Help support TMP


"Would You Buy a Rulebook Without Art?" Topic


117 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 Hobby Industry Message Board

Back to the Game Design Message Board


Action Log

11 Jul 2018 4:38 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board
  • Crossposted to Hobby Industry board

Areas of Interest

General

3,233 hits since 16 Dec 2017
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 3 

gisbygeo17 Dec 2017 5:14 p.m. PST

I'd prefer them with no artwork. Rules illustrations are OK though.

khanscom17 Dec 2017 5:15 p.m. PST

Definitely-- I buy rules for the RULES. Pretty pictures are a plus, but not if it results in overpricing for the contents.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2017 5:36 p.m. PST

Yes I would buy a rules book without artwork.

No I would not buy a rules book without illustrations.

Illustrations are part of the core rules. They often clarify the rule.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2017 6:05 p.m. PST

Yes I would

Timbo W17 Dec 2017 6:34 p.m. PST

Pre-Internet it was a bonus to have pictures of well painted miniatures etc in rulesets as the only other place you could see them was in Wargames Illustrated, etc which you had to pay for and usually had to wait several months for an article on the period that interested you.

Now the worlds best paint jobs are a few mouse clicks away. Why pay to see them in print?

Personal logo Frank Wang Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Dec 2017 6:37 p.m. PST

let's look at WH40K 8e book, only 10 pages of core rules and hundreds of pages of fluffs. It's not a rulebook but a thick hard back advertisment. I won't pay for a book of ADs(the core rules are free and can be download from GW website)

jdginaz17 Dec 2017 7:00 p.m. PST

In a heartbeat.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2017 7:16 p.m. PST

No.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2017 8:22 p.m. PST

In a heart beat, yes, absolutely. Over the decades I've found that the artwork gets in the way of the rules.

I know what the troops look like, I'm painting them, so I don't need a reproduction of a famous painting showing them in combat. Or 'fan art' of the equipment being described (insert name of almost any 70's SF/RPG rule book here), no, no, no.

A remember a couple of 'print friendly' rule set PDF's on Wargame Vault which gave you two options. The full bifta with coloured colour with art out of the wazzoo and a black and white, no art version. I use the second.

Chuckaroobob17 Dec 2017 8:28 p.m. PST

Sure, lots of the rulesets I own have no art.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 12:58 a.m. PST

Northern Monkey said:

When you consider that the rules are what really determines how much fun we have, should the same set of rules in black and white be that much cheaper than if produced in colour? $10 USD USD as opposed to $40 USD USD? Surely it's the same game, that has taken the same amount of effort to design and test? i think that the value of a set of rules is valued in the amount of time I enjoy playing it, not in how many pictures there are. I would not want to use the presence of, or lack of pictures as a bench mark for what the rules are worth.
This is just a confused argument. Things like glossy pages, color printing, hard covers, perfect binding, professional layout work, color photos, licensed or hired artwork, etc. all add to the cost of production, which is why such rules cost $40 USD-60 per copy. Rarely does any of it add anything to playability, and in fact many of these things detract from the utility of the book.

The most functional rulebooks I own are all coil-bound, with the cheat sheet(s) bound onto the back or front as covers. Since almost nobody makes rules this way, I tend to prefer paperback or PDF rules so I can print them or slice them up and coil bind them myself. I get annoyed at hardcover perfect-bound rules because there is no practical way to convert them to coil binding and I have to pay extra for them because of that binding. I am sick to death of paying $40 USD+ for mediocre games that I will play once (or less), so I've pretty much just stopped buying expensive rule books until/unless I determine I like the game and have no PDF or paperback alternative.

Some of the rules that have given me the greatest mileage were also the cheapest and plainest. Thus, I see no reason for all the extraneous fluff driving up the cost.

- Ix

arthur181518 Dec 2017 3:27 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral, I agree completely.

Northern Monkey18 Dec 2017 4:49 a.m. PST

My thanks to Dynaman for answering my question. Fireball Forward is certainly a game which I have heard good things about. However, as a commercial success I don't think we could claim it rivals Flames of War or Bolt Action. Fistful of TOWs is again more than ten years old.

To the rest of you who are getting hot under the collar about a simple statement upon which Bill based this thread, can anyone else point to a big name set of rules in the last ten years that was in black and white? You still cannot give me a single name that stacks up there with the big hitters which you all seem to dismiss as irrelevant rubbish that only sells because of the photos.

