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"TSATF v. TMWWBK? " Topic

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sjwalker38 Inactive Member11 Dec 2016 10:59 a.m. PST

Have any regular players of TSATF played Osprey's ' The Men Who Would Be Kings' colonial rule set yet?

How do you think the two sets compare, in terms of game mechanisms, period feel and fun?

Might the latter do as much to generate interest in colonial gaming in the next generation of historical gamers as the former did in the 80's and 90's, when we were all the bright young things of the hobby?

slugbalancer11 Dec 2016 12:24 p.m. PST

I've got both sets of rules but haven't had a game of TMWWBK yet. The biggest difference I get from reading the rules is that TMWWBK has armies of similar size whilst TSATF is designed for the more realistic situation, where the colonial army would be outnumbered two or three to one.

Atomic Floozy11 Dec 2016 12:46 p.m. PST
sjwalker38 Inactive Member11 Dec 2016 4:40 p.m. PST

I don't think that the forces are equally sized in 'Kings'. There's a point system but if you look at the 24-point 'starter' forces, which is about the smallest you'd want to play with, a typical British/European force is going to have 3 or 4 units, for a total of around 40-45 figures, while their Zulu opponents will have 6 units and 96 figures.

We've played about a dozen games with the rules so far, mainly using 36-point Forces (typical gamers). Most games seem to take a couple of hours, with about 80-100 Imperials and 150-180 native opponents – how does that compare with TSATF?

So far we've played games set in the Zulu War, North West Frontier, Sudan, East Africa and Darkest Africa, and managed quite a lot of variety between the forces: Zulus, Beja and native tribesmen all play quite differently if you rate them properly rather than assume they're all irregular charging infantry types.

We've even managed to successfully play Isandlwana in 28mm with only a few tweaks to the rules 900-odd Zulus, 250 Brits and auxiliaries fought to a largely historic conclusion in a leisurely 4-5 hours.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2016 5:57 p.m. PST

I've played both Tamwabuk and Tasafta and find that they are both fun games with interesting initials.

Personal logo Wolfshanza Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2016 11:39 p.m. PST

Play both and enjoy them. Kings is a bit more streamlined..bloodier and plays faster. Flame is a bit more realistic and takes longer to finish a game. As ah said, do enjoy and build for both. grin

skinkmasterreturns12 Dec 2016 7:14 a.m. PST

Played my first game of TMWWBK last week. Given enough terrain to slink around in,Tribals are brutal.16 Tribal infantry are 3 points while 12 Regulars are 6 points,giving a roughly 2:1 in numbers.

Nick B12 Dec 2016 7:49 a.m. PST

IMO TMWWBK is much better for a rip raoring adventure type game – lots of personality from the officer traits and great scenarios for pick up games.

But one of the clinchers is that is doesn't have the never ending drudgery of the TSATF hand to hand combat system which enough to kill the sense of tension and excitement in every game.


Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2016 8:50 a.m. PST

To each his own taste in gaming: many of us think the hand-to-hand rules in TSATF are the most exciting part of the game, when a European unit is desperately trying to hold against an onslaught.


Gone Fishing12 Dec 2016 9:21 a.m. PST

Yes! The hand-to-hand system of TSATF is one of its greatest strengths.

Rhingyll Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2016 10:13 a.m. PST

I have played the TMWWBK rules and I prefer the TSATF melee system as it is about the only time that the natives have a chance at inflicting any real damage. They have to work very hard and with a little luck finally get to melee. TMWWBK melees just end too fast. When I play TMWWBK again I will use TSATF melee system as my figures are individually based anyway and not four per base (which is what TMWWBK bases its melee system on).

advocate Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2016 10:58 a.m. PST

Though the it would be my contention that, at least company for company, and arguably man for man, the British probably out-fought the Zulu. Fighting in close formation, and with a breech-loading rifle that could be reloaded while pointed at your enemy, were major advantages.

rmaker12 Dec 2016 11:03 a.m. PST

a typical British/European force is going to have 3 or 4 units, for a total of around 40-45 figures, while their Zulu opponents will have 6 units and 96 figures.

But TSATF recommends about 3 t 3.Zulus per Brit.

Rhingyll Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2016 1:03 p.m. PST

Maybe there is a lower ratio of natives to Brits in TMWWBK because the Zulus can move for free in TMWWBK and the Brits have to roll to see if they can move. Also, the natives can go to ground at a distance greater than short range (12 inches) and not be fired upon.

Henry Martini Inactive Member12 Dec 2016 5:44 p.m. PST

And in TMWWBK tribal warriors have a longer move distance than regulars.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2016 7:25 p.m. PST

Personal preference is TSATF – In my opinion it has more the flavor of the period.

Though if you want a set of rules to give you not only leader abilities and pointed forces, it also has scenarios from meeting to trying to exit the area – then TMWWBK certainly does that.

HansPeterB12 Dec 2016 10:39 p.m. PST

Our initial impression is that TMWWKBK is better for multi-player club play: it's quick to learn, has very clean mechanics, and, best of all, players are not standing around waiting for their card to roll. Our first game on the Afghan frontier was also quite balanced: we played the same scenario twice (in one afternoon!) and the British won the first game, and the Afghans the second. I have to say, too, that learning how to exploit the native "go to ground" rule was both crucial to the Afghan victory, and added great colonial flavor. -- HPB

coolyork Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2016 3:22 p.m. PST

I hate or should I say strongly dislike POINT SYSTEMS ! That being said I prefer TSATF ,but TMWWBK rules have some good parts and if you like POINT SYSTEMS then there fine .

sjwalker38 Inactive Member14 Dec 2016 10:55 a.m. PST

Some interesting and contrasting points of view so far. Must admit it was the interminable dice rolling for melee that put me off TSATF on the couple of occasions I played games with them, and I never went back.

GGouveia15 Dec 2016 2:45 p.m. PST

TMWWBK does not have armies of equal size. 96 Zulus at 16 per unit vs 36 Brits in units of 12.

One can easily double those unit sizes.

I agree that the Character Element of the leaders in TMWWBK adds to the game.

Dexter Ward16 Dec 2016 7:15 a.m. PST

coolyork – you don't have to use the points system in TMWWBK.
The points police won't raid your house if you just use whatever takes your fancy to play a scenario.

coolyork Supporting Member of TMP16 Dec 2016 1:57 p.m. PST

Dexter , Are you sure ? Theres a Van parked across from my house ever since I mentioned that . :) To be honest I have the rules ,just haven't played them yet . I will give TMWWBK a shot in a couple weeks with my friends ! Happy Holidays Mark

sjwalker38 Inactive Member17 Dec 2016 5:08 p.m. PST

Do so, you won't be disappointed. Suspend your understandable loyalty to TSATF and then tell us how the game went :-)

Codsticker17 Dec 2016 9:49 p.m. PST

I am with NickB and sjwalker on the melee resolution; the only thing I did not appreciate about TSATF. Also, the long conga lines struck me a odd (certainly visually at least).

Ney Ney18 Dec 2016 3:35 p.m. PST

I never got why people liked sword and flame and don't get why they like men who would be kings either. The former I played various occasions the latter I've not played but read and have been put off by a report saying they don't work fir bigger battles.

Having said that, I note from above that men who would be kings melee involves groups of four. I missed that when I read the rules so will go back to see if I have missed anything else either.

Henry Martini Inactive Member18 Dec 2016 4:54 p.m. PST

Ney… Ney Ney. In TMWWBK all the remaining figures in a unit are counted when calculating close combat results, and the default basing method is individual.

sjwalker38 Inactive Member19 Dec 2016 12:53 a.m. PST

Depends on what you mean by bigger battles: we used them with only minor tweaks to re fight Isandlwana in 28mm using 900-odd Zulus and 250 British and Auxiliaries.

Played to a historical conclusion in a very leisurely 5 hours, with 5 players, only 2 of whom had actually used the rules before.

HM is right, individual figure basing is the default though it's easy to keep track of casualties on multi-based units using markers. Needless to say, we used movement trays in the Isandlwana game!

Nick Pasha13 Feb 2017 6:22 p.m. PST

I have played TSATF for over 20 years. I have played in games run by Larry Brom. I never thought I would change. But I am also tired of the melee phase. I want a game that streamlines that phase and moves the game along. I ordered a set of TMWWBK. If they live up to the hype I will switch. I have rules sets that use points and don't follow them. I try to build historical armies not limited to points. You don't have to use points.

Queen Catherine Inactive Member16 Feb 2017 5:49 p.m. PST

The key issue is really design. TSATF anniversary edition helped a lot with consolidating and cleaning up what had become something of a mish-mash of rules, optional rules, and such, that didn't always mesh well. I still find even that edition clunky at times.

Nearly all interactive turn sequences are slower than IGOUGO, and in large multi-player games it is inevitable that one will have to wait around a bit. That is fine for people who want to hang out, chat, get things to eat, catch up with pals, etc. Makes for a leisurely afternoon.

Overall, I think TSATF has aged; it always had a slow melee sequence, and some of the mechanics have been quite improved or even surpassed. While I would ponder tweaking it to speed things up a bit, we're considering the games as written, not the games as tweaked.

