I am working on house rules for leaders and wanted to get the communities’ feedback. These are intended for the Global '39 game, but can be used in any variant. These are also based on a D12 system. My goal was to make leaders potentially decisive, without making them overpowered.
The nexus of leaders are their special abilities. All leaders functionally operate the same way. Leaders have at least one icon displayed, which represents a certain special ability. Leaders have at least one special ability, but can have up to three. All leaders have the option of retreating defending units after the first complete round of combat without sustaining another round of attacking rolls. Also, allied units contained in a territory with a leader can be “attached” to a leader’s army. In such cases, allied units can attack simultaneously under the banner of one leader, benefiting from that leader’s abilities. Only one leader at a time can lead an army into battle and delegate his abilities, although subordinate leaders can occupy the same territory or accompany the advancing army. If an army containing a leader is completely destroyed, that leader is removed from play. During Combat movements, leaders move normally with the units under their command. However, during Non-Combat movements, Leaders are not limited by movement like other units. During Non-Combat movements leaders can be moved to any number of land territories or sea zones that are connected and in supply. Nations have a certain “officer reserve pool”, which limits how many leaders can be in play at any one time. The following are the special abilities available:
Armored Spearhead Doctrine –-> While attacking, all armor receives a (+2) to attack the first round of combat
Assault Infantry Doctrine —> All infantry get a (+1) to attack on the first round of combat.
Defensive Doctrine —> All units get a (+1) on defense the first round of combat.
Precision Artillery --> All Artillery get a (+2) on attack and defense on the first round of combat.
Air Warfare Doctrine —> During dog-fighting, fighters get a (+1) during the first round of combat.
Close Air Support Emphasis—> Tactical bombers get a (+1) on the first round of combat.
Naval Warfare Tactician —> Able to command and provide tactical bonuses to naval units.
Casualty Minimization —> Revive any 1 unit at the end of the battle. If losses exceed 6, revive 2.
Blitzkrieg Specialist —> Infantry and artillery blitz when paired with any vehicle.
Supply Guru —> Being out of supply does not affect units under command.
Industrial Genius —> If leader is on industrial complex at collect income phase, receive 1 extra IPC.
Forced March—> Choose any 2 units after combat is resolved to strategically relocate anywhere within supply.
Human Wave Tactics —> Choose 1 friendly infantry as a casualty immediately (no return fire if defending). Choose and remove any 1 enemy ground unit.
Defense in Depth —> On defense, function as if a fortress is present (I play with this fortress rule: each fortress present is able to ignore 2 hits and give up to 5 infantry a +1 on defense. Fortresses can be repaired like other structures, but are destroyed if they receive 2 hits).
Gambler—> Number displayed is number of re-rolls authorized for friendly units or against enemy units (friendly units that miss can re-roll, or enemy units that hit have to re-roll).
Deceptive Redeployment —> Before combat begins, redeploy up to 2 units from anywhere within supply to participate in battle on defense or offense.
Zealot —> Ignore 1 hit per battle.
Selective Targeting—> Choose any 1 enemy unit as a hit during a battle.
Expeditious Industry–> Build 1 extra unit on territory containing leader.
Suppression Fire --> One of the chosen casualties per battle is not able to return fire.
Additionally, certain nations have unique abilities:
Germany: Mobile Warfare Doctrine —> Mechanized infantry and armor attack and defend at a (+1) for the duration of the battle
Italy: German Cooperation —> When paired with any German unit on a 1-1 basis, Italian infantry get +1 to attack or defense the first round of combat. Bonus applies even when led by a German leader but cannot stack.
USA: Strategic Bombing —> Strategic bombers receive a +2 when conducting a strategic bombing run.
UK and Commonwealth: Colonial Draft --> When located in any original territory regardless if industrial complex is present, ability to place 1 purchased infantry with leader per turn.
France: Sabotage Specialist—> Choose an enemy unit. That unit cannot fire for 1 round.
USSR: Partisan Organizer —> Create 1 Partisan unit up to 2 spaces away in enemy held territory per turn.
Japan: Bonzai Charge —> Infantry receive a +2 on attack the first round of combat.
I created the idea for leaders from a variety of sources, including the Struggle for Europe and Asia game, HBG, and Hearts of Iron 3. I like the idea of having information displayed on a leader unit card (about 1" x 1"), which contains an image of a historical leader, national flag, and icons of special abilities. I printed these images, glued them to a thin plastic sheet, and cut them out individually. These leader units can then be placed in a card stand. I also attempted to emphasize certain leaders for their exceptional quality, giving them multiple abilities. For example, Patton has the following abilities: Armored Spearhead Doctrine, Zealot, and Blitzkrieg Specialist. Manstein has Mobile Warfare Doctrine, Casualty Minimization, and Defense in Depth.
My concern is that I am saturating the game with too many abilities. However, I also wanted to represent minor leaders with non-combat bonuses. I also like the idea of giving national flavor, to reflect the specialty of certain nations historically. I have play-tested these some, and they seem to have the right balance of impact without being overpowered. Right now, 96 leaders are in my variant with many neutral and minor nations represented. Appreciate any feedback, positive or negative, in improving these rules.