Home Forums General General Rule Books. How do you like them?

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  • #31079
    Alvin Molethrottler
    Participant

    Perhaps like many (if not most here) I remember when, for the most part, rule books were A5ish sized black and white affairs with little to no illustrations and often not a single example, they cost but a few quid and could be readily examined before purchase.

    In comparison, many of today’s rule books are flashy, A4ish affairs rammed with full colour illustrations and riddled with examples, they cost tens of pounds and are often sealed in plastic which, if the vendor doesn’t have a show copy, means you have to buy blind.

    Which do you prefer?

    Also, by way of another question, am I the only one sick of paying for rule books that start by describing what a d6 is and then go on to treat the reader as if they were hard of understanding? This profound naivety seems to be predicated on the idea that most purchasers will be novices instead of, you know, middle aged (possibly over-weight) blokes that have been gaming for decades. This brings up one final question, which would you prefer to buy, the insult your intelligence version of a rule book or a “veterans” edition that just goes right ahead and assumes you know what dice and tape measures are and how to use them?

    #31083
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    Hmmmm I must say that a book that explains the basics is not an insult to my intelligence.
    I have not told the author my level of gaming experience, so why would he assume I know it all?
    Surely that level of assumption by the author is the real insult/arrogance?
    When I encounter this in books I simply skip that section.

    Anyway, moving on….

    I don’t much mind these days.
    20/25 or so years back, then eye candy in a book was essential to fuelling my aspirational dreams.
    Now the internet can do that, so the need for pretty pictures in a book is less so.
    Examples are good.
    Eye candy a bonus.

    Kind of related to the veterans thing though is the same with video games.
    Video games often have a tedious tutorial that explains how a FPS works.
    In a book as noted you just not read this section if it is not relevant, in vide games however I have yet to find a tutorial you can skip if you know how it goes.
    At least books give you that option.

    #31085
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Aaargh! Molethrottler I hate you! Not really. But just when I have calmed down and walked away from being annoyed about this trend you stir it up again!

    Saying ‘a d6 means the normal six sided dice you find in a standard family board game’ is fine: it clears up a doubt in a tyro’s mind.

    Saying ‘We use the term d6 in this rule book to refer to a regular cuboid marked with the integers 1 through 6, one number per side, to generate a random value where required within the parameters of the mechanisms designed and contained herein to reflect the uncertainty in certain actions governed by the laws of chance or probability of occurrence on the battlefield.’ is frankly taking the mickey.

    It is padding to justify a £30+ price tag for recycled concepts from the last 40 years. Very occasionally something new pops up but not often. Trying to hide a lack of originality with obfuscatory wording and pages of irrelevant photos is very often a waste of paper, digital space and my cash.

    And on your other point  – no I won’t pay tens of pounds on spec for a rule set that is going to require the purchase of a series of increasingly idiotic supplements to pad out what should be a stand alone purchase. If I need to pay that sort of cash I’ll buy a boardgame, or write some myself.

    It’s another question really I suppose but why ARE there a constant flood of new rules? Most of them simply have to be rejigs of old ideas. There are only so many ways of skinning a cat.  Is it the Holy Grail effect? Perfection must be out there? Or are most wargamers like me – they spend a lot of time talking about wargaming, reading about it but not much time actually doing it, and learning new rules is a good excuse?

     

     

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Guy Farrish.
    #31087
    Alvin Molethrottler
    Participant

    My dear Mr Farrish, I exalt your post +1 

    #31088
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    As a rules writer and publisher I understand your point, however, when we have done books without internal artwork or photos (i.e. ‘eye-candy’) we get players complaining bitterly, even though they got extra material in the spaces formerly filled with photos.

    There are publishers, who are numerous and thus shall remain nameless, who do over produce their rule books. So you get 150+ pages of art and colourful layouts with about 30 pages of useful content. Unfortunately, there are many gamers who have grown up with these high production values and don’t take rules seriously if they are not gorgeous hardbacks that cost £30/$50 plus.

    This is why Osprey Wargames’ first few books were a breath of fresh air. Clean layout, just enough eye-candy to inspire players, and a price point less than a trip to a McDonald’s Drive-Through. So, if you found the game not to your liking, you didn’t feel cheated.