If you guys are representative of the future of the hobby then I fail to see much of a future beyond old men complaining that yesterday was so much better. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But one thing is sure, it's gone.

Winston Smith18 Dec 2017 6:50 a.m. PST


gildas. Your comments completely ignores the starting point of this discussion where I inferred that you'd be hard pressed to make a commercial success out of a black and white rule set today.

And YOU are completely ignoring the question Dear Editor asked in the OP.
The question is "would *I* buy"?
Yes. I would.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 7:02 a.m. PST

Yes.

Northern Monkey18 Dec 2017 8:08 a.m. PST

Oh gosh, I am terribly sorry. So we are meant to just turn up with a yes or no answer, is that right? No room for debate and discussion, even though I was quoted in the original question.

Silly me.

In that case my answer is yes, I certainly would do.

Doesn't mean it would be a big hit, as it wouldn't. If you wa t to get on the shelves of wargames stores world wide you need colour.

Stealth100018 Dec 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

YES totally.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 8:43 a.m. PST

Monkey, surely the discussion should be about the question Bill asked? Because if he'd asked me whether I thought a set of rules without illustrations would sell a ton of copies, that's the question I'd have answered. Instead, he asked whether I would buy one.

But the expense is not a trivial consideration. For one thing, hot modern rules sets hunt in packs: you need four to play a game with FOW, used to be three with GW, and two with BP. (Am I right in understanding the Mustapha games make the extra money selling cards?) Anyway, Now you're talking around $150 USD just for the rules--and again, every few years you'll have to buy them again. Either there will be a new edition or new hot new rules.

Some years ago the HAWKS ran a competition: you had to provide both armies, terrain, and rules for under $100. USD It wasn't particularly difficult. When the rules cost more than the armies, they'd better be really impressive rules.

pvernon Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 12:42 p.m. PST

Another YES!

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 2:15 p.m. PST

"If you wa t to get on the shelves of wargames stores world wide you need colour."

That's actually quite a sad statement since it suggests war gamers are attracted more by "ooh shiny" rather than actual substance.

For my own part I dont tend to use illustrations in my rules other than to fill white spaces caused by pagination, keeping sections together, starting new sections on new pages etc. Yrue, they haven't commercially set the world on fire but since they are generally on pretty niche subjects (how many medieval naval war gamers are there I wonder?) I think they are doing OK :)

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 3:24 p.m. PST

If you guys are representative of the future of the hobby then I fail to see much of a future beyond old men complaining that yesterday was so much better. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But one thing is sure, it's gone.
More confused arguments.

Your underlying thesis seems to be that the commercial success of the rules writers is the benchmark of the health of the hobby, but that's clearly incorrect. This hobby existed long before it was possible to make money writing rules for it, and even during the past few "golden age" decades of rulebook earnings potential, it's still been hard to do.

This hobby is a labor of love, captivating only for a small cross-section of people with a high minimum of leisure time, disposable income, and obsessive interest in an unusual combination of pursuits. Most of the dedicated miniatures gamers I know are part wargamer, part collector, part academic (or maybe just pedant), and part artist. Those four indisiplines are found in different proportions in different gamers, but generally combine to keep the miniature gaming hobby limping along. When one or more of those drives becomes unimportant to an individual or dominates the others, different hobbies take over the individual's interests: there are board games and computer games that simulate war better; it's possible to collect items with more variety, greater fragility, in smaller quantities, etc. if you don't care to game with them; there are plenty of ways to study trivia-heavy topics without worrying about how to simulate the topic with physical toys; artistic expression is liberated when unshackled from the peculiar requirements of a conflict gaming genre; etc. I see no reason for the hobby to die simply because it becomes impossible to buy really nice-looking books explaining trivial new variations of a pastime that was fun for a century without them.

Doesn't mean it would be a big hit, as it wouldn't. If you want to get on the shelves of wargames stores world wide you need colour.

I think the point has been made that the commercial success of rulebooks is not the only metric of the "success" of a set of rules. I will go further and assert that popularity isn't, either. Miniatures gaming is a pursuit composed solely of corner cases rules simulate a particular aspect of a particular conflict with the added difficulties of simulating action primarily with decorated physical toys. This pretty much guarantees most rules will be "unpopular" by any objective measurement, and often even within the larger community of miniatures gaming hobbyists, but a set of rules that accomplishes its gaming objectives so well that it becomes an enduring go-to standard of its genre has to be considered a success. Games like Fire & Fury, TSATF, the DBx family, General Quarters, WS&IM and it's earlier iteration Ship of the Line, Fire When Ready, Johny Reb, Pig Wars, Limeys & Slimeys, Fletcher Pratt's naval rules, and likely many others of even smaller niches should surely qualify as successes.

