Help support TMP

"Current rules writers - who will be "the greats"?" Topic

56 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Game Design Message Board

Action Log

07 Jan 2016 7:55 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board
  • Crossposted to Game Design board

Areas of Interest


2,937 hits since 4 Jul 2015
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

Ney Ney05 Jul 2015 3:50 a.m. PST

Over the years, some rules writers have risen to the top and still get noted as a bright spark and people still play their games. Just think: Featherstone, Grant, Barker, etc from the early days.

Then I tend to think of the next batch being the Rapid Fire guys, Barker again for DBx, Rick Priestley, and so on. The rules writers who become 'names' in the hobby.

Of the current generation of writers, do you think any will join the ranks of that elite?

warwell05 Jul 2015 4:08 a.m. PST

Neil Thomas. He is very prolific, covering many different periods with rules that are accessible to relative newcomers. His One Hour Wargames is an excellent resource for beginners, including basic rules, scenarios, and ideas for very simple campaigns.

Ney Ney05 Jul 2015 4:11 a.m. PST

I suppose he fits better than most because he is writing actual books that people can loan in libraries rather than harder to find specialist rule books.

Ney Ney05 Jul 2015 4:11 a.m. PST

I'm thinking Sam Mustafa must get a shout!

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2015 4:20 a.m. PST


RavenscraftCybernetics Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 4:51 a.m. PST

Tom Wham

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2015 4:58 a.m. PST

Sam Mustafa, John Hill, and Rick Priestley

JSchutt05 Jul 2015 6:12 a.m. PST

Richard Borg – outstanding gentleman and ambassador of the hobby! Not one to rush his creations into production without thorough play testing.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2015 6:32 a.m. PST

Larry Brom , although I don't know what era or period he fits into. I had a fun TSATF American Revolution game last night, playing the 16 year old "20th Anniversary Edition". grin

Bismarck05 Jul 2015 6:46 a.m. PST

Larry Brom. but to those of us fans, he already is one of the greats!

Timmo uk05 Jul 2015 6:59 a.m. PST


kyoteblue Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 7:56 a.m. PST


Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2015 8:24 a.m. PST

Arty Conliffe.

Tony S05 Jul 2015 8:25 a.m. PST

Mustafa, Barker and Clarke (TFL).

For me, being a "great", is the ability to write rules that are simple and (sorry to employ this hoary, over-used description) elegant rules mechanisms. The last term is indeed horribly over used, but for the above rules authors it is undeniably true.

Their rules all have the "feel" for the period they are attempting to replicate, without resorting the slippery slope of adding in massive amounts of dirt because of the all the research they have done on the period. It's very easy to add historical dirt; it's damn difficult to write simple rules that do capture that elusive and subjective "feel".

I believe Richard Clarke has stated that the rules should not "get in the way", that you should be able to hold the all rules comfortably in your head. My three nominees all accomplish that quite handily. Compare "LaSalle" for example, with "From Valmy to Waterloo".

I'd also give extra points to Mustafa, for not only writing brilliant rules, but for his extremely clear writing, with lots of examples.

As last note, I'd add Martin Goddard, from Peter Pig, as a strong runner up. His rules are, I feel, sadly under appreciated, but contain some clever bits, if only for the fact that his games are never the artificial equal encounter battles that one sees in almost all other rulesets. (Only Mustafa's latest, Blucher, equals or surpasses Goddards' rules in that respect).

Ney Ney05 Jul 2015 8:35 a.m. PST

I think Larry Brom and Arty Conliffe are there already. Curious about the TFL writers, because I read so many mixed views (people seem to love or hate them).

Tom Wham… I don't know the name, what rules are his?

PJ ONeill05 Jul 2015 8:52 a.m. PST

I think all of John Hill's designs will be around forever.

Crow Bait05 Jul 2015 9:10 a.m. PST

Agree with Neil Thomas. I would also add Chris Peers.

Weasel Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 10:00 a.m. PST

Arty and Priestley.

Bismarck05 Jul 2015 10:43 a.m. PST

with Larry already classified as a "great", then I would submit Keith Stine and Chalfant Conley of Iron Ivan Games as well as Darby Eckles and Ed Teixeira of FNG and THW fame.

Cyrus the Great05 Jul 2015 11:02 a.m. PST

I'd like to submit Daniel Mersey for consideration.

bsrlee05 Jul 2015 11:04 a.m. PST

Buck Surdu and Chris Palmer. Currently best known for GASLIGHT, they are responsible for many other games rules such the 'No Charts' series and genres from Pirates thru' WW2. Buck has also written rules and a book for young gamers – or should that be recruits.

Yesthatphil05 Jul 2015 11:16 a.m. PST

Neil Thomas, Martin Goddard, Howard Whitehouse, Paddy Griffith, Philip Sabin …

Arty Conliffe of course … but innovators like WD's Chris Kemp and Tim Gow also (I think their development of the operational level wargame will outlive many a derivative mininsgame such as you see being bashed out these days*) …

*well, that could be said of many good games published in The Nugget over the years …

Fat Wally05 Jul 2015 11:29 a.m. PST

No question, Rich and Nick at Too Fat Lardies.

Steve W Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 11:56 a.m. PST

Rich Hasenauer

jony663 Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 12:03 p.m. PST

For me it is Rich and Nick at Too Fat Lardies and the entire stable of writers supporting their brand. I am wondering what is ment be current.

Lapsed Pacifist Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 12:05 p.m. PST

Another vote for Dan Mersey.

benglish Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2015 12:07 p.m. PST

TooFatLardies. No doubt.

Personal logo gaiusrabirius Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2015 12:40 p.m. PST

Howard Whitehouse.

John Armatys05 Jul 2015 12:42 p.m. PST

Neil Thomas

Jedispice Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 1:36 p.m. PST

I'd like to mention Andy Chambers.
And TooFatLardies of course.

Mute Bystander Inactive Member05 Jul 2015 1:49 p.m. PST

If you mean "great" within a current niche, then fine. Many of the above from Ed Teixeira back through the Holy Trinity of H. G. Wells, Featherstone, and Grant produce/produced great rules for games (though I don't own rules from many of them such as Priestly, having never owned or sold off most of the rules over the years.)

But given the niche nature of our hobby (plus it's fragmentation) and the push of technology I think our entire "Military Miniatures War Games" hobby will be a footnote within a generation or two.

Of the current writers I think a few will be remembered for a few decades but their "moments of fame" are now, not the future.

WillieB Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2015 2:10 p.m. PST

TooFatLardies absolutely!
With these rulesets you're actually playing history not wrestling with rules.
Haven't played all of them yet, but that's only because some of the periods involved are not my main interest.

A close second for me would be Barry Hilton, especially after his masterpiece Donnybrook.

Axebreaker05 Jul 2015 5:37 p.m. PST

Sam Mustafa, TFL gents and Brent Oman spring to mind.


Major Mike05 Jul 2015 6:44 p.m. PST

Here's some info on Tom Wham

and this is his website:

BobGrognard05 Jul 2015 8:14 p.m. PST

Too Fat Lardies is not a person, it's a company with several rule designers. This is about which individual should be considered a potential great.

Jedispice Inactive Member06 Jul 2015 3:27 a.m. PST

In that case Bob I will name Rich Clarke as the main culprit.

tmikkola Inactive Member06 Jul 2015 3:38 a.m. PST

Richard Clarke (TFL) and Brent Oman (Piquet) at least. And probably Priestley should to be mentioned, too.

Mute Bystander Inactive Member06 Jul 2015 4:25 a.m. PST

If someone is a "probable" then their "case" for greatness is suspect.

Though I find Priestly's rules style less than attractive for me I think his impact has been substantial enough to put him in the top tier.

Tuudawgs Inactive Member06 Jul 2015 4:29 a.m. PST

Ed Teixeira, Two Hour Wargames. Best Solo, co-op rules around. Also, outstanding campaign rules.

ArmymenRGreat Inactive Member06 Jul 2015 6:40 a.m. PST

I'll put the next votes on Howard Whitehouse and Ed Teixeira.

Lost Wolf06 Jul 2015 11:54 a.m. PST

Ed Teixeira and the TFL writers (Richard Clarke). Also got to give a shout out to Scott Pyle who wrote the Goal System rules.

Personal logo toofatlardies Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2015 12:28 p.m. PST

All very flattering. However, Featherstone, Grant and Barker (and Bath) were inventing the wheel. The rest of us are merely tampering with it.

I have a great deal of respect for many contemporary game designers, but to compare us with the groundbreakers of the 1960s is not right. I actually think that one of the greatest wargamers ever is Duncan Macfrarlane who, as the original editor of Minature Wargames and the Wargames Illustrated, did more to encourage originality in the hobby than anyone else alive. I got my first break in wargaminmg writing thanks to Duncan. His "Back of a postcard" rules competition bought so much originality into the public view.

For me, Duncan was THE prime mover and shaker in getting a quality magazine established and promoting original thought. What he did has provided a legacy for the hobby which we still enjoy today.

If youre looking for the man who invented wargamimg, that's Don (and or Jack – respect to both). If you want the man who made wargaming a modern hobby, that's Duncan.

In contrast, I just write rules for games I enjoy playing. That's my hobby, and I love it. But it doesn't make me great in any respect!

Richard Clarke

DestoFante06 Jul 2015 2:55 p.m. PST

Richard Clarke is not just one of the most original writers of war gaming rules of our days: he also shows the class and the modesty of a true "great".

Yesthatphil07 Jul 2015 4:21 a.m. PST

Very good point about Duncan Macfarlane, Richard Clarke … Issue #1 of Miniature Wargames was a landmark, and the early content was of the highest quality (it certainly played an important role in my evolution as an enthusiast) …


Jemima Fawr Inactive Member07 Jul 2015 7:53 p.m. PST

Well said Richard.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2015 4:19 a.m. PST

Andrea Sfiligoi – his Songs of Blades and Heroes has spawned a half dozen spin-offs, including historical rules for ACW and Napoleonics. A fast moving and easy to learn set of rules with a couple of innovative systems at their heart.

Personal logo Dasher Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2016 11:43 p.m. PST

I would like to respectfully request that the late S. Craig Taylor be added to this poll.
Almost every game Craig designed was aimed at accommodating miniatures play as well as boardgaming.
When he passed, gaming lost one of the best friends it ever had; like all greats, I believe he will eventually be appreciated far more than he is today, but it would still be nice to see his name at least in the running.
Thank you.

Ottoathome Inactive Member12 Jan 2016 5:35 a.m. PST

Greats? Hardly! Not one.

They are all eminently forgettable and eminently disposable as all of their rules are eminently interchangeable.

Of the alleged "greats" as mentioned by the original poster, one was left out. Jack Scruby. Jack did it all. He wrote rules, published a war game magazine, produced a huge line of miniatures, the first purpose built ones for war games, ran a war game club and was a tireless promoter, popularizer, and evangelist for war games. He never wrote a hardcover but his greatness is established. Featherstone was like Jack, only take out the manufacturer and put in a huge collection of hardcovers and all the rest are there. Grant, Bath, and Young were all like Featherstone, tireless publishers, promoters, and evangelists.

The new crop of game designers today are eminently forgettable, as are their more or less derivative and identical products. None of their products are memorable and most of them have a lifetime of 18 months, at which they are remaindered for the next bright and shiny glossy piece of pewter porn.

There's no such thing as innovative systems, or great new ideas, and the writing of rules is about as relevant to war games as the instruction manual for a toaster is. You read it a few times and then toss it into the junk drawer in the kitchen. If you can't do that and need it constantly at your fingertips- it's a bad set of rules and gets in the way of playing the game. Seen it plenty of times- everyone gets a new shiny rule book and within weeks there will be a half dozen pages of loose-leaf typed pages stuck in the back which are the "fixes" an addenda to the new bright and shiny booklet, and THOSE are the real rules.

The hobby isn't the rules. It's the miniatures, and it will always be. The hobby is a "craft" hobby like model railroading or model building, only we've managed to make a game out of it. So have model railroaders. The greats in this hobby are the people who invest in the labor of love to bring us he soldiers, terrain, and toys we play with. They actually give of themselves. They could make far more money out of hedge funds or real estate, but spend it bringing useful products to us in a labor of love.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2016 9:30 p.m. PST

Of the alleged "greats" as mentioned by the original poster, one was left out. Jack Scruby.

? The question was about who 'will be great' among the current designers. Prediction.

The hobby isn't the rules. It's the miniatures, and it will always be. The hobby is a "craft" hobby like model railroading or model building, only we've managed to make a game out of it. So have model railroaders. The greats in this hobby are the people who invest in the labor of love to bring us he soldiers, terrain, and toys we play with. They actually give of themselves. They could make far more money out of hedge funds or real estate, but spend it bringing useful products to us in a labor of love.

We play wargames, so while I think all the things and 'greats' you point out certainly be true, part of that labor of love for many wargamers is playing--and modifying rules. And we 'managed' to make a game out of it a long, long time ago. It is a real part of the hobby too. It certainly isn't all one thing or all the other. Otto…Start a thread of the past greats or of those who have invested their time for the hobby, but insisting that the hobby isn't the rules, it's the miniatures is painting a rainbow hobby with one color. No need to.

Ottoathome Inactive Member13 Jan 2016 4:01 a.m. PST

Nobody throws out their minis after 6 months and buys new ones. The rules are eminently disposable, and eminently forgettable as are their writers. There have been thousands of different sets of rules by as many "designers"

You can have all the rules you want, but without toy soldiers they are worthless.

Pages: 1 2