It was around a year ago I conceived of the Claymore project (I think, I haven't gone back and checked the exact time frame).
In the time since I have devoured many, many wargames, stretching back in time to Tony Bath to a variety of modern historical games, from Hail Caesar to By Flame and Sword. Moreover, my gaming group has, in the wake of AOS, embraced Warmaster as our primary game. This has led to an entirely different focus, from the previous bottom-up design to a top-down design philosophy that instead of focusing on the capabilities of individual soldiers, considers the role of units on the battlefield and the command structure that supports and utilizes them. What started as a simple update of the early days of Oldhammer, 2nd and 3rd edition, has become its own unique thing.
I'll take a moment here just to say that Warmaster is an astounding game that shows how one can strip the Warhammer conventions down to their essence yet simply and effectively (perhaps more effectively than any recent iteration of Warhammer Fantasy) evoke the unique feel and playstyle of each of the myriad fantasy armies.
Anyways, all of this has filtered into Claymore in one way or another. At its core, I've retained the following goals for the project:
- To evoke the themes and aesthetics of Oldhammer, and captures the nostalgia of 80s fantasy in general.
- To provide the open playability and interactive creativity of Oldhammer
- To provide a system that simply and efficiently captures the grandure of mass battle
As these goals provide the framework for the design, let me unpack a bit what I mean.
To evoke the themes and aesthetics of Oldhammer, and captures the nostalgia of 80s fantasy in general.
Early Warhammer has a specific feel to it, a blend of British humour with exaggerated gritty fantasy that is all but a kitchen-sink approach, yet filtered through the lens of 80s British anti-establishment culture, from Heavy Metal albums to 2000AD comics. This is not the bowdlerized fantasy of Disney, nor the high fantasy of Tolkien, nor even the gonzo Midwest American fantasy of Dungeons & Dragons. This is the grimy black humour of Gilliam's Jabberwocky, the sarcastic fatalism of Moorcock's Elric, and the bleak horror of Reeves' Witchfinder General.
This is not something I can capture outright, not being a part of that zeitgeist, but something I hope to evoke and elicit even as it's blended with my own aesthetics and interests. Ultimately, though, in all conceits, this is meant to be a nostalgia game, a re-issue of a hypothetical system that originated in the 80s, in the midst of the Satanic panic, the Cold War, and the flowering of underground media.
To provide the open playability and interactive creativity of Oldhammer
This is not a game system tied to a single miniatures line, and does not limit itself as such. Any miniatures can be used, and indeed includes elements that would require expanding beyond the confines of a single company's range to illustrate. It also isnt tied to specific army lists. Armies are created as fits the player's personal tastes, units and characters are completely customizable in a way evoking roleplaying games, and though there is a setting, its provided only in broad strokes and just enough to evince a mood and flavour. This game is, as much as anything, a reaction to the regimented restrictions of later editions of Warhammer.
To provide a system that simply and efficiently captures the grandure of mass battle
Skirmish systems are a dime a dozen these days. Yet, in the wake of WFB's death, those who want fantasy mass battles have incredibly limited options (besides playing out of print gamelines). There's basically Kings of War, a few unfinished WFB clones such as The 9th Age, and a few fantasy variations of historical systems. This game is meant to fill a niche that doesn't really exist in the market today. That's not to say this project has any designs of profitability or even widespread appeal, rather that its the game I wish existed and was available.
Anyways, all of that probably sounds well, and good, if ambitious, but its very easy to write about a game, much easier than actually designing one. And as I've been focused largely on the latter, chances are it may be some time before a more substantial update occurs. I've done a lot of work, but there's much more to do, and plenty more playtesting before I'm ready to unleash it publicly. However, to give a taste of how the game has evolved and changed since my last post about it, I thought I'd go over the unit profile as it exists now. This is an easy direct comparison to the unit profile I previewed upon starting the project, and should show how much the game has evolved thus far.
CLAYMORE UNIT PROFILE
TROOP TYPE - The unit’s armaments and battlefield role.
ORDER - Open, Loose, or Close
TRAINING - Levy, Warrior, Veteran, Elite, or Fanatic
DISCIPLINE - Drilled or Irregular
MOVEMENT - March/Charge/Flee
Swords represent a Kith's Inititative, their wits, perception, and strategic ability
Cups represent Kith's natural Charisma, their leadership, fellowship, and charm.
Wands represent a Kith's Psyche, their capacity to use and resist magic.
Coins represent a Kith's Morale, their general courage, willpower, and resilience.
Shields measure a Kith's Defence, their ability to resist or avoid damage.