What makes Vanguard hard to grok?

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Vanguard rules seem to take longer to stick. Not like KoW where you barely touch the rulebook in your second game. I’m always having to look up something.

Is it just that I don’t get enough games? I would know KoW pretty well if I had played it this much.

Is it that the rules are less intuitive or similar things vary slightly?

Could it be simplified? Could things like charging and running be untangled?

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I think that it’s because Vanguard is a resource management game and KOW is not. Micromanaging/optimizing activations, actions, and command points is the core game play for Vanguard where KOW is more about movement, angles, and positioning. Those are still present in Vanguard obviously, but then you add in all of the other stuff which KoW doesn’t have.


Vanguard has a lot more rules interactions and it has a lot less rules templating.

Like, look at how Knocked-Down affects everything, and can do so in a bajillion ways: movement, engagement, outnumbering, attack rolls, armor, line-of-sight, casualty removal, retaliation, fallback…

Depending on how the model gets Knocked-Down it may or may not be fatigued. Knock-Downs may result from getting 3+ hits or getting 1+ hits or getting 1+ wounds or a Speed test or a Nerve test. It can sometimes be cancelled on a bonus roll or a Nerve test or automatically with Power or by units just outright immune to it. It can prevent some friendly spells from targeting the model or some abilities being used by the model. It prevents any movement except when it doesn’t…

Whew! And that’s just rules related to Knocked-Down! Multiply that by every other mechanic and it’s a beast. And every time you face a new faction, you are potentially having to learn a bunch of new interactions.

All of that is fine - Vanguard is all about flavorful individual action which lends itself to simulation, a game where people can be bowled over by charging cavalry or overwhelmed by nightmarish terror, and those experiences should feel different. But it does take a game with relatively simple core mechanics and creates something a bit complex and fiddly.

If I had a time machine, I would go back a lobby for the Vanguard engine to be more templated.

I think a lot of rules interactions like Knocked-Down could be tightened up, all the different rules that have 2" or 3" ranges could be merged into 3", etc. Cans/can’ts of Engaged/Activated/Fatigued can be simplified, etc. Heck, there’s even an argument for removing Fatigue entirely and just using a single type of action currency.


“Rules templating” is a good phrase for it.

I quite like fatigue, would rather see power go.

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I can’t agree! Power is basically the Command Dice mechanic from Deadzone. They added that in 2nd edition and it added so much to the game. To be fair though, its a much more tightened rule set. If we would see a bit of that ‘thightening’ without removing core mechanics like power and fatigue, I’d be happy.

And that’s why I love it. I don’t want this to be a small scale KoW!


I think if you’re keeping either fatigue or power, you need to keep them both because of that key interaction between them. And I like them both (but I am a bit biased!).

But yeah some cleaning up for next edition could be a good idea. Like “power does these kinds of things” and “fatigue is these kinds of things” with hopefully not too much overlap

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As a system, it reminds me a bit of Deadzone v1 in terms of complexity.

You have fatigue/ force fatigue, knocked-down, nerve tests, power dice and modifiers which bring quite a bit of extra complexity to the core rules.

Some, I like, such as the power dice. Others I feel could be streamlined, such as fatigue, knocked down and certain modifiers where it’s tricky because it adds +1/-1 to the result rather than +1/-1 to the number of dice.

Something we made sure with Deadzone 2.0 was that all modifiers applied to the number of dice being rolled, to make sure there was no confusion at all. It’s the little details about Vanguard that can make it tricky to learn and figure out.

That said, once you have everything down after 3-5 games, it is a really good, tactical game and the scenarios are awesome, especially with the FAQ update, that is essential to play with. The game has done quite well at my club, although the emphasis is definitely now more on KoW than Vanguard with v3 being released, hoping the summer campaign makes use of both games.

The main thing I continually forget with the rules is to make Nerve tests after 50% casualties.


I love both Power and Fatigue, don’t get me wrong. Without either one, Vanguard becomes just yet another vanilla move-and-fight skirmish wargame. Both Power and Fatigue provide an essential resource management mini-game that generates an action economy and elevates the game significantly. But there’s probably an opportunity to merge/clean-up/simplify them.


Fair enough.
Small scale KoW is exactly what I was hoping for though.