|Building Brick Combat System|
|No. of Players||2+|
|Session Time||A few hours|
|Essential Books||Main Rulebook, 2019 Edition|
But just because the rules are playable this time, don't feel obligated to follow them.
-- Mike Rayhawk
BrikWars is a tabletop wargame for "plastic construction bricks" (though of course that almost always means LEGO bricks). Its stated purpose is "to provide a safe and comfortable setting in which groups of cute and friendly minifigs can mutilate and slaughter one another." In particular, the game is meant to be rules-light and fast-paced, with an emphasis on being able to build and fight with anything and having a good time destroying things.
Unlike most wargames, BrikWars is heavily focused on the players building (heh) a narrative as they go. While dice and stat cards may dictate a particular outcome, players are free (and expected) to massage the outcome if it makes things more fun. It takes a rather laid-back attitude towards the rules even as it presents them, and pokes fun at the usual wargaming tendency to cling to the rules. This is exemplified in "The Rule of Fudge", which reads "Fudge everything your opponents will let you get away with," and "What I Say Goes," in which players with conflicting views of how things "really" went state their positions and roll off to see who is right. People who would abuse the looseness of the system to "win" at the expense of everyone else are probably the wrong people to play BrikWars with (see: That Guy).
The basic system of BrikWars is intentionally simple and flexible. Each player's units move and make actions during a turn. During this time, enemy units with actions left over from the previous turn may respond (if they haven't already). Appropriate amounts and types of dice are rolled for the particular action being attempted -- a single d6 for one minifig stabbing another with a knife, or 3d10 for a massive mine detonating under a tank, for example.
A unit is defined by several statistics:
- Size in inches. A unit's Size functions as the base number of Hit Points and also governs the amount and size of weapons it can fire in a turn. When the unit's armor roll is exceeded by damage, the unit loses an inch in "Effective Size", which reduces its ability to move or fire weapons.
- Structure Level. A unit's Structure Level determines how many d10s it rolls against sources of damage (or a single d6 for fleshy units with SL 1/2). It cannot be larger than 5 (and in practice, games tend to be more fun when SL is kept to 4 or lower) or the unit's Size.
- Move in inches. Units can be limited to ground movement, or capable of flight, or maneuverable in varying degrees. A skilled Pilot can coax a few more Inches of movement out of a vehicle with Stunt Driving.
- Skill in terms of die size, which is rolled against the Use Rating of whatever Action the creation wants to attempt. A creature's Mind can be modified to be able to perform multiple Actions per turn, or have bonuses to performing certain Actions, or have limitations in what kinds of actions it can perform.
Since the point of BrikWars is to cause destruction, units need to carry (or have built-in) weapons. Weapons are defined by a similar set of statistics:
- Size in inches. A weapon's Size determines everything else about it, with the exact scaling depending on what kind of weapon it is.
- Range in inches, for ranged weapons.
- Use Rating, which the using minifig has to roll against and exceed to hit the target. Most misses can just be ignored, but for launchers (which tend to have the highest Use Ratings), it can be more fun to let the (usually explosive) projectile land nearby and cause unintended mayhem.
- Damage, which determines the number and type of dice which are rolled against the target's Armor.
There's more stuff, like heroes, medics, mechanics, and fire, but it's all based on this framework.
The major strength of the system is that it provides a framework for players to craft rules for personal creations. For BrikWarriors interested in roughly balancing forces, it also generates point costs, though (per the philosophy) they're intended to be more like guidelines for the size of a game than a hard-and-fast basis for competitive play.
BrikWars began as a wargame made in 1995 called "Lego Wars" and "Lego Wars II". When The LEGO Company objected to the use of "LEGO" in a product not made by them, BrikWars 1995 was born. It was actually completed and formally "published" in 1997, starting a tend of the year in the name lagging behind the year of release.
In 1998, the rules were slightly revised and converted from a flat text document into HTML. It incorporated new rules for technology levels (with the perspective of who can use what weapons) and campaigning.
More revisions came in 2000, which actually had 2 releases -- the first as a document in the spring, and the second (revised but incomplete) as a set of web pages in the summer.
BrikWars 2001 was created in 2001 but released somewhat later (and received errata in 2004). It was much more complicated than the editions that came before, and remains the most complicated edition to ever released, incorporating rules for magic, communication delays between sending and receiving orders, and vehicle movement based on physics and vector math. It was an attempt to make a wargame so complicated that even the most rules-dedicated gamer could only hope to play the game by not following all of the rules (in line with the philosophy).
Mike underestimated the power of a neckbeard's dedication to the rules, so he gave up and made the next editions easier. After making the super-rules-light (as in, the entire ruleset fits on two pages) QuikWars in 2004, the 2005 edition of BrikWars was created and released (in 2006). No technology levels or vector math in this beast. It's undergone a few revisions since, most notably the inclusion of a new chapter for horses and horse-like things (e.g. motorcycles, dinosaurs, and dragons) in 2008.
A 2010 version based on the 2005 edition was released in 2016. It contained rules for more advanced weapons like machine guns and flamethrowers, a (simpler than 2001) magic system, rules for field hazards like minefields, and a few more common animals and units pre-generated from the unit creation system.
The current 2019 version, infused with Patreon-based vigor, resulted in a slight streamlining of the combat system and an extreme unstreamlining of the campaign system.