Home Forums General Game Design I'm a bad, bad, gamer. I don't enjoy reading rules…

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    Of course, I rarely play games these days so maybe it’s a non-issue. Nevertheless, I’ll spend hours reading reviews and AARs before pulling the trigger and actually buying the rules. The last three sets I purchased were: 1) Impetus–six years ago; 2) Die Fighting II–one year ago; 3)Longstreet–three weeks ago.  All three use gaming mechanisms I like, cover periods in which I’m interested, and there’s nothing wrong with the way they’re written. Nothing at all. But any time I read through the rules my eyes glaze over and if I’m sitting down in a quiet environment my eyelids droop and I’m soon fading in and out of nap mode. Does anybody else suffer from rules induced sleep?

    While I haven’t played any of these rules enough to make educated comments upon the rules, per se, I do have comments regarding their presentations. I offer my comments simply for the consideration of other consumers and publishers. There’s no right or wrong here. Each approach will have adherents and detractors but that’s a choice each of us must make for ourselves.

    Bob Jones, author of Die Fighting, has tried to address production cost and distribution issues by making his rules something of a computer video presentation with ‘live’ examples of how the rules work. For me, this kind of misses the mark because I spent many years as an IT guy and I somewhat resent tech intruding on my hobby time.  In addition, since I don’t operate mainstream technology at home (Microsoft and Apple have no presence in my home!) I had to do some work to even get access to the rules once I received the CD. That’s a personal foible, though. More importantly, if I’m going to teach other players the rules (and if I ever want to play the game, I will need to teach the rules), I want all players to have access to a physical set of the rules at the table as we step through things. I want to encourage them to go beyond the QRS, to learn the ins and outs of the set. In short, to make running the game something of a social event around the gaming table. The electronic format somewhat inhibits that. Ultimately, Jones’ approach appeals to my old-school-spend-money-on-figures-not-rules mentality, and the technologist in me wants to see where this is going to go. But the social gamer in me is a bit frustrated with this approach.

    Longstreet is more traditional in its presentation. While I initially went with Die Fighting over Longstreet for my 10mm ACW project due to price, now that I have the product in hand I greatly appreciate the high production value of Sam Mustafa’s rules. The fact that he provides a free basic version of the rules and print-your-own ‘Action Cards’  allowed me to really sate my urge to research the rules before buying. If that was not available, I probably would not have purchased the full set at all, regardless of all the glowing reviews. The price point would have deflected me. Because I could do so much research on the game before buying I did eventually buy the rules and two sets of cards making this one of the most expensive sets of rules I’ve ever purchased. (Yes, I am frugal!) My only criticism of the presentation is the small size of the rules manual.  Its 5.5 x 8.5 size (a half US letter sheet size) and tight perfect binding make it difficult to leave it open on the table to a specific page while walking through the rules. I may take the booklet down to the local print shop and see if I can have the spine sliced off and have it wire bound. Leaving an index out of the book and relying upon an on-line ‘living index’ is an interesting concept. I’m rather neutral in my thoughts here. Of course, there’s my anti-tech-in-my-hobby bias, but I understand the utility of having an updatable, searchable index.

    Finally, there’s Impetus. (Note the ‘u’. I’m not carving this in stone. Round letters are no challenge to my keyboard!) Old school presentation. Standard A4 page size, wire bound so it lays flat. And I appreciate the old SPI style paragraph numbering and the detailed table of contents. Basically, this is what I’m looking for in a set of rules. If I recall correctly, it was also the least expensive of the purchases (of course, I bought this so long ago that may no longer be the case). If there’s a criticism to be made here it’s simply that I’m not a fan of add-on army lists and rules revisions. I’ve always considered follow-up lists to be something of a cheap ploy to wring more money from customers. I understand the utility. I’m just not interested in participating. I’m more likely to do the historic research to define an army composition rather spend money on getting an add-on book. Of course, I have no interest in tournament gaming, either. For tournament gamers… well, your hobby is a bit more expensive than mine.

    Overall, here are three different sets which have taken different approaches towards the challenges facing rules publishers these days. I’m sure production costs and shipping considerations have come into play in making those decisions. I sympathize with that, I really do. I have no regrets in purchasing any of them. Now if I could just stay awake long enough to learn the rules, finish painting the figures (Ha!), set up a gaming table, find some opponents, teach them to play, etc., etc.



    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/


    I must confess the Die Fighting II rules with their video aspect really appealed to me.
    I suffer from concentration lapses when reading rules, so this interested me a great deal.


    Mike Headden

    Despite, or perhaps because of, a career that included decades working with IT, I prefer printed to virtual rulebooks, for much the same reasons as given above. Perhaps it’s because I started out as a librarian. 🙂

    Online resources (rulebooks, searchable indices, FAQs) are for the time between games when you see if the fudge you came up with to keep the game going was what the rules intended.

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!


    I’ve just bought “General D’Armee”.

    , I’ll spend hours reading reviews and AARs  etc.

    For the more expensive rule sets, you’d be mad not to. Add: ” bring the rule set up in discussions on hobby forums”.

    I’ve just bought ‘General D’Armee’.  I was delighted that the author posted 7-8 videos on Youtube, detailing a game using the rules.

    Other than this, I think the rules are laid out “old school”.

    I probably annoyed several of my fellow forum members at WD3 & LaW (Loose Association of Wargamers) with insistent questions.

    I’m happy to use anything & everything to get a grip on a rule set. I’m not sure I either love or hate reading rules. The aim is to master them as a framework for gaming which I do love.





    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Deleted User.

    Oh dear, online rules. What is this, a video game? Give me a book please, or even just half a dozen badly copied sheets of done on a bander machine paper stapled together. I’m sure I can figure it out, or if not, make a plausible guess at the authors intent.

    As with some of the previous posters, I spend all day on a computer, thinking about computers and how to join them up with people and processes to do something useful, so I really don’t want to be doing that for a hobby too unless it adds some value (like research and producing maps and briefings).




    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke


    I’m just weird I guess. I can read avidly and quickly but watching anything on video (Youtube AAR’s, unboxing, painting demos etc.) bores me to death as I can read and absorb at my preferred pace (fast) but video demos or explanations always seem to take forever.

    The tree of Life is self pruning.

    Phil Dutré

    It’s not as if wargaming rules are rocket science. Nor will the gaming table explode when you do something wrong. So, I’m totally relaxed about the rules. But then, I belong to the school of thought that considers rules a set of guidelines, not a book of law.

    My usual approach:

    • read the rules for the first time, but only the sections you’ll think you need for a first game
    • play a game – improvise as you go along
    • read the rules again, see what you did wrong
    • play a second …
    • Etc.

    By the third game, house modifications will start to creep in 😉

    Video rules are just a waste of time. I agree they are too slow and boring.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
    Wargaming Mechanics Blog: http://wargaming-mechanics.blogspot.com/

    Shaun Travers

    I am a fairly fast reader and love reading rules. When my friend and I used to play lots of game, I was the one that read the rules – he would buy a game and then pass me the rules 🙂 For my day job I used to have to read lots of IT manuals – now I read lots of strategy and research documents but similar skill and so I have lots of practice.  I find video rules review and AARs slow compared to reading them and so tend to avoid them.  I think they would be very useful for those with more time or less patience with digesting rules.  I used to read a lot on paper but again, due to my job I now am used to reading and writing everything electronically; I carry my work laptop everywhere and weeks can go by and I do not pick up a pen.  This has  helped at home, where I read and write just about everything electronically as well.  I even have succumbed to ebooks for fiction and read them on my phone (admittedly it has a 6″ screen).  I do miss real books for reading the portability has won out. About the only time I pick up a pen is to to fill in some paper form or write something on the shipping list.


    I am, I’m afraid, one for stating the bleeding obvious & clearly everyone does this: reads a rule set with a table set up with terrain & figures for “dry runs” of mechanisms.

    I will gallop through a first reading but a slower, more comprehensive read involves the above. It means I’m ready for a proper game with my pals straight after.



    Guy Farrish

    I read rules through first without a table set up – otherwise I get bogged down in moving stuff about and the whole process slows to a crawl.

    Quick read through – maybe note, either mentally if small, or on paper (with a pen!) if big or annoying, any hiccups in my understanding or the writing of the rules. Get a  feel of the flow of the turns/phases. Then back to work through any noted problems to see what I’ve misunderstood and why.

    Then I get round to playing through a couple of situations with figures solo, see what sub routines get missed/are badly placed in the text/ flow diagram for my memory/way of thinking – make a note! – and then if the thing isn’t too horrible – get someone else who has read them or will read them and play through a small, simple test game.

    If I’m having to ‘read’ the rules at this stage, vice occasionally referring to them for confirmation of the QRS or turn flow chart – they probably aren’t for me.

    William Minsinger

    I’m just weird I guess. I can read avidly and quickly but watching anything on video (Youtube AAR’s, unboxing, painting demos etc.) bores me to death as I can read and absorb at my preferred pace (fast) but video demos or explanations always seem to take forever.

    Nope you’re not alone; I also vastly prefer reading to watching in every single case.  I absorb stuff quicker and more thoroughly when I read, that’s just the way I’m wired.  I’m also a fast reader, I wonder if that has anything to do with it?


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