- Ix

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Dec 2017 10:22 p.m. PST

The guestion was personalized-- "would YOU?" Not what is popular, successful, what everyone else is doing, etc.
I, That being me -- would buy a "rule book" to have a " rule book." I would buy an " art book" such a Rocco or Troani publish to have an "art book"

Regards
Russ Dunaway

Northern Monkey19 Dec 2017 12:24 a.m. PST

Once again, Yellow Admiral, you are quoting OLD sets of rules. Nobody here has come up with one single example of anything in the last ten years that could be described as a real commercial success.

Robert, you tell me. Should the discussion be about the question Bill asked, or about the quote he used to base that question on? I would suggest the most threads on TMP involved discussion and debate, not just yes or no answers.

I'm clearly swimming against the tide on TMP here, but I think you'll find that in the hobby gerally people are voting with their feet. The average wargamer expects his rule set to look attractive. People watch colour TV these days, not black and white. Rule books have gone the same way.

Personally I would much prefer to buy rules for a few pounds and would be happy with black and white if that were the case, but I simply cannot see any of the major rule designers or publishers going back to that format. What is more, I am happy with the new look and I'm also happy that paying a reasonable price allows game designers I like to keep producing more material.

I also think that branding new rule sets as "trivial new variations" or suggesting that colour images are being used to divert attention from the fact that the rules lack depth, seems to me to be a dreadful generalisation and even a dismissal of anything new as inferior. That may well be a charge one could level at specific rule sets, but to make such a carte blanche charge against new rules per se does seem to sound like a refusal to recognise that anything new may be good.

As to your own comment on costs, I recently purchased a set of rules for a new period. The rules were £25.00 GBP, the figures were £300.00 GBP, some new terrain to add to my collection was £100.00 GBP Out of a total cost of £425.00 GBP the rules were roughly 5% of the total cost. Had I been starting completely afresh and not had other terrain pieces already available, that percentage would have dropped to the point of insignificance.

As to your suggestion that rule designers have a business model based on selling additional supplements, the rule author in question helped me devise an army list which he then posted on his web site for others to use, free of charge, along side many other lists he makes freely available. He also runs a forum where if I have any questions about the rules, or more likely about designing scenarios, he is there to assist. So much so that he recently spent a day attending our local club, without charge, to assist in teaching the game to new players. That rather flies in the face of the picture of exploitative game designers you are painting.

gunnerphil19 Dec 2017 2:21 a.m. PST

First I would buy rules without lots of illustrations. Some non illustrated ones that have achieved decent sales to judge by number who play with the rules are Peter Pigs rules and TFL rules.

Is commercial success the sign of good rules? Not always.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Dec 2017 3:07 a.m. PST

You just don't get do you NM.

Virtually everyone is telling you the same thing and you still keep on harping the same tune. Typical modern approach, keep shouting loudly that you are right and everyone else starts to accept it.

Not here they don't.

Of course we represent the past and the present, the future is somebody else's concern (even if that someone turns out to be an even older me).

Mick in Switzerland19 Dec 2017 3:14 a.m. PST

I think in the modern world, all consumer products have to be professionally presented and look attractive. I work in the outdoor sports goods industry and that statement applies to just about everything. People are bombarded by attractive products so anything that is not of a good visual merchandising standard is instantly rejected by the retailer and the consumer.

I think trying to sell rules without attractive pictures would be commercial suicide. From my own experience, I would not buy an amateurish black and white product without photographs or illustrations. I would probably not even pick it up off the shelf.

In recent years, I have bought a lot of the Osprey rulebooks such as Force on Force, Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant, The Men Who Would be Kings, Black Ops, etc. All have high quality illustrations.

In conclusion, I think if any product is not well presented, in todays retail landscape,it will fail.

UshCha19 Dec 2017 4:26 a.m. PST

One worrying thing is that why are there no long term commercial "pretty" sets. Many of those terrible "Successful" rules have short term life spans designed to force the player to buy new models or are discontinued in print.

I would say that some "commercially successful" rules are a detriment to the hobby generally. Games that let you use the same figures or other manufactures figures are much more hobby friendly.