    A number of small independent publishers have followed suit with such excellent games as Across the Dead Earth and To the Strongest! Well-produced but where the game rules come first and the price point is reasonable.

    There will always be a place for the over-priced art books and the people who like them. But if you don’t like that try out these newer games instead.

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #31093
    Norm S
    Participant

    My major nit-pick with rules is the idea that you have to buy into several volumes, the sort of Codex idea. I don’t mind paying for a rulebook that is fully self contained.

    I would also point out that a £2.50 rule book in 1980 cannot be compared directly to a £25 rulebook today, because wages and wealth and inflation bring those two costs much closer together than initially seems to be the case and then one you factor in a hard cover, bigger page, higher page count and tons of colour etc, the comparisons become harder to make.

    I think a person or group who have really done a lot of work on a ruleset and they work properly (i.e. are not half baked), then those rules are deserving of good presentation and the authors are deserving of good recompense to reflect the work that has gone into the game – I am guessing that if you were working out pay by the hour, the author would be receiving nothing like a true or justified level of reward. It seems to be that figure and terrain manufacturers are allowed to put out the best product they can at a reflective price, but that rule authors cannot.

    Just the production effort that goes into producing a lovely rule book must be immense.

    I think the old fashioned A5, stapled cheap text only formats with a few lined drawings are probably fine for people like me, who like to mess around with amateur level rule / design, it is not a good enough format for the hobby, which has professionalised in most of the areas that it operates in.

    I can see the problem that rule junkies will have, but if you are the sort of buyer that tends just to play a favourite set and stick with it, then an expensive rulebook is justified. So say those who bought Fire and Fury all those many years ago must be well pleased with that investment of a lovely rulebook, because for many people that system is still their ‘go to’ rule set.

    So bottom line, I would say expensive rules are fine, but with that comes responsibility from the designer and publisher that the rules are very good and problem free and that a loyal fan base should not be forced down a Codex route or at least not to any great degree.

    Obvious filler in a rule set is annoying and unnecessary.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Norm S.
    #31095
    irishserb
    Participant

    What do I want in a rule book?

    Well, there is a 97 percent chance that after I buy it, I am going to read it, regret it, and feel like my wallet was raped.   So, I want rules, just rules, properly (i.e., well ) written, no examples needed, black and white, soft cover, no color, no photos, one volume, complete, all rules in one volume, everything I need in one flippin’ book.  And, at a reasonable price. That means cheap.  Rules are work, rules are time.  Lots of examples, fluff, photos, stories, and other crap in the rules mean more work and more time.  I don’t want to do much of one, and don’t have much of the other.  And I’m cheap.   I already want my money back, because they are not nearly as fun, fast, or innovative as the author/publisher/ marketing guy claims.  And they cost so much that I can’t afford any miniature for them.  BAHHH!

    Or, if that came across as a little strong:

    I prefer rules books to be concise, simple, and inexpensive.

     

     

    #31096
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Don’t forget the free rules that people make available to promote their figure ranges, like that handsome Angel Barracks chap!
    😉

    What sort of level of finish would you expect from free rules, not written by a professional rules writer?

    #31097
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    So, gentlemen. What would you say is a fair price for a workable set of rules with presentation based upon clarity rather than art?

    Please take into account that someone has taken the time to write, play test, rewrite (repeat stages 1-3 through several iterations), edit, add suitable illustrations or photographs, layout, get them printed in an economical amount, say 1,000 copies (below that the price per copy at the printer rises almost exponentially) and then market them in magazines and online fora as well as attending shows up and down the country to demonstrate them.

    Given that, what would you pay?

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #31098
    Mike
    Keymaster

    £20.00 or so.
    £25.00 as a hardback.

    I have not bought any physical rules in a looong time though, so that may be way off the going rate..

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Mike.
    #31110
    willz
    Participant

    Today £15 – £20 I think is a reasonable price for a well produced set of rules.  Eye candy does help, but I prefer a good set of well explained rules.

    Here is a thought, what about free style war-gaming, the only rule you use are the real life rules.  Example – could you drive a Tiger 1 over a flimsy wooden bridge to out flank your opponent.  Example – 2 could you drive your Tiger 1 from one end of the table to the other, through a village, firing main gun and machine guns as it went (scale 1mm to the mtr, table 6 feet, distance some 1800 mtr) all in one bound.  Would that happen in real life.

