Home Forums General General What makes a good AAR?

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    What do you like in AARs?

    Mechanics: Loads of detail, minimal, none at all?
    Pictures: Loads, whatever, pretty, as it comes?
    Narrative: Factual, story based?
    Other: More things, less things?

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Mike. Reason: wordings

    Use Just Jack’s AAR’s as an example.

    Norm S

    If something is new, then leaning towards explaining the system may be the most useful. For a very well known system, where people can get that support all over the net, including videos, then I like something that gives an overview of play, with photo support that shows how the battlefield looks and works. I like a bit of narrative, but balance is key, I want to know that a game is being played rather than having a piece of fiction presented.

    Iain Fuller

    Cheers Mike, are you trying to say something!!

    For myself, I like it to just read right. If it describes the battle in an entertaining way then I don’t mind if I don’t know the ins and outs of the system used just that it explains what happened so that I can follow it. And people use the correct spellings of there/their/they’re at the right time and place (god, I hate that!!). I do like the pictures to highlight or help visualise what happens at certain times through the narrative too.

    Having written a few, however, I know that sometimes getting all this done can be hard. Sometimes you might not get round to doing it for a while after the action happened so might forget what happened in places, sometimes you don’t want to remember due to your awful mistakes and sometimes you might not get to take pics as often as you’d like which can irk somewhat. Mine started primarily as a log of the games that I’ve played for myself and the people involved, that other people in the world have a look too and some of them dig them is just very cool and helps you carry on doing them.


    Narrative is the key for me. It doesn’t have to be great fiction, but the combination of photos and text should tell the story of the battle. I’m quite partial to the comic-book style narratives that some blogs feature. I also like to see a few notes about the game system so that I understand how the narrative came to be.

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



    I tend to enjoy a mix of photos, some overall to understand the battlefield, and some close up to capture the action, and the telling of the battle.  This can be through a fictional storyline, or just a description of the battle.  I don’t typically have any interest in the mechanics of the rules used, so if it goes into a bit of rules review, it is usually lost on me.

    Kaptain Kobold

    Not doing it as a video.

    General Slade

    Not doing it as a video.

    Amen to that brother.

    To get me reading you do have to start with some pretty pictures.  For me to carry on reading you also have to provide a good map or plan of the table so I can see where things are.  After that it is about the narrative but I also do like to learn something about the game mechanics even if it is at the very basic level of “I had to roll a six to pass my morale test”.

    Finally, if you just say ‘Here’s a link to an AAR on my blog’ I’m not going to bother clicking on it.  I want to see some pictures and text here on TWW.  In fact I’d rather read the whole thing here on TWW.


    In fact I’d rather read the whole thing here on TWW.

    Right on!

    You are now the PR officer, go and round up people and have them make TWW their one stop shop for all things gaming!



    Actually I used to have a couple of blogs but stopped using them and moved the content here, TWW gets over 60,000 visits a month which is more than my blog ever did, so things are more likely to be seen here, which after all is why I did a blog, to get people to see stuff.


    Plus if it is on here then the I wont have to create a blogger account, or wpress account, or whatever to be able to comment on it, or wait for my comment to be approved as all this is already possible here.

    Angel Barracks

    Finally, if you just say ‘Here’s a link to an AAR on my blog’ I’m not going to bother clicking on it.

    I am inclined to agree, it is like clickbait without the bait.

    Guy Farrish

    I suppose it depends what you want from your AAR.

    In real life a debrief is aimed at what happened to whom and why and how it could be done better next time.

    I’m guessing that generally (competition gamers excepted?) this isn’t what people are looking for in recreational wargames? (Although reflections on set up, scenario and balance of forces may fit here – but not in terms of the ‘battle’ itself).

    So what makes a good one is going to have lots of different answers depending what you are looking for. It should be entertaining – certainly, it’s a hobby – but I may love Frank Sinatra whereas you may find the Sex Pistols more your type of thing. If Mike’s style is Taylor Swift we may all be confused and a little disappointed!

