This post may come as a bit of a surprise. Why tweak the Parry rule? It works fine as it is. Well, not exactly.
The first problem with parry is that warriors with a higher Weapon Skill are more likely to have their attacks negated. When you have a higher Weapon Skill than your opponent, you hit on a 3 making it much easier for an opponent with parry to roll a 4, 5, or 6 and parry that attack. This leads to some pretty unrealistic situations and doesn't make a lot of sense.
Secondly, the rules for parry are really fiddly and it is one of the more complicated rules in the game. Let's look at the original rule from the Mordheim Rulebook:
Bucklers are small shields which offer no increase to the armour saving throw, but allow you to parry attacks. Swords are also used to parry enemy attacks.
When an opponent scores a hit, warriors equipped with bucklers or swords may try to parry the blow.
Roll a D6. If the score is higher than the number your opponent rolled to hit, the buckler or sword has parried the strike. Note that it is therefore impossible to parry a blow which scored a 6 on the roll to hit.
A buckler or sword may only parry one blow per hand-to-hand combat phase. A parried blow is ignored and has no effect. If your opponent scored several hits, you will have to try to beat the highest score (if the highest score is a 6, you automatically lose the chance of parrying that opponent’s attacks).
If a model is fighting against several opponents, it may only parry the strike from the enemy who makes the first hit(s) (ie, the attacking model with the highest Initiative). In the case of equal Initiative characteristics roll a dice to decide who strikes first.
If your model is armed with a buckler and a sword, you may re-roll any failed parries once. A model armed with two swords can still only roll once. A model may not parry attacks made with twice (or more) his own basic Strength – they are simply too powerful to be stopped.
Wow. Instead of a simple rule we get one that has conditions built upon conditions and a giant wall of text. One of my other key design goals with Newheim and really any type of design work I do uses the KISS principle: "Keep it simple, Stupid!"
So how do we fix it?
Items which have the parry special rule are good at deflecting an enemy’s attacks. A successful hit against a model with the parry ability can be negated on a roll of 6. The model making the parry attempt can freely choose the hit he is attempting to parry.
When a model is armed with two items which grant parry (such as a sword and buckler), the attempt succeeds on a 5+. A model can only make one parry attempt per close combat turn and may not parry attacks made with double or more its own Strength–they are too powerful to be stopped.
Going from a rule that was 240 words to 103 words is a serious win in my book. Plus, this keeps the game flowing at a quick pace, doesn't penalize warriors with a high Weapon Skill, allows the defender to choose to attempt to parry the more dangerous weapon (as it should be), and fits more inline with the way the mechanics of Mordheim work. One thing that always bugged me about parry is that it used an opposed roll mechanic when the rest of the game uses target numbers.
Try this out in your next game and let me know what you think. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some resistance to this change. My group liked the tension of trying to beat an opponent's attack roll and they weren't thrilled with this at first. They have warmed up to it after a few games though and it has been working really well.
Next time, I'll work on jumping and climbing. This will probably be the most drastic change I intend to make to Newheim and this has been giving me some trouble so we'll try and work through it together.