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"What drives the value of a historical rules set?" Topic

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1,794 hits since 17 Nov 2013
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Bandit Inactive Member17 Nov 2013 12:53 p.m. PST

Whatever your acceptable price point, we all value different things in justifying it but I'm curious if there are trends.

The obvious one is a useless metric the rules have to work and be both fun and playable. Well, duh.

Delving beyond that there is the game scope, i.e. size of table, number of figures, is it a historical period I like? Those are all innate to the rule sets so nothing much to find there.


Supporting materials?

What of the following supporting materials drives the purchase of historical rules for you?

A) Maps
B) Orders of Battle
C) Complete scenarios
D) Hobby Guides, i.e. painting & terrain tutorials, uniform schemes, etc…
E) Eye Candy, i.e. photographs and the like
F) Unit ratings or army lists
G) Other what would that be?


The Bandit

epturner17 Nov 2013 12:57 p.m. PST

What drives the value? Exactly what you think it does…

The fact that each person has their own view means that you'll never get any two gamers to completely agree…

Just saying.


Bandit Inactive Member17 Nov 2013 12:59 p.m. PST


Yep, which is why I'm asking a whole big group of gamers. What drives it for you Eric?


The Bandit

morrigan Inactive Member17 Nov 2013 1:14 p.m. PST

Marketing is important. The more hype that can be built up prior to release, the more the perceived value is.

kreoseus217 Nov 2013 1:26 p.m. PST

All of your examples, plus a true understanding and the ability to capture the feel of the period they represent. Some rules, Bloody barons, has the feel and period detail, but does not play how I think a WOTR battle should.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2013 1:42 p.m. PST

If it does what I want it to.
I bought Black Powder because I thought it could give a good feel for AWI gaming.
I picked it up yesterday and was amused by the commentary in the book, and I am going to try it on Afghanistan's plains (where the women come out to cut up what remains…)in the very near future.
It will be interesting to see if a set of rules can handle both the AWI and Afghanistan. But, what the heck, I used to play WRG Ancients, so the concept is not all that outlandish.

I will go out of my way to buy a new set of rules when:
1) The rules accomplish what I want them to.
2) There are sufficient scenarios that show how the authors intend units to be rated. Maps come in nice here. This covers several of your other criteria.
Basically, I want to know the author(s)' intent when the rules come out.
Another example: GASLIGHT. The ACW scenario book was good, because it tamped down on the natural tendency of gamers to give their favorite units SHOOT numbers of …18?

Eye candy? Not really necessary, but that horse has flown the barn. You will not see any commercial rules in the future without it, for good or bad. So, it may as well be GOOD eye candy! grin
Why keep asking if this is necessary? The market has spoken. I don't really care, but I am just a grumpy Old Fart. Nobody asked me, but there they are. Whether or not I want it…

BTW, this topic comes up like clockwork once a month or so. I can set my sundial by it.
It gets difficult to keep answering the same questions and varying the sentences but saying the same thing.

Rakkasan Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2013 1:46 p.m. PST

Assuming that all things being equal and that the rules are well written and properly editted to begin with. The additional amenities that I would pay extra for include a table of contents, index, game cards/cheat sheets, design philosophy, and references or sources for follow on reading. Next, illustrations that show examples of the rules; graphics and game photos.
After that I look for scenarios, army lists, or the tools to design my own games. If I need to purchase another book, I may not want to pay too much for this one. Finally, eye candy, superfilous photos, general hooby info (how to paint, make terrain, uniform guides).
I think that some good examples are The Sword and the Flame, the original Fire and Fury, and some of the rules by Buck Surdu.

advocate17 Nov 2013 1:52 p.m. PST

Complete scenarios (ideally a campaign or at least linked scenarios) are very attractive. Maps help with scenarios, of course.
Diagrams often help.
Thorough examples of play.

Orders of battle I can (usually) do myself; ditto 'potted histories', painting guides and the like. I can do without a lot of eye-candy.

Unit ratings and army lists… depends upon the rules: some are designed for balanced, competitive play – Armati or DBA for example – others, more for scenario-based play (I Ain't Been Shot, Mum).

Finally, some rules aim to be complete in a single book (Dux Bellorum, DBA) while other rule producers aim to provide continuing support – Too Fat Lardies sets tend to be this way. I'm happy with either of these models – not so much with an ever extending list of (expensive) supplements.

Martin Rapier17 Nov 2013 2:13 p.m. PST

Not worried about hobby guides or eye candy. Scenarios, maps, obs, lists are always a nice bonus.

The main reason I bought 1859 and 1870 was for the maps and scenarios.

epturner17 Nov 2013 3:20 p.m. PST

What The OFM said.


Viper guy Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2013 3:42 p.m. PST

Rules that can reproduce the historical outcomes. They don't have to have the same outcome (after all that's one of the reasons most of us play) but it should be possible. Along with that, well designed scenarios that make even "predetermine" battles fun to play even for the underdog.

Don Manser17 Nov 2013 4:23 p.m. PST

C, F, E in that order,


Dave Crowell17 Nov 2013 6:12 p.m. PST

Enjoyable game play has to be number one for me.

After that army lists, orders of battle or unit ratings are an essential. With them I can construct any scenario I like from historical sources. They should be comprehensive.

At least one scenario to show how the designers envision the game being played.

Everything else is optional. I can find uniform guides and hobby how to by doing research. If it is a period I am interested enough in to collect the figures and play the game the research is part of the fun.

1ngram18 Nov 2013 4:07 a.m. PST

For whom? For the seller it often seems its the desire to make as much money out of the buyer as possible.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2013 9:13 a.m. PST

I'm leaning towards the OFM's train of thought on this one.

ubercommando Inactive Member18 Nov 2013 9:16 a.m. PST

One criteria these days: Popularity.

I'm not a fanboy for new and shiny products, but in the past I've gone down the path of buying a set of rules that appeals to me and my tastes only to find that no one else uses them. Sometimes a club choses the out of print and obscure set that they like and turn their noses at the newest and popular product or the other way around. So my most recent purchases have been based around what gamers around me are playing and if I'm travelling around the country. So that means Flames of War, Black Powder, etc. Even a wonderful set like I Ain't Been Shot Mum has a lot of dislikers and I can't get a game.

I draw the line at Napoleon's Battles and Rapid Fire, though. No matter how popular they are, one is way too expensive for what you get and the other is interminably dull. I'll leave you to figure out which one is which.

Fat Wally18 Nov 2013 1:12 p.m. PST

I'm with OFM on this one.

RichardHolling18 Nov 2013 2:21 p.m. PST

For me Play ability

- A decent Index
- Comprehensive table of contents
- Good quick reference sheets
- Rule summaries

- Scenarios
- Army lists

Blackpowder looks great, the rules aren't too bad to play, however they are very badly put together, its almost as though no one playtested from the text of the rules.

For me there is just no excuse for not having an index and good table of contents.

By John 5418 Nov 2013 3:22 p.m. PST

'BTW, this topic comes up like clockwork once a month or so. I can set my sundial by it.
It gets difficult to keep answering the same questions and varying the sentences but saying the same thing.'

Ever considered just saying nothing? just once? thought not!

Just joking, I agree, although, it depends on the era, I can lay hands on a lot of Napoleonic maps, and ideas for games, but, small scale, (ie Company) actions in WWII, I would like some, that why, although I don't play the rules, I love the FOW scenario books, they are a great read.


Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2013 12:06 a.m. PST

Supporting the OFM.

Yesthatphil19 Nov 2013 4:22 a.m. PST

Answering the question What … supporting materials drives the purchase of historical rules for you?
… and allowing I am not a rules junkie (I just buy what I need for play after due consideration)…

I think a fair answer would be data: historical info, maps, orbats etc. from actual battles and engagements that would help set up reconstructions.

Although I had the slim predecessors (so didn't really need the big book) I bought Phil Sabin's Lost Battles for all the historical data it has: it is the key to reconstructing so many battles, whatever the rules set you then use. I would buy the equivalent of a Lost Battles style volume for any historical period.


OSchmidt Inactive Member19 Nov 2013 5:11 a.m. PST

The only metric is the one you summarily dismissed. Does it work and is it fun. As for the rest, price. The closer it is to free the better, the further it is from free, the less I will think of buying it. $10 USD is the tops I will pay for rules and then only for curiosity value.

Bandit Inactive Member20 Nov 2013 10:02 a.m. PST

OSchmidt, John the OFM, Narratio, Fat Wally and anyone else who believes:

The only metric is the one you summarily dismissed.

I know a lot of posters are responding with some derivation of, "I have to like the rules" or "the rules have to work right."

Those are true statements but they are only known after we've played the rules, often many times.

Now to be clear, I am not dismissing that, summarily or otherwise, I am stating that we all know that already. So there isn't much to learn there.

I've bought a lot of rules, most without playing first and that is the same experience for most wargamers I know. You can't know if "the rules are good / right / what I want them to be" prior to playing them, so while that is the most important factor in liking rules, i.e. "I like what I like" it isn't a factor in most of our purchases because the purchase is made before we're able to determine that.

And since we've all bought a lot of rules without knowing first if we'd like them, I wanted to know how that decision was made.

Thanks to the people speaking to my question, it has been helpful and I'd love more feedback.


The Bandit

OSchmidt Inactive Member20 Nov 2013 12:19 p.m. PST

Dear Bandit

If that's the case then the best way to do this is sidle up to some table at a convention where the rules you are interested are being played and watch. DON'T Play, just watch and see how it runs. I say don't play because then you become an interested party. If you just watch you cn see what happens to this guy and that guy without you being THE guy. It also leaves you free to see what's going on without you being pre-occupied with your own moves and you don't notice the raging argument over a murky point in the rules at the other end of the table.

One other thing, if you're just watching and you see the guys who are playing looking around the room or just watching-- walk away.

Darkoath28 Nov 2013 1:08 p.m. PST

For me I love the eye candy… photographs of nicely painted miniatures grabs my attention. Then a nice playable set of rules that captures the feel of the period and does not take too much time to complete a battle keeps my attention. Also very well written scenarios with accurate maps and orders of battle included (Brigade and Rgimental troop numbers)with the game and also adding additional content for the game (like scenario books) will keep me playing for some time.

Bandolier Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2013 4:58 p.m. PST

For me, in no particular order, it is:
B) Orders of Battle
C) Complete scenarios
E) Eye Candy, i.e. photographs and the like
F) Unit ratings or army lists
G) Other Compatible with my current figure basing and unit sizes.
H) Do they look easy to learn (subjective)
I) Can I get anyone else to play them (popularity)

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2013 1:20 p.m. PST

what Otto said.

(Jake Collins of NZ 2) Inactive Member29 Nov 2013 6:38 p.m. PST

For me it is post-sale support:

A decent website, which the author/designers frequently update with errata, tips, video-walk-thrus, scenarios, user-contributed stuff, etc.

The author/designer being a real presence online in whatever fashion suits them, be it on forums like this, or twitter or facebook or yahoogroups or google+, etc.

A commitment to answering questions about the rules.

Elenderil09 Dec 2013 12:43 a.m. PST

No set of rules is ever perfect. So I like to have a support mechanism available. Ideally a well supported web forum with input from players and the designers. This also shows the level of support for the rules.

BattleGuys Inactive Member11 Dec 2013 11:57 p.m. PST

Interesting question.

First the philosophical necessity:
I want a set of rules where the author obviously is trying to create a good simulation of combat for the period in a way that is elegantly accomplished. The idea that has in recent years been sold to the community concerning the impossibility that combat can be simulated in a good game is obscene and lazy. I think that finds it roots in the marketing of certain large companies who have neither the desire nor talent in house to design good rules. Unfortunately it seems this concept has found its way into historical gaming with increasing regularity.

I want the idea behind the mechanics to be one of facilitating the army commanders using tactics on the table and not using the rules themselves to win or succeed at a scenario. Make sense? I think you find far too much rulesmanship these days and not enough generalship inherent in rules released over the last 10-15 years.

I want good information mapping and Managment in the editing of the rules
I want good indexes and table of contents
I want design notes so I understand what the author was thinking. This makes resolving hang ups far easier and almost never happens in rules.
Good diagrams and examples of play. Preferably online video examples of play
Good army list
Excellent online support with updated FAQ's and errata
I would love to have digital versions as well as physical copies of everything.
I would also love app support for my iPad. Even a way to integrate my iPad into a campaign.

I prefer high quality soft binding and not hardback as well. Just look at the incredible and affordable binding done for the Malifaux game by Wyrd.

Give me a great game and I am not terribly worried about the cost of the he rules. Compared to what I will spend on miniatures almost any price point is peanuts. Give me quality and I will give you my money happily.

I think that is a pretty complete list :)

marshallken Inactive Member13 Dec 2013 7:14 a.m. PST

I'm with BattleGuys on this one.

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