The rules said what?

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steve_holmes_11
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed May 05, 2021 5:57 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

The rules said what?

Post by steve_holmes_11 »

I'm really enjoying the daily advent Lardcasts on Youtube.
The insights into the joys of gaming, and the thinking behind certain rule mechanisms are great listening.
I hear so much sense, things we take for granted in today's rules ...

But it has stimulated my dark side to reflect on wargaming 30 years ago.
I think of several rulesets with trepidation, particularly those that decided to prioritise realism in the ancients field.

The theories all seemed sensible: Look at a bunch of ancient battles, attempt to classify the armies form vague descriptions.
See who beats who and tweak the combat outcomes to match.
The problem of course is that (with a few exceptions) you find you've created another game of "Romans can't lose".

Heavy infantry, big shields, high quality.
Better add in some bonus for the pilum firestorm, and the exchange of ranks, superior logistics and the very sharp gladius (What have they ever done for us)...
And before you know it you have realistic outcomes, but a game that's as dull as double Latin after lunch on a Friday afternoon.

The phrase "Let's make this a little more interesting" aren't always suffixed with "Mister Bond", but they reliably preceed a poorly considered idea.
Movie trivia digression here: A gold bar prize doesn't make golf interesting. PLayng with skates, on ice , trying to whack a disk into a small net with frequent fights would make golf more interesting.

Back to wargaming.
You have your desiccated rules for "Romans cant lose" and decide to inject "Generalship".
Why not begin with four unreadable pages about terrain, its effects, the type of terrain that is allowed and very specific orders for its placement.
Now let's really spoil things up with a bunch of rules about "things that never happened" in any ancient battle account.
Units may re-align by wheeling anchored on a corner, or wheel backwards at one quarter speed.

Skirmishers, they're great and everybody had them. I know how they work because I've read a couple of the Sharpe books.
Let's spread them out in front of the battle line, but spread them out so wide that they'll never cause significant casualties through shooting.
Further, let's produce 2 unreadable pages on interpenetration, that's the ticket.
Now, your velites face getting crushed between the Hastati and the approaching Teutonic knights, or making some move which will doubtless disorder the velites and hastati (unless your velites are elites).

Those were the rules.
I'm amazed that I stayed with the hobby long enough to see this modern era.
I'm delighted that I did, and grateful to our modern rulesmiths for providing us with something better.

Merry Christmas one and all.
Toys R Fun

SteveC
Posts: 62
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:23 pm
Location: Bath, UK

Re: The rules said what?

Post by SteveC »

Cut my teeth on WRG Ancients 3rd edition - that's 50 years ago! Played 6th Edition in the comps of that period and was pleased when DBM first appeared as it go rid of those horrible casualty tables and moved to the element approach. Not perfect as there are still arguments about this concept and how it covers the manipula formations of the Republican Roman armies. Never got on with Newbury rules either - too many tables/factors to get a good flowing game.

Gave up on Ultra Moderns after Bruce died as the follow up set of his rules needed a computer or the patience of Jove to work out where the target had been hit, what effect the armour and/or counter measures had and whether after all that the vehicle was KO'd or merely suppressed.

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MLB
Posts: 1093
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:57 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: The rules said what?

Post by MLB »

Miniatures lost me in the early 80s and it wasn’t until I stumbled across the Crossfire rules in 2010 did I start playing miniatures again. I hadn’t stopped playing wargames but I was playing board games, that said they also reached a nadir around the same time for similar reasons - stereotyped historical analysis (if it’s German it’s got to be better) buried under pages of charts and rules. It seems it was the problem of the age.

I feel part of it (excessively detailed rules and endless charts) was an attempt to position the hobby as “serious”. How could it be playing with toy soldiers with this many rules? It seems the hobby has matured enough to move beyond that stage. Many of us also reached the conclusion that more is not more, less is more. The skill in rules writing was not to make sure you get everything in, but to make sure you have distilled the essence of everything and refined it down to a simple series of mechanics. We were shown the way right at the beginning with Kriegspiel, is it a good shot or a bad shot?
The Tactical Painter
Painting little soldiers for tactical battles on the table top

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DougM
Posts: 618
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:22 am

Re: The rules said what?

Post by DougM »

Yep... what he ^ said... DBA was to me the single most important rule-set of the last 30 years. Especially as it came from one of the doyens of the old 'charts & tables' style rules.
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Baldie
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Re: The rules said what?

Post by Baldie »

DBA for me still my fave wargame.
Not to everyone's taste but perfect to me.
Interests

Getting slaughtered by a surprising amount of opponents.

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DougM
Posts: 618
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:22 am

Re: The rules said what?

Post by DougM »

Love me a good game of DBA. It's right there with CoC and SP. Used to play it a lot and loved it win or lose.
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oozeboss
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Location: In the Shadow of the Temple of Mir-Anda, Sydney, Australia

Re: The rules said what?

Post by oozeboss »

1975: Bruce Quarrie's Napoleonic rules were the catalyst that brought me into the hobby. I started with 2009 Austrians, but quickly switched to 1814/ 1815 Prussians after reading a stirring biography of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.

Sincilbanks
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2020 6:07 pm

Re: The rules said what?

Post by Sincilbanks »

oozeboss wrote:
Thu Dec 30, 2021 9:55 am
1975: Bruce Quarrie's Napoleonic rules were the catalyst that brought me into the hobby. I started with 2009 Austrians, but quickly switched to 1814/ 1815 Prussians after reading a stirring biography of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.
I still have his Napoleonic Campaigns in Miniatures somewhere on my bookshelf, but oh those pages and pages of National Characteristics and a morale check that took about 20 minutes to take... blimey charlie!

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DougM
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Re: The rules said what?

Post by DougM »

So do I. I didn't actually own a copy till quite recently. I had to borrow a friend's copy for years. But it was utterly fascinating for a 14 year old kid. 'Real Wargames'.
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