Miniatures Battle Variant for Three Players: Down in Front

Most miniatures war games usually revolve around battles between two opposing forces. But what do you do when you have three interested players?

Here’s my suggestion for a game style based on an all-out free-for-all, but with scoring mechanics to encourage shifting targets and a back-and-forth battle.

If you don’t happen to have a copy of Silent Death (or a friend who does), ICE is selling the Deluxe Box for 20% off as I write this.

Also, check out my Silent Death Ship Builder app to make custom ships quickly and easily, using rules from The Next Millennium.

I had initially conceived of this variant for use with the fast and fun space combat game Silent Death. But a similar system could be applied to many other games, simply adjust the point values for damage and kills as needed.

Victory Conditions for Down in Front

  1. Set a turn limit.
  2. For every point of damage you inflict on an opponent's ship you score one point.
  3. For destroying an opponent's ship you score points equal to the cost of the ship (including crew) divided by 10 (rounded up).
  4. When you damage or destroy an opponent's ship, if that player currently has the most points (before you score) or is tied for the most points, you receive x2 points.

Turn Limit

Agreeing to a turn limit at the outset can add some pressure and the feeling that every turn counts. Note also that no points are awarded for how many of your own ships survive to the end, but only for damage you have dealt. Sitting back is not an option.

Finding Balance

Sometimes three player games can stagnate if no one is willing to strike a decisive blow and risk that the other two players might gang up on them. In Down in Front the 2-against-1 dynamic is actually encouraged, but only so long as a player is actually winning. As soon as a new leader emerges the target for bonus points shifts, which can create a new 2-against-1 dynamic.

In other words, it is recognized that 2-against-1 is practically inevitable in a three player game of this type, and by embracing that dynamic this variant aims at allowing shifting allegiances to emerge while finding balance in a way that is reasonably fair.

First Blood

At the beginning of the battle all players will be tied with zero points. This effectively means that the first player to deal damage to an opponent will score double points. So each player has incentive to land the first hit, and with that a leader shall emerge.

Rewarding Aggression

Players are rewarded for successfully damaging opponents’ ships, not just being the lucky laser jockey who scores the final blow to take out a wounded enemy. This is important in a three player game where kill sniping could otherwise be a big concern; holding back while your opponents soften each other up will likely mean you’re missing out on a lot of scoring.

Have Fun!

I’ll be glad to hear any feedback, let me know what you think!

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    mike Says:

    Sounds like a fun variant! I’d like to try it soon.