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"The 5 Wargame Rules That Changed the Industry are..." Topic

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13 May 2019 5:09 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 May 2019 5:08 p.m. PST

You were asked – TMP link

Which wargame rules were so groundbreaking that they singlehandedly changed the miniature wargaming industry (for better or worse)?

In the final round of voting:

16% of the votes: "Dungeons and Dragons"
14% – "DBA"
13% – "The Sword and the Flame"
10% – "Warhammer"
9% – "WRG Ancients"

John Edmundson13 May 2019 10:22 p.m. PST

I don't even know where these polls appear but I would have thought WRG's original 1925-50 set would have been in there.

Some Napoleonic rules probably should have been present too, maybe Bruce Quarrie's. They got a lot of people playing as far as I can tell.

These two, plus WRG 3000BC – 1250AD 5th Ed were the first commercially produced rules I was exposed to and used. I never did the Donald Featherstone thing – looked at the books but never used his rules.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2019 1:33 a.m. PST

Much as I loved D&D, I wouldn't describe them as Wargames Rules… I'm surprised there are no skirmish sets, like Saga.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2019 4:35 a.m. PST

John -- look at the left side of the main TMP page and scroll down to "Current Polls."

I agree with you re. D&D.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2019 5:19 a.m. PST

If we're talking white box D&D, it was actually much more a Medieval skirmish game with some magic and fantasy races grafted on to it rather than an RPG.

At the time the RPG elements were much less structured in the rules and more left (or practically entirely left) to the discretion of the DM. Race and monster abilities were heavily focused on tactical combat capabilities. Things like temperament, ecology, politics, morals were just assumed to be known since "everyone" read the "same" fantasy books.

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2019 6:31 a.m. PST

Good list. I'd add Fire & Fury, Command Decision, & Shako.

Old Contemptibles14 May 2019 6:42 a.m. PST

D&D is not a wargame. Should not have been on the poll.

Old Contemptibles14 May 2019 6:43 a.m. PST

Should have Empire been on the poll?

Marcus Brutus14 May 2019 7:00 a.m. PST

I agree. Empire was one of those watershed moments in wargaming rules. Not that I would play it anymore but it was game changing!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2019 7:26 a.m. PST

Empire was a poll selection.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2019 8:00 a.m. PST

"Dungeons & Dragons: Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures"

It's on the cover folks, granted they weren't exactly sure what it was back in the day, but they were experimenting all over the place, remember Braunstein ?

Rdfraf Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2019 9:36 a.m. PST

Tactica wargame rules may have not been groundbreaking but releasing the ruleset in a very slick professional format, heavily illustrated with beautiful color photos changed the way wargaming rulesets were expected to look like forever.

coolyork14 May 2019 10:46 a.m. PST

While D&D is not war-game rules per say, its predecessor "Chainmail" was . Maybe Angrif and Johnny Reb ?

Mithmee14 May 2019 11:25 a.m. PST

D&D is not a wargame. Should not have been on the poll.

True, but I would bet that it greatly influence later game creators.

Brownand14 May 2019 12:07 p.m. PST

I miss the rules by Grant, Featherstone etc

Hagar the Horrible15 May 2019 3:23 a.m. PST

This poll is really making me feel my age. The answer should be WRG Ancients hands down. It revolutionised war gaming when it came out. The other rules are great, but in no way were as ground breaking as WRG. You had to be there in the early 70's!

williamb15 May 2019 6:15 a.m. PST

I would second Hagar's comment. The original WRG ancients rules had a major effect on ancient wargaming and by the third and fourth editions were almost universally used for ancient gaming. My introduction to ancients was WRG3 just as WRF4 was published. I also remember the original version of D&D being the expansion of chainmail into fantasy.

Andy ONeill15 May 2019 7:59 a.m. PST

But for DnD there would be no games workshop.

Blutarski15 May 2019 3:55 p.m. PST

"But for DnD there would be no games workshop."

Where are Marty McFly and Doc Brown when we need them???