    I umpired a Sealion invasion game several years ago, with the Germans landing in several barges.  On each barges I placed 2 x rubber dingy and 1 lifeboat (I did not tell the players what they were for).  Each barge held 30 – 50 figures and some held AFV’s, so when the barges started taking hits and some started sinking.  I waited for the German players to use the life boats or dingy, only one of the 3 German players asked if he could use them.

    After the game the other German players complained that I had not explained the rules fully to them, as I pointed out to them if they were on a sinking ship on fire would they wait for some one too explain to them what the rules for getting into a lifeboat .

    Just an idea, some times why buy rules when you can have ago at your own.

    #31112
    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    I think Sam Mustafa gets it just about right with his books – there’s some art work in there, there are some pics of figures just as you’d find in a decent wargames article in a good magazine, and there are loads of examples and diagrams etc showing you just what he means. And he tends to put everything into one book as well, with extra stuff as online freebies (mostly scenarios etc).

     

    The problem with the “appealing to veteran wargamers” thing that someone mentioned above is that what seems obvious or usual to one set of wargamers somewhere might be completely at odds with the received wisdom of another set of wargamers elsewhere in the world. If you don’t explain your concepts clearly or give examples, it’s just not going to work.

    #31114
    willz
    Participant

    This explains how difficult it is to write and explain war game rules.

    #31115
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I’ve yet to be annoyed by novice-level explanations of dice, measurements and the like. They tend to be brief enough.

    I like “flashy” rulebooks, within reason. There’s such a thing as going too far in that direction of course, but I feel that plain text rulebooks and rulebooks with poor-quality photos are going too far in the other direction, given that the hobby has by now advanced reasonably far past its humble beginnings. That’s not to say I won’t read or buy a rulebook that falls short of the mark in regard to decoration (it’s not as if I’d pass on the rulebooks from, for instance, Peter Pig or TooFatLardies). It just won’t be ideal, that’s all.

    The Osprey, Warlord Games, VBCW and old Warhammer Historical rulebooks are good examples of what I think is the right level of gloss/chrome. Not too much, not too little.

    I for one appreciate the steady flow of new rulesets, again within reason. I do think of the hobby as a “flow”, and I like to be in the flow. I suppose that this is, indeed, partially to do with the fact that I don’t get much actual gaming done – this hobby isn’t just something that I game, it’s something that I follow. I appreciate the motion of it.

    Besides, rules design is one of the aspects of this hobby that people enjoy actively taking part of, much like making terrain, painting figures, researching military history, acquiring OOP figures, and so on. It’s perfectly natural for people to want to design new rulesets. I don’t believe it’s “holy grail effect”. It’s just fun to design rules (or test new rules designed by others) and have that be part of a greater flow within the hobby, that’s all. There’s no holy grail, but each ruleset has a different “flavour” (even within the same theme/period/setting – sometimes especially so) and appreciating those differences is enjoyable in itself.

    How about hobby sections? I’m generally a big fan of them, despite the inevitable (and understandable) objections by some that they’ve nothing to do with the rules. Obviously they must remain fairly modest inside a rulebook, but even as little as two or three spreads devoted to building terrain, painting figures and collecting armies/warbands can go a long way to setting the mood and whetting the appetite. If for instance I’m browsing a new rulebook for swashbuckler skirmishing, and I find a hobby section wherein the authors showcase their “studio” collection of Barbary Pirates, Knights of Malta and port-of-Tripoli terrain, with some notes on how they made it all, that would make me feel much more inspired by the rulebook and the subject it covers than had the book comprised only rules mechanics.

    One exception to this is that I don’t care for lengthy “masterclass” painting tutorials that are compelled to show a photo of the same figure at every stage of painting through 5+ layers of highlights. Doesn’t belong in a rulebook, even one with a hobby section.

    #31118
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    Osprey, quite wisely in my view, priced most of their wargames series at £12 and one or two of the larger ones at £15. This makes them as cheap as a trip through a McDonalds drive-through, so if you find you don’t like the rules after all it isn’t a crushing loss. Charles and I are doing likewise.

