Neutral Items - Version 1

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skyscraper's picture
Neutral Items - Version 1

Hi Tried, and everyone.

I posted a while ago an idea about an optional rule for Neutral Items. In the next post is a proposed first version for rules that could be used for Neutral Items; and in the third post, the Neutral Items themseves.

I'd be glad for comments and feedback about the very usability of such rules; and/or about the rules themselves; and/or about the Neutral Items; and/or anything else that comes to mind, including additional Neutral Items if you have more ideas. If this idea ends up in the drawer of unworkable ideas, it's okay; however if we manage to make something of it, then all the better!

skyscraper's picture


Neutral items are items that are not equipped on a creature like regular items, but are rather placed on the battle map where they can be used by or interact with any creature of any warband.

The purpose of neutral items is to add game options, and also tactical map locations.
Neutral Items are not part of the default game assumption: they need to be allowed into a game through a specific inclusion either by all players accepting them into their game for a friendly game, or by the tournament organizers including them into the tournament rules for a tournament.

Neutral Items - Warband Building

  • A list of eligible Neutral Items and a predetermined number of Neutral Items (default: one per player) is provided in advance of the game.
  • Each player brings the predetermined number of Neutral Items to the game from the list of eligible Neutral Items.
  • Each player reveals his selected Neutral Items at the same time that he reveals his warband.
  • Neutral items have zero cost for warband building purposes.

Neutral Items - Set-up

  • Neutral Items are placed on the battle map during the setup step, after the player who selects sides has selected his side, but before creatures are placed.
  • Neutral Items may be placed on any non-wall and non-pit squares on the map. Terrain in squares where Neutral Items are placed remains unchanged.
  • Except where noted otherwise, Neutral Items occupy one square and do not cost extra movement.
  • Neutral items cannot be moved by creatures, except as noted otherwise.
  • Map tokens are used to represent Neutral Items on the map during play. They can be, for example, coins, cardboard pieces, game tokens, or the like. Ideally, the underlying map terrain remains visible and creatures can be placed over the tokens, so flat game tokens that are not too light as to be accidentally blown off are preferable.

Placement options
a) Airdrop

  • Airdrop tokens of size 1 inch or smaller, distinguishable from each other but of similar size and weight, are selected to represent the Neutral Items for the Airdrop, for example coins, game tokens, or tightly packed paper pellets (we want them to bounce off the battle map a bit).
  • The player who did not choose the map holds the tokens approximately 45 cm (18 inches) above the center of the battle map in his closed fist, palm facing downwards. He then opens his fingers to release the tokens and let them fall on the battle map in random locations.
  • If two or more tokens end in the same square, or if at least one token ends outside the battle map, the Airdrop is started over for these tokens.
  • Airdrop tokens that fall in pit or wall terrain, or in a start area, are each placed in the nearest legal position by the player that brought the Neutral Item.
  • In case a token straddles one or more squares equally, the player that brought the Neutral Item selects in which of these squares to place it.
  • Map tokens can then replace the Airdrop token, if different Airdrop and Map tokens are being used to represent the Neutral Items.

b) Tactical

  • The player who did not choose the battle map selects who places all his Neutral Items first; then the other player places all his Neutral Items. The setup step then continues as usual with creature placement.
  • Neutral Items need to be placed in the half-portion of the map of the opponent of the player who places, at least [3 squares for full maps] or [2 squares for half maps] from map edges and from start and victory areas.

c) Inverse tactical

  • The player who did not choose the battle map selects who places all the opponent’s Neutral Items first; then the other player places all his opponent’s Neutral Items. The setup step then continues as usual with creature placement.
  • Neutral Items need to be placed in the half-portion of the map of the opponent of the player who places, at least [3 squares for full maps] or [2 squares for half maps] from map edges and from victory areas.

skyscraper's picture


Name: each neutral item has a name.
Placement: some Neutral Items have further placement prerequisites in addition to the above common prerequisites. The exception-based rule system of DDM applies as usual.
Effect: this defines the Neutral Item in-game effect.

Special: Each player brings one Flagstone to the game.
Placement: Instead of the above Neutral Item Set-up step, each player places the other player's Flagstone at least 5 squares away from an edge of the map.
Effect: A creature can equip it's warband's Flagstone - and only that one - from an adjacent square or drop it in an adjacent square, at any time during its turn. A Flagstone does not count towards the limit of items carried by a creature. A creature carring a flagstone loses Flight, Burrow and Phasing. A Dominated creatures cannot be equipped with a Flagstone. A creature equipped with a Flagstone that is destroyed or removed from the battlemap, that teleports, or that becomes Dazed, Helpless, Petrified or Stunned, automatically drops the Flagstone in an adjacent square. A creature that ends a round in its start area while equipped with a Flagstone scores 25% of the game’s Victory Points (e.g. 50 in a 200 point game). A Flagstone of a warband that scored Victory Points in this manner is removed from the game.

Placement: At the end of the Neutral Item set-up step, the player that brought the Grove as part of his warband places up to two additional Groves on the battle map. Each Grove should be adjacent another Grove Neutral Item.
Effect: Grove squares count as forest terrain.

Healing Font
Effect: A creature adjacent to a healing font may heal 20 HP as an attack action.

Hidden Treasure
Effect: Hidden Treasure counts as a shared victory area.