Blutarski15 May 2019 3:59 p.m. PST

My recollection of the early versions of WRG Ancients were "Side A moves. Argument ensues". From my perspective Barker really did not get the rules properly "cleaned up" until 7th Edition.

I was much fonder of his 1925-1950 Infantry-Armour Rules, which went a long way toward ending the curse of "Tractics".


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2019 6:12 a.m. PST

"…that changed the industry…"

Read the poll question. D&D changed the industry. Fantasy wargaming, dungeon crawls, RPGs, fantasy miniatures, VSF, Steampunk, horror, pulp, polyhedral dice, character stats, hit points, magic, and the enormous blizzard of competing and/or inspired products all stemming from the creation and success of D&D, not to mention the rise of GenCon as the premier gaming convention and indeed the phenomenal increase in gaming and wargaming in terms of both participants and commercial products in general. Whether or not one argues that D&D is or isn't itself a "wargame," there is no question it massively "changed the industry."

Also note that this is a website dedicated to and dominated by wargamers. If there is a valid poll response on this site, this is it. D&D clearly influenced the most people here enough to win out.

As for WRG, I've heard of it. And that's all. The fact that I've heard of it tells me it clearly had influence on this hobby I participate in, but what that might have been, I don't know. Maybe that says something, too.

Thomas Thomas17 May 2019 1:28 p.m. PST

Not sure about changing the industry but rules systems that set the standard's for what game design can be and should be:

Johnny Reb up till 3rd edition
Command Decision up till 3rd edition
X-Wing up till they began issuing "upgrade" cards
DBX esp. DBM 2.0 and DBA 3.0


Dynaman878917 May 2019 1:43 p.m. PST

> Read the poll question. D&D changed the industry.

But it is not a wargame so instant disqualification.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2019 3:14 p.m. PST

Know your history. D&D originally appeared as a medieval wargame with fantasy elements, played with miniatures. Instant re-qualification.

Dynaman878917 May 2019 4:01 p.m. PST

I know it and D&D is not a wargame. It was spawned from one, not the same thing.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2019 4:01 p.m. PST

D&D changed everything – there really was such a watershed between wargaming before D&D and wargaming after D&D.

Marcus Brutus18 May 2019 5:39 p.m. PST

I agree. D&D is not a wargame. And I don't really see its influence directly in wargaming either.

UshCha19 May 2019 11:35 a.m. PST

To be fair one of our, in hindsight, advances , was to go to D20. This was accepted on faith as a recommendation by my son based on on his experience of RPG's, where this was becoming a new standard. It proved to be excellent advice and improved the rules by adding enough detail over the D6, while not requiring buckets of die. While dire rolling is a necessary evil, reducing the number of rolls speeds play. So even RPG experience can help in some ways.

Blutarski19 May 2019 7:26 p.m. PST

D&D could perhaps be described as the first fantasy wargame. It probably owed as much to J R R Tolkien for its success as anything else (by which I mean Jim Arneson's good design work).

sjpatejak08 Jan 2020 9:20 p.m. PST

Evidently when the folks at Tactical Studies Rules got back the galleys for Chainmail, they found they had several blank pages. So they decided to add rule for Tolkien characters. The rest, as they say, is history.

UshCha10 Jan 2020 6:16 a.m. PST

I was a bit horrified by this topic. Wargames rules that changed the way we play would be of interest. WHO CARES about the industry! It is simply there to cater for us, not we them.

ITS NOT AN INDUSTRY its a hobby, what matters is for the hobby not what impact it has on it. Most of what happens for the best is not down to industry but keen individuals working for the hobby..

Murvihill12 Jan 2020 4:30 a.m. PST

For me personally it was Column, Line and Square, D&D and TSATF. I think any answer is going to be dependent on the individual, so polling should take care of individual differences.

The Last Conformist12 Jan 2020 8:36 a.m. PST

From where I'm looking, X-Wing largely took Wings of War and slapped a popular theme on it. It's been quite successful but I'm not sure how it set the bar for game design?

