
Playing a quick tight skirmish to become familiar with the flow of the game will give new players a much better idea of what size and type of battles they'll enjoy before they jump into larger and more complex engagements.
Once the battlefield and armies are assembled, players assign
a turn order and starting locations by any combination of scenario requirements, mutual agreement, and dice-rolling, and then combat can begin.
|If one player designed the battlefield, it’s customary to allow the other players to have first pick of starting locations.
One at a time, each player takes
a turn, conducting Movement and Action for each of the active units
under their control. When they've completed maneuvers for all of their units, the next player's turn begins. When all
surviving players have taken their turns, the cycle begins again with the first
|While it's easiest to pick a turn order and stick with it, players can mix the sequence up as they see fit. Some players like to roll dice to randomize the order of each cycle of turns, or to let the current smallest army decide the turn order each round.
When players are allied, or their forces are too far apart to interact, it can save time to run multiple players' turns simultaneously until they're in position to start killing each other like civilized minifigs.
|Once Per Turn
| When a player can use an ability "once per turn," the ability resets at the beginning of that player's own turn, ignoring those of other players.
When an ability can be used "once on each player's turn," the ability resets at the beginning of every player's turn, whether belonging to the unit's own player or an opponent.
It's not especially important for any one player or
team to "win" a battle. Dying horribly
in some ridiculous fashion is always funnier than surviving horribly in some ridiculous fashion, and BrikWars
is set up to favor the optimum result of the complete destruction of all
participants, bystanders, and scenery.
Final victory goes to
forces of nature or deadly catastrophes as often as to any of the players.
Fire, explosive decompression, and "I told you to put your toys away twenty minutes ago" have winning
records that no Human strategist can hope to match.
The classic BrikWars conclusion is for the entire battlefield
to be destroyed in a cataclysmic fireball. This is considered a victory
for all sides.
|Minifigs are notoriously poor at sharing. There's nothing in the world they won't use as justification for mutual homicide.
The simplest battles have no larger goal. Minifigs holding weapons don't need an excuse to run around whacking each other with them. When the dust and dismembered limbs settle, success is measured by whether this battle was crazier than the battle before, and by how much.
In (marginally) more serious games, minifigs fight for a higher objective - stealing the enemy's secret taco recipe, assassinating a meddling peace delegation, or heaping the largest pile of skulls for the glory of the Stud God.
Objectives work best when they're aggressive and focused, driving minifigs away from safety and into direct confrontation. Specific targets to destroy, murder, or steal make for exciting battles. Passive goals like defense or escape should be treated with disgust if they're tolerated at all.
|"Survival" is never a worthwhile Objective. Any minifigs saddled with such a repugnant goal should ignore their Humans' orders and kill themselves immediately in protest.
Units in BrikWars are defined by their physical construction and positioning. Players don't need to refer to pages of charts and graphs to see if a minifig's shopping cart has been returned correctly, if the minifig policeman is holding a chainsaw, or if the cable news channel's cameras are pointed the right direction to record fair and balanced video of parking lot justice being served. The plastic figures speak for themselves.
Some attributes aren't obvious from the physical models, however. In-game abilities like a shopper's running speed, a policeman's lumberjacking skill, and a chainsaw's effectiveness versus escaping minivans are represented by abstract numbers and die rolls. BrikWars' moment-to-moment chaos is built up from orderly numerical comparisons.
In BrikWars, movement and weapon ranges are measured in inches. If players are opposed to inches,
they can use any alternate system of measurement that seems reasonable. An inch is about three centimeters, the length of three construction
studs, or the height of three construction bricks. It's not important
whether or not the conversion is exact, as long as everyone's using
the same system.
|The length of a sixteen-stud brick is exactly five inches, a standard measurement distance for movement and ranged attacks.
|When measuring between
elevations, downward motion is always free. Whether firing arrows over a wall, launching a school bus off a ramp, taking sniper shots from a guard tower, or stepping off a diving board into a volcano, minifigs can measure to any point above a target rather than to the target itself.
Dice are the animating power that allows inert toys to rise up and take violent action against each other. A minifig without dice is a smiling lump of plastic. A minifig with dice is a smiling lump of plastic who can run, play, drive, operate heavy machinery, plant explosives, and use farm animals as projectile weapons. In BrikWars, a faction's power is determined by how effectively its minifigs' dice are spent, restored, multiplied, or nullified through tactical maneuvering and luck.
BrikWars uses die rolls to reflect the unpredictability of minifig efforts.
If a minifig fires a pistol at an opponent, sometimes he'll hit, sometimes he'll miss, and sometimes he'll "accidentally" shoot his own commanding officer. If the bullet strikes a target, sometimes it will do enough damage to kill, sometimes it won't, and sometimes it just makes superiors very, very angry. Die rolls determine
the outcome of actions whose effects aren't guaranteed.
For the Core Rules, dice come in two flavors: the d6 () and the d10 (), named according to the number of faces on each die. The
six-sided d6es ("dee-sixes") are regular cube-shaped
dice like you might find in any lesser board game. Ten-sided
d10s ("dee-tens") are less common; you'll
have to do some shopping at your local gaming store or online to
stock up. D6es are used for almost all normal action in BrikWars,
while d10s are reserved for specific types of high-powered combat.
|If players don't have any ten-sided dice, they can replace any d10 roll with 2d6-2 - that is, rolling two six-sided dice and subtracting two from the result. Is this statistically equivalent? Not really. Does it matter? See The Law of Fudge later in this chapter.
