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"Historical Rules?" Topic

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Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2019 3:03 p.m. PST

I was watching Little Wars TV on Youtube and a big hello to any of that group who may monitor this forum … love your work. I enjoy their rules reviews and applaud their particular approach but found myself curious as to why they felt as they did about Black Powder wargames rules in particular reference to their historical flavour test.
Now I'm not personally interested in arguing the toss and have no vested interest in its promotion. I'm a fan myself and that's probably about all that need to be said on that subject but it lead me to think about why I like the rule sets I do and how we as gamers differ from each other.
I game many periods (probably too many)and game not frequently enough. There's only so much time I'm prepared to invest in appreciating the rules I then intend to play with each time I play. Like the more complex rule sets for Avalon Hill and similar strategic games I don't fancy having to read War & Peace for more hours that it takes to play the games when I get to it. Even if I played regularly like one a month, fortnight or even weekly I doubt I'd be wanting to endlessly experience different rule mechanisms. Clearly, this is not everyone's approach and I get the impression that the Little Wars members prefer different rule sets for specific periods or even wars. I admit that I may very well be denying myself some real gaming experiences.
I always return to Napoleonics eventually but game several armies in the Black Powder periods. My rule experience was essentially WRG editions, In the Grand Manner and now Black Powder and I can't really see much difference in results or changes in historical flavour from one set to the next.
I should also say that I invariably wargames with friends, never competitively and I come from the school that concentrates on the history and use rules as a guide – if we don't agree with something we change it (albeit seldomly). For example, my armies are build around my historical understandings rather that what the rules might allow me to have.
So, do others find more generic sets like Black Powder fail in historical flavour or is it up to the users how they apply the rules?

Tony S25 Jul 2019 4:00 p.m. PST

Firstly,I too enjoy the Little Wars channel, and am totally jealous of that amazing clubhouse!

I've played multi-period rules, but over time found myself leaning more and more towards rules geared to specific conflicts. It's entirely subjective, but I like reading and collecting different rulesets, and also reading about the conflicts in question.

I found that most wars tend to have certain unique flavours, for lack of a better term. Sometimes they can be easily introduced into a generic set without much difficulty, but sometimes major surgery is required. Being a lazy sort and not wishing to waste my valuable gaming time in tweaking and playtesting I tend to plunk my money down on rules where someone else has already done the heavy lifting.

Like the Black Powder "Pike and Shotte". For me, it just didn't seem to have the slow ponderous feel of the cumbersome weapons and formations. Everything seemed too nimble. Again, I stress this is entirely subjective.

Likewise Marburlian period; BP (and a lot of other generic black powder era rulesets) just didn't seem to capture the transitional nature of warfare of the time for me.

Another period is the GNW. A weird one to be sure, and hard to replicate the oddities of that struggle. I know there is a group that after much playtesting have hammered together a heavily modified Black Powder addendum that I'm keen to try.

It all boils down to personal interpretation I guess. I'm just happy that this is not the era of the WRG 5th edition monopoly, and that we do have a plethora of choices of rules for a variety of periods!

And, as I admitted earlier, the fact that I greatly enjoy researching the periods, and also love collecting and reading and trying different rules, probably means that my preference to specific rules for specific wars was inevitable!

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART25 Jul 2019 4:27 p.m. PST

I am in total agreement. In my youth, I used to pride myself in rules so baroque that they defied understanding. I put forth the SPI Legalese tracts as an example. Every nuance was covered in a sliding IF/Then series of tables, later explained and repaired in an errata from said magazine. I taught a few folks Foxbat and Phantom under the duress of DMT!

As we got older, we thought that we could have done a better job, so we wrote our own sets of rules, Either for computer or paper ones only to find that we have simply re-written the previous set with different hats on our figures.

Black Powder, with it's counter dice throwing, takes many of these overarching concepts and mashes them together in an interacting style that brings a freedom to both players. Of course there is a difference between units and how they interact , but at the same time it is not a false sense of 'history'---(i.e. the book I read)
More a believable generalization. Be pleased to fill in your own excuses and rationales as why your unit fared.

During the 1980's and 90's, generals still got upset with unit performances, specifically movement speed. This is one of the arguments against BP. It is one of mine that is in favor!

BP's saving grace is the plug and play attitudes towards units. Not only can you modify individual units's numbers but you can add a lot of optional characteristics. This can cheer up those who hang on to myths/proven facts.

OK-OK-Ok- During this, the Wife came home and forced me to shuck corn-etc. I apologize to all for the disjuncted post…

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2019 5:48 p.m. PST

I like simple easily learned rules, so I use TSATF, DBS.Hotts, Lion Rampant & varients. I've played some complex rules in the past but more enjoy these types.

von Schwartz25 Jul 2019 7:20 p.m. PST

Played Bruce Quarrie's rules, then Empires 3, a little Empires 4, Tercio (renaissance), Frederick the Great, and Konieg Krieg. With the exception of the Empires, all were relatively simple and easy to understand and fun to play. Maybe it's just me but I despised Empires 3, too long, too complex, too many exceptions, and waaaaay too biased towards the French and to a slightly lesser extent the British.

nsolomon9925 Jul 2019 7:46 p.m. PST

Agree with Tony S.

For me I like rules that capture the flavour of a period. For example the napoleonic period has very distinct characteristics embedded in the warfare of the period. Its very different from the Seven Years War for instance, although a napoleonic rules set should reflect the evolution of warfare from the linear warfare of the SYW and allow you to run early Prussians and Austrians with their linear tactics against the fluid tactics of the French armies from the Revolution onwards.

