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"What slows down your games the most?" Topic

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10 Mar 2019 4:49 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Wolfhag08 Mar 2019 11:00 p.m. PST

I looking for some general opinions about what impacts the speed of your games the most.

Some answers I've heard in the past is:
Deciphering special rules and exceptions
Waiting for the other persons turn in an IGYG game
Figuring out opportunity fire
Slow players that don't know the game
Determining activations
Disagreements over unclear rules
Spotting/LOS problems
Inebriated players
Rules Lawyers
Players wanting to change the rules mid-game


Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 11:16 p.m. PST

#1 Players who don't know the rules.

I'm not talking about new players, I'm talking about players who have played the game multiple times, have been given a copy of the rules, but put no effort into learning them. Instead, they rely on you to try to resolve every question that comes up – even when the rules are one piece of paper.

Fortunately, some others in our group have started to pick up the slack on this the last few years.

#2 Lack of attention to what is going on in the game.

This is the player that is doing everything but paying attention to the game. He is talking to his buddies, playing with his phone, etc. When it comes to his turn to do something only then will he start to think about what he should do. Of course that is after you have to yell his name three times to get his attention.

Fortunately, we have weeded the worst offenders out of the group.

Lee49408 Mar 2019 11:56 p.m. PST

I try and write my rules so games flow smoothly. Here's how I've tried to accomplish that by eliminating slow down factors:

1. National differences and exceptions which require continual reference to rules book … solution work differences into stats for each unit/team, best way to do that are Data Cards for them.

2. Reduce dice rolling as much as possible. For example many rules have something like Skill and Motivation ratings for troops, I combine that into one Quality or Q Rating which models how likely troops are to perform an ordered action (does it really matter whether they fail because they were not well trained, or well led, or fatigued, or had bad morale? They failed. Period)

3. Brief all players on key rules before every game. Don't assume they know them. Even pros that play many different rules sets can benefit.

4. Managable scenarios. One great way to slow down a game is too many troops on the table. Players always seem to want to take a game to the "next level" i.e. take a squad level skirmish game to company level. Scenario design and points levels can help that.

5. Players taking every shot, even at dismally low percentages, "because they can" and why not? I'm fiddling with gun jams, ammo and other mechanisms to motivate players to give up such nonsense.

Probably more but those are my top ones.


Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 1:02 a.m. PST

You really should make this a poll suggestion.

Martin Rapier09 Mar 2019 1:49 a.m. PST

People going to the bar, turning up late or wandering off and having irrelevant conversations.

Multi player games using unit at a time activation systems.

Any game system which requires the laborious consultation of lists of modifiers.

Counting out, throwing and working out the results from handfuls of dice.

Games where microscopic differences in distances and angles of engagement matter.

Rules lawyers and argumentative types. Frankly, I'd rather have my teeth pulled out.

Green Tiger09 Mar 2019 1:50 a.m. PST

Having to look stuff up in rulebooks…

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 4:11 a.m. PST

Doctor X: +1

redbanner414509 Mar 2019 4:17 a.m. PST

Dithering players who cannot make a decision.

Fred Cartwright09 Mar 2019 4:30 a.m. PST

Counting out, throwing and working out the results from handfuls of dice.

I would rather do that than consult long lists of modifiers. Non engagement of players can be a problem with poor rule design. Any game where one player does his turn with out any interaction needed from the other person leads to people getting out phones or starting irrelevant conversations. Hence I have become a convert to opposed dice rolls and saving throws. It keeps the players involved. The other advantage of saving throws is you can split the work load. As in PBI where the firer works out how many dice he throws for hits, meanwhile the defender works out his saving throw based on cover, range, troop quality, etc. The attacker rolls his dice, counts the hits. The defender knowing his saving throw picks up that many dice and rolls them. Quick and easy.

Games where microscopic differences in distances and angles of engagement matter.

Absolutely. DBM got like that.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 4:42 a.m. PST

The larger (more players) the battle, the slower the battle. And using corps size game rules for a battle size scenario (or similar comparison).

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 5:12 a.m. PST

#1 – People who are not ready for their actions.

I don't care what else you do during the game. Talk with people. Use your phone. Take Sanskrit lessons. Juggle. Do all four at once. But whatever you do, you must be ready to play your role.

I don't expect everybody to be ready with microsecond response and to have no deliberation or discussion during their turn. I don't expect everybody to remember everything that others did throughout the game. But I also expect there not to be a continual stream o f "What's the status of that unit?" "When did that guy move?" "Was I supposed to take a morale effect?" "Where's my dice?" "What's the status of that other unit?" "And that one?" "When did those guys get there?" and so on …

Generally, playing QILS requires some level of engagement with others. At the simple level, you are required to roll defense dice for your forces when attacked.

Because we do not play with triple-checked nanometer distance and degrees, minutes, and seconds (which you could do with any system), we play more along the lines of saying something "That's under four inches to move there." and expecting concurrence from the opponents, or "You moved from close combat after attacking me, so that figure must be within the -1 ranged penalty distance." Civilized behaviour.

And, in general, the scenarios we play require awareness of the history of action to understand your place WRT victory conditions. Often times you can't explicitly calculate everything for victory, so it is more important to keep aware.

acwpaintr09 Mar 2019 5:39 a.m. PST

Games where units are moved in a specific order, one at a time, generally skirmish games with movement order generated by cards. You end up with one player moving and 7 other guys standing around watching him. The game moves at a snails pace and that's when you see the cell phones and wandering gamers.

irishserb09 Mar 2019 5:58 a.m. PST

Inattentive gamers. At home we could play a game where the average turn lasted 5-6 minutes. At a convention, the same rules and scenario would take 20 minutes to an hour or more per turn, mostly because players weren't paying attention to the game, wheren't thinking ahead regarding their next movement, shooting, or other actions.

Skarper09 Mar 2019 5:58 a.m. PST

Players not paying attention, talking off topic or messing with their phones for a range of reasons.

Good rules can keep people focused by making them have to react to other players actions but you can't make people concentrate if they can't or don't want to.

Another issue is not having a plan and 'playing it by ear' too much. Sooner or later they will get stuck and have to think too long or throw the game away.

Too much too soon. Trying to play 2-3 levels of command higher than they are really able to. Players who can't handle a platoon properly trying to manage a full battalion plus attached units.

DestoFante09 Mar 2019 6:03 a.m. PST

Long list of modifiers.

Palewarrior09 Mar 2019 6:18 a.m. PST

the endless "Alien" quotes :-)

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 6:39 a.m. PST

+2 Doctor X

I'll add: abysmally designed QRS – jumbled, chaotic and in 8 point type all in service of keeping it to "one page." Meh.

My QRS even for some simple games runs 4 pages. It includes all your unit stats in the relevant sections. It outlines how to do things, not just the chart you end up on. It uses white space, color and nothing smaller than 12 point type. It is in turn sequence order. Many things are "pre-figured."

I prefer a reasonable number of modifiers to buckets of dice. I find them faster, and you don't end up with dice all over the table.

Major Mike09 Mar 2019 6:56 a.m. PST

+3 Doctor X

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 7:05 a.m. PST

Extra- As I get older, tiny type drives me nuts!

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 7:54 a.m. PST

Rules Lawyers
People who dont remember the rules – or dont want to
Complexity or Simplicity when its not needed
Bad scenarios

PJ ONeill09 Mar 2019 10:23 a.m. PST

Players who roll the dice and look at the GM and say "What does that do"

Oberlindes Sol LIC09 Mar 2019 10:39 a.m. PST

Having to look stuff up in rule books. As a referee at a convention game, I try to play only with rule sets with which I am already very familiar, review the rules a few days before the game, write scenarios that avoid obscure rules, give the players a 1-page rules overview or outline, and go over the overview with the players at the very beginning.

Even after doing all that, I still end up looking up rules sometimes!

If the game is not at a convention but just among my group, we're often trying to figure out or break the rules, so we don't mind if the game slows down as we parse the rules.

Fred Cartwright09 Mar 2019 12:16 p.m. PST

I find them faster, and you don't end up with dice all over the table.

Treat yourself to a dice tower!

boggler09 Mar 2019 1:04 p.m. PST

Players changing their mind half way through a move.

GROSSMAN09 Mar 2019 1:17 p.m. PST

People who want to know what they need to roll on the dice, just throw the damn things!

Personal logo Ed the Two Hour Wargames guy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 1:32 p.m. PST

Kind of explains why solo gaming is on the rise.

repaint09 Mar 2019 2:18 p.m. PST

-people obsessed with their smartphones
-people over thinking each move, what could happen, what could have happened, what over move could have been played and why, constantly. :(

JMcCarroll Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 2:23 p.m. PST

Smokers- but it was discussed before.

catavar09 Mar 2019 7:19 p.m. PST

I always loathed figuring out morale rolls. Felt like it went on forever. That and modifier charts that go on and on.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 7:55 p.m. PST

Ed- +1. It would seem from the posts that interaction with other humans is what slows things down.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 9:18 p.m. PST

Smart Phones

If I thought I could get away with banning them from my games I would. Especially when Mommy calls and says it's time to come home. Grown men doing this. Grow a pair.

