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Otto Schmidt

Dear IrishSerb

You are correct as far as miniatures and the requirements of modeling, but I find a lot of miniature games are largely derivative (Umpires, Ego’s and Liars does it this way and so does Farts of Whores _ ….)  but that doesn’t mean we have to also.  If you abstract rules you realize they are merely ways of deciding competing narratives. Side A has this outcome they wish, side B a different one, which one is decided upon is the important question but the mechanism by which it is decided is largely irrelevant. Huge charts and tables or “dip-dip-little- ship..” is all one. The question is the process by which it is done satisfactory and pleasing to the players. If it is, the methodology as I said is irrelevant.

But again this is not a solitary agency. War games is a social activity in which the wishes and desires of the other gamers must be considered and that is where consensus comes in.


For me I developed a set of rules for table top actions I like about twenty years ago and haven’t changed. What I have found over time is that most players in my group when I have games at my house like them, or at least are not furiously angered by them.  So far so good! However what I also find is that what players like most is the table top game, and all attempts to lasso them into a serious campaign are pretty much like trying to herd kittens. What I find highly useful from board games are two thongs. 1) A ready made format or maps that can be easily used for a mini-campaign, and one in which the only effective player is myself as umpire, who can manipulate the game privately to come up with backgrounds for the battle about to be fought, and how we got there. The players only give me their intentions after the battle of what they want to do NOW, and I compare these intentions and match it to the strategic situation (very often using elements of board games) and hen carry it forward.  As this is more or less invisible to the players I can make the ‘super-game” move along quite rapidly rather than forcing the players to “play a game to play a game.” That is, they must play say “Divine Right” or  Stalingrad to set up a battle.  Thus we have a battle, the results of that battle form the parameters in which the various participants of importance  tell me their intentions from then on, and I carry the narrative forward  to that battle.

The benefit to this, for the Umpire or GM is that you get to play even if on the table top game you have to be a disinterested player and cannot push troops. By  managing the “upper game’ or the “campaign” or war you can have a whale of a good time!


To do this all you need is a simple system and there’s so much ready-made stuff around that can easily be adapted and since you are the umpire and the only one governing this phase, few dilemmas, glitches, or loopholes can ruin the game.