Help support TMP

"Games and rules in magazines" Topic

27 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 Magazines and Periodicals Message Board

Back to the Wargaming in General Message Board

927 hits since 30 Aug 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Marshal Mark Inactive Member30 Aug 2017 1:39 p.m. PST

What are your opinions about wargames rules or self contained games in magazines ? Does anyone ever play them ?
In general I think they are a waste of space, and I think they are unlikely to get played much, if at all.
I know it can be interesting to read rules for ideas, but most rules in magazines seem to be rehashes or simplifications of other rules and don't have many interesting new ideas.
Miniature Wargames Magazine has had quite a few of these recently – there are three different such articles in the latest issue. Two of these are multi-issue articles which is even worse – you would have to buy multiple issues of the magazine then copy or cut out the relevant pages to have it as one complete document. One is a four part article which attempts to bring up to date a 35 year old set of ancients rules (which bizarrely the author states he never actually played). Do the publishers really think the readers want a set of old school ancients rules, complete with lots of different morale and training classes, lots of tables, etc., split over four issues of a magazine ?

The Beast Rampant30 Aug 2017 2:02 p.m. PST

Chris Peers had lots of stuff like that in the old days of WI. I found them quite enjoyable. And while I have played few of them, I have discovered many novel mechanics that I borrowed for my own house rules.

One is a four part article which attempts to bring up to date a 35 year old set of ancients rules (which bizarrely the author states he never actually played).

That DOES seem odd. But overall, I'm OK with the basic notion.

It's better than a roundup of minis for a specific conflict or period, which leaves out more than one notable manufacturers. Why bother otherwise?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 2:55 p.m. PST

All magazines have the odd "clunker" article, and wargaming magazines have a harder time than most in avoiding useless ones, since any given wargamer is only interested in a fraction of the hobby. Should each mistake be a thread on TMP?

My own nominee for least-liked article is the one which describes in painful detail how some army or another should be fielded under The Hot Rules of the Month. Second place is the scenario described only in terms of THRotM. Instead of saying "500 trained infantry arrive at about noon" it announces "two "M" Class elements arrive on Move 5" to ensure that no one playing different rules can possibly get any use out of the article. Ever.

But as far as I'm concerned, a short one- or two-page set or rules is one of the real joys of a magazine. It might have an original idea worth considering, but even if not, it's a way to try out a period at a time when rules are sometimes more expensive than armies, and you can hand a two-page set of rules to guests or convention attendees who can't be expected to have mastered your usual four-volume set. There are many worse things in a magazine.

Full disclosure. I did a lot of MWAN back in the day.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 2:58 p.m. PST

Publishers have space to fill. Since they don't pay for contributions usually, it's usually more a case of printing what you get rather than assign stories to your staff…

battleeditor Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 3:44 p.m. PST

All the major magazines *do* pay for content but *don't* have staff to assign anything to. I do have some experience in this field!


Henry Martini30 Aug 2017 5:25 p.m. PST

As games, in comparison with a fully developed commercial product, they're always going to be inferior: sloppily written and structured, poorly explained, lacking in examples and diagrams, and incomplete. Without intending to single it out as any worse than other magazine rule sets and purely as an example, MW 411 has a set of 'pirate rules' that consists merely of a basic amphibious combat system. Unlike commercial rule sets such as LotHS or 'On the Seven Seas' there's no clearly elucidated core game assumption, and no wider game universe or underlying mythos; no attempt to firmly place the tabletop action within well-defined ludic boundaries. There are no mechanisms for constructing 'factions', linking their adventures, or developing individual characters and their skills.

If you plan to use this type of rule set you have to regard it as merely a starting point and accept that you'll be play testing it and developing it into something more polished – and just occasionally you encounter something there more than the usual hackneyed old mechanisms, which makes that effort worthwhile; something genuinely novel and elegant. Going back many years I recall reacting positively to Andy Callan's 'Loose Files and American Scramble', which others seized upon and went on to develop into more complete game systems that they in turn published.

warwell30 Aug 2017 5:40 p.m. PST

no wider game universe or underlying mythos

Perhaps I am in the minority but that is certainly no deal-breaker for me. I prefer to create my own universe. I just need mechanics.

In the day, I dabbled with quite a few rules sets from MWAN. I especially liked some of Aelred Glidden's rules.

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 6:18 p.m. PST

Well most may not ever get played but some do. Loose Files and American Scramble comes to mind. The rules are available on line. link

If I'm not mistaken these were the basis for British Grenadier.

I did once play a solo game for the Russo Japanese War that was in a magazine.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 6:18 p.m. PST

The Right Reverend was a prolific rules writer, wasn't he? I'll certainly take a look at them. Some I intended to play, but never did. My brother lies to see what thought processes and game mechanics others have/come up with.

Cyrus the Great30 Aug 2017 10:09 p.m. PST

I have found several variants of the Lion Rampant rules, for example, quite interesting. YMMV.

advocate30 Aug 2017 11:34 p.m. PST

+1 for rulesets in magazines.

arthur181531 Aug 2017 1:58 a.m. PST

I like them. They are much cheaper than most commercially published rules so that, should trying them prove unsatisfactory, one has not lost a great deal. They usually have the merit of being quite short, easy to understand and play, and – if necessary – easy to amend to suit one's own tastes/purposes.

Occasionally, they contain an idea or mechanism that one can use in another game and/or incorporate in one's own rules.
They continue the tradition of creating one's own rules that is, IMHO, part of the charm of the hobby.

They are more interesting to read than yet another article explaining how to paint wargame figures to an unnecessarily high standard (that one probably won't be able to/can't be bothered to emulate)or how to build a structure only slightly different from one featured in a previous issue.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 5:11 a.m. PST

On the fantasy (Dragon, White Dwarf) and modern (various SJG magazines) side, that was usually the first thing I turned to. I still have and regularly play some scenarios and magazine insert games from the 80's.

I also like the "postcard games" with a map and some cut out chits on one side and brief, scenario specific rules on the other. Sometimes I would get these in a wargames magazine or you could also buy them (cheap) as "microgames". Some of the best big historical games I played back in the day were done filling a table with the terrain on the post card, putting down figures, and using the microgame rules. They also serve as a good framework in which to build a more elaborate game of the same scenario.

Gecoren31 Aug 2017 5:15 a.m. PST

As an editor, I like to have the occasional one or rules mod in WS&S. I'm adverse to any article which spans more than one issue. I'm also adverse to 'filler', so any rules set we have in WS&S needs to merit being included.

I'm keen to read your comments, so please keep 'em coming!


boy wundyr x Inactive Member31 Aug 2017 6:34 a.m. PST

I'm mainly adverse to multi-issue rulesets that don't say they're multi-issue on the cover blurb. I got burned recently on that one with a magazine on the stand in a baggie.

Having said that, I also liked the x-Rampant variants that have turned up in magazines.

surdu2005 Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 7:39 a.m. PST

I like to read the rules, because there is often an idea or nugget that makes me think. Most of the magazine rules are not fully developed or tested, but they worked okay for some club or group of gamers, so there may be something there that is worth thinking about.

I find extensions or perhaps optional rules to published rules sets in the same category. If I play the rules in question, they are very interesting. Even if I don't, there is often some interesting idea that I might incorporate into a rules system that I do play.


Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 10:41 a.m. PST

I prefer them to breathless after action reports of rules I will never play.

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 11:22 a.m. PST

What are your opinions about wargames rules or self contained games in magazines ? Does anyone ever play them ?
In general I think they are a waste of space, and I think they are unlikely to get played much, if at all.

There are a few of us who play Neil Thomas' "Simplicity in Practice" rules which were published in Battlegames magazine. I'm not sure if Martin England's solitaire system from MW373 for plugging into existing C20-C21 games counts by your criteria, but I have used that extensively. I have played quite a few rules and self-contained games from magazines over the years and stolen some ideas from others.

From the top of my head…

Dark Age Infantry Slog
Normandy 1944
Schlactenbummler (spelling?!?) late C19 European Wars
An age of sail one from an early issue of WI
Old Trousers – Howard Whitehouse's excellent Peninsular War rules
A Jacobite Rebellion set from an early WI (very good indeed; I'm going to do this again as soon as Baccus gets around to releasing its resculpted Highlanders!)
The "choose your own adventure" games which used to appear in MW and WI
An Armada era campaign from an old MW
Arthur Harman's ECW rules
The really good Wargames Foundry Wild West and Horse & Musket skirmish rules

I'm messing around with some of John D Salt's rules which were partially in The Nugget at the moment.

I'm sure that there are others!

NCC1717 Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 2:14 p.m. PST

I have put on several games of Hail, Agrippa! These rules are a modification of Hail Caesar published in Issue 66 of ‘Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy' magazine.


Ottoathome Inactive Member31 Aug 2017 2:48 p.m. PST

It can be nice. Far better than those horrid rewrites of history with only a few sentences at the end of how it might be turned into a game.

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 5:51 p.m. PST

Still really like On To Richmond that I first got in The Courier magazine. Loved all the scenarios and add-on rules that appeared in that mag, too.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 10:14 p.m. PST

Generally in favour of them. They show somebody having spent time on a subject that interests them wanting to share that interest with the world. Quite often there are interesting mechanisms or at least variants on existing rule sets which can make you go "bing" and see a way of solving your own problems.

As Otto says, personally I find them to be more useful than eye candy and a one page blurb on somebodies idea of what happened on 17 May 3024 BC in Egypt…

onmilitarymatters Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Sep 2017 8:02 a.m. PST

I especially liked some of Aelred Glidden's rules.

As Per Margin

FYI: Russ Lockwood (editor of the Wally Simon 'Secrets of Wargame Design' series) obtained permission for Brother Aelred rules and reprinted Aelred's Age of Sail rule set As Per Margin -- with improved graphics and edited to include the multiple rules revisions that appeared over multiple Monk's Corner columns. In stock here at OMM: Stock number 201111. $19. USD

UshCha01 Sep 2017 1:08 p.m. PST

If there is something novel then it's worth having. I remember playing a sail naval game which was based on a cut down set of sailing instructions and the commander could only control by inserting flags on three masts. The second player had to interpret these with no talk to the commander on the content. Excellent and novel simulation which threw light on the command and control issues of a sailing navel fleet. It was well worth its space in the mag and I am not an age of sail player.

RudyNelson01 Sep 2017 4:58 p.m. PST

I put a number of rules in my magazine with no expectation of a wide acceptance. Hey did I publish them.
1. I knew that I no longer had the financial capability to release them as a formal set of rules.
2. I fully expected that some of the game mechanic would be of interest to younger game designers. This was the fastest way to share the mechanics.

Personal logo capncarp Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2017 5:13 p.m. PST

+1 to etotheipi--Snit Smashing, Snit's Revenge, The Awful Green Things From Outer Space, Pond Wars, and others from The Dragon, The Space Gamer, and White Dwarf (pre-GDW shill-rag/glissy ad-stravaganza). And Strategy &Tactics had an SPU game in each issue ("SPI died for your sins")

ITALWARS03 Sep 2017 5:41 a.m. PST

i appreciate scenario articles…i collect them from years and, occasionaly, i play them

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.