Deciphering special rules and exceptions.

Along with its friend "we play so many rules sets. Is that rule in this game or another one?" I have come to tolerate.
this because I play with an older crowd and we play a lot of different rules. Now I am old enough to forget which rules is in which set of rules. I have gotten slow with charts. I can run them but I am slow and younger players are impatient. Please be patient. Your going to get old too.


Fortunately we chased them all away.

Dice Freaks

What do I have to roll? What difference does it make? Just shut up and roll the damn dice! If we need to figure it out we will after you roll. Just standing there rolling the dice in your hand isn't going to help.

Poorly written rules.

The kind you play and you think there is a good set of rules in there, somewhere. So you spend the first five games figuring them out and then re-writing them so they are usable.

Long marches to get to the action.

Start the units closer together. So you don't spend a 1/3rd of the game with an approach march.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 9:49 p.m. PST

We have played some sets of rules for 10 years or more and we still have to get the rules out and look up stuff. I can't believe we are the only group that has to do that.

This isn't Monopoly or Candy Land were playing. I have shown wargame rules that most of us consider easy to non-warmers and they are usually stunned by how complex they are.

All the different rules we play are essentially technical manuals. We don't notice it because we have been in this hobby for so long. We all learn differently and at different speeds. Some catch on to the strategy before catching on to the rules and I know some who know the rules really well but couldn't come up with a decent strategy.

So a good GM will recognize that as we decide who should be on which side. Have some patience and help out where needed. Remember we need all these players because without them there isn't a game to play. Unless your a solo gamer.

Keith Talent10 Mar 2019 2:38 a.m. PST

They are the worst offenders in my experience.
Every…..single…one ….of…. them……(including me), but usually the ones who think that "they" are not part of the problem

14Bore10 Mar 2019 3:42 a.m. PST

The will to get started

TodCreasey Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2019 4:38 a.m. PST

I would agree with oversized games or mechanisms where there is a lot of waiting for your turn. I frequently play with 6-8 other people so trying to find rules that truck along for everyone is a clallenge.

Engagement is key too – saving throws, interrupts etc. Can really help to keep the other side engaged – I suspect this is why we like Saga, Fire and Sword or Chain of Command so much

Glenn Pearce10 Mar 2019 6:01 a.m. PST

Hello Wolfhag!

For many, many years we (Napoleonic Miniatures Wargame Society of Toronto) always did a review of every game we played. The objective was to identify and correct things that slowed the game down or just made it awkward to play.

The first thing we eliminated was the number of steps and tests in a turn. If they couldn't be reduced the rules were tossed.

The biggest and most important discovery, however, was the time lost with rules that break battalions down into a number of bases so that you can change formation. The first part is it forces every player to analyze every unit under his command to check if it's in the right formation and place for now and the next turn. The second part is he is also obligated to check every possible enemy unit that could come into or is in his space/zone. The last part is just the logistics of having to move all of these little pieces every turn.

Once we moved to single base units our turns dropped from an average of 15 minutes a turn to 5 minutes a turn. This in turn allowed us to play bigger battles a lot faster.

For many years now all our games are fast, furious, no debates and full of enjoyment.

So if your serious about improving your games and making them faster with maximum enjoyment use only simple streamlined rules with single base units. "Ruse de Guerre" that I wrote and is sold by Baccus covering the wars in North America (F&IW, AWI, War 1812) is one such rule set. It is for 6mm but can be used for other scales and most horse and musket periods.

Best regards,


Mobius10 Mar 2019 6:29 a.m. PST

15 minutes a turn sounds pretty good to me.

One reason we base our WWII 6mm infantry at the squad level and not break it down to the fire team level is to reduce the unit count.

Lee49410 Mar 2019 2:24 p.m. PST

If you streamline the rules so much you loose the flavor of a tactical minis game why bother? Just play one of the block or counter boardgames. No need to spend time and money on the minis! Cheers!

Glenn Pearce10 Mar 2019 3:41 p.m. PST

Hello Mobius!

That's it fewer moving pieces, faster games.

Best regards,


Glenn Pearce10 Mar 2019 4:05 p.m. PST

Hello Lee494!

Great question. The reality is if your playing a large scale horse and musket game there is no value in wasting time trying to sort out if battalions are in the right formation or not as most of the time they were. Even when they weren't it did not always work out badly. Generals didn't stand around playing rock/paper/scissors with their units so why should players?

The true "flavor" of large scale horse and musket games is in the planning, movement, commitment, timing and execution of well thought out defensive and attack plans. This includes the complex movement and formations of Divisions, Brigades and sometimes entire Corps. You just don't get that very well in block or counter board games.

If I can answer any other questions you might have, please just fire away.

Best regards,


uglyfatbloke10 Mar 2019 4:10 p.m. PST

I find that you can speed big games up with a mean look and a big stick. You seldom need to beat a second person to a pulp. …there may be legal issues about that.

Oberlindes Sol LIC10 Mar 2019 4:11 p.m. PST

I agree with Ralllynow

Old Wolfman11 Mar 2019 6:31 a.m. PST

Personally;trying to make a good decision(been there,done that)

Oppiedog11 Mar 2019 7:25 a.m. PST


Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 7:38 a.m. PST

Melees are the time stoppers in my experience, especially when multiple units decide to pile into the melee. As a game judge, I hate it when that happens.

UshCha11 Mar 2019 7:54 a.m. PST

I find that a complex scenario can lead to slower play as more thought is required. The trick is to match to the audience. Too simple is quick and pointless, to hard for the other guy and is slow and not rewarding.

The other item is bit count, slower players need to have less pieces to move. That means shorter time to move and less thought required as there are less options.

Many of the statements in the thread to me come under one heading "Ignorant Git". You only play them once! It's your fault if you play them twice. Willing learner is not "ignorant Git" but can slow the game down, see above.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 8:07 a.m. PST

Level of Detail (LoD) is related to speed, and more importantly, perception of speed and attention. It's not really a cause of good or bad speed, but an indicator of how well attuned your players are to the point of view that drove the LoD.

If most of your players consider the details important and interesting, then it doesn't "slow the game down" (from the standpoint of their experience).

Spending an hour doing something you like is a moment. Spending fifteen minutes doing something you abhor is an eternity.

Along those lines, if you spend 75% of your turn doing things you think are boring, you're bored. And if 75% of the discussion off your turn is things you think are boring, you're entertained. Because you are paying attention to something else you find interesting.

F'r'ex – If there were a pirate ship game that used nautical slide rules, mo board, and nomograms to calculate the plot advance and transfer of ships based on sail, rudder, and condition, it would be a fast-moving set of rules … for me.



I loved that stuff when I was a Naval officer and in training. Got the chance to test the new electronic navigation systems against the manual method. Again, a fun fast-moving time. DOM took an electronic navigation class for her EE Master's that required using a sextant and manually calculating a sight reduction fix (the electronic navigation systems do essentially the same thing, except with different tools) to learn what was going on "under the hood". I was impressed.

Now … in theory, there might be people out there for whom this does not sound like a good time. They would likely have a different perception of the speed of the game and the ability to hold interest in the off turn time.

* – There is such a pirate game, because I wrote one. I might pull it back out for play as a novelty at some time in the future.

Personal logo vonLoudon Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2019 11:21 a.m. PST


ced110612 Apr 2019 7:07 p.m. PST

Mechanically, I've seen games where you draw a card at the start of your turn *then* make a decision. Thankfully, these are for simple games, but just imagine the results with an AP game!

Unituitive rules. They're a staple in Euros for game balance, but throw off Ameritrash gamers. RPG'ers go positively apoplectic when this sort of thing happens.

Unlearning convention. Line of Sight rules, for example, in boardgames at least, are all over the place.

Asymmetrical learning curve. As fun as it is to play against several opponents with different powers, this means, on top of the rules, you need to know each faction's abilities and victory point objectives. Coop games with asymmetrical powers are different, since players want to share their information with others, to win the game. Obviously, I'm not saying to not design games this way, but there can be a learning curve to these games.

UshCha12 Apr 2019 10:58 p.m. PST

ced1106, makes dome interesting points but even they may b
e a matter of personal choice. Our own rules are on what I would call the "simple" side, not too many weapon factors and few exception rules so learning "the rules" is quick like chess.

However there are folk like my son who is a SI FI Gamer to whome this is no fun, he wants lots of varid races with varied wepons and tactics that may indeed take many months to learn,perhaps longer. However to him that is a plus not a loss.

Rarely can I agree with etothepi but in this case I do agree, one mans meat is another mans poisen. So what slows a game down is stuff the players find uniteresting (assumeing a before they do not fall under "Ignorant Git".

However at the moment the rash of game in a box products does indicate there are more opertunities for simple games that are quick to learn.

However that may simply be because folk like me are no fun Commecially. I only play one set of rules and though still expanding, I only have one significant army.

Again ced1106'scomments are really only valid if you change games regularly, the basic system learning is achedemic if you are playing the same game week after week year after year. Which is what most folk other than wargamers do, Golfers don't change there game in a lifetime.

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