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"Rules Tinkering" Topic

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12 Jun 2021 4:57 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Andy ONeill14 Jun 2021 9:08 a.m. PST

Arguably, the hardest part of rules design is elegance. Mechanics that give a representation of what you want to model and do so in a nice way.

But hey, what do I know. I'm just an idiot who doesn't understand anything.

Skarper16 Jun 2021 5:45 p.m. PST

I think my tinkering score is 100!

I used to tinker. Now I rewrite from scratch keeping only a few things I like. So I have the idea, and any solid mechanics but when I'm done it's hard to say what I started from…

It's 80% of the fun for me….

UshCha17 Jun 2021 1:46 a.m. PST

We only tend to change if we discover variences of the rules result with that of the real world in cases where modification is practical.

An example is with machine guns, most rules show minimal to little understanding of the employment of such weapons, it has taken a long time to undertand the real world employenet and limitations and as Andy Oniel says then to find an elegant way that is sufficently accurate to meet our requirements.

pfmodel19 Oct 2021 3:14 p.m. PST

The urge to tinker is strong, but I have found once you make any significant change you end up with problems elsewhere.

UshCha19 Oct 2021 9:24 p.m. PST

pfmodel That's why you have to write your own, so all the rules integrate efficiently into a whole.

pfmodel19 Oct 2021 9:54 p.m. PST

That's why you have to write your own, so all the rules integrate efficiently into a whole.

I agree, and its not a simple process.

UshCha20 Oct 2021 2:20 a.m. PST

pfmodel YUP! We recon between the two of us it took 2000 hrs for Issue 1 of the rules. However most of that was fun discussing the the whys and wherefores of the real world. Interstingly like the real thing, having produced the model we found we had to learn how to fight. The other rules at the time really did not stand up to much realistic comparison with the real world so we had to go back to the manuals and accounts to see how it was done and evaluate why. Issue 2 after some 13 years and rising covers our greater understanding of the real world. Still fun after all those years.

It's hard to decide when tinkering becomes formal changes. The other issue is complexity, we as co-authors play in more detail, for example defensive positions are more precisely defined which improves with the correspondence to reality but makes decision making more demanding (and of course for some, more interesting).

However that's more player specific/scenario specific than perhaps tinkering. Much also is about definition rather than actual rule changes so may not be tinkering at all.

pfmodel20 Oct 2021 12:49 p.m. PST

Very true, after an unsuccessful attempt to write an ancients and then a Napoleonic set of rules may years ago, all I do these days is take existing rules and try and simplify them, but even then it takes a long time. My main project was creating a quick play version of Corps Commander, which I think I started in 2016 and which took about 3 years to get to a usable format. It took a lot of play testing and its still too complex for new players. It was then I discovered that making a small change to an existing set of rules could have unforeseen consequences, thus even small changes required a lot of testing.

One project which I have found a lot easier is converting a board game system into a figure gaming format, which was much easier. On the other hand the only real changes were converting it into a hex less system, which did not exactly change the game system. Having a set of working scenario's also helped with play testing.

But creating a set of rules from scratch, especially for something as complex at modern warfare, that represents a great deal of work and I commend anyone who completes such a project.

Wolfhag21 Oct 2021 3:37 a.m. PST

I gave up tweaking other rules and wrote my own too. It's a departure from traditional unit activation and IGYG games. I'm using the timing of events and how long it takes to execute an order. I use historical factors and the manuals for things like a guns rate of fire, crew reaction times, movement rates, target engagement times, turret traverse, etc. If a player wants to tweak the rules or include "What if" or Sci Fi units he just plugs in the numbers.

Each units acts within what I'm calling an "OODA Loop Timing Bubble". As soon as it executes an order/shoots the player immediately gives the unit it's next move or shoot order and determines how long it will take in seconds to execute. A gun with a rate of fire of 6 rounds per minute fires every 10 seconds. Better crews are quicker, poor crews are slower. This delivers historic rates of fire with a minimum of rules.

Units are always active and can react to threats when the occur. Suppressed and buttoned-up units react slower. Threats emerging in your over watch direction are engaged quicker than ones on your flanks.

Since I am using a lot of technical jargon for a WWII Combined Arms game I wrote a "Technical and Nomenclature" document that gives the historical reference, explanation on how it is used and game tactics. I also have other terms listed that it is associated with. The last step is to put in graphics.

I've been working on it on and off for just over 5 years but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Writing rules in a manner that new players understand is difficult.


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