Sgt Slag13 Jan 2020 8:30 a.m. PST

D&D was born out of the tabletop wargaming industry. D&D spun off into its own, separate, industry: role playing games. Frankly, the RPG industry has dwarfed the popularity of the wargaming industry.

The poll asked about the "industry" aspect, not the fan base. So, from that perspective, I think the results of the poll are not too far off.

I joined the RPG hobby in 1980 (Freshman, in High School), but I did not join the wargaming hobby until around 1992 -- not for lack of interest, but rather a lack of hobby funds: had been working after tech school, for six years, finally had disposable funds available! I enjoy both, wholeheartedly, without reservation.

I find it interesting that there is limited crossover between RPG'ers and wargamers. The two are radically different experiences, but both are a blast, for me. YMMV. Cheers!

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 4:29 p.m. PST

I was a bit horrified by this topic. Wargames rules that changed the way we play would be of interest. WHO CARES about the industry! It is simply there to cater for us, not we them.

ITS NOT AN INDUSTRY its a hobby, what matters is for the hobby not what impact it has on it. Most of what happens for the best is not down to industry but keen individuals working for the hobby..


I think the question was how particular game rules have changed the hobby…and thus'the industry.' However, I think calling the publishers of rules and manufactures of historical miniatures etc. a collective 'an industry' is quite a stretch. Here is how 'industries' are classified:

There are four types of industry. These are primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary.

Primary industry involves getting raw materials e.g. mining, farming and fishing.

Secondary industry involves manufacturing e.g. making cars and steel.

Tertiary industries provide a service e.g. teaching and nursing.

Quaternary industry involves research and development industries e.g. IT.

*Maybe* the hobby could claim 'secondary industry', but
writ very small.

I would also wonder what kinds of 'change' we are talking about. The size of figures, particular rules sets, their support, subject matter, particular eras or as a total

Jefthro329 Jan 2020 4:52 p.m. PST

The use of elements as units of movement etc changed the hobby in my mind. Already thought of by Charles Wessencraft in his book Practical wargaming , but brought to the fore in DBA and it's derivatives this changed traditional Ancient wargaming otherwise I'm not so sure, new rules concepts seem to concentrate on ease of game play and novelty the concept of trying to recreate Ancient/ Medieval Warfare as been relegated to a dispute between gaming and simulation, i.e if the rules are complicated they are a simulation if easy then it's a game it is difficult trying to find the middle ground. In our small group we prefer to play easy rules and it's always a benefit if they appear to me realistic according to our limited knowledge When it comes to world War ;2 rules that's a different matter -Squad Leader changed everything…….

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP05 Feb 2020 2:37 p.m. PST

Ditto to Murvihill regarding Column Line and Square. It was the first war-game that took into account historical organization, national differences, and weapons variations. Also specific stand sizes, rather than general ones. For the latter, we need to acknowledge Joseph Morschauser's How to Play War Games in Miniature. Until his book (or seminal article in Wargames Digest) people played with individual figures; he suggested mounting figures on bases for unit moves. Now we are back to the individual figure games :)

These rules were ahead of the times, not mass produced, so of limited exposure with little impact on the hobby industry. However, these rules got Dick Bryant into the hobby so indirectly gave birth to The Courier which kept American wargaming interconnect leading to the formation of the HMGS.

What was unique about D&D as a game (Something of a skirmish game at that.) is the role playing aspect. Players were not just generals ordering troops around, they were the actual figures on the table (if using figures). The biggest contribution this genre made to the war-game hobby is that it saved the figure making industry (or is it a business) by giving them a new market. They could then make historical figures sort of "on the side."

Trebian Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Feb 2020 1:41 a.m. PST

We're taking part in an industry, which supplies our hobby needs. There are hundreds of people employed in the business. GW are a serious international brand. There are people who are paid to analyses their performance: link

Trebian Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Feb 2020 1:43 a.m. PST

And any one who knows anything about the hobby would know that, like them or hate them, the first WRG Ancients were the first set of rules to systematically research and apply that research to a set of wargames rules. Look at what went before. Honestly it's all guess work and Tony Bath's ancient rules don't even stand up as a fantasy game.

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