As a club, we play an ever-changing, ever-growing number of tabletop games. Some are well-known staples, some are newcomers that recently riveted our attention. To give you some insight, we’re starting this irregular ‘Games We Play’ column where we’re going to present selected game systems that bring us joy. Let’s kick off with One Page Rules: Grimdark Future!
The contents of this post represent the author’s opinion and are not representative of the ITGC Berlin as a whole.
This looks familiar!
One Page Rules, as the name suggests, is a super simplifed (tabletop) ruleset. Even though it isn’t stated anywhere explicitly, OPR’s two flagship rulesets: Grimdark Future and Age of Fantasy cover two enormous tabletop systems created and maintained by Games Workshop (Warhammer 40k and Age of Sigmar) 😉 In this blog post we’ll focus on OPR: Grimdark future (we call it OPR: GDF for short).
With that context out the door, you might already understand what OPR: Grimdark Future looks like in practice. It is an alternative ruleset to be used with GW’s miniatures. One that is way simpler, easier to pick up by new players and requires less time investment to understand and to master.
In a nutshell, OPR: GDF is:
- a miniature-agnostic tabletop ruleset, but rules do exist for your 40k armies
- vastly simplified rules compared to 40k, so games go faster
- alternating activations, so players are constantly engaged
- units are more expensive in list building but weaponry is less deadly
But, you might ask, why have we decided to even consider switching from such an established and loved system as Warhammer 40,000?
Opinion statement – and it’s hot!
As it often is the case, it all is because of passion. We’re passionate about tabletop and about the amazing setting GW has built over the years. What we’ve grown disenchanted about are the rules that GW sells to us.
To quote one of our members:
“A lot of people move over to GDF from 40k out of frustration for various reasons and at the moment it feels like a total liberation.“
If you know 40k, you know about the rules bloat and codex creep. If you don’t, a short version is that the game rules are overly complex and armies you play often are at a disadvantage for several years until their ruleset (codex) gets an update for the latest game edition (9th ed as of writing this post). In any case, there are tons of Youtube videos out there that spell it out in a more constructive manner than me here, so go and look them up if you feel so inclined 🙂
There’s yet another reason why many of us opted to forego 40k in favour of OPR: GDF and this one is a bit tricky to explain. We feel that 40k’s competitive spirit permeated the whole manner of playing the game. While in theory there’s the open and narrative formula, in reality 99% of the games we’ve played are matched play games, not unlike the one you see in ITC tournaments. Matches are, well, matched, everything is supposed to be symmetrical, not to accidentally give one of the players advantage.
While there’s definitely time and place for competitiveness, we feel that not everything has to be optimised, not every miniature has to be looked at its point per wound or competitiveness angle. We have minis we favour due to their sculpt or lore, we want to recreate famous scenarious, we want the spectacle we saw in art or miniature dioramas to unfold on the tabletop. We don’t want to be shoehorned into optimised “meta” picks just to have a fighting chance.
To sum it up: while we feel that GW is a great miniature company, we believe it is not a good rules company. Because of this, OPR: GDF is a really attractive alternative to us right now and we decided to take the plunge.
With that said, who knows what will happen to OPR: GDF in the future? Let’s finish with an open-ended quote from one of our members:
“Will we be able to keep up the friendly “do what you want, houserules, don’t be so serious” atmosphere in the long run, even after we played many games and got our head around the nuances in the rules and armies?
Or will that competitive touch that nowadays comes inevitably with 40k eventually leak into this “fresh” system as well?”
Why do we play OPR: GDF?
I’ve asked several of our members about their experience with OPR: GDF. Interspersed are pictures of their OPR: GDF armies.
Three 1000pt GDF forces: Alien Hives (Tyranids), Robot Legions (Necrons), Battle Brothers (Space Marines)
I play OPR because I want a rulesytem that let’s me enjoy good games with my miniatures rather than stressing me out with poorly written, ever changing, unnecessary details.
My top three advantages of OPR are:
A: the “bring any miniature you like from any system/manufacturer, and have a good time” approach.
B: The simple yet elegant (and efficient! And tasteful!) core game engine.
