The Power Of Steam

In the greater scheme of things, I only started collecting and painting steampunk models recently. Having jumped into several steampunk Kickstarters in 2013 and 2014, I started working on a set of rules which would allow decent sized games but be reasonably quick to learn. My previous rules systems have been more complex with multiple actions and different weapons requiring different number of actions to use, this time I wanted something much more simple.

By September 2015, enough models were painted and the first draft of the rules were ready. After a few tweaks here and there and some heavy Excel work, they are in a decent enough state to share more widely.

So this is it, here is Steam Wars.


The Rules
Usual wargaming conventions apply with Steam Wars, it is nothing groundbreakingly new, just a set of fast play rules built around small units. Typically, a unit consists of up to six wounds worth of models.

There is a roll to hit, a roll to wound and infantry models get a save from ranged attacks.

The model profiles have been kept as simple as possible, a model has a movement value, a resilience value and a number of wounds. Other model profile values have been done away with and most actions such as ranged or melee attacks require a 4+ to hit to everything.

All models get two actions when activated, they may move, shoot, fight in melee, or perform a number of other actions.

The Models
Units are divided into several categories; Core, Elite, Artillery, Vehicles and Heroes. The addition of Heroes was implemented at the end of the main playtesting and allows players to create a special army commander to lead their force.

Force Creation
You can create your own unit profiles and army list using the available spreadsheet, there is a sample British army list provided to get you started.


With infantry models, there is a threshold value that defines a unit as either core or elite, any unit with an average cost greater than 21 points is deemed to be elite.

When building a force, the spreadsheet prompts the user to maintain a balance of models, there is a minimum of two core units in a force, for each core unit another unit slot is available for Elites, Support and Vehicles.

This little project would not have been possible without the input and general playtestingness of Mr Steinberg and Joken. Matt Lyon created the excellent Steam Wars logo and the status counters.

There are loads of really good steampunk models available although I do also like to mix in some fantasy models where their appearance seems appropriate.

The models used in our games have come from the following:
Meridian Miniatures
Olleys Armies
Ramshackle Games
Black Pyramid
Curious Constructs/Zinge Industries
Privateer Press
Spartan Games (now only available on eBay and stockists with leftovers)

meridian-militiaBritish Militia from Meridian Miniatures