To answer the OP, I don't think TSATF would be my choice to introduce a large group to the hobby, or colonial gaming. If I did, it would be with small units and forces, and I would use a couple of IGO-UGO modified sequences I have. I'd also consider basing or fighting groups of figs as stands of 3-4, but fight them as individuals.

Does TMWWBK do that better? I don't know – I think it would really depend:

- does your group gather to GAME, or to socialize?
- how much work do you want to do, as the host?
- what pace are they used to game at…are they baseball paced types, or are they ice hockey types? IOW do they prefer a pastime or constant action?
- how evocative is the new 'Kings game for this fun, colorful period, especially compared to 'Flame?


SgtGuinness18 Feb 2017 12:48 p.m. PST

I find it very interesting to read people's perceptions and ideas. Though I haven't played TMWWBK I do plan on trying it out, most probably with Nick Pasha above. I must say that I have played TSATF since 1985 and truly love this set! We've used it for small battles as well as very large battles with much success. It's simple core system is great for beginners and the unit cards provided have all the data a player will need during the game. I do love the suspense of a good TSATF melee! I love the variable movement distance and variable move sequence. I guess for me, it really just depends on the GM and how they run the game. TSATF is my favorite Commerial set with Sabre & Musket my other favorite, being a rules set for black powder games as written by a couple of our SMG crew, Bill Moreno & Tim Harwood.

I'll stick with TSATF!!! As a matter of fact we (my sons and I) just left our clubhouse in Ft. Lauderdale where an American War of Independence game using TSATF is currently being fought, very successfully and with much fun and laughter abounding.

Each to his own! Have fun folks.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 11:47 p.m. PST

I will also stick with TSATF. The melee for some in my club is the best thing about the rules. The point system puts me off. I know you don't have to use the points. But what happens in my club is the points system hijacks the game.

Once you introduce points then that is all we play. No historical type scenarios. Then you have tournaments and that means some non-historical pairings.

If you use points then both sides are even. Well in the real world everything is not even. That is what makes it a challenge. Using points is like playing chess. I hate points.

sjwalker38 Inactive Member19 Feb 2017 3:16 a.m. PST

I really don't understand this hatred of a points system, which is wholly optional – I think it says more about the players than the game system if having such a system leads to no historical scenarios and non-historical pairings.

If you play the (very historically based) generic scenarios provided in MWWBK, you'll find that the games are 'balanced' rather than 'even' and definitely a challenge. Of the 9, 4 have different points sizes on each side. A Zulu force will typically outnumber an Imperial one by more than 2:1.

And we've mainly used the rules for historical scenarios much larger than those in the rules – most recently Isandlwana and Intombe River – very successfully and, most important, with a lot of fun.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

I'm a huge fan of TSATF and have never played the other one.
However, one thing that puzzles me is the automatic reaction by some to reject it because it has a points system. One question. Why do you feel compelled to use it? Is it integral to game play? Can you play a jolly good game with unequal points? I do that all the time with Flames of War.

coolyork Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 3:47 p.m. PST

I have been a TSATF guy , but have recently tried TMWWBK a couple times now with small games . There OK ! and I see where some might prefer them over Flame . I however don't find them any better and will most likely stick with TSATF . That being said we need to find some folks who have not played either for a more scientific test of the pros and cons as many of us are a bit prone to going with what we know , good or bad . Regardless I think folks can have fun with either set . Cheers

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 1:10 p.m. PST

It seems to me Colonial gaming must be in a good place with two excellent rule sets to chose from.

I've used TSATF for some time now but am preparing to give TMWWBK a trial. The aforementioned slightly clunky combat mechanism of the earlier rule set is one reason & I think the newer set offers greater potential for tactical nuances for the native forces. Flame is a bit "point 'em & charge" when it comes to the Zulus etc.

That being said, I already am thinking of grafting on some Flame rules. And if things don't quite pan out as I think they will, I move back to Flame. Win:win.

Nick Pasha22 Feb 2017 6:11 a.m. PST

I received my copy of TMWWBK and after a cursory reading I found that it is similar in some mechanics to Warhammer. I don't like Warhammer so I am not too thrilled. However I will give it a go and see how it plays.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2017 10:35 p.m. PST

I have one primary criterion for deciding if I like a set of rules. If I already know how to play them I like them. If I don't know how to play them I don't like them.

I have been playing TS a TF since 1978, wow it's almost 40 years. It was the second wargame I ever learned after column line and square.

I have multiple hundreds of figures already based for it, first on wood bases now on pennies, that was a lot of conversion work.

I have done the game with 12 players on his side, I have written articles on how to speed up play (published in the "heliograph" and "the courier.")