Is a requirement of rules that they sell a lot (Commercially Successful, for who; the player or the publisher), or that they are very good at what they do and stand the test of time?

Art is for folk who don't take the rules that seriously and just like to look at pictures, sometimes not even in a game setting.

Good Rules and unnecessary art are rarely go together.

Northern Monkey19 Dec 2017 5:50 a.m. PST

This is increasingly like one of those really bad conspiracy theory programmes.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

Interesting the statement that (paraphrasing) you
need the glossy, colorful thick rulebooks to get shelf
space in wargaming shops.

Pardon, but were we not recently bemoaning the LACK
of brick/mortar shops ????? And the pending demise of
the few which remain ?????

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Dec 2017 6:50 a.m. PST

"Pardon, but were we not recently bemoaning the LACK
of brick/mortar shops ????? And the pending demise of
the few which remain ?????"

I wasn't. There are plenty around me.

They don't sell black and white stapled together rulesets though.

That being said, the question isn't whether or not it can be successful, the question is whether I would buy them or not.

I wouldn't for the reasons stated above.

"Art is for folk who don't take the rules that seriously and just like to look at pictures, sometimes not even in a game setting."

This seems to be typical of the attitude we see on display. It is an elitism that seems to think that wargames rules for games played with miniature toy soldiers should be taken "seriously." That bemoans humour being used in the writing of the rules.

How do you take any wargames rules "seriously." The point someone made earlier about rulesets from the 80s or 70s having lots of research in them was a good one.

The point them made about not having pretty pictures because I can look at pretty pictures online is stupid.

I can look at lots of things on line. I can find the rules themselves on line.

Similarly this ridiculous argument about writing your own rules. Well if you can write your own rules you don't need to buy other rules. Go do that. I guess you wouldn't but them in B&W or Colour.

And for all the talk of expense I would almost guarantee that most people on this thread that have mentioned it have spent just as much money on the historical rulesets they have bought as the ones I've bought.

And they have spent MUCH more time reading or learning to play them.

It is a false economy. Buy a good set that you know someone has put the work into. Read it and play it. I've been playing Black Powder since it came out. I haven't even looked for another set to game the Carlist Wars, the Anglo-Sikh Wars or the Crimean War.

UshCha19 Dec 2017 7:29 a.m. PST

I have become very wary of the worst part of consumerism. It aims to sell pointless stuff. To my horror I found out that the pattern on expensive sport shoes is primarily a sales gimick as are the two or colours, nothing to do with buying technology. Perhaps more folk would be less ripped off if they followd my mums saying you do not judge a book by its covers. Alas shiney books pander to just that.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Dec 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

" This seems to be typical of the attitude we see on display. It is an elitism that seems to think that wargames rules for games played with miniature toy soldiers should be taken "seriously." That bemoans humour being used in the writing of the rules. "

Too right it is 'Elitism' – an 'elite' that can read decent English, knows something about the history behind the rules, has a basic knowledge of the probabilities of dice events and can do their own research where needed.

A set of rules is just that for me – instructions. Granted; adding explanation, author's notes and examples can help considerably in applying that set of instructions. Colour is fine, where it helps understanding or simplifies usage, as decoration, no point.

For the life of me I can't see where humour and whimsy come in, apart from some lighthearted bits in a random events chart, the introduction or notes, it can only detract from usefulness. Most wargamers I know can squeeze a laugh out of almost any situation, we don't need a joke book with the rules.

Hardly see any B&M shops in the UK and very few that cater to more than a small part of the vast range covered by Wargaming. Obviously the commercial reality rules what they stock but that is what makes them less useful to those of us who don't jump on new bandwagons every year or so.

I have many rulesets from the 1970's & 80's and the print is clear, well laid out and they are well bound. Apart from lacking colour (which was relatively more expensive then) they differ minimally in quality from many sets seen today. Where does this daft idea of poor quality rulebooks come from ? A few home produced sets, maybe, but early DBX & WRG rules, those from the LWS and Newbury were decent products.

I do agree on the financial aspect – paying a high price for decent rules is OK with me. What I object to is paying a high price for all the crap that I don't need or want.

Northern Monkey19 Dec 2017 9:39 a.m. PST

Oh, if only I could join the self-selecting elite who so readily look down their noses at we poor fools who are slaves to the evil rule writers who manipulate us so with their foolish colour pictures and barely tested rules.

