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"Fantasy Wargaming by Martin Hackett - any good?" Topic

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Ganesha Games Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Apr 2006 1:56 p.m. PST

I have just acquired Martin Hackett's "Fantasy Wargaming", hardback. I got it extremely cheap on ebay. Did anyone ever play the rules? How do they play? The campaign system is very developed, actually 80 pages are devoted to campaign rules.

Matakishi23 Apr 2006 2:23 p.m. PST

Is it signed?
Martin signed so many the unsigned ones are rare :)
I think it's a cumbersome rules set, you have to write orders if I recall. The book is possibly worth spending a couple of quid on for the pictures of old figures (and his scratch built elementals!!)
Mostly it's rubbish, it was a vanity publishing exercise after all.
I only have a signed one *sigh*

Lordofdane23 Apr 2006 2:32 p.m. PST

I bought it for a few quid and the only thing I've done with it was looking at the pictures…
I gave the rules a quick glance but decided against them, since I had more rulesset at home and the looked more attractive.

Ganesha Games Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Apr 2006 3:04 p.m. PST

it's unsigned . It doesn't look like a vanity publication — it seems to me that at the time there was a genuine interest in the hobby. This could have been an introduction to the hobby.
The campaign rules surely look like they require a lot of book-keping.
What I find annoying is the names of the fantasy races ending in -tole (ratatole, swampatole, crocatole… gimme a break) and the GM being called the "Controller".

Matakishi23 Apr 2006 3:23 p.m. PST

The publisher is a vanity publisher. The author pays to have the book published and receives a set amount of the printed books, usually about 1000.

The only time this book saw the inside of a bookshop was if Martin took them there and convinced the manager to take some.

I took some. Once.

Cincinnatus23 Apr 2006 3:34 p.m. PST

I'm positive I got mine through the SF book club deal where you buy so many for a penny and 4 more over two years.

ttauri23 Apr 2006 3:38 p.m. PST

It did seem to be released through general channels as I picked mine up remaindered in Smiths. The publisher is PSL IIