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"Most complicated recent rules?" Topic


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4,166 hits since 2 Feb 2014
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Pertti Inactive Member02 Feb 2014 8:48 a.m. PST

Everybody knows the several versions of Empire are the most complicated napoleonic rules out there, but they have their years (I am not sure how old Revolution & Empire is though).

Nowadays it seems every ruleset claims to be the most "playable" and that you can complete it in one-two hours.

So, what are the most complicated recent napoleonic rules? I guess with "complicated" I mean the ones which take the most time to complete a turn or a battle, or those with the most details and rules. With "recent" I mean designed in the last few years and still in print and/or use.

With "complicated" I do not mean more realistic/historically accurate/less playable/boring/unfunny. I am just curious.

P.S. I didn't specify a scale. This is a generic question, assuming the ruleset is played at its intended scope, no Borodino with Chef de Bataillon please.

Midpoint Inactive Member02 Feb 2014 9:18 a.m. PST

From Valmy to Waterloo was pretty hideous for me.

Republic to Empire has a 6 page playsheet, but its many supporters say it isn't overly complex. I haven't played so can't say otherwise.

The Traveling Turk Inactive Member02 Feb 2014 9:51 a.m. PST

Historical miniatures is a hobby with a very specific generational following: it's a hobby for Baby Boomers, and those born in the 1950s-70s.*

In the 1970s and 80s we were all younger and had a lot more time, and thus it was normal to have games that went on all night or even all weekend. And, young men being young men, we also had the ability to focus and obsess over the memorization of lots of intricate small details.

Now we're older and have more responsibilities and devote less time to our hobbies, so it's understandable that games cater to that need. Something that plays to completion in 3 hours is simply a practical necessity for most people.

It will be interesting to see, over the next 10-20 years as the majority of historical gamers reach retirement age, whether that means that they'll experience a return to the more complex and time-consuming games (now that they theoretically once again have time for them)?

Or whether by then, the remaining historical gamers will just be too tired, grumpy, and near-sighted for anything more difficult than checkers!


- – – – -

* I'm thinking back to the last decent survey I ever saw about this, dating to 1994, I think? Alan Emerich, the boardgame designer, had surveyed several hundred gamers and found that their average age was 35. (That was 20 years ago.) He was particularly alarmed that there were so few people below that number: Not one respondent in his survey was under 23. So he was looking at a very obvious population "bump."

That survey struck me, because it meant that the average historical gamer was born in @1960. I was born in '65, so I'm actually a bit younger than the "bump." And sure enough, I loved long, monster games and über-complex rules in my 20s… and nowadays I don't have the patience for anything with more than a 4-step sequence of play.

Mike Petro02 Feb 2014 9:54 a.m. PST

RtoE seemed VERY complicated. So many markers, a dozen or so.

thistlebarrow202 Feb 2014 10:11 a.m. PST

I reached retirement age almost ten years ago, and I have spent more time wargaming since then than ever before retirement.

Having tried many, many commercial rules sets I find that I am dissatisfied with all of them. I know exactly what sort of wargame I want to play, and the best way to achieve it is to write my own rules.

I find that I like simple rules, which give an enjoyable game. However I also want them to cater for longer wargames, as mine are often spread over a whole week. And I want them to be able to keep going when brigades break and rout and cause havoc.

Most important of all I want them to be unpredictable. I wargame with my wife, and we know each other too well. We know our house rules and know what works and what does not. We also know what the other is likely to do in any given set of circumstances. So the element of chance, in the form of dice, is a very important element of our rules.

It often seems to me that every wargamer, particularly those playing Napoleonic, want something different from their rules. The advantage of getting older is that you tend to know what you want better than when younger.

We may well be "grumpy and near sighted", but we are never too tired for a good wargame. Somethings really do get better with age!

Archeopteryx Inactive Member02 Feb 2014 10:20 a.m. PST

It's kinda philosophical too… There was a period, especially in the '80s when a lot of war-gamers wanted to take themselves very seriously and find truth… Well a perfect simulation at least. And very complex rules were common. I think with computers able to do all that stuff and produce uber realistic simulation games, a post-modern revolution struck miniature gaming, which was: it's was more about the miniatures than academic perfection. So the feel dominates successful rules now, because that makes people want to play with their toys.

The most complex rules ever (all periods) are Larry Bond's "Fear God and Dreadnought". Which were written and the apex of that pre-computer game period, and while historically fascinating are unplayable

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2014 10:27 a.m. PST

When I was younger I loved complicated involved sets. Now I like simple rules that can be completed in a single session. But, a good set of simple rules can be incredibly subtle and give realistic outcomes.

flipper Inactive Member02 Feb 2014 11:19 a.m. PST

Hi

I was never taken with complex rules as they invariably meant drawn out turns and plenty of math/charts and such.

A game of Empire was never really enjoyable, neither were Quarries or WRG's – this pretty well covered the main players in the UK c. 1980.

I believe that rather than look at what had preceeded them (Featherstone et al) most rules seemed to want to take some gigantic step in the opposite direction – as stated it would seem that many rule writers were thinking 'to hell with fun and playability' lets show these guy's how war should be simulated!

Oh, the original question … I have heard some people talk about the FOW (?) Nap rules as being a bit on the heavy side.

Don Manser02 Feb 2014 11:27 a.m. PST

Complex rules can be ok with small friendly games but can be problematic in larger settings. I've always liked playing Flint and Steel with the author at conventions but have never quite been able to reproduce the same feel and flow within our group.

DM

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2014 11:40 a.m. PST

From Valmy to Waterloo was definitely complex, but IMHO, it had the best artillery system I've seen for Napoleonics and the firefight mechanism was quite realistic. Working out the orders, town combat, charges, etc., was definitely difficult and is what finally pushed our group towards Age of Eagles and we have not looked back.

It was definitely a product of the times along with Empire and WRG. "Back in the day" magazine articles were all about realistic games, simulation, etc., and we all had a lot of time on our hands. It was nothing to spend several nights a week on the phone talking about the upcoming game, an hour or two setting up, playing for eight hours, then talking about the game and the period for two hours afterwards! Today, we want to do set up, finish the game, and take down in under three or four hours, which has necessitated the change in rules styles.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2014 2:26 p.m. PST

* I'm thinking back to the last decent survey I ever saw about this, dating to 1994, I think? Alan Emerich, the boardgame designer, had surveyed several hundred gamers and found that their average age was 35. (That was 20 years ago.) He was particularly alarmed that there were so few people below that number: Not one respondent in his survey was under 23. So he was looking at a very obvious population "bump."

That survey struck me, because it meant that the average historical gamer was born in @1960. I was born in '65, so I'm actually a bit younger than the "bump." And sure enough, I loved long, monster games and über-complex rules in my 20s… and nowadays I don't have the patience for anything with more than a 4-step sequence of play.

Well, assuming that Alan E.s survey contained an actual cross-section of the entire minatures population [Which, from looking at it, I doubt], there are several, less than easy complications to the questions of recent complicated rules, average age of gamers and our hobby:

1. IIRC, Alen surveyed both board and miniature wargamers, and perhaps heavier on the board gamer side.

2. Board games have and do run the whole gambit of complexity. If you look at just the majore boardgame companies, you will see a number of recent, complex games, by any standard. GMT's popular Clash of Monarchs or Empire of the Sun anyone?

3. Board wargames have continued to draw younger crowds from all evidence found on weblists with groups like Consimworld.

A desire for simpler games in our small hobby isn't just a matter of age or available time, as one poster pointed out. There is more going on, both in regards to the graying of the hobby and what kinds of games they want now.

Last week I walked into our local wargame hobby store and asked if they had any new historical miniature rules. The owner's response: "Nope, they don't seem to be making them any more. He had a full load of board games, models and FOW. Part of that is the internet, I am sure, but….

ScottS02 Feb 2014 2:34 p.m. PST

The most complex rules ever (all periods) are Larry Bond's "Fear God and Dreadnought". Which were written and the apex of that pre-computer game period, and while historically fascinating are unplayable

Ever hear of SPI's Campaign for North Africa?

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Feb 2014 9:44 p.m. PST

RtoE has a large playsheet but it is very deceptive. One page has the infantrt vs infantry melee, one has inf vs cavalry and one has cav vs. Cav. Same charts just three flavors…

ancientsgamer Inactive Member02 Feb 2014 11:48 p.m. PST

"Oh, the original question … I have heard some people talk about the FOW (?) Nap rules as being a bit on the heavy side."

Flipper, I think you mean FoG-Napoleonics? The FoW would be Napoleon at War and I can attest to them NOT being complicated.