Gildas, if every person on TMP were a dark age ruler, you truly are the King Cnut. in so many ways. Good luck holding back the tide of modernity.

ced110619 Dec 2017 11:42 a.m. PST

> Yes, I prefer the non illustrated PDFs since the ink cost is less.

This SO much. I print out sections of PDFs for various reasons, and all the art does is cost me ink and make my pages curl. I've seen PDFs without art but with layout that pays attention to *organizing* information. *Most* art I've seen is just there, sometimes even making the page less organized ("widows and orphans").

I also dislike how so many rulebooks (RPG's) are freaking coffee table books with fancy hardcovers. You can't put them into a backpack without damaging something. I'm even noticing the occasional boardgame box that'll scuff when transported.

When did everything become a Franklin Mint collector's china plate instead of something you actually ate off of???

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Dec 2017 12:49 p.m. PST

NM : It is called Sarcasm – look it up in a dictionary.

You don't actually seem to think that photos are a great idea yourself so why are you so hell bent on selling something to others that you wouldn't buy yourself ?

Why must something more recent be better ?

If it isn't better why buy it ?

I have already told you quite clearly that I don't give a damn what other people like or want they do in their hobbies and I wouldn't raise a finger to 'hold back the tide of modernity' (that makes you sound SOOOO 1990's).

Yes, I'm old and I've been a wargamer for a long time but does that make what I say incorrect ?

Maybe the next question to ask is, despite the fact that so many wargamers seem to prefer no illustrations, why is it those that get produced to be sold to the masses have them ?

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Dec 2017 1:54 p.m. PST

"Maybe the next question to ask is, despite the fact that so many wargamers seem to prefer no illustrations, why is it those that get produced to be sold to the masses have them ?"

I would have thought that the answer here was obvious.

Clearly the small cross section of people that responded to the thread are very much in the minority.

Dynaman878919 Dec 2017 6:54 p.m. PST

> Nobody here has come up with one single example of anything in the last ten years that could be described as a real commercial success.

Only since your definition of commercial success limits it to the big glossy rules sets.

UshCha19 Dec 2017 8:35 p.m. PST

There is perhaps a bigger question. Is commercial success relevant to us as wargamers, dose it define a good game? Answer no, commecial sucess dose not figure at all in my definition of a good rule set. Certainly some of the best rules may well not have been massive commecial sucesses. The DBX revenue stream was proably never as great as some "Shiney Hardback" set as they had no wastefull art so did not appeal to the wider coffee table rule book buyers. That in no way detracts from the standard of the rules.

BobGrognard20 Dec 2017 12:37 a.m. PST

UshCha. Can I ask how you buy new rule sets? As far as I can see, nobody makes the type of rules you seem to like anymore.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 5:37 a.m. PST

BobG, there are plenty available on Wargame Vault. Quite a few seem to be quite successful from a commercial point of view (Nordic Weasel rules for example….)

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

Northern Monkey said:

Once again, Yellow Admiral, you are quoting OLD sets of rules.
Of course I was. The fact that they're old and still in use was exactly my point. I was supporting my argument that commercial success is not the only measure of "success" in a set of miniatures rules. I think a set of rules that entertained gamers long enough to be played by one or more succeeding generations should also count as a success, don't you?

Nobody here has come up with one single example of anything in the last ten years that could be described as a real commercial success.
I don't think anybody is trying. You may be the only one here who cares about commercial success. The rest of us think it's either irrelevant to the OP or just irrelevant generally.

I also think that branding new rule sets as "trivial new variations" or suggesting that colour images are being used to divert attention from the fact that the rules lack depth, seems to me to be a dreadful generalisation and even a dismissal of anything new as inferior.
I wasn't implying that new rules are necessarily inferior, only that it is incredibly rare to get anything revolutionary in a "new" set of rules. More than once an expensive new set of rules I purchased turned out to be a recombination of very traditional mechanics dressed up with pretty pictures and fancy graphics, so I have become quite conservative about how much I'll pay to learn how they work. I'm highly unlikely to buy an expensive, glossy tome just to look inside, but I do that all the time with cheap PDFs. I still don't own a copy of Black Powder or Hail Caesar, but I own nearly every set of rules David Manley has released, and a lot of other products I found on Wargamevault.

I was also invoking a more objective POV of our obsessive little hobby. To a person learning what miniatures gaming is "all about", it would take quite a bit of explaining to differentiate Black Powder from Charles Grant's old 1:33 rules. Most people reading that probably just clutched their chests, but chances are your own mother would not delve deep enough to tell them apart.