Generic rules that can over the whole gunpowder period might possibly work for me at an army level/big battle scale but I don't find they offer the flavour of the respective specific periods.

I'm happy for people who love Black Powder – all power to them, play it, buy figures, build armies, collect terrain, enjoy the hobby. But its not for me.

UshCha26 Jul 2019 1:57 a.m. PST

I have never understood the term "Flavor", certainly in my own period its possible to read the basic manuals and how the weapons are used and the at least anecdoital failure or otherwise. Then you can test out in very basic terms if the strategies and deployments used by the real units are equally applicable to the wargames table. As a designer its then key to do this in the minimum possible number of rules and the minimum possible random factores. You have then a demonstarble functioning simulation. The optimum wepons layouts match the real equivalent. Command and control can also be reasonably demonstrated. Why use a meaningless term? Which conveys absolutely nothing either factuakl or historical.

I do wonder if the modern gamer has an avertion to thought and really only wants to throw a few die and parade their "toys" over a battlefield with no real interest in the history or tactics.

Playing too many periods again makes any study of history fairly laughable as far as competence goes. Sportsment don't play seriously a dozen diffrent gamnes about once a month. That would not make him competent in any of them.

I guess it depends what your aims and objectives as a player are.

A Lot of Gaul26 Jul 2019 5:09 a.m. PST

Different strokes for different folks.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2019 12:04 p.m. PST

Black Powder lost me when I heard one of the authors announce that it had no ground scale. I'm sorry: if you have ranges, you have a ground scale. You may lack a CONSISTENT, THOUGHT-THROUGH ground scale, but that's different. Running a corps in the ACW was not the same as running a brigade in the AWI, and tacking on some "characteristics" doesn't fix that.

Yeah, I know: I'm a fossil. But they'll never pry me loose from my matrix.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2019 12:14 p.m. PST

+1 to Robert.

Old Peculiar26 Jul 2019 12:32 p.m. PST

Historical rules? Rubbish. They are all just game rules, and whether you like them or not is a matter of personal taste. I am not keen on Black Powder, but I love Charge, so I am just as weird as everyone else.

UshCha26 Jul 2019 11:39 p.m. PST

Old Perculiar,To me not historical is not worth playing. I only play for the simulation.

Fortunately for you the "gamey" side of wargames is in accendance at the moment. I guess you guys buy rules like they are going out of fashion so you are a better customer than me.

Bowman27 Jul 2019 2:49 p.m. PST

To me not historical is not worth playing. I only play for the simulation.

So not for any enjoyment?

I'm thinking of running a Conquistador vs Maya game for Fall-In. I'll probably be using Hail Caesar. You'll probably be not interested in this. It would be very difficult to make this sort of game a "totally accurate simulation" of what actually happened.

Blutarski30 Jul 2019 8:12 p.m. PST

Speaking as an historical gamer, my enjoyment is derived by placing myself in historical situations/predicaments and testing my decision-making talents in a (hopefully) more or less real-world environment. That is not to say that fantasy or fictional alternative universe gaming environments cannot be challenging and interesting (Space Sci-Fi or Game of Thrones, anyone?), they just don't turn me on to the same degree.


CaseyCCurtis20 Nov 2023 10:27 a.m. PST


CaseyCCurtis20 Nov 2023 11:36 a.m. PST


UshCha21 Nov 2023 3:52 a.m. PST

Bowman, Really, you assume I don't play for enjoyment?

I just don't play for laughs, neither do I watch most Drama's for laughs.
Over simple rules in my experience lead to an over simple line up of two sides and advance Napolian style regardless of period.

If you want finesse, defence in depth, more tactical flexibilty you need depth to the rules.
Now to be fair many folk want to play loads of diffrent armies, and often not very frequently.

Me I only have/want a couple of armies and play the same rules every week often twice a wwek (15 years and counting for the rules. That needs rules that can cope withe a huge range of scenarios, the thing that keeps our interest.
Collecting rules seems to me odd. We did go through lots of rules trying to find a set that fitted us. Most were dire as far as we are concerned and the latest crop of moderns are the same, they dissapear as fast as they rise so obviously have no great lasting quality, or standard. Again, pesonally if you are not prepared to take time to read rules in detail, how do you expect to plan and execute a plan in detail. Unless you understand at least in basic terms how a weapon works and how it is (or in some cases how abismally it is not) simulated, then how do you expect to have a credible game?
I appreciate some folk don't have the same requirements, to me its about setting scenarios that encapsulate aspects of actions you have seen to gain an understanding of the why's, where's and how's. That to me is where the enjoyment is. Over simple rules just don't cut it for that task.

Deleted by Moderator

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2023 9:57 p.m. PST

I like to find a set of rules I enjoy and stick to them. The rules are a vehicle where I can play scenarios. For me, the scenario is the thing, not the rules. I don't believe that only in-depth rules can be historically accurate (although some are.) I save the complexity for the scenarios. I like playing them straight from a book, I enjoy writing my own scenario and any combination. I may borrow from several scenarios of a particular battle, add a dose of my own research, and write a new scenario.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2023 4:39 p.m. PST

Terms like "Flavor," "Feel," "reasonable Results," "realistic" etc. etc. and all the other terms are just different ways to say "I like it." It is all subjective, including the conclusions of the fellows on Little Wars. [Who yes, do a great job and are a wonderful promotional for the hobby.]

Unless folks want some objective descriptions of game systems and the history they contain, it will all remain subjective.

No reason to inquire why someone felt a particular way about a game system. ALL that can be said is, as Lot of Gaul noted:

"Different strokes for different folks."

That is the beginning and end to any evaluation of wargames and "Historical Rules."

Get over it.

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