C: The freedom to get any miniature I like, while knowing I will get good opportunities to also put it on the table to actually play if/whenever I want to (eg “no bad choice” within an army)
I play GDF because it has streamlined rules and it’s super balanced. I play guard in 40k and it’s one of the worst army there and since I like competitive games for me losing just because my army roster sucks and my tactics can’t help much the outcome of my game it’s very very frustrating. So far I had 2 games of GDF and both ended up with just 1 point difference. Bonus point: you can play whatever miniature in OPR, you can play for very cheap money if you want. I play only 40k or Kill Team but I’m planning to start Kings of War (or Age of Fantasy Regiments from OPR :P) soon.
2000pts of Orc Marauders
I come from playing 40k as my only game system so I am a slave to what GW decides to do. 9th edition is geared way too much to the competitive section for my liking. The continuous removal of fun, random rules in every new Ork codex is bothering me a lot. In OPR: GDF the simplified rules also leave no room for much randomness.
But here I can be free, I can bring all the fluffy, silly and bad lists I want. Right now it feels like a total liberation to play a system that does not have the weight and seriousness of a game like 40k attached to it.
Also: say goodbye to leaning back and relaxing during a game: Alternating activations makes you live the battle in a whole new way, with action from start to finish.
750pt game: Plague Brothers (Havoc Brothers Disciples) vs Prime Brothers
I was disenchanted by GW games which is what I usually played before. I am in this hobby mainly for its narrative and visual aspects. I love painting, and if I play, I want to do so with painted armies, surrounded by a pretty terrain. With 40k I would have to do my homework hours before the game – a time I wouldn’t really have, or would rather spend doing something else. This prep aspect also caused me stress, because I’d feel like at school, before a test. I studied, so now I have to do well, otherwise I ‘failed’, right? OPR: GDF is in start contrast with that. I understood the rules in 10 minutes, and after 15 I already started recommending the ruleset to others.
What I like most about OPR: GDF? It’s super easy to understand and follow through the game. I want to have a fun time when playing, not worry about tons of extra rules.
I also like how the system is so barebones that you can easily add extra rules to the game when you want to. For example, if a vehicle is destroyed, the model remains on the table as an extra obstacle. In 40k there’s so much rules already that you really wouldn’t want to add anything more on top.
The ambiguous rules of GDF also mean it is not a very competitive game. The main rule is just ‘agree with your opponent what makes sense and sounds the most fun’. So both players usually share the understanding that we’re just playing the game for fun and to have a cool story. In short: the simple rules of grimdark future encourage relaxed, story-focused play, which is the type of game i enjoy the most.
And despite the simple rules the units feel distinct, there still is ludonarative harmony – units and rules FEEL like you’d expect them to feel.
Hope all of this sounds enticing? Let’s get into the meat (or tofu) and potatoes!
Sometimes it’s good to stay somewhere and sometimes it’s just fun to set sail to new horizons…
Sad that I am getting into Grimdark Future as is an easy/approachable alternative to the 40k universe.
I like the simpleness but practical rules, I find the game very dynamic (an action per player) and I see the armies being overall well balanced. The biggest advantage in my opinion is I don’t have to fear my minis becomin worthless soon or, going constantly FAQs, updates, and new books hunting!
Come and join us to roll some dice for (or against) the Havoc Gods!
What do I need to play?
Borrowed from onepagerules.com. All resources listed below are free:
- Core Rules – all the rules you need to play the game on a single page
- Army Books – army books for all of the factions available in the game
- Basic Rulebook – beginner’s guide that explains the rules more thoroughly
- Battlescribe files – Army books translated in battlescribe application for easy list building
More information here – https://onepagerules.com/portfolio/grimdark-future/.
- any ones you own! yes, OPR: GDF is an miniature-agnostic tabletop system. There are certain pointers as to base sizes, but in general you can use anything. Easiest way to start, though, is to use Warhammer 40k miniatures
- d6 dice (several, no need for dozens)
- tape measure (inches)
How do I play with you?
Join our Discord’s #one-page-rules channel and let us know you wanna play 🙂 We’ll help you out: do a demo game and suggest where to start.