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Bill Bennett
United States
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Why did the painter paint the wall for free? Because it was on the house.
The Doctor Who Miniatures Game are a set of rules and supplemental materials for playing games with miniatures and scenery on the tabletop that evoke the spirit of the Dr. Who universe. While distributed by the author, Graeme Dawson, for free from his website, they are easily the equal or better of rule sets published for profit in the quality of their production. They are lavishly illustrated, well-organized and written in a clear, conversational manner. The main rules of play are covered in about 12 pages (including a Table of Contents that is detailed enough to work as an Index); this is followed by about 20 pages that give the statistics and rules for various Heroes and Villains; next are about 6 pages on scenarios, describing how to create your own scenarios, how to determine victory and four complete sample scenarios; it ends with some brief notes on the design by the author.

The game is basically a skirmish-level miniatures wargame between a Hero player and a Monster player. Each turn begins by determining initiative (each player rolls a die and high roller goes first, ties go to whomever did not have initiative in the previous turn). On his turn a player may activate a number of models equal to half of the total number of models on his side. This number of activations may be modified in some ways, most commonly by using models designated with the Leader ability (which specifies a number of models they can activate for free along with their own activation within a certain radius).

When activated, each model can perform two actions, such as movement, aiming at a target, making a ranged attack, or a host of other special actions. While actions can be taken in any order, models may normally only take one shooting action per turn. What sorts of things constitute a special action (like trying to pick a lock, operate a complicated machine, etc.) and which things do not require an action (opening an unlocked door, pushing a button, etc.) are given examples to guide the players in the face of almost infinite possibilities.

To perform some actions, you may have to pass an ability test. A feat needing Strength or Agility requires a roll of 1d6 against the appropriate characteristic value of the model. If two models are competing (such as one trying to hold a door closed, while his enemy tries to open it), then both models roll 1d6, add their ability value to the total and compare. Situations that require a test of Intelligence or Morale are done by rolling 2d6 and seeking to get equal to or less than the target value.

There is a list of common weapons from low-tech spears to high-tech laser rifles with which models can be armed. Combat is fairly simple, each model is given a chance to hit with its weapons on a 1d6 roll. While shooting constitutes an action, melee combat is free and performed by every model in contact with an enemy during a turn. Basically, if a model takes a movement action that leads to enemy base contact, then a melee is fought between those models immediately. Any models that have not fought during the player’s activations (those that are engaged from previous turns) will fight their melees at the end of the current turn. Models can break-off from melee, but at the risk of free attacks from all enemy models in contact.
Once hits are made in either ranged combat or melee, a simple formula (comparing the attacker’s weapon Strength vs. the defender’s Defense characteristic) is used to find the target number for a 1d6 roll to determine whether the model is wounded. Most models can only take 1 hit, but special characters and large monsters can have multiple hits.

There are some rules for using vehicles, though they are fairly basic. As vehicles are rarely used in Doctor Who stories, these light rules should be satisfactory when needed.

One of the aspects of the rules that make them stand out is the Invention rules. In many scenarios, the Doctor or other scientists are trying to invent a way to deal with an alien threat. The Invention rules determine how long it takes (by requiring an Intelligence test to get started, then by accumulating a certain total by rolling 1d6 per turn thereafter) and what sort of invention results (by rolling a die and consulting a couple of tables). Inventions can be weapons, jamming devices or the discovery of some kind of critical weakness (which will have specific game effects).

The scenario rules have a list of general objectives that result in victory points, such as controlling territory, eliminating unique enemy models and reducing the enemy force to half or less of its starting strength. Individual scenarios have additional special objectives that gain victory points for one or both sides. At the end of the game, victory point totals are compared to determine the winner. A table in the rules gives a level of victory based on point total difference.

What I find particularly enjoyable about these rules is how evocative of a Dr. Who story they are. While there is often a lot of fighting and shooting going on, this is rarely the most important key to winning a scenario. A lot of sci-fi skirmish miniature games are all about super-powerful weapons, but this is not at all the case with the Doctor Who Miniature Game. As described above, the ability of the Doctor or other characters to invent things is often the key to victory for the Hero player.

There is a comprehensive glossary of special abilities used by the characters in the game, which contribute a lot to the atmosphere. For example, there are some of Doctor Who’s companions that are neither helpful in inventing or combat, but have the “Screamer” ability, allowing the possibility of a friendly nearby model getting a free activation when alien monsters are approaching. Some models also have rules specific to that character, such as the Master’s rule “You have tricked us!”: if the Monster player’s forces are reduced to half strength or less, the Master becomes worth 1 victory point to their side if eliminated by them or 2 victory points to the Hero player if he is captured by them. This rule is a wonderfully simple way to simulate the way the Master often manipulates alien forces into attacking to achieve his own ends.

I have also used these rules for a game that wasn't in the Doctor Who setting, a sci-fi skirmish scenario where the crew of a spaceship had to deal with war droids, space pirates and the local space patrol. It works well as a generic sci-fi skirmish game, if you are looking for one that emphasizes a light role-playing element over shoot-'em-up combat.

If you’re looking to find a set of rules that evokes the Doctor Who universe and whose rules feature simple mechanics and storytelling qualities, then I highly recommend the Doctor Who Miniatures Game for your tabletop miniature games. And for a self-published book distributed for free, it is of surprisingly excellent quality in production and editing.
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Ben Boersma
Clyde North
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I think this is implemented rather well in the game to be honest.

Read the rules and you will be pleasantly surprised.

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