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Sunday, 14 February 2010

Worst Wargames Rules


Moving on from the best rules list,I thought Id better balance this with a small list of rules that I found pretty poor.I would stress this is a personal opinion and I am not paid to promote one set over another [ I wish].
One set that always struck in my mind was Bruce Quarries Napoleonic rules,which I must admit I fought with for at least a year before I gave up on them. They were released originally in 1974 and then expanded on from there into quite a tome.The rules attempted to show that wargamers should be taken seriously and that we didnt just play with toys.Hence Bruce introduced the thorny subject of national characteristics,which caused endless arguments and on one occassion I can recall, nearly coming to blows over the abilities of British riflemen. Looking back it all seems very embarrasing but at the time it was important.The rules catered for every eventuality and while I still keep a copy,just to reminisce over I think they were pretty naff rules. A more modern set was the recent release, Minden Rose which I used only last year, I really disliked these rules, if only for the fact that they heavily penalised everyone but the prussians [syw]. I also disliked Kreigskunst again purely for the fact that they favoured the prussians, the only question I have got about the Prussians is,if Frederick was so great why did it take seven years to fight a war to a stalemate!!
The IWG was born out of a reaction to the then domination [in the 80's] of the Wargames Research Group who tended to dominate all wargames rules at one time. There is a pattern forming here I know,but I remember feeling lucky to escape injury when having been invited to a refight of Wagram using WRG napoleonic rules where a serious argument broke out about the use of Austrian 'masses' [ I would like to say it had nothing to do with me] the rules to be fair were well put together but were definately for the competition minded gamer, which I am definately not. John and I used for several years their renaissance rules by George Gush.
I have always liked Gush and his style of writing but the endless use of tables created long periods of inertia. My final naff rules have to include Peter Gilder's, In the Grand Manner.I have used these in three battles and each time have come away promising never to use them again. I hasten to add I only use them when I go to the Wargamers holiday centre in Scarborough,which I love,that is until I play with the rules. I think it is obvious that I like simple rules,with the emphasis on playability. Anyway just something to mull over...............

8 comments:

  1. You and I seem to be of a like mind! Not that I am familiar with the rule sets you mention, but I am prepared to sacrifice a good deal of pettifogging detail in the interests of playability (which is why I like my own rules).

    The Bruce Quarrie set seemed OK but so intricate that it took 2 club days a few years ago to play a single moderate sized game. I loathe 'national characteristics' anyhow.

    The big problems with WRG seem to me: (1) the use of language so compact and dense as to be completely opaque and impenetrable - even after 10 years and more of play, you still get disputes over rules application; (2) - and this is worse - too many emendments and 'corrections' - often with insufficient consideration - such that the occasional player (like me) often has no clear idea what the current rule set actually is! In my view the DBx rule sets, though not really my thing - were innovative, playable, and - give or take (chunder) competitions - fun. They became so mucked about with that I haven't played ancients for several years now...

    Many years ago, when the club of which I am a member produced 'Southern Sortie', I was seriously considering writing an article - or a series of articles - "In defence of unrealism in wargames". The point of it was to show that a good deal of what is considered 'realistic' or 'verisimilitudinous', isn't; and a lot of what seems 'unrealistic' perhaps is susceptable to rationalisation or explanation.

    Mind you - I guess I could use my blogspot for that...

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    Replies
    1. You should have, I as assistant editor of Southern Sortie would have welcomed such an article.
      Thanks for treating me kindly in the reveiw of our recent HotT battle where my Steppe Nomad army supported by mystical creatures from the Gobi Desert were soundly beaten and sent packing with much loss.

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  2. Personally I've never been that much of a fasn of Frederick the Average the Prussian army lost lamost as many as it won in the 7yw and really only Rossbach and Leuthen stand out Zorndorf was a bloodbath He legged it at Mollowitz and left it to his generals... The improvement in the poeriod are the Austrians and the British - both were different armies at the end of the war than the beginning. The massive failures are I'm afraid the French - even though I like the French in this period they are not wonderful in performance. The Brits as ever suffer at the beginning from poor command structure but become excellent once they get used to campaigning. Warburg is classic.
    As for rules I still favour a somewhat altered version of Warfare in the age of reason - my version uses the mechanic but with more accurate organisations.

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  3. Nice article. I did my time with some of those rules and out of nostolgia still have my copy of Quarrie.

    For the sake of devil's advocate I am a fan of national characteristics. I think it adds a lot to a game, particularly horse and musket era, when you have your stoic Russian, aggressive Frenchman, mechanical Prussian, etc. Without those, if all units are veteran with the same characteristics you may as well create imagi-nations and your own uniforms. Having a generic troop-type IMHO steals the thunder from the period. Plus, if you are doing refights of some of the SYW battles for example there has to be a qualitative edge for the Prussians or the odds at which he accepted or initiated battle would be cake-walks for the larger enemy. Generic games can be very fun but my non-wargame analogy would be that if you are a mediocre football coach but have a great team, you may still end up looking like a genius. Similarly a great coach can get the best play out of his sub-par team. Thanks.

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  4. Seeing as mike has revived this posting I might make comment, yes I still have my copy of Bruce "Machinegun" Quarries rules and I am a fan of national characteristi's, it would help if those characteristics were somewhat better researched.

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  5. I started with Airfix Guide No4. Back in the early 80s. Rules of charts and the set still holds sentimental value... One day i will finally get a copy of eBay and play a few retro games, even only to remind me how rules have evolved. FOGN is a stark contrast in approach.

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  6. B.Quarrie was the first rule I came across. From then I collected tons of 1/72 figures.However, I switched to boardgames.

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  7. In the Grand Manner rules were designed to be used by people coming to play a game, never having used the rules before. And on a table 27 feet wide and 15 feet deep with thousands of figures. They worked for me.

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating