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"US v UK rule style, and Sam Mustapha" Topic

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Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 2:53 p.m. PST

I've said for a long time that the difference between US approach and UK approach to rules is British writes seem to assume everything is permitted, unless banned, while in the US everything is banned unless explicitly permitted.

This may be to do with the culture that has more lawyers than any other country, and consistently is in the top 2 for lawyers per 100,000 people (the other tends to change ever few years)

*Cue inevitable storm of WHAT ABOUT X Y and Z!*

Which brings me to Prof Mustapha.

After reading 'Blucher' I double checked nationality.

"Treat these Rules as holy writ."

(Until you know what you are doing, then change them if everybody agrees).

I note, like me he puts in a rule which is basically is "Don't be a dick". (Though he uses Jerk instead)

"There is no way to write rules for terrain placement that can cover all of the nefarious tricks that a player might conceive to abuse the system. Rather, an all-encompassing "Don't be a jerk" rule applies here."

The FAQ is basically your favourite teacher looking at you with an expression of mild disappointment.

The response in Scharnhorst section about being completely outnumbered is basically a lesson on what being general is!

The style and layout of Blucher is a lesson in writing rules. Simple, clear, with concepts explained, and reasoning behind them given.

Also he is a man of much brilliance and perspicacity, for great minds think alike ;) Check the date stamp on my campaign idea…


Each tile represents 2ft/60cm square on the table. You get 1 counter per sub command (this was WSS bodies – advance, main and rearguard)

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

This may be to do with the culture that has more lawyers than any other country, and consistently is in the top 2 for lawyers per 100,000 people (the other tends to change ever few years)

Obviously the invisible hand of the free market at work!

nsolomon9918 May 2020 4:59 p.m. PST

Outside the USA medical science has determined what causes "lawyers" and we believe we have a cure that does not require a vaccine. We have analysed the data and found that if we can shutdown all the things called Law Faculties at Universities across the world we could eliminate the virus and free mankind from this scourge in a single generation. We would then simply need to wait out the die off of the adult form of the lawyer virus. Of course to do this will take real political will to shut down these virus breeding grounds because of the revenue they offer to Universities and governments but at least we now understand the science around the plague.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 5:32 p.m. PST

I think one of the characters in a play by Shakespeare said, ‘the first thing we do is kill all the lawyers'. I think Shakespeare is great. Now that I've said that let's talk about wargame rules.

If you come from a mindset that you are somehow simulating reality in a game then I could maybe see how you would be inclined to say that everything is permitted unless specifically banned. I look at wargames as games. Chess is a game. Games have rules. You should do everything possible to exploit those rules to your maximum advantage. That is what any good general would do. Find the weak spot and exploit to max advantage. Maximize your numbers and minimize your opponents numbers. Wargames come down to probabilities with dice; it's just math.

Doug MSC Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 5:33 p.m. PST

Also confine all layers to their homes for two weeks and then keep extending it every two weeks until they disappear.

Desert Rat18 May 2020 5:46 p.m. PST

There are a lot of British rules that are competition driven, whereas, US rules tend to be scenario driven.

To me, this accounts for the different approaches for the application of specific rule mechanisms.

Glengarry518 May 2020 5:53 p.m. PST

As I generalize it American rule writers are technicians more comfortable with systems and machines than people, trying to scientifically reproduce what "actually happened" historically no matter how complex. British rule writers are classicists who want use the game to tell a story and are willing to gloss over some details to do so. There are exceptions of course. That's why I think games need a strong referee to settle disputes, allow the game to flow by avoiding games devolving into constant bickering between "rules lawyers". I'm Canadian but I prefer the British approach.

Wolfhag18 May 2020 7:19 p.m. PST

This may be to do with the culture that has more lawyers than any other country, and consistently is in the top 2 for lawyers per 100,000 people (the other tends to change ever few years)

Maybe it's that "Yankee Ingenuity" taking the initiative to think outside the box doing the unexpected and breaking the rules, including cheating.


Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 8:20 p.m. PST

They frowned on dueling eventually and outlawed it, so we had to increase the number of lawyers around to handle all our personal problems.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 9:07 p.m. PST

I think we all have our favorite rules styles, not taking away from Sam's skill. While I think there are popular conventions that come and go [SPI started the 3.13 style of rules back in the late 70's], I doubt that there is general American way of writing rules that is more than a passing fad.

Pick up any two cook books, and you will see a wide divergence in recipe writing, from 'stir until done' to stir clockwise for 2 and 3/4 minutes until etc. etc. etc.

Lawyers love rules in any old shape, and having played Blucher, that set of rules is not immune, whether played in the USA or England.

UshCha18 May 2020 11:34 p.m. PST

Well I have not read any of Sam's ruled but have no wish whatsoever to do so. He admits to them being Games not Simulation writer. That immediately for me sends them into the bin and writes him off from a personal perspective."Treat these Rules as holy writ." seems perfectly acceptable for a Game. A simulation writer saying such a thing would be arrogance in the extreem. No simulation is perfect and there may well be situations where the generalisation may not be appropriate for a specific set of circumstances.

Cheats well first time shame on you. There is no second time, playing with a cheat is pointless, they are not interested in the game only winning, there are other hobbies for that. Wargames to be is exploring credible what if's.

Not sure I would put that as a US vs UK thing except that anechdotally the UK player seems to play more games as they are closer to each other. Many UK wargamers play most weeks. My impression is that a significant number of US players do not. This would rightly shift emphasis, particularly if you have the pernicious habit of playing multiple periods with minimal play of each period and limited understanding of the period would more formal adhereance a requirement. "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men" (Harry Day and/or Douglas barder)

YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 4:59 a.m. PST

DBx rules, and the WRG series that preceded them, are the most rules-lawyerly rules I know of and were written by Brits.

Decebalus19 May 2020 5:12 a.m. PST

"DBx rules, and the WRG series that preceded them, are the most rules-lawyerly rules I know of and were written by Brits."

And it needed americans (WADBAG) to make DBA 2.2. understandable.

tabletopwargamer19 May 2020 5:22 a.m. PST

All sounds like a load of sweeping generalisations to me. I can think if rules from both countries that fall into either camp.

As for the nonsense about simulations and games…..the simulation is still a game,no matter how much you stick your head up your preverbial and pretend youre doing something grander.

War. Game.

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 7:29 a.m. PST

It's funny how so many people say get rid of all the lawyers….until they need one.


Private Matter19 May 2020 8:07 a.m. PST

+1 Tabletopwargamer
+1 Garryowen

UshCha – I think you have taken Sam out of context. He says to stick the rules as written to learn them and then once you learn them you can modify at will. You may want to sit in on a game of Blucher before you write them off completely.

jdee67219 May 2020 8:44 a.m. PST

+1 Garryowen :)

BobGrognard19 May 2020 11:14 a.m. PST

Surely in a hobby that is called "warGAMING" it seems a bit odd to criticise a game designer because he says he designs games. Even Kriegsspiel has "game" in the title.

I do wonder if some of us might be in danger of taking things a bit too seriously.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 12:33 p.m. PST

I do wonder if some of us might be in danger of taking things a bit too seriously.

I don't think it is taking things too seriously to take game designers claims seriously. Or is all that they claim just fun gaslighting? If we are talking about how to design wargames, then I would *think* it isn't too serious to ask how these claims are accomplished.

Le Feu Sacré "The rules are mostly concerned with command, control and leadership. The actual combat elements are, although historically accurate, deliberately simplified to allow focus on what really determined victory on many Napoleonic battlefields – Leadership, and Le Feu Sacré." [Introduction]

LaSalle If you have a club, or a larger collection and gaming area, Lasalle can also be used to simulate historical battles of the Napoleonic Wars, such as Quatra Bras, Albuera, Saalfeld, Eggmühl. [Description, Honor Games website]

Fire and Fury "The ebb and flow of Civil War conflict has been recreated in Fire and Fury, an innovative game system using miniature armies to recreate battles of the American Civil War. The system, the result of five years of development, emphasizes playability without sacrificing historical accuracy." [Introduction]

The actual writing of procedural rules clearly and concisely is a craft all its own. That is different from what a designer claims those rules provide in the way of a gaming experience.

Dynaman878919 May 2020 12:44 p.m. PST

Skipping by all the Lawyer stuff. When I was "helping" out the Lardies a few years back the difference in style was noticeable. I was much more concerned about tightening up certain rules sections then the UK players were. One item was crossing a wall took one movement die. I dug into that one a bit. The largest die? The smallest? It mattered since you rolled for movement all in one go so losing one of the dice might mean you make it over the wall while the other means you might not even make it to the wall, etc. (only reason I stopped "helping" was they were starting into game periods I had no interest in otherwise I'd still be at it).

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 2:19 p.m. PST

Every time I come to some generalization about British vs US miniature wargaming, someone publishes a spectacular exception. The only ones I'll stand by are
1) A higher percentage of the British population takes part in the hobby, making clubs more common.
2) The average Brit has a smaller home--promoting club facilities, and encouraging microscale gaming.

For anything about rules, the exceptions are so important (and conspicuous) that the generalizations don't matter.

UshCha19 May 2020 2:37 p.m. PST

robert piepenbrink,
1) may also be that with a higher density of population we can get to each other more easily.

UK population density 280 persons per square Kilometer
US population density 34 persons per square Kilometer

This hypothesis could have many flaws ;-)

YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 8:40 p.m. PST

@Decebalus—so Phil promptly published DBA 3.0! :)

Uparmored20 May 2020 2:16 a.m. PST

Ever noticed how America has produced so many great individual musicions but not many great bands, while the UK has produced so many great bands but not many great individual performers?

I don't know how this applies to wargaming but I was just thinking about it…

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2020 11:33 a.m. PST

And that had me thinking that the greatest classical composers came from Russia and Germany, even though the US and UK had some good ones too, but not nearly as many.

Blutarski20 May 2020 4:04 p.m. PST

From my days playing DBR and DBM, I vividly recall the curses hurled at the malevolent English master who failed to properly caution Phil Barker about the dangers involved in overuse of cascading subordinate clauses.

Certain Barker "gems" from DBR would without doubt have transformed the most erudite Talmudic scholar into a gibbering idiot.



robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2020 10:56 a.m. PST

Good point, UshCha, though even our crowded urban centers seem to be less club-centric, if you will, than the UK. That US population density conceals huge regional differences, not to mention urban-rural divides. (Alaska and Wyoming have VERY low population densities--but of course very few Americans live there. New York City has a population density greater than London--and lots of Americans live there.) I honestly do not know whether the median US citizen has more or fewer people living within, say, one hour's travel time than the median UK citizen, though I would expect the UK number to be somewhat higher.

What little evidence I've collected suggests that UK miniature wargamers are a much higher percentage of the overall population--probably something like six times the US percentage. That gets you to club size grouping pretty rapidly.

Aethelflaeda was framed21 May 2020 2:36 p.m. PST

I think it is just the long well established cultural tradition in Britain. Culture, and media are more likely to have references to toy soldiers than American culture. I can think of at least two television shows/films where the plot/characters was associated with the playing of miniatures wargames, and I believe there was once a whole historical documentary series that involved miniatures playing back in the 60's. I don't think I have ever seen an American reference, other than the Star Wars holographical game played on the Millennium Falcon by Chewbacca. Toy soldier magazines are in every tube station newsstand and a Games Workshop is often on the high street of even smallish towns. It's just more visible and thus more of a chance to capture the imagination of a kid looking to spend his pocket money…fertile fields for new players and that kid later joins a club.

I would offer pub culture might have a bit to do with it as well. American bars on the whole, haven't have quite the same cozy living room-like sense of society that British pubs engender.

My old Broadstairs gaming group met every Monday night at a pub with a room upstairs that we collectively rented for a quid each. I have yet to see that being possible in the states.

Dynaman878921 May 2020 5:53 p.m. PST

> a Games Workshop is often on the high street of even smallish towns.

Just about every town I've been at in the US has Games Workshop stuff nearby (where the locals shop). Having not been to the UK I can't comment on the differences otherwise.

Aethelflaeda was framed22 May 2020 9:49 a.m. PST

>Just about every town I've been at in the US has Games Workshop stuff nearby (where the locals shop). Having not been to the UK I can't comment on the differences otherwise.

I was thinking more about what I used to see 30-40+ years ago. Those kids grew up. I discovered miniatures only via Dungeons and Dragons--and that was hard enough to find in 1975--and small in number--we played with chits more than anything. I still had to travel from Ft. Walton Beach to New Orleans to get stuff back then. I don't ever remember seeing historical figs in the local shop when I moved to New Orleans other than 54mm and Airfix soft plastics, if it were not for the occasional issue of the Courier, I would not have known much about historical gaming with miniatures, and certainly not where to buy them, AH/SPI/GDW were the big companies I saw much more often. 10 years later from then, I wander through even a rather small town in England and find a club and shop without effort, yet the miniatures scene in New Orleans had not improved. I had only seen and played in my first big miniatures game at a scifi convention in Biloxi.

Even today, its getting hard to see miniatures in a local hobby shop in the US, or even board wargames, they gravitate more towards Euros and comics. Figures not so much. My local shop has even stopped carrying much GW, no more Reaper, and just a little of WizKids for fantasy. Historicals…never.

Dynaman878922 May 2020 4:29 p.m. PST

Historicals and board wargames – they are getting impossible to find. Very very rare (I travel a bit for work too). GW and scifi miniatures are much more common and I find them nearby anywhere I go.

When I was younger board wargames were easy to come by since it was in the local department store and just about all of the hobby shops had some. By the mid-eighties that changed to the closest shop with them being 40 miles away and then by the nineties even that one closed.

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2020 4:58 p.m. PST

Dynaman, that sounds like a older version of IABSM. The way to play is to spend each die 1 at a time. So you could roll 1 to move. If that takes you to the wall the 2nd gets you over. Or you could roll the 2md to see if you get to the wall and then ape d the 3rd to get over.

It is perfectly acceptable to spend 1 die to move, 2nd to shoot, then the third to run back where you came from

RudyNelson25 Jun 2020 3:21 p.m. PST

I am still a fan of the old SPI case system.
Simple sentences with no cumbersome wording or meaning changing commas.
One rule per identity locator. Number or letter. So it is easy to find the answer to a question quickly.

Garth in the Park16 Aug 2020 9:12 a.m. PST

I am still a fan of the old SPI case system. Simple sentences with no cumbersome wording or meaning changing commas. One rule per identity locator. Number or letter. So it is easy to find the answer to a question quickly.

In theory.

In practice, though, it got complex very quickly and most of those games had rules like:

" Units whose flanks are not supported do not apply the modifier for charging listed in"

I think most of the time it took a lot longer to look something up under that case system than it does with a simple index that just says:

"Supported Flanks: Page 32."

arthur181517 Aug 2020 2:18 a.m. PST

If I'd wanted to spend my life reading the SPI style of rule writing, I'd have gone on to qualify as a lawyer, instead of abandoning that idea to become a teacher of History and Latin – which I have never regretted.

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