Lots of good advice posted already. My experience has been that combats are generally over quickly in WFRP3, usually because more than 3 or 4 rounds results in mangled limbs and corpses. With as many different elements that go on during a combat scene though, I can see the potential for the game to get bogged down. This is especially prone to happen if the group hasn't really found their comfort-level with the system yet. It takes some repetition to develop an organic flow for each player's turn.
Let me share some insights that I've had after running a bit of 3rd Ed.:
1) ORGANIZE!!! In a game that spreads its information out amongst variety of resources, you will benefit greatly by simply being neat and organized with them. For example:
- I bought a "business card holder" from Office Depot ($5) which is only about 7.5" x 3.5". In that space, I can neatly store all Wound, Condition, Insanity, Disease, Mutation and Miscast cards. The rows are staggered which makes them instantly visible and quick to draw when needed. Having them in the holder prevents the cards from getting knocked over if they were simply left on the table as decks...a major annoyance and time-waster.
- I bought 2.5-inch "bead trays" from the Sewing section of Walmart ($2 for 4 trays) to hold tokens (Fatigue, Stress, Corruption, Generic) and place those trays at the center of the table where all players can reach them. This gives easy access to them to let the players manage themselves. So, when I tell Fred that his character takes 1 Fatigue, I don't waste time picking up a token and handing it to him. I move on while Fred grabs and places it himself. They are also a blessing for storage because the trays screw on top of each other, forming a tower and preventing spillage.
- I keep cards for "encounters" grouped together and logically ordered. If I know an encounter with goblins is going to happen at a ruined shrine, I'll keep the Location card, goblin cards and goblin actions grouped together so that I can pick them up and not waste time searching through multiple groupings of cards. Likewise, if I know that certain "encounters" are likely to occur before others, I will stack them as a deck, in order from first to last, usually preceded by their relevant Location card(s).
- I keep all the dice in a central location within easy reach of all players. Like token management, I let the players assemble the dice they need so I don't have to bother passing them around. Having at least some extra dice helps. Even a single dice pack has helped greatly on keeping my players supplied (I run for 4 players, FYI).
2) REDUCE TOKEN-CLUTTER!!! To be quite honest, the cardboard tokens supplied by the game and used to track everything from Recharge to Fortune Points to Fatigue and Wounds on monsters are a real pain to deal with. They lack "heft" which constantly causes them to drift around the table and the double-sided nature is actually a curse at times. They are difficult to pick up, occasionally hard to see and fumbling a handful of them on recharging actions takes too much time. They are just generally too hard to tell apart at a cluttered game table and so I have decidedly ditched most of them in favor of the following substitutes:
- (Fatigue/Stress/Fortune) I bought bags of glass beads ($3 a bag for more beads than I'll ever use) from Hobby Lobby. Red=Fatigue. Blue=Stress. Green=Fortune (I was looking for opaque white but they didn't have any). They are hefty, colorful and shiny in a way that makes them easy to see. They are large enough to make them obvious at the table and are much easier to pick up than flat cardboard chits.
- (Recharge/ACE Pools) Shinma mentioned this above but I bought a handful of cheap six-sided dice to use for both myself and my players to track Recharge. I cannot stress how much quicker and more convenient this is for managing recharging cards. The dice I bought specifically were "Bicycle" brand dice from the dollar store ($1 for 5 dice) which actually have a nice, unexpected advantage to them: the "1" face also has "Bicycle" printed on it in bold, red letters. This is a delightfully handy tool as you get a visual cue as to which cards are about to recharge. I also use some of these dice to track ACE for each monster group by placing them at the bottom edge of the monster card, one under each category.
- (NPC Wounds) Tracking NPC Wounds with actual Wound cards or cardboard chits is a nightmare. I've tried two approaches thus far. First is Post-it Notes on the monster cards. Just make marks as the enemy takes damange. I've found that I'm not so fond of this method however as a) the note often obscures important parts of the card and b) counting hatch-marks in the middle of an encounter sometimes gets hazy. Alternately, I've tried tracking NPC Wounds with some of my spare six-siders. This has worked reasonably well and better than Post-it's, though I'm still trying to devise ways to make it even smoother.
3) ONLY BRING THE CARDS YOU NEED!!! You don't need to bring every single deck of cards to each session. In fact, you may not need certain decks or types of cards at all! For example, my group currently has no spell-casters. Therefore, I don't need to bring the Miscast deck to my sessions at all. That's one stack of cards I don't have to fumble with. It also means I don't need to bring the "Spell" or "Blessing" Action cards because none of the PCs are eligible to acquire them right now anyway.
- Only bring the NPC/Monster cards and Actions that you know you will need or think you might need for the adventure. You may want a few "stock" NPC cards (Merchants, Soldiers, Beastmen, etc) on hand just in case the PCs do things you weren't expecting but you don't need to tote your entire Creature Vault with you. It's a distraction, takes up space and can waste your time.
4) HELP YOUR PLAYERS BE SELF-SUFFICIENT!!! As GM, you have to manage a LOT of stuff. Obvioulsy, the more you have to focus on, the longer it's going to take you. Getting your players to manage things like understanding and tracking their PC's Actions, Talents, Conditions, Recharge, etc will take a whole lot off your shoulders. Tell them do the book-keeping when its not their turn so that the game keeps moving. Putting resources in their reach (like Fatigue/Stress/Corruption tokens) gives them the ability to do the work for you so that you can move on to someone else.
There are a few things that you can remove from the game if you want to reduce clutter and increase the speed of play:
- The Party Sheet: Unless your group is really making regular use of it, it can easily be tossed out. It has its advantages (primarily allowing the PCs to "share" Talents) but it can also just take up space on the table and be "yet another tracker" to distract you if it isn't finding a positive place in your game.
- Location Cards: I don't use the rules on them but I actually quite like them to help create a visual cue for where characters are and illustrate some of the surrounding terrain layout. Again, if they are helpful to you as a visual reference, great! Keep 'em! If they are just another distraction, you won't lose much by ditching them.
- Critical Wounds for NPCs: In my games, unless an NPC is intended to be a recurring enemy who will bear the scars of his/her confrontations with the PCs, I don't bother drawing Critical Wounds. They just add extra complexity to a character that's probably going to die in the next few rounds or flee never to be seen again anyway. I simply use the "Critical Severity = Extra Wounds" rule for all NPCs. This technique is doubly-useful as doing it will not only simplify the table but will cause foes to drop and/or lose morale more quickly, which will speed up your combats as well.
I hope some of this is useful to you. Let me know if there are any questions.