    So probably best set your stall out at the beginning –  Rules examination, low budget (or are you a professional writer?) high quality fiction, pic fest, or tactical analysis. (You probably can do all of that in one shot, but given space, time and modern attention spans I’m going to guess it’s probably beyond most of us).

    So what makes a good one? Don’t sell it as one style and write another. If a rules examination be honest – praise the bits that worked , and tell us why; tell us about the bits that in you opinion clunked (be honest about any special factors  eg ‘they aren’t the killer set I am bringing out on the subject next week’!) and why. If you write a narrative fictional account – are you Stephen Crane? Tom Clancy? or more EL James? Be honest. Stick to what you are good at and think about your audience. If you are writing a tactical analysis you are going to have to touch on the rules system. I remember reading loads of ‘good advice’ from rules writers in the 70s – ‘these rules reward real tactics’ (you know who you are!) when that advice was a little ‘economical with the actualité’ about what the rule mechanisms delivered. (Which sets of rules reward keeping a reserve?).

    So pitch an AAR at one target for a start would be my advice.

    (Have I always stuck to that advice myself? Absolutely. Always focused. Never ramble. Perfect AARs every time. )


    General Slade

    Right on! You are now the PR officer 

    Does this mean I get invited to the staff Christmas party?



    Right on! You are now the PR officer

    Does this mean I get invited to the staff Christmas party?

    Sure why not?!

    Chris Pringle

    Brevity is a virtue. If you really want to tell the story blow-by-blow, please do it with pictures – preferably annotated – rather than with words. Vincent Tsao’s AARs on his Corlears Hook Fencibles blog are fine examples:


    As Guy says, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Myself, these days I tend to make the description of the game itself pretty brief (not least because of time) and with just enough detail for me then to get to the point of what I actually want to say. That point will vary. It may be some general observation about game mechanisms, or something about history or strategy or tactics, or just picking out some moments of high drama or low comedy from the game. But it’s about keeping the ratio of entertainment to verbiage high.

    Which is a good place for this post to stop.


    Bloody Big BATTLES!




    Rod Robertson

    Mike et al.:

    For me a good map or overhead photo of the table top, a list of the opposing forces, some, but not too many, photos of the game, a good narrative style and a thoughtful post-game analysis make for a good AAR. However, I do not post AAR’s myself so I speak only as one who consumes but does not produce them.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    Tom V.

    I like to see a map, or an overview picture of the table, a general list of the forces involved and a rough idea as to what each side wanted to do. After that pictures with some brief comments and a summary at the end.


    Lots and lots of photo’s.

    Steve Johnson

    For me, I like to see:

    • Why the game is being played? Is it a historical battle, part of one, a ‘what if?’ etc.
    • The forces involved.
    • The ruleset being used.
    • A good overhead view of the table, with other shots to enhance a brief narrative of each Turn.
    • A post-match analysis of how the game went, what worked well, what failed dismally etc?
    Rod Robertson

    What makes a good AAR? Why an eloquent pirate with a musical voice of course!

    Apologies but I just can’t help it.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson


    What makes a good AAR? Why an eloquent pirate with a musical voice of course! Apologies but I just can’t help it. Cheers and good gaming. Rod Robertson

    Ivan Sorensen


    Have one turn where you go in-depth with game mechanics, then a fairly free flowing narrative that occasionally highlights a lucky break or something really cool that happened.

    I actually get into the text more than the pictures but its nice to see people’s gaming tables, even if (or especially if) they are sort of modest looking.

    A post battle debrief as well. How did it go, what went well, did the plan work, that sort of thing.

    Nordic Weasel Games

    Phil Dutré


    For me, a good AAR should inspire the reader to setup a game himself. Narrative is the best way to achieve that. Nothing more boring than explaining game mechanics. That works well for people interested in that specific ruleset, but it is utterly boring for everybody else.

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

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