Die rolls are described according
to the number of each type of dice involved, plus or minus a modifier number (if any). 4d6 means a roll of four six-sided dice, with the results all added together. 1d10+2 is a roll of one ten-sided die with two added to the
result. 17d6 + 23d10 + 0937 means rolling seventeen six-sided dice
and twenty-three ten-sided dice together, and adding BrikThulhu's holy number zero thousand nine hundred
thirty-seven to the result, which players will hopefully never have to
No matter how negative a modifier may be, the lowest possible result
for any die roll is zero. A roll of 1d6-100, for instance, will
always have a simple result of zero unless a player's luck
with Critical Rolls defies belief.
Rolling dice in BrikWars is never a sure thing. No matter how easy
or how difficult the task, as long as at least one die is rolled, theres always a chance to defy the odds through Critical Failure or Critical Success.
If all the dice in a roll come up 1, then the
roll is a Critical Failure, regardless of other modifiers. Whatever task a player or unit was
attempting fails completely, no matter how easy it might have
any number of dice, for each die that comes up on its highest-numbered
face (a six on a d6, a ten on a d10), the player may add +1d6
to that roll as a Bonus Die. The same holds true for
the additional dice rolled any sixes rolled on the Bonus
Dice continue earning additional Bonus Dice.
A player may elect
not to roll a Bonus Die that he or she earned, for whatever
1.3: Proper Observance of Rules
Rules are for the small-minded and weak. Let some first-graders loose with
a collection of bricks and watch the way they play. All the drama, death, and explosions anyone could want, and they won't have to crack open a rulebook even once.
How is it that they're so much smarter than adults?
The answer is that adults have suffered a lot more years of forced schooling
than the kids have. Wait until the kids turn eighteen; they'll have become just as slack-jawed
and dull-eyed as any other Human.
BrikWars has a lot of rules. Players who've felt the sting of the compulsory education system will respect these rules, because the rules are written down in a book and some
of them are even capitalized.
For players whose lives went so badly that they attended college as well, there's a risk that they'll not only shackle themselves
to these rules, but will then twist them to their own
ends, weaseling out loopholes and exploits to cleverly frustrate the
other players and ingeniously prevent fun for the entire group.
Players engaging in rules-lawyering and
munchkinism have missed the point of BrikWars. If possible, they should schedule some time with actual children and try to remember all the things
they've forgotten about having fun.
The reason BrikWars has so many rules is that it's a lot more fun
to flout a large rules system than a small one. Rules should be treated as a springboard for imagination rather than as
a leash for self-enslavement. But not everyone is ready to live without the safety net that a rules system
before going any further, here are the three most important rules in
The Rule of Fudge
|THE RULE OF FUDGE
everything your opponents will let you get away with.
If left unchecked, rules-obsessed players can track
events down to the tiniest detail. Turns take hours, everyone
loses interest, and no one wants to play a second time. This is
for the best. Those players should give up on construction
bricks and donate them to someone with an imagination.
Just because players can assign die rolls to every sneeze and trace the trajectory of every blown-off body part doesn't mean they
should. The most probable results are very often the least ridiculous,
and why bust out calculators just to spend more time having less
fun? Except when opponents insist otherwise,
the bulk of the action should be resolved by rough estimate, arbitrary fiat,
and a generous supply of hand-waving.
Given the opportunity, players should always
fudge in favor of mayhem.
Don't waste time on stuff nobody cares about. Following the rules
should be an even lower priority than worrying about who's winning. Getting some
laughs during the battle and having a good story to
tell afterwards are the primary goals.
|Remember that while you're fudging everything your opponents aren't objecting to, they're trusting you to set the limits on their fudging in return. They won't know what degree of rule-minding you're most comfortable with if you don't tell them.
What I Say Goes
|WHAT I SAY GOES
are smarter than rulebooks. Especially the ones with the
highest dice rolls.
are times when players disagree,
when the best course of action isn't clear, or when no one remembers
a rule but it's not worth wasting time to look
it up. Can zombie bites convert bears into zombie bears?
Can archers fire longbows from inside a garden hedge? Magnets, how do they work?
If there isn't a quick consensus, then its time
for a What I Say Goes Roll. Every interested player (along with any sufficiently opinionated bystander) states
their position. All participating players roll dice, re-rolling
ties if necessary. The player with the highest roll wins, and What
They Say Goes.
Everyone's the Boss of Their Own Toys
|EVERYONE'S THE BOSS
OF THEIR OWN TOYS
Don't break other people's toys
without their blessing.
BrikWars works best when game effects are reflected in the physical objects. When a minifig gets decapitated, the head is removed and knocked aside. When a tank gets blown apart, the model is smashed to pieces and scattered across the battlefield. When land mines explode underfoot, holes are chainsawed into the table surface to show where the craters are. When the doomsday nuke goes off, players set their house on fire.
Surprisingly, not everyone is happy to see their prized constructions, furniture, or home equity destroyed for the sake of BrikWars realism. They may doubt their ability to put their favorite models back together again after the battle, or they might worry about losing valuable elements when all the pieces get mixed up. They may be thinking ahead to the tedious job of explaining completely justifiable arson to an insurance adjuster.
No matter how poor the excuse, Everyone's the Boss of Their Own Toys. If a player or other concerned bystander doesn't want their stuff broken, don't break it. There are other ways to track damage to enemy units and structures and players besides busting pieces off of them, even if it's not as much fun. If you don't know whether someone is excited about the idea of you breaking their stuff, ask.
Even more important than their physical models,
players can be very protective of their characters and storyline. Players should resist the urge to What I Say Goes an opponent's twenty-year epic with a cast of thousands into a black hole for the sake of making their own half-assed army they invented over a lunch break seem two percent cooler. Regardless of what happens on the battlefield, players are the bosses of their own storylines. If they don't feel that other players are treating their Kanon with respect, their plot twists will be vetoed.