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"Is it “unrealistic” to know the rules?" Topic

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doc mcb11 Feb 2022 9:43 a.m. PST

My preference when running a game is that only I know the rules. I want players who are generals to play their roles and make command decisions, not be sergeants fiddling with alignment. The best gaming I've done, and the lockdown made it unavoidable, has been with only me being able to see the table; the players know what I tell them they can see, and make the important decisions based on that.

cavcrazy11 Feb 2022 9:47 a.m. PST

When I put on wargames at the local toy soldier show for the kids to play, all they need to know is basic stuff like move distance and firing distance. Everything else will work itself out. They are on a need to know basis. The games are great fun.

Regicide164911 Feb 2022 10:16 a.m. PST

For games without an umpire, it is absolutely not realistic. If Player A has written the rules and Player B only used them once or twice (if at all), then A has an advantage which his commanding officer in the field could never have, or the c-in-c of Player B would never have risen to command in the first place. I played a game once of this type as Player B, and have never done so since. Napoleon, Caesar or Cromwell never encountered an opposing comander who had no idea at all about the factors which depleted his army's morale. All that 'within 6 inches of support, not under artillery fire, no exposed flank, within command radius' stuff, which differ in every ruleset. Captain Mainwaring at least had half a clue.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2022 11:44 a.m. PST

You know, historically there were a lot of commanders who knew next to nothing about commanding

Martin Rapier11 Feb 2022 11:59 a.m. PST

In our gaming group, I am one of the few people who actually bothers to read the rules. I've no idea if it is realistic or not, but we seem to muddle along. We aren't monumentally competitive though.

Regicide164911 Feb 2022 12:04 p.m. PST

@Frederick… they would have known the approximate range of missile weapons, surely?

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Feb 2022 12:08 p.m. PST

It depends on the history.

Certain types of engagement might work that way. Others not.

I went to "modern" "history". Certainly the 20th century saw warfare weed out many commanders who didn't know the dynamics of combat for their forces or the enemy.

microgeorge Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2022 12:50 p.m. PST

I must agree with Frederick. The only advantage we have is better maps.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2022 1:08 p.m. PST

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.". ― Sun Tzu

Pretty much describes the situation, doesn't it, as you can know neither either the enemy or yourself if you don't know the rules.

Obviously, in a game without a referee it is possible for players to not really know the truth about all the forces if they've never studied their stats, but still be able to play the game. They won't play nearly as well, but they will learn from it (hopefully— never a guarantee).

Now, I will say that in an RPG I prefer a game where player knowledge of game mechanics is limited. Players should NOT know the details of the monsters/NPCs they face, but should be required to "learn" as they go. What they should know is the details of their own character's abilities, the rules and capabilities of their own equipment (but not other equipment), and the rules and details of spells their character knows and can cast (but not other spells).
This speeds up play and helps prevent "rules lawyering," which I *hate*.

Thresher0111 Feb 2022 4:39 p.m. PST

Depends upon whether you care about winning or not, and the referee's/GM's willingness to help those that don't know the rules.

Those that don't playing against those that do are seriously disadvantaged unless the referee/GM helps balance things out a bit, based upon my personal experience.

doc mcb12 Feb 2022 8:55 a.m. PST

I used to play a lot of JOHNNY REB, at home with a group and also at cons. Very frustrating at cons, because there are HUGE advantages to knowing all the tricks of moving and shooting so as to maximize enemy morale tests. Inevitably one was playing with novices who failed to see all sorts of opportunities -- and often resented being advised. JR is a rules set that very much rewards -- not rules lawyering -- but close familiarity with permissible tactics.

I would not run a con game with those sorts of rules, however much I enjoy playing them against a peer.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2022 5:18 p.m. PST

Regicide1649 makes a good point – to which I would note, you would think so – but there were a number of European armies where you got to command because of how your daddy was, not whether you knew what you were doing! Marshal Saxe (who was a very good commander) started his command roles as an ensign at the ripe old age of 12; but then there were chaps like Nathaniel Banks, whose main talent was helping out Confederate quartermasters with all the supplies they captured from him

AuttieCat13 Feb 2022 4:00 p.m. PST

My $.02 USD cents,

When I was a younger man, I would hoist and unpire many games. At our club's height, we usually had eight to ten players. Many were veterans and we would frequently get somebody new.
If playing a new set of rules, that I doubted anybody in our group had any understanding of (except maybe understanding tactics (i.e. do not stand up in a field of fire and smoke a cigar), I would state that it is a learning game only! We never had anybody go for blood in these kind of games because of their opponent's lack of expertise with that rules system. The more knowledgeable players of a set of rules would take the time to teach the novelist the basics (regardless of who was on which side). After all, it was a learning game!
However, if your opponent had played it several times and should have had a real chance to learn the rules (but could not understand them), then by all means hand him or her their head. That seem to work for our group---The Allegheny Irregulars. Tom Semian

COL Scott ret13 Feb 2022 10:11 p.m. PST

I was once invited to a Johnny Reb III game by a friend. I was apparently one of the few Union commanders with an idea of either rules or normal tactics. The Confederate commanders apparently all wanted me to join their side at the next game, I didn't go back as we had child number 4 and then 5 – for a long time no extra time for games.

I actually had to leave before the end as my wife thought she was going into labor. My friend told me that when the rest of the Union Army collapsed, my forces were both positioned and arrayed so as to take several confederate commands to push my forces back. Not quite Thomas at Chicamauga but in an army with little plan or coordination anything looks good.

SHaT198419 Feb 2022 2:12 p.m. PST

I dislike rules nazis having met so many.
And never aspired to be one.

However, for my friends, there's a significant difference between knowing 'rules' (artificial construct) and 'environment (reality construct) where I ask them to think only historically, not what they think the rules reflect.

In this a scenario takes on what the generals/ commanders knew, but hides what they didn't. Does that long shallow wood hide an enemy division, or a herd of goats? Is every BUA on this side of the board packed full of marksmen? Do I reaally need to send a squadron out as advance-guard to find out.

These things make players aware and games more historical as they take into account the environment in which they feature, and not perform like champion transformers marching across a landscape destroying all and sundry.

So my answer is no.
However it is overly simplistic to rely on rules to dictate how you enjoy your games. Otherwise, play chess. Done.
~cheers d

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