    You have to realise that an independent producer is giving away over half the cover price as a discount to distributors and retailers, and of what remains they are having to pay, up front, for art, layout and printing. It is only the fact that most of us do this as a hobby in itself, and pay our mortgage and bills through real jobs, that such a price point can be maintained.

    So when someone tells me our games are overpriced at £12-£15 I do get a little miffed.

     

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #31123
    Spurious
    Participant

    My taste is split between how I like digital rulebooks and physical ones. Digital ones I like a minimal amount of  graphics and a clear layout that makes sense without colour because I have to go get the things printed for use in games and that can double or triple the price to bring a set of rules to the table. For rulebooks that are available in physical format, I like them to take advantage of that and make full use of colour and graphics but with the important distinct of not becoming cluttered and difficult to read. Tomorrow’s War is a well known example of a system marred by poor layout and being made very difficult to process for a lot of people’s eyes due to the backgrounds.

    What I really like though is down to how a system is written. I want to be able to reference the main book whilst in play with speed. I want to be able to find the correct mechanics and have them clearly explained, and formatted so that they’re easily findable and the way they are written should be easy to grasp the relevant bits. Good examples of this would be A Fistful of TOWs where every chapter has an executive summary with the bullet-pointed list of the basics followed by well spaced out decently large text too in a readable font. Thought FFoT is helped by the fact that the rulebook was so large that making it in colour with images would have been insanely costly . A poor example would be Pike & Shotte where the conversational style of writing means relevant rules are buried in long columns of small text with frequently ambiguous descriptions. I also found that All Quiet On The Martian Front suffered from being over-produced, with fluff and images seeping into the mechanics sections and things being just badly organised to the point that a multi-page fan-made quick reference sheet was needed to play a basic learning game.

    I guess the TL;DR is that I don’t like it when a system’s ‘large’ production value gets in the way of being able to learn and play it. It’s a tricky balancing act and I’ve seen repeatedly that production value can win interest far more readily than rules ever can, so it’s entirely understandable that it can get to the point of being in the way.

    #31124
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Good. I could have done without the full page adverts, but I understand why they were there. 82pp, including campaign game, army lists and other appendices, all of which are useful.

     

    Bad. Very bad. Sucking donkey balls bad. Essentially a 230 page advert for Foundry, complete with painting tutorial, and some half-finished rules lobbed in as an afterthought.

     

    Both books have fairly high production values, both cost about the same price. One set sits on my shelf glaring banefully at me and screaming ‘sucker!’, the other gets used regularly.

    No prizes for guessing 😉

    I don’t mind paying 25-30 quid for a rulebook if the main reason for its existence is the rules, which should be clearly written, and concise. Might & Reason wins there.

    I do object to paying 25-30 quid for something whose main content is a bunch of pretty pictures. Or not-so-pretty in the case of Napoleon…

     

     

     

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #31126
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    I’d gladly make like Elba and take Napoleon off your hands… 

    #31127
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    I’d gladly make like Elba and take Napoleon off your hands…

     

    Are you in the UK?

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #31128
    Steve Johnson
    Participant

    Rules like BKCII, Lion Rampant, Dux Bellorum etc tick all the boxes for me. They are:

    • Affordable. BKCII was £20 and Lion Rampant etc I could buy off Amazon for around £8.00 inc P&P.
    • Everything in one book. So that’s the rules, examples and army lists.
    • No extraneous fluff. They are not padded out with painting guides, useless waffle etc.

    Whilst I enjoy Black Powder as a ruleset, it could have been a third of the size and still worked. The forthcoming ‘Honours of War’ by Osprey is a case in point.

    #31132
    John D Salt
    Participant

    I like them

    1. Cheap.

    2. Short.

    3. Well-written, in clear English, with no grammatical or orthographical mistakes.

    4. Sewn, stapled, spiral-bound, anything but a “perfect” binding.

    5. Complete. I am not buying any goddamned supplements, expansions, extensions, modules, add-ons, army lists, scenario books or other stuff.

    6. Written in the same order as the sequence of play.

    7. With examples of play kept separate, perhaps in an appendix.

    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.

    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.