I think it's one of the best wargames ever written. I will not be changing.

sjwalker38 Inactive Member24 Feb 2017 2:33 a.m. PST

Nick, like you I never enjoyed Warhammer and its derivatives but 'Men…' plays very differently, I find, so I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Bob, I suspect we're of a similar vintage and, like you, when I find a set of rules for a period that gives me the sort of game I want to play, gives a reasonably realistic outcome using familiar mechanisms that I understand the logic of, I'll tend to stick with them. If that particular rule set remains the 'go to' option amongst your immediate circle of gamers, that's another good reason to do so.

It's why I stuck with DBM for my 15mm Ancients games, long after the release of DBMM, FOG etc, it's why I tend to look for ways of adapting 'Sharp Practice' for other large scale skirmish games rather than using a different rule set designed for the period.

BUT we grognards miss out on some great games if we're not prepared to give something new a chance. It's like the veteran refusing to give up his trusty smoothbore musket in exchange for a shiny new magazine-fed breech loader. Back in the 80's, I played both WW2 and Napoleonic games using those interminably complex rules that were popular at the time, which were never fun, but am now enjoying gaming those periods again using next generation rules.

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Feb 2017 6:27 a.m. PST

I think if your figures are already individually based, there is no work required to try other skirmish rules. I enjoy trying new things just to see what it triggers in my brain and to see what other people think about history. I can't understand why people view purchasing a ruleset any differently than purchasing a book…which is what it is! Do you only have one book on any particular period that you are interested in? Of course not! Either way, have fun everyone!

sjwalker38 Inactive Member24 Feb 2017 7:18 a.m. PST

Good point daler and, of course, it's not an 'either/or' question. TSATF won't be angry or suspicious if you spend the occasional evening with TMMWBK. Variety is the spice of life after all. Prime fillet steak is great but sometimes you just really, really want a burger.

As someone famous once said, "I'll try anything once, except incest and Morris dancing'

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 3:44 p.m. PST

One question. Why do you feel compelled to use it? Is it integral to game play? Can you play a jolly good game with unequal points? I do that all the time with Flames of War.

Because as I said in my earlier post the points system takes the club over. Nobody will have anything to do with your historical scenario, because if it doesn't use points then the game is uneven.

Uneven just like it is in real life. So if you want to participate, you have to build your army by the point system instead of an historical OB.

For example in BA it might be German vs. British or it could be Germans vs. the Alamo Scouts or Americans vs. British or German vs. Germans. Units are built for tournament play.

I don't like any of that. I use gaming to help my study of history. I don't want to play chess with camouflage.

sjwalker38 Inactive Member25 Feb 2017 8:39 a.m. PST

I share your dislike of competition-optimised forces and unhistorical match-ups, Rallynow (though I suspended my disbelief for rather a lot of DBM games back in the day).

But I'd blame your opponents rather than a points system, though I'm sure they're nice enough people, if they can't be persuaded to try something different.

Here's a suggestion: put together an interesting scenario, with widely different looking forces of equal points value, but DON'T TELL THEM THAT, at least until it's all over. :-)

Bookwizard05 Jul 2018 7:58 a.m. PST

TSATF is a great set of rules. That it has inspired such a loyal following is proof of that. It was revolutionary for its time.

I don't understand the desire to streamline and speed up play. We take weeks, months and even years to build and paint our armies, and then we want a game that get things over ASAP? I want my games to last a while so I can enjoy the panoply, not a rush to get it over with, as if playing is keeping me from doing the next thing.

Now, TSATF also has the nostalgia factor going for it as well.

That said, TMWWBK looks like it would be fun (I have read it, but not yet played it). It sounds like it does some things well, and might serve a slightly different purpose. Play it for what it is, or when pressed for time, or if you like points system games, or if you prefer it.

Having both helps you get more out of your investment in your armies, and it is relatively inexpensive. It is not an either/or situation, there is room for both.

Basha Felika06 Jul 2018 3:53 a.m. PST

"It is not an either/or situation, there is room for both."

Got it in 1, Bookwizard – having two very accessible rulesets that encourage more people to play 'colonial' games can only be a good thing.

I really enjoy "Sharp Practice" but the games can take a bit of time both to prepare and play, if you do them justice, so sometimes MWWBK offers a good alternative, especially when time is limited.

SylvainArizona07 Jul 2018 12:11 p.m. PST

I prefer The Sword and the Flame. I have played it for over 20 years and it is a wonderful system that is easy to tweak. I read TMWWTBW and was not impressed. The melee is the best moment of a game !!!
The expansions in TSATF make it available for any colonial periods. Larry Brom and George Carr were great gamers and I am proud to have been their friend. I always have a thought for them when we play the sword.

EricThe Shed13 Jul 2018 11:37 p.m. PST

Having played both of the rule sets above I would recommend Black Powder for Colonial actions….

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