Placement: Instead of the above Neutral Item Set-up step, the player that brought a Palisade can choose to install up to three Palisade Map Tokens adjacent to each other and adjacent to his start area.
Effect: Palisade squares count as wall terrain.

Portal Terrain

Placement: During the Neutral Item Set-up step, two Portal Terrain tokens are used for each Portal Terrain Neutral Item card. Placement is accomplished as usual, but both tokens must be placed or airdropped instead of a single one.
Effect: A creature occupying a square of Portal Terrain during its turn can move to the nearest square of Portal Terrain, at a cost of 4 spaces of movement.

Placement: At the end of the Neutral Item set-up step, the player that brought the Rubble as part of his warband places up to three additional Rubbles on the battle map. Each Rubble should be adjacent another Rubble Neutral Item.
Effect: Rubble squares count as difficult terrain.

Placement: At the end of the Neutral Item set-up step, the player that brought the Stream as part of his warband places up to four additional Streams on the battle map. Each Stream should be adjacent another Stream Neutral Item.
Effect: Stream squares count as water terrain.

Tactical Map
Effect: If a single player has at least one active creature adjacent to a Tactical Map at end of round, he can shift up to 2 of his creatures 1 square each.

Effect: A Volcano counts as difficult and fire terrain. Adjacent squares are smoke terrain.

Weapon Cache

Effect: Any creature that starts its turn adjacent to a Weapon Cache has +10 damage on its next {m} or {r} attack if it hits. The Weapon Cache is usable once per creature per battle.

skyscraper's picture

Notes on Usage

Neutral Items should be selected depending on the type of game that is desired. Consideration should be had towards their possible implications before preparing the list of eligible Neutral Items for a game or tournament.

Some Neutral Items are more likely to be about equally advantageous for both players (although, they can – and probably will – arguably favor one warband over another, if only slightly):
- Weapon Cache
- Healing Font
- Tactical Map
- Portal
- Rubble

Some terrain provides advantage more clearly to a specific type of warband:
- Volcano
- Stream
- Hidden Treasure
- Grove

Some Neutral Items offer greater control over their placement:
- Palisades

Some Neutral Items include changes the game parameters:
- Flagstone

One way to add variety to games, is to randomly roll for two from among all Neutral Items, except Palisade and Flagstone; and Airdrop them onto the battle map.

Another use for Neutral Items becomes apparent with warbands that include creatures that gain advantage from a certain type of terrain (e.g. forest, fire, water, …). If players are allowed to bring at least one Neutral Item to the game, those warbands might then still benefit from this terrain even though another map is used, be that the opponent’s selected map, a tournament imposed map, or a randomly selected map.

Flagstones add another mini-game into the game. Some creatures might be particularly advantageous for moving Flagstones.

Palisades can be considered in games where one wants to limit Alpha Nukes in particular. They will not stop them, but might mitigate them. Of course, the allowance of a palisade into a game must be made clear in advance as it might influence warband building.

Reckless's picture

These ideas look good to me Skyscraper!

skyscraper's picture

Edit to Flag item to add a precision to Helpless, Stunned or Dazed creatures, and also creatures that teleport, that drop a Flag automatically.

I also added a few notes on item usage for Flags and Palisades, that seem pretty obvious, but that I include for the sake of completeness.

skyscraper's picture

I've had an additional thought. How about adding the obligation that the Flag is furthermore a Cursed Lodestone? That way, you can't fly or burrow with it, and the creature carrying it has speed -1. This makes it more challenging to carry it to the Flag back into the start area.

I could rename the item a Flagstone.


And, would this item be interesting in your opinion? Is it an option that you think would add to the game to make it interesting, for example by forcing additional strategies and making the game more dynamic as you try to move your flag, and prevent the opponent from moving his, thereby you have some moving targets on the battlefield?

Thenameless's picture

Your flag idea certainly adds a new element to the game. You should not allow flight or burrow while carrying the flag as you've suggested above. I'd be happy to give this a try.

skyscraper's picture

Great, let me know how it goes.

I changed the rules a bit to incorporate the idea of the Lodestone properties, to change the equip to a minor action (the drop remains an minor action also), and to specify that the Flagstone breaks the item per creature limit rule (but you can't carry both a Flagstone and a Lodestone).

I also modified the Neutral Item rule to disallow creatures from ending a move on a Neutral Item, that way a big opponent can't squat an opponent's item.

skyscraper's picture

Testing will help determine whether we want to re-allow flying and burrowing; and also whether we want to disallow passing through walls (or, rather, that a creature passing through a wall drops the Flagstone). I.e. maybe it's just cool to have the Flagstone be flown into the start area. I think it simplifies things a bit too much myself, but we'll see.

skyscraper's picture

After a bit of testing, I've edited the Flagstone conditions. As initially written, the rules made it too difficult to carry the Flagstone back into a start area.

- the Flagstone is placed by the opponent at least 5 squares away from an edge of the map
- it can be picked up or dropped as a free action at any time during a creature's turn (such as, in the middle of a move action)
- I've removed the Flagstone = Lodestone restriction
- However, creatures lose Flight, Burrow and Phasing when equipped with a Flagstone.

I'll do some more testing when the opportunity presents itself and I'll eventually amend these rules if further change appears required. If any of you happen to test this rule, please let me know.