    10. With a stated time, ground, and figure scale.

    11. With ranges given in real-world units (metres, yards, paces, stadia, arshins, leagues, parasangs) and not in inches on the table.

    12. With minimal requirements for any special equipment (anything beyond dice, tape measure, pencil and paper).

    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”.

    16. Without a picture of a sneering Nazi on the cover.

    It’s easy enough. I am very easily satisfied.

    All the best,

    John.

    #31139
    Nathaniel Weber
    Participant

    I like my rules cheap and preferably PDF, in the $5-$15 range. Eye candy is totally unnecessary.  I don’t mind supplements, within reason.  The main rules should let me play the period/setting in question; supplements can provide interesting scenarios and/or campaign rules.


    @John
    Salt:  “But John, my rules ARE a good balance of realism and playability! It says so right in the product description!” 😉

     

    #31141
    Rules Junkie Jim
    Participant

    I like rules that, when I turn to a page, stay on that page without external force being applied.

    I don’t mind explanations of basic terminology. I can remember not knowing what the term “D10” meant, and the anguish that caused me at the time.

    #31143
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    I like and applaud Mr Salt’s list with two reservations:

    I cannot believe that ‘It’s easy enough’ given the dearth of rules that achieve even half his recommendations,

    and

    I think he is unnecessarily limiting himself re ‘Grapefruit Segments’ – what about Paddy Griffith’s ‘Men Against Fruit’?

    #31147
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    DAMN YOU MR SALT!

    I read this on the tablet (which crashes if I try to post) and put on my Grumpy old school hat and limped into the office to my PC to post.  Damn me, you said what I wanted to say, rather better than what I would hav sed it!

    I cannot interest you in my new rules “Fields of War Afire with Panzerauftragstaktik of Glory” we dispense wiv text cos the kewl kidz cant reed it ‘n we jus have cartoons like wot yu get fr the public libry?

    #31155
    Piyan Glupak
    Participant

    In my opinion, the most important aspect of a rulebook is that it should be easy to use when you play.  This is particularly important for the first few times that you have a go with it, especially when not playing solo.

    I like the text to be clear (easily understood and reasonably unambiguous), WRG please take note.  Diagrams can be useful.  A reasonable proportion of white space makes reading easier.  Within those limitations though, concise is good because you have a better chance of finding things.  An index or contents can be helpful.  A5 is a more convenient size than A4, but that is a considerably less important factor than the text being readily readable and understandable when you are in the middle of your first game.

    Not fond of the tiny fonts used in the old DBM rulebook, for example.  As stated above, the first few times time that attempt to play the rules you will be trying to find things and be able to understand them quickly when you are under a certain amount of pressure because of the other people playing.

    Lack of adequate proof reading can make rules difficult to understand.  The first version of the Polemos Napoleonic rules had many errata.  Can’t talk about later versions because I wouldn’t touch any Polemos rules with a bargepole after my experiences.

    Not that impressed with ‘eye candy’ – large colour pictures that don’t necessarily illustrate anything in particular.  Although there is nothing wrong with eye candy, it can increase the size and price, and you can always see it on the Internet.  I would suggest that colour is only used if it makes things clearer.

    Cheap is preferable, bearing in mind that I am likely to buy many more sets of rules than I actually use.  However, clarity, good mechanisms and believable results are all more important, in my opinion.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Piyan Glupak.
    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Piyan Glupak. Reason: Not telling!
    #31159
    Alvin Molethrottler
    Participant

    You know what really grinds my gears with today’s rule books? Proofreading and indexes. I think it’s a shame that people go to great efforts to make a rule book look really nice and then they don’t seem to have even given it to a friend to read through before sending it off to the publishers. I’ll give you one example of what I mean “Victory at Sea” (WW1 version) by Mongoose Publishing, every page reference says “see page XX” every, single, one.

    As for indexes, I find that the utility of a rule set is directly linked to its index. A good index is a godsend when, mid-game, rule blindness sets in and something you are sure you read just the other day seems to have simply vanished from the text. A competent index is an excellent substitute for a poor memory 😉

    #31160
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    You know what really grinds my gears with today’s rule books? Proofreading and indexes.  