As to your own comment on costs, I recently purchased a set of rules for a new period. The rules were £25.00 GBP GBP, the figures were £300.00 GBP GBP, some new terrain to add to my collection was £100.00 GBP GBP Out of a total cost of £425.00 GBP GBP the rules were roughly 5% of the total cost. Had I been starting completely afresh and not had other terrain pieces already available, that percentage would have dropped to the point of insignificance.
I tend to ignore this argument, because it completely ignores the usually iterative and experimental process of finding the "right" rules for a period. A few times I have been lucky enough to strike gold with the first set I buy, but I'm sure I'm not the only one in this hobby with bookshelves full of rules that looked promising but turned out to be no fun to play. Some of them were investments in a system that seemed to be taking off in my area, but fell off the radar instead. As long as I'm going to have to buy multiple sets of rules to find a way to play with my large investment in miniatures, I'd prefer to buy cheap rulebooks, and only spring for the gilded tomes for rules that have become a staple of my gaming life.

- Ix

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

+1 David Manley:

BobG, there are plenty available on Wargame Vault. Quite a few seem to be quite successful from a commercial point of view (Nordic Weasel rules for example….)

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 9:52 a.m. PST

I've seen people state they will buy a new ruleset just for the "eye candy". Model builders are attracted to eye candy.

I have a few of those eye candy rulebooks and while I don't think it adds to my understanding of the game it is a subliminal way to get the reader to immerse him into the game's environment and buy the models. You read the rule and on the next page is the "ideal" image (of which you'll never duplicate) of that rule, figure or vehicle. You are subliminally sold on the idea that using the game rules you will duplicate the image. You get the desire to buy the models and play the game.

It's somewhat like looking at a girlie mag, you know you'll never date that chick but you do get a shot of dopamine when looking at her.

The rulebooks with the extensive eye candy are designed to take advantage of that human mechanism and capitalize on it to make sales. Eye candy will attract a new player to the hobby better than a game like Panzer War which is a more accurate portrayal of WWII combat than the eye candy publications and is free.

I think these commercially successful games are designed and run by marketing departments, not people like most of us. They are designed to be commercially successful. Brick and mortar stores need that eye candy and marketing to make sales. If you owned a hobby store you'll stay in business longer being a Warlord vendor than selling a bland 50-page book or one of those old popular ones.

Wolfhag

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 1:48 p.m. PST

I made an oops:

To a person learning what miniatures gaming is "all about", it would take quite a bit of explaining to differentiate Black Powder from Charles Grant's old 1:33 rules.
Er, I meant Bruce Quarrie's rules, not Charles Grant's. I conflated Ye Olde School wargames authors. Silly me.

- Ix

PS: Still a good read, even if I have no interest in trying to use the rules. This is an example of a book that probably *would* benefit from a better binding and a lot more pictures. grin

Thomas Thomas20 Dec 2017 1:53 p.m. PST

A few points:

First glossy pictures do not suggest a lot of time and effort has gone into rule design – quite the contrary it often means the company is depending on glitz not quality to sell you the game. Eye candy pictures are momentarily appealing but result in longer clumsier rules books making finding needed information more difficult. Some of the glitz success listed are quite bad from on an on table gaming expirence perspective. But keep in mind that you can turn a nice profit on rules sets that are looked at but rarely played. Pictures drive up the price, make the rule book harder to use and generally use up production assets better used for development and playtesting.

So why as Artic Monkey points out are viturtally all successful recent rule books filled with filler? Because we have trained companies to give us pictures not well developeed rules – its what we buy and play at stores. DBX is an obvious exception – proving that quality rules do sometimes win out. But its not easy and takes game masters willing to run and teach less glossy games. It took me several years to push out Flames of War and get most local players to use Combat Command instead. Its cheaper ($15) has free up dates and inexpensive army lists ($10) and still it took me running dozens of games to convince people it was here to stay and worth switching over.

But also don't assume that black & white means quality – these old games were often hideously complex and data heavy. The glossies tend to avoid that mistake. That Combat Command was also highly playable by non-experts and still gave a decent WWII experience counted for more than just cheap start up costs.

In short we need better games with reasonable presentation and the willingness of players and GMs to buy and run the games. Instead of just playing in another Flames or 40K tournament – buy and play something else. You won't regret it.

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame and Glory Games

Northern Monkey20 Dec 2017 4:15 p.m. PST

Once again we return to the recurring theme, which is to suggest that because a set of rules has glossy pictures, the time spent searching for these had been to the detriment of the rules themselves. I simply cannot accept that. The type of illustrations in a rule set do not determine, positively or negatively, the quality of the rules. That is purely determined by the time and effort spent on the development of the game.

Game designers I've known don't begin the process of doing the layout until the rules are well and truly completed. If they were to do so they'd constantly be changing the layout as they added, amended or removed text.

The utter contempt for some very successful game designers who give a lot of people a great time but who happen to use colour illustrations is both remarkable and seems to me unfair.

Personal logo Frank Wang Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 7:08 p.m. PST

I think Northern Monkey didn't say anything wrong. He stresses that having high-quality pictures will make game rules more commercially successful.I totally agree. Many successful companies did such things too.

Although the rules of nowadays are not as good as old rules, But they are sold very well.I mentioned 40K 8e before, I can hardly call it a rule"BOOK" but I'm pretty sure its sales is far beyond DBA.

Personal logo Frank Wang Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 7:14 p.m. PST

Once again, do we need arts for a rulebook? As I typesetting my book, I have to arrange every chapter page by page to make the readers more comfortable and easy to read. Hence there are some blanks in some pages and I have to use something to fill that blank. Arts are good choices.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Dec 2017 9:34 p.m. PST

Perhaps then, some of you would not purchase any type of book without pictures??

Regards
Russ Dunaway

Northern Monkey20 Dec 2017 10:42 p.m. PST

Russ, I don't think anyone is saying that. However, there are lots of allegations being bandied around on this thread with no evidence to support them at all. The general assumption that old rules are better than noes ones: I would totally disagree. Age, or lack of it, does not make rules good, ideas do. The assumption that non-illustrated rules are superior to illustrated. Surely nobody could accept that statement at face value? Again, what makes rules good or bad is their content in terms of ideas, not what pictures they do it do not have.

Frankly, I think that wargames rules have advanced a great distance inthe last twenty years. There is a much greater emphasis on the challenges of command as opposed to simply the mechanisms of combat. I welcome that greatly.

Are all new wargames rules great? No, of course not. But then all old wargames rules weren't great either, and some were bloody awful, including the Newbury rules mentioned earlier which were utterly dreary.

I have been accused on this thread by GildasFacit of trying to shout people down, simply because I presented an opinion at variance with his. However, at every step I have present an argument with examples to back up my comments. All I have had back are huge generalisations with no evidence whatsoever to support them.

"Pictures make rule books harder to use". Where is the evidence for that? Name one set of rules where that is demonstrably the case.

Adding pictures to a rule set means you use time doing that which should be used for playtesting? This is such a ludicrous statement it is almost funny, or would be if people didn't obviously believe it. Pictures will be added to any book as part of the layout for print and type-setting process. That doesn't happen with ANY book until the contents are complete.

New rule sets are simply rehashes of old ideas and contain no new ideas. Why should we make such a condemnation of ALL new rule sets? I note several people posting here are rule writers themselves, so I presume they exempt themselves from such an accusation? Presumably then that charge only applies to everyone else? Maybe a hint of jealousy creeping in when they see rules with colour outselling their rule sets. I don't know, I have no evidence of that, but what I do know is that to condemn new rules generally as inferior to old is utterly ridiculous. I find some new rule sets offer little in the way of new ideas, but some are extremely good with much original though and good fresh mechanisms.

Rule sets with eye candy are simply designed to sell miniatures. Again, thus may well be true of some rule sets, but we can't generalise. Some of the best rule sets come from companies who have no figure ranges to sell and whose only function is writing rules. Again, by generalising we are distorting the truth completely.

Art is for people who don't take rules seriously and just like to look at the pictures. For God's sake, this is utterly insulting, both to other wargamers and to our intelligence. Is it not possible to take rules seriously whilst also preferring to see a blank space filled with a photo of a good looking wargame? Don Featherstone has plenty of photos in his books, some of them in colour in his later works. Once again, this generalisation is thrown about with no evidence to support it and, frankly, there can be no way of gathering data to support or disprove such a statement. It is, therefore, utter prejudice against gamers who like something different to the poster.

I honestly think that people should be more accepting of those with different opinions, or at least attempt to present evidence to support their statements rather than just making sweeping remarks with no basis in fact.

Pages: 1 2 3