Sparker Inactive Member03 Feb 2014 12:01 a.m. PST

I vividly being on the cusp of investing in R2E and then stumbling across the 'quick reference' sheets of several pages and hurriedly putting the book down and moving on!

Interesting about the generation thing. Whilst I accept its generally true, there are sufficient numbers of youngsters interested that I don't think it will die out with us Cold War blowhards born in the '60's…

Trajanus03 Feb 2014 3:31 a.m. PST

The rules within FoG-Napoleonics aren't complicated, they are just written and edited that way!

Archeopteryx Inactive Member03 Feb 2014 4:47 a.m. PST

ScottS,

Ha – I did own GDW's Operation Crusader board game, back in the late '70s with the intent of using is as part of a tabletop campaign – and that was truly unplayable, but had so much wonderful historical information that it was worth the dollars just to understand the battle.

I only thought of FG&D, as it was purportedly designed for miniatures, but takes about a day to get through each turn.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2014 8:46 a.m. PST

It is interesting how many games are bought for and/or appreciated for their 'wonderful historical information' rather than actually being played.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if a game could provide both?

flipper Inactive Member03 Feb 2014 11:55 a.m. PST

Hi

'I think you mean FoG-Napoleonics?'

Yes, my bad.

'The rules within FoG-Napoleonics aren't complicated, they are just written and edited that way!'

Perhaps the publisher should encourage the writer to revisit the layout and put them out via PDF?

Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2014 4:46 p.m. PST

You want a complex set of rules.

Advance Squad Leader

They take up several binders.

Now as for Miniature rules I want something that will allow to refight major battles in about the same time as the real battle.

Waterloo was fought in around 10 hours; Borodino in a day.

What I don't want is something that takes weeks to fight the same battle.

I have played Shako and Shako 2 and they are not to bad other than you can't move through your Skimishers that are in front of your battalions.

Plus Skimishers can be a bit more powerful then they should.

But the games that I have played have been fun.

Pertti Inactive Member04 Feb 2014 11:50 a.m. PST

Hey, just a thank you for all the answers, I got some food for thought.

ratisbon Inactive Member04 Feb 2014 1:52 p.m. PST

The Traveling Turk,

Thanks for the post. It brings back memories. I like to think as I was born in 44 I am above average, having played my first wargame, Gettysburg in 1954 and my first miniature game in 1958, Fletcher Pratt's Naval Wargame.

Miniatures game design was initially dead simple, Little Wars, Featherstone, Morchauser, Scruby's Fire and Charge etc. Then little by little starting with CLS, rules began to become more complex, mostly in the name of historical accuracy.

The problem was those designing historical miniatures rules did not have rules design experience so as rules attempted to more and more reflect history they became more complex in their play. The result was Quarrie, Newberry, Valmy to Waterloo and Empire to name a few. Since 1990 the pendulum has swung away from purely historical to a balance of playability and history.

That said, I always thought we could not have gotten to where we are today, playable entertaining rules, without those which preceded. I call it the continuum of design. Yet for the last 20 years or so the continuum seems to have been interrupted as more recent rules seem to mostly be playable compendiums of those which preceded.

Cheers,

Bob Coggins

Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2014 8:19 p.m. PST

mostly in the name of historical accuracy.

Thing is nearly all of the major Napoleonic battles were fought in a day.

Use these rules and plan to spend at least two weeks fighting the same battles.

We are moving Battalions and Regiments on the table so there is no need to cover what some of these rules are trying to cover.

basileus66 Inactive Member20 Feb 2014 11:38 p.m. PST

Mithmee

ASL is not that complicated, actually. Once you know the basics, you can play right away. Many of the rules in ASL are there to cover special situations. You do not need to learn them until some scenario makes it necessary. Except for big scenarios, most ASL games can be played from start to finish in an afternoon or less. Actually, the only ASL games I did need to play in more than one session were those big ones from Red Barricades module.

Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2014 6:16 p.m. PST

True, but you still need a binder and a large binder for all of the rules.

But my point still stands except for a few battles most of the Napoleonic battles were fought in around 8-12 hours.

Borodino started at 06:00 AM and was over around 12 hours later.

Most of the Napoleonic rules will need 24-40 hours and some even longer to refight this battle at a battalion level.

adaptoid Inactive Member25 Jun 2014 7:05 p.m. PST

Revolution and Empire (published in 2003 and still used) is probably the most complex. This was the ruleset that used the Empire game engine and was considered to be a revision of Empire V. It was a step up in complexity from Empire having greater detail than it predecessor. Over 180 pages of dense rules in small type.

Dexter Ward26 Jun 2014 3:44 a.m. PST

Mithmee wrote:
Most of the Napoleonic rules will need 24-40 hours and some even longer to refight this battle at a battalion level.
-----------------
But why anyone would want to do that is another matter.
Army commanders don't worry a bout what battalions are doing. In battles of this size, they don't even worry much about individual brigades, it's divisions they are ordering.

So a set of army rules shouldn't be concerned with individual battalions. It's one of the mysteries of Napoleonic wargaming that players want to have battalions on the table but still want to be army commander.

Marc the plastics fan26 Jun 2014 8:53 a.m. PST

R2E

Not the playsheet, just the rules. Could not get my head round the cavalry charge and how much to "pay" for things. I am just getting old.

But I do enjoy thenm for the eye candy so money well spent IMHO

Lion in the Stars26 Jun 2014 10:16 a.m. PST

It's one of the mysteries of Napoleonic wargaming that players want to have battalions on the table but still want to be army commander.
I blame Wellington and one of the French commanders (Soult?), for constantly micromanaging their individual Battalions and surviving to write about doing so!

Legacy of Glory is another high-complexity game that you can still buy today (I think it's still boxes from the original print run). Wonderful concepts, but horrible presentation.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2014 11:46 a.m. PST

It's one of the mysteries of Napoleonic wargaming that players want to have battalions on the table but still want to be army commander.

Because games like "Napoleon's Battles" don't necessarily give us the right feel. The only game I've played where NB did work for was Leipzig. That said I hate all those saving throws and 'chadwicks' put me off the game.

Complexity doesn't necessarily equal a better game or a more accurate game

Beeker Inactive Member26 Jun 2014 5:22 p.m. PST

Re. LoG .. My understanding is that R&E is a mash of Empire 5, LoG and some Kriegspeil thrown in.

18th Century Guy Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2014 5:46 p.m. PST

Beeker,

I would disagree with you observation but each to their own. R2E is no more complex than any other rules at that scale level it is played at. Those systems that are at a higher level can be (doesn't mean they are) simpler because they are not taking care of battalions but brigades/divisions.

So I think complexity depends on what level of game it is you want to play. It may not be a fair comparison to have a battalion level rule set compared to a divisional or corps level one.

Beeker Inactive Member26 Jun 2014 8:03 p.m. PST

? afraid I did not comment on the issue of complexity. Only to offer an understanding that R&E and NOT R2E, is a "mash' of systems that includes LoG.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2014 12:00 p.m. PST

Just so long as the big battle games are not just a battalion game with the units renamed as being 3 formations higher in the OB.

Any "big battle game" should have the infantry shooting range the same as the length of a battalion in line. If the basic unit is a division, then, the firing range should be about 1/6th of the length of a division in line. If not, then you are "bathtubbing" (I believe that is the term used) and while you have a game, it doesn't represent anything real.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2014 2:24 p.m. PST

My Own house rules, if you have watched How I met your mother, you know the game run by the chinese that Barney plays.

Well it's like that only add miniatures to. it even got the jellybeans

Bandit Inactive Member28 Jun 2014 8:21 a.m. PST

Beeker,

? afraid I did not comment on the issue of complexity. Only to offer an understanding that R&E and NOT R2E, is a "mash' of systems that includes LoG.

Having played some Empire, a lot of Legacy of Glory and some Revolution & Empire with the author (Todd's a nice guy) I'd have to say:

Revolution & Empire isn't a mashup of various systems and it is substantially different from Legacy of Glory. It is a natural evolution from Empire, as is Legacy of Glory but each in different directions.

Gunfreak,

My Own house rules, if you have watched How I met your mother, you know the game run by the chinese that Barney plays.

Well it's like that only add miniatures to. it even got the jellybeans

I want to play that.

Cheers,

The Bandit

bgbboogie Inactive Member30 Jun 2014 9:13 a.m. PST

How long have you got?????

Let get back to simpler rules can, I don't want a book, I want a one sheet reference sheet (front and back is ok) then easy to find rules, not buried under several other references.

bakblast Inactive Member28 Jul 2014 7:25 p.m. PST

Legacy of Glory or LOG if you will, it's big it's heavy it's wood.

We played it for a while when it first came out and it took us forever just to figure out where the game actually started.

It was innovative to be sure, but Empire seemed so much more straight forward.

christot Inactive Member30 Jul 2014 2:09 a.m. PST

Answer is; not many

Fashion these days is for fast,simple rules, small units, small number of units, minimal or zero book-keeping, one might even say dumbed-down.

Which is fine, trouble is, if someone wants a bit more than a four hour game then there are very few newer rule sets.

Not saying thats a bad thing, just saying.

Blutarski08 Aug 2014 3:38 a.m. PST

Bashytubits said it well – "a good set of simple rules can be incredibly subtle and give realistic outcomes." That is the apotheosis of good wargame rules design – whether board game, miniatures, whatever. Going hand in hand with that, for me at least, is the need for the rules to deliver some historical fidelity (as opposed to just "flavor"). If I want to take up Marshal Davout's baton, I want to experience some reasonable semblance of the real challenges faced by the man in battle. Rules that fail to adequately model their chosen historical period (a standard that admittedly varies with the eye of the beholder) just leave me empty and unsatisfied.

End of rant.

B

Mac1638 Inactive Member08 Aug 2014 5:49 a.m. PST

Competition rules of the late 70's and 80's.
ALL loophole in the rules have to be filled and clarified.

I know that most are not Napoleonics sets of rules but this has opened an old wound.

If you play Ancients/Medievals you got the shifting sands that is WRG.

Any of the rule sets from Newberry, Table Tops rules "Lance" and there unsurpassed "Tercio"(I think it got up 5th edition revised by the end).

I have to say when you play them week in week out thy are burnt into your soul, and it is a steep learning curve.

30 years on I can still quote from Tercio, from the fire tables, panic factors, fatigue factors and the disobedience test.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2014 10:41 a.m. PST

A friend of mine pointed out something that I hadn't considered, but is very true for my two sons. Miniatures, particularly the diorama aspect, is difficult to do with limited space. Fewer people live in homes with enough space to accommodate even a 6 X 4 table other than the dining room or a bedroom or garage, which means they can't be left up for very long… more complications… mean less gaming and a desire to get more bang for your time. [which simpler rules provide when you get a conclusion to the game] This has to be an issue when you go to all the trouble of setting up and then taking down the table.

Board games and computer games don't face that kind of space crunch.

Joe Rocket Inactive Member08 Aug 2014 1:08 p.m. PST

I put complicated rule sets into three categories: those with complicated combat systems, those with complicated command systems, and those with both.

Those with complicated combat systems try to get the most "realistic" outcome to any combat action. They must include some or all of the following: a morale check before firing, a morale check after a firefight, a morale check to close to close combat, a morale check after close combat. A Pursuit check. A pursuit move. A pursuit combat.

Those with complicated command systems try to eliminate the 1000 foot commander by writing half a rule book to create a fog of war. In short, they want your trained soldiers to behave like orcs. Note: these rules are always punitive to the attacker, not the defender, even though it's the attacker that has orders and knows what he is supposed to be doing. Defenders never seem to throw down their weapons and boogie for no apparent reason. Must haves are: complicated initiative system, complicated order system, order initiation, PIPs, command dice, messenger stops in a brothel instead of doing his duty roll, etc.

Worst of both worlds: Valmy. Half a book of rules written on command and control and half on combat minutia.

I'm a minimalist. I chuck all the administrative rules straight away to get to the core. I could care less what my commander is doing. He's there as a combat modifier and to prompt a rally roll. I don't need a roll to see how his morning constitutional went in the drainage ditch by the road.

Joe Rocket Inactive Member08 Aug 2014 2:24 p.m. PST

I forgot about skirmishers under the combat complexity. They have to have their own subroutine that must be resolved prior to a regular firefight. This subroutine must include at least two different morale checks to see if the skirmishers fall back either before or after exchanging fire.

Sparta10 Aug 2014 4:36 a.m. PST

What on eman finds to be simplistic bliss is another mans nightmare. It is good that wwe can each choose the rules we like.

MichaelCollinsHimself10 Aug 2014 10:34 a.m. PST

Re. skirmishers and rules complexity:
I found it appropriate to resolve skirmishing effects separately for my Napoleonic rules.
Maybe that`s because the weight of fire and decision should be with formed units, but it`s also a question of managing the game in steps…
But I`m finding that for later C19th period wars the effects of firing lines (generally thicker in nature) needs to resolved in one calculation combined with possible effects of main bodies (closer order troops) also.

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