    We learned about proofreading the hard way. Despite our best cooperative efforts, our first book had plenty of errors because we thought we could proofread our own work. An errata sheet was quickly released. For all of our following books, we engaged some excellent and literate friends who put our writing through the mangle. Since then, no errata 🙂

    Not so sure about the use of indexes though. If you have a subject that appears in six different places in the rules, you have to hunt through all of them until you find the information you need as nearly all indexes fail to give you contextual guidance.

    Instead, we plumped for an alternative:

    • Clear, descriptive section and sub-section headings,
    • Section and subsection numbering,
    • A clear contents page, and
    • Comprehensive cross-referencing by section and subsection number.

    Add to this a good, downloadable, reference sheet with all the in-game information you need and cross-references should you want more.

    This approach has proven popular with our readers and has been mentioned in several independent reviews.

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #31161
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    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:

    1. Cheap.
    £11.99/$14.99 – check!

    2. Short.
    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.
    Absolutely, check!

    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.
    Agreed, check!

    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.

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #31181
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    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.

     

    Oh dear! 😉

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #31184
    Piyan Glupak
    Participant

    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”.

    Do I take it that you wouldn’t quite like “Glory-Fields of Blood Grapefruit Segments of Death, Gore and Flames Unleashed”?

    #31185
    craig cartmell
    Participant

    You’re going to hate our next rule set then… Blood Eagle 🙁

    Cheers,
    Craig

    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare

    #31193
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    Richard

    My experience of WRG’s Barkerese is that it is only difficult to understand if you do not read it.  Almost every misunderstanding I have ever come up against has been from people who do not read the sentence and take careful note of how it is constructed.  For the powerpoint generation this is no doubt cruel and inhumane treatment, but I would really prefer not to see the rulebook twice as long just to accomodate the barely literate.

    In fact, WRGs second set of H&M rules must come within a whisker of Mr Salt’s admirable list.

    I still think you should all give “Fields of War Afire with Panzerauftragstaktik of Glory” a go.  250 pages of cartoon fun on glorious high gloss paper in full colour and no polysyllabic words for the unfortunate.  $500 from Grabber and Grabber (plus postage).

    #31194
    Piyan Glupak
    Participant

    Grizzlymc, if you are not reading WRG rules under pressure, then I would agree that the meaning is nearly always all there.  The concise and compact text can sometimes be a bit of a problem if, for instance, you are in the middle of your first game, and the other person(s) playing are expecting you to resolve the query rapidly.  Noticing the position of commas can make a huge difference in what a sentence means.  Some of their rules (such as HotT 2nd edition) give few if any problems, in my opinion.  Some (such as DBR and the versions of DBA that I have) are not too bad, particularly if you put in a couple of hours study the night before your first game.  DBM I found much more difficult, I am afraid; if that means that I am intellectually challenged, so be it.

    Not seen any recent versions of Horse, Foot and Guns, so can’t comment about them.

    #31198
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Richard My experience of WRG’s Barkerese is that it is only difficult to understand if you do not read it. Almost every misunderstanding I have ever come up against has been from people who do not read the sentence and take careful note of how it is constructed. For the powerpoint generation this is no doubt cruel and inhumane treatment, but I would really prefer not to see the rulebook twice as long just to accomodate the barely literate. In fact, WRGs second set of H&M rules must come within a whisker of Mr Salt’s admirable list. I still think you should all give “Fields of War Afire with Panzerauftragstaktik of Glory” a go. 250 pages of cartoon fun on glorious high gloss paper in full colour and no polysyllabic words for the unfortunate. $500 from Grabber and Grabber (plus postage).

     

    While I agree with you on the subject of WRG’s venerable H&M rules, DBA is the, worst written, set, of rules, that obfuscate, simple concepts, behind a barrage, of commas (except Wb(F)). I’ve got an English Language degree (ooo, get her), I can read long, boring, technical manuals and understand them, but some parts of DBA had me going ‘eh?’. No mean feat for such a short set of rules. ‘Concise’ they are, ‘clear’ they most definitely are not.

     

    … and WRG 7th Ancients are mostly gibberish.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #31219
    Lagartija Mike
    Spectator

    While I agree 7th is hamstrung by its language, I think it remains, after decoding the Linear Barker, a strong system. Not all WRG suffers by being written in some kind of alternate english, Gush’s Renaissance rules remain a great example of concise, lucid rule writing.

    #31227
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Not all WRG suffers by being written in some kind of alternate english, Gush’s Renaissance rules remain a great example of concise, lucid rule writing.

    There’s an obvious reason for that – they weren’t written by Barker, although they do appear to suffer from the dead hand of his ‘editing’ in parts. They were, and probably still are IMO, one of the best sets of Renaissance rules.

    Ditto the aforementioned H&M rules, which we played for years. They were a result of committee writing, in which it seems Barker’s input was tempered by the writing style of others.

    The early editions of WRG 20th century rules, both WWII and Moderns, ticked the ‘clear and concise’ boxes too. The late 80s ‘complete revisions’ were a mess.

    It seems to me that Barker’s writing style has got worse, not better, over the years. Whether this is the oft cited effect of rules lawyers trying to crack his rules or just sheer bloody mindedness on his part I don’t know. 🙂

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #31258
    A Lot of Gaul
    Participant

    The first miniatures wargaming rulebook I fell in love with was The Ancient War Game by Charles Grant. Published in 1974, Mr. Grant’s book was clearly and cleverly written, nicely illustrated, professionally published, and hard bound. From his book I also found that I had a strong preference for rule sets that are results-oriented rather than process-driven, and that read more like cheerful conversations than technical manuals. As a result, I have never had any nostalgic affection for rule sets that are dry, densely written, poorly illustrated, and/or amateurishly produced.

    Now some 40 years later, my criteria for a rule set remains very much the same. The rules should be engaging for me to read, highly enjoyable for me to play, and should allow my tabletop troops to engage in tactics and behaviors that complement written accounts of historical tactics and battles. And it is of equal importance to me that the illustrations, layout and production values of the rulebook should add to, rather than detract from, the visual spectacle of my miniatures wargaming.

    In my hobby-related purchases, I am much more interested in value than cost. So if I take great pleasure in reading, perusing and playing with a particular rulebook, then I consider it to be an excellent value, regardless of the actual purchase price. On the other hand, I will consider a rule set that holds no interest for me to be a very poor value, even if it has a low price – or if it costs nothing at all. I am also not a ‘rules collector.’ If I find that I no longer have any interest in a rulebook that I own, then I will sell or give it to someone else, for whom it does have some value.

    Naturally and obviously, YMMV. Fortunately for all of us, today there are hundreds of different rule sets available in a wide variety of writing styles and production values, which can appeal to all manner of different wargaming tastes, styles and preferences. The fact that many of these rulebooks and systems do not match my own personal preferences has never bothered me in the slightest. C’est la vie. Vive la difference!

    Cheers,
    Scott

     

     

     

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by A Lot of Gaul.

    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    #32617
    Sane Max
    Participant

    IMHO the best approach is to think of rulesets you like, work out why, and try to match their approach.

    For example, 1st edition BKC slid into my head first time I read them, and I was playing (with only 1 howling error) that same day. Oddly, I had the same ‘got it’ result with Warmaster, which were nowhere near as sensibly written. Black Powder is a great set of rules spoiled by a determination to make a glossy hardback they could charge the world for. Think what they could have done if they had replaced half the glossy pictures with some fundamental rule mechanics.

    I cannot, to this day, read Barkerese. When he finally retires and someone else takes over, a very fine set of rules should be the result. I know his English is ‘correct’ but that doesn’t make it ‘right’.

    But bloody* Peter bloody* Pig and their bloody* refusal to recruit a halfwit chimp to glance at their rules and point out speling, grammer, sintax and simple bloody* stupidity in their rulesets. AK47 1st edition is a great game, despite the problems. But their newer rulesets are beyond bloody* awful. And when you gently point it out to *bloody Martin that a purchaser of a set of rules should at least expect the publisher to give a *bloody, he gets all *bloody offended. I make no claim to be a good spellinger, but for *bloody sake, a small child could re-write whole pages in better english.

    *please replace with the unspeakable obscenity of your choice.

    #32618
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    I make no claim to be a good spellinger, but for *bloody sake, a small child could re-write whole pages in better english.

    That is why mine are free.
    I would feel bad charging for them!

    😀

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