When discussing plans for our upcoming Gaming Weekend at the end of the month, we realized we might have some difficulty coming up with the "smaller" game. Last time we ended up doing a 2v2 match with our friend John. This time, John will be out of town on our appointed weekend, and we don't really want to play one-on-one games leaving an odd man out. While our Big Game might end up being 2 on 1, like last time, we all would like a chance to run our own armies and be on our own. Leaving us with a conundrum since Warhammer isn't exactly designed to be three player without alliances.
To make deployment zones even, this would be on a 4 x 7 table, though 4x6 would work too, with Deployment 2 and 3 having slightly smaller zones. This setup should work a bit better at preventing one person from being ganged up on.
With deployment zones determined, the first BRB rule to come into question is deployment. Ron isn't sure it will be balanced if one person is deploying their entire army after the other two have deployed. His proposed alternative is to do a unit-by-unit deployment like for Fantasy, with the first person done getting a bonus on the roll for first turn.
The concern with the BRB Deployment is that the last deploying person would gain the obvious benefit that they can position themselves in response to two people. However, they would also have to weather two rounds of shooting before getting to move at all. Alternatively, deploying unit by unit would prevent completely reactionary deployments, and no one would know who would be going first, second and third. I'm not sure there's a right answer to this (at least without several play tests), so it may be open for debate until game time.
A three person game presents a few other problems beyond just deployment. First being, since the game is intended to prevent one person from being left to sit around while the other two play, what happens if one person is tabled? The obvious choice is to have the game end, either immediately or at the end of that player or game turn. Victory points would be tabulated from that point. Having the game end if someone is tabled could also encourage the two dominant players to turn on each other to prevent the game from ending. Whoever is leading in VPs would obviously look to end the game, but the other two would move to keep the game going.
Another issue is what to do about combat and shooting into combat. The second is easier solved; we decided there would be no shooting into combat (in part because of the allocation nightmare it would be), expecting that the unengaged force would shoot higher priority targets and wait for the combat to sort itself out and then shoot the winner.
The question of how assaults would work is a bit trickier (and we haven't decided yet how it will work). Namely, in Player 3's turn where that player has no models in a combat, should a combat involving only Players 1 and 2 be fought? My argument against having all combats fought in each player turn is that it potentially means someone has to have their units survive two rounds of combat before they can react with the rest of their forces. At the same time, you can make the argument that such assaults are a tactical consideration each player should be making - speed bumps might need to last two rounds of combat rather than the normal one.
These are just a few of the issues I'm sure might arise, so we'd love to hear from you; do you have any thoughts or experiences with a 3 player game we should consider?