A splendid list Mr Salt.
So I thought that I would apply it to a set of real rules and, not wanting to criticise someone else’s efforts, I chose to review In Her Majesty’s Name against it:
£11.99/$14.99 – check!
64 pages and 25,000 words. A lot shorter than Warhammer or Malifaux, but longer than DBA. So not sure about this unless we look at the core rules which are just 8 pages.
3. Well-written, in clear English, with no grammatical or orthographical mistakes.
Charles and I were educated in an era where grammar and spelling we de rigeur, so we think we did a good job here.
4. Sewn, stapled, spiral-bound, anything but a “perfect” binding.
Osprey insisted on a perfect binding, which for a small format book can be a pain. A4 size though is much easier.
5. Complete. I am not buying any goddamned supplements, expansions, extensions, modules, add-ons, army lists, scenario books or other stuff.
IHMN was written as a self-contained game with everything you need inside 25,000 words. Which, in and of itself, is pretty damn difficult. There have been supplements which give you more options, but nothing you actually need.
6. Written in the same order as the sequence of play.
The core rules are. All the ephemera such as the armoury, other equipment, skills, talents, open points system etc sit outside of that section.
7. With examples of play kept separate, perhaps in an appendix.
Here I disagree. We added short paragraphs describing the exact use of certain rules into the rules section to enhance clarity. Not every reader is a veteran wargamer who can get the meaning straight off the bat.
8. With copious designer’s notes and source references, but kept separate from the rules, either in an appendix, or, better, as with Victory Games, as parallel text.
So much for 2. Short. We chose to put these in the supporting blog.
9. With a minimum of decorative artwork, and certainly no photographs of overpainted toy soldiers. Illustrations should be used as far as possible to illustrate.
Unfortunately Mr Salt, the great wargaming public do like a little eye-candy to catch their eye and to inspire them. In our second book there was no internal eye-candy and we received actual complaints from very unhappy punters. It actually affected sales.
10. With a stated time, ground, and figure scale.
Done – check!
11. With ranges given in real-world units (metres, yards, paces, stadia, arshins, leagues, parasangs) and not in inches on the table.
And again I disagree. The moment you start using real-world distance measures you also have to have a table to interpret them into tabletop measures, i.e. inches or centimetres. Unless, of course, you are willing to buy a ruler made especially for the game and marked in your real world units.
12. With minimal requirements for any special equipment (anything beyond dice, tape measure, pencil and paper).
Dice, one, Tape measure, one. Company roster, one. Check!
13. With no requirement for an umpire.
14. With no bloody silly boasting about the rules being “both realistic *and* playable”, or any dim-witted discussion about the imagined dichotomy between games and simulations.
15. With a catchy title, ideally containing not more than one of the words “fields”, “fire”, “flames”, “freedom”, “honour”, or “glory”, and none at all of “death”, “gore”, “blood”, “unleashed” or “grapefruit segments”.
In Her Majesty’s Name, check!
16. Without a picture of a sneering Nazi on the cover.
Prussian zombies are not sneering Nazis, so check!
I always love people who put together such idealistic lists. Our rules meet many of your requirements, whereas games such as Warhammer 40K and Malifaux would struggle to hit a single one. However, I would be surprised if more than 20,00 gamers have ever played IHMN whereas those other games have fans running into the millions.
I would like to think that you and I are right in our approach, but I fear we are old world elitists, yearning for an age that never was. If I were to rely on writing games as my living, I would starve to death in a Parisian garret, smelling of absinthe and regret.
The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare