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    Avatar photoMike

    Between running 2 business, homemaking and homeschooling my ASD daughter, I find that when I get the time and still have energy, that I want my games to be stress free.
    My day to day is challenging at the best of times, so I opt for quick and simple rules.
    Nothing with a steep learning curve, as that does not suit my lifestyle.
    Beer and Pretzels I guess, and it is ok not to want to play games that challenge, especially if your uptime is challenging and you want to escape that.
    The hobby is what I do for enjoyment and for each of us, enjoyment is personal and specific to us, what is good for one person may not be good for the other.

    As such when someone plays a popular game, or any game for that matter and they don’t enjoy it, then that is a shame, as they have not had fun, whatever the reason may be, and that is a pity.

    If someone plays Burning Sands for example and does not enjoy it, that is a shame, I feel a bit upset they did not like it from a design point of view, and also sad that they spent time on something they did not enjoy.
    I can empathise with them and relate to that feeling of lost time.
    Doing something after a lot of effort and or waiting only to find it a disappointment can sap the will to try it again.

    Which in a roundabout way leads to me ask, why do you play the rules you play, what about them suits your needs?

    As noted, I like games that require the minimum of learning, quick to read and not complicated.
    I am challenged enough during the downtime so want rules that offer some playful escapism, one of the reasons I mostly play video games these days.

    Avatar photocraig cartmell

    Hi Mike,

    I sympathize with your situation having raised three kids while my wife and I worked full-time.

    One of the reasons I wrote my own rules was, at the time, no-one seemed to be writing simple games, other than Phil Barker’s legendary DBA. This led, over many years and iterations to FUBAR and thence IHMN. These days I can barely remember rules I wrote myself, never mind the behemoths many companies like to issue (with endless supplements).

    I have even written my own RPG rules because of this.

    As for recommendations I would say the One Page Rules series. These are very simple, learning curve is fifteen minutes and best of all, they are free. Here they are: https://onepagerules.com/


    Avatar photojeffers

    My daughter is also ASD, so I know how much effort is required. We’ve spent over two years wading through the Byzantine education system to get an EHCP, so at least she can now stay in school with some funding.

    I think you hit the nail firmly and squarely. I have a stressful job which involves an awful lot of ‘policy and guidance’, so I don’t want to spend hours working through yet more rules in my free time. From a gaming perspective, I often find the simpler the rules the more people ‘play the game’ because there is not much to argue over, nor is there a sneaky +1 hidden somewhere in the 400-page rulebook because your troops had a nice lunch. It’s also my age: I have less patience generally. Think Victor Meldrew with Vallejo. I’m now wedded to Neil Thomas’ SIP philosophy and look at all rules through that prism.

    I notice over the Christmas holidays a large number of people modifying his One Hour rules, so I’m not alone. But if you think it sad someone thought your rules wasted their time, remember those of us who tried Cambrai to Sinai….

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

    Avatar photoNorm S

    I’ve been giving this quite a bit of thought recently and think there are two routes.

    You can go for deliberately designed low complexity rules or you can go for deeper rules, but stick with them and play them enough to understand and know them. The latter essentially relies on regular play and not being distracted by other sets, but might deliver something that you feels better reflects the subject at the level you want.

    I am just looking at my shelves as I write this and I have for example 7 sets of rules for ancients plus various expansions with their additional reading / learning demands. Last year I thought that was fine, but this year after a bit of  re-assessment of how I game, I find that a bit ridiculous – that is too greater a division of time to be distracted by that many sets. Time to chop and just get better at one (…. but which one 🙂 !!!).

    Avatar photoian pillay

    For me I have a crazy family life. Therefore my hobby time is limited but the little lad likes his miniatures and is getting into painting and collecting Nurgle miniatures for 40k. Although we will play one page rules rather than 8th Ed.

    For myself, I like lots of different periods and I have settled with NT  One Hour Wargames as my go to. Currently I am organising my dark age stuff to get a few games in solo.

    Simple and quick is what I like right now. The I.O group for NT rules is a trove of great ideas and rules variations from all his titles.



    Tally-Ho! Check out my blog at…..

    Avatar photoAutodidact-O-Saurus

    The right rules is dependent upon my interest level and willingness to invest time. Sometimes I want the nitty-gritty. For example when I wrote my ironclad rules I was very much into resolving the results of firing each and every cannon. If I’m playing a napoleonic game, well… not my period, I’m not going to invest that level of interest. DBN might be a more appropriate level. I’m still searching for my preferred ancients rules. The searching is part of the fun.

    Now, if people are unhappy with rules that I’ve written I don’t let that bother me too much. I make an honest effort to design and write rules that reflect my interest level and knowledge of the period and enjoy it when someone else enjoys my interpretation. But as a good stoic I know that I have little influence over how my interpretation is received, and no control whatsoever over the factors of someone else’s life that colors their understanding. Sometimes we’re on the same page. Sometimes we’re reading entirely different books. C’est la vie!

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

    Avatar photoGone Fishing

    Interesting discussion.

    The I.O group for NT rules is a trove of great ideas and rules variations from all his titles.

    Sorry, maybe it’s too early in the morning – what’s the I.O group?

    Avatar photoAutodidact-O-Saurus

    Probably the groups.io site (https://groups.io/g/AMW).

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

    Avatar photoMattH

    From my rather narrow perspective of playing mostly naval games and mostly solo:

    1. I want the rules to be as simple and streamlined as they can be while still producing believable results. Some supposed ‘fast play’ rules I’ve come across are only fast because after 3 or 4 turns everything has been reduced to a smoking wreck and everyone goes home for tea and medals. I prefer rules where turns go fast so there’s time to manoeuvre, and damage is sustained at a believable rate. They may be fast play, but can still take 3-4 hours to finish.

    2. Easy on the brain. This is not always the same as being ‘simple’. I don’t mind a game with slower mechanics as long as the procedures are clearly defined and methodical. For example, the WW2 naval rules General Quarters 3 is considered by most to be harder to play than Naval Thunder, and yet something about NT makes my brain melt after a few turns. GQ3, at least for straightforward surface actions, is somehow more fluid and easier to get through. It may take slightly longer but it isn’t as mentally tiring. A lot of this is down to…

    3. Player Aids. Rosters, markers, movement & firing gauges. To borrow a video game analogy – these things are your user interface for the game. If a roster for a single ship takes up half an A4 sheet and it’s all a wall of text and numbers, I’m just not going there. It needs to convey the information clearly at a glance, and still be small enough to get your entire force on a single sheet. GQ3 is very good at this.

    ETA: A number of people posted while I was writing this so just to be clear: when I say ‘NT’ I’m referring to Naval Thunder and not Neil Thomas. 🙂

    Avatar photoThorsten Frank

    Another difficult question to answer for me. And I had to take a walk to think about it. I really love rules that give me an feel of realism and surprising results. We had that interesting discussion on this theme back here(at TWW) about Gaslands (easy-peasy style) and then someone brought he missed the complexity of Car Wars.
    However, after taken care of my parents for over ten years (with an daily 10-12hour job as a hobby) I had to reconsider this stance. There was often the time I bought some rules, tried to read them in 10 minute chunks and ended up forgetting the basics of it afterwards. So I ended up playing the rules I already knew without touching the new ones in the remaining time.  In fact it was Robey´s Horizon Wars that really got me back into gaming. ‘
    Now, with everything toned down in my life, I got more time to get into more complex rules again – but I don´t really want. I´d rather use light rules and add some changes to them to suit them my purposes.
    (And Mike, you may like to hear that, Burning Sands is the only set of rules that I never needed the urge to change anything!).

    So, my conclusion is light rules before heavy ones.  BUT it depends on the mechanics.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    Avatar photoMattH

    We had that interesting discussion on this theme back here(at TWW) about Gaslands (easy-peasy style) and then someone brought he missed the complexity of Car Wars.

    Yeah, that was me 🙂 It wasn’t so much the complexity that I missed as the whole nostalgia thing really, but I was surprised that it I could still pick it up and play it after all these years, and it was still fun. Besides, I still maintain that Car Wars isn’t that complex.

    Avatar photoThorsten Frank

    We had that interesting discussion on this theme back here(at TWW) about Gaslands (easy-peasy style) and then someone brought he missed the complexity of Car Wars.

    Yeah, that was me 🙂 It wasn’t so much the complexity that I missed as the whole nostalgia thing really, but I was surprised that it I could still pick it up and play it after all these years, and it was still fun. Besides, I still maintain that Car Wars isn’t that complex.

    TBH, I never felt that CW was particular complex too. I really miss guys on foot in GL. I know it´s not in the scope of the game but I still miss them.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    Avatar photoGone Fishing

    Probably the groups.io site (https://groups.io/g/AMW).

    Ah, thank you!

    Avatar photoirishserb

    First, let me offer that I don’t tend to enjoy reading or learning new rules.  When I first got into miniatures, I bought a number of sets of rules, and found that many had shortcomings, such as technical errors, ignored physics, things that really bothered me, so I just took to writing my own rules.  Since then, I’ve mostly played homebrew stuff, as I find it easier to write rules, than learn them, and I end up with exactly what I’m looking for.  Additionally, I’ve found that I typically enjoy other peoples’ homebrew rules more than most published rules.  Not really sure why.

    I find that a lot of the more popular rules today either offer too many mechanics or too little detail for my tastes, though I have found some sets that I would adopt, had I not already written my own.  Ideally, I look for simple mechanics with lots of detail.

    Avatar photoRhoderic

    I have mixed feelings about this topic. On the one hand, the merits of easy-to-play rules are self-evident. On the other hand, in practice I find that rules designers all too often have to make problematic sacrifices for the sake of simplicity. It’s interesting that Gaslands has come up, because I was meaning to mention it myself. There’s one rule in it that aggravates me to no end. It’s the rule that allows a vehicle in motion to ignore and “phase through” obstacles (like, say, a wrecked tank or 20 feet of solid concrete) under certain circumstances, for no other reason than to not break the flow of the game. I don’t have other qualms about the relative simplicity of Gaslands. The juxtaposition with the complexity of Car Wars doesn’t really mean anything to me. But I hate that one rule so very, very much.

    Increasingly, I’m thinking about modifying a setting-agnostic RPG rules system for miniatures gaming, so I can get clear of rules design decisions that I disagree with in “conventional” miniatures game rulesets. The problem with that is that I do still enjoy exploring and sampling different approaches to rules design in different rulesets.

    Avatar photoDan Kennedy

    These days I’m really into Vassal. I think it’s great. It means I can leave even quite large games “set up” for days on end while me and other people in the same boat (young kids and a full time job) can play a turn here or there.

    This has meant that I can revisit games with fairly complex rules, because I get to work through them at an enjoyably leisurely pace. Lately I’ve had a couple of great games of Red Storm (latest in the ‘Downtown’ series), and it’s pretty complex but using a computer to provide the playing space is a Godsend, as I can squeeze in my move after the kids have gone to bed.

    Vassal has basically saved my gaming hobby.

    Avatar photoPiyan Glupak

    I like to have two or three games per wargaming session, ideally, different periods.  Hence, I tend to go for DBN  for Napoleonic and AWI games and Corvus for ancient naval games.  I used to adore DBA, but didn’t take to version 3, tried Triumph!, but although I loved the early access versions found that I wasn’t keen on the final release.  I used to love Hordes of the Things, and still see it as the best WRG game ever.

    Recently, I have had a go at writing my own quick-play rules for land battles, and am fairly pleased with them, to the point that I will be looking to get them on t’Internet soon as freebies.  The rules use the same basic mechanisms for various periods.  I would say that the ancient and medieval version is ready, and the fantasy version nearly ready, but the Pike and Shot and Martian versions could do with a bit more work, with more troop types to add and test.

    Avatar photoRuarigh

    It’s interesting to see what others look for in rules. I have some sympathy with various of the perspectives and the comparison of Car Wars and Gaslands offers more food for thought, as someone who loves the Car Wars design rules but finds that the game itself plays too slowly for my tastes these days.

    What I look for in rules these days is a set that allows me to play a game with a minimum of brain ache and looking things up. I still play Advanced Squad Leader which rates an 11 on the 1-10 scale of complexity, but I have played it for so long that it does not feel that complex any more. In other areas of my gaming, my main interest lies in games that offer me interesting decisions to make. While most of my gaming is about rolling dice and talking shite with my mates, the key to a good game is that it offers me a series of meaningful decisions that will affect the outcome of the game. This generally means that I prefer low to mid complexity rules with a solid command and control mechanism (e.g. FUBAR, CD:ToB, Maurice, etc.), rather than games that require micromanagement (DBx, etc). I enjoy some level of random events that add chaos to the game because it feels right that even your best plans can have to adapt to unexpected circumstances. Beyond that, my tastes are fairly eclectic and I am willing to put the effort into learning any rules that capture my imagination.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


    Avatar photoSane Max

    I like simple rules that give a tolerably realistic game most of the time too. I Thought I had it with the Hail Caesar / Pike and Shotte / Black Powder set up, but was annoyed to discover that each set has slightly different fundamental rules. That’s just bloody cruel.

    I think for simple you can’t top a game like first edition AK47 and they are fun too.

    I loved Blitzkrieg Commander first edition, but like so many rule-writers they had to keep bolting stuff on to make it more ‘realistic’ while totally failing to address much more basic rules problems.

    One Day I will write my own. They will be really basic and I don’t care.

    I am still trying to get my test-monkey AKA 17 Year old Daughter to play the promised One Hour Wargame, but something always comes up… they are too simple, I am sure, but will be pleasant.

    I believe the trend toward simpler rules reflects something much more basic – we are all grown ups, with lives. If I was a kid again I might welcome the chance to really immerse myself in a set of rules and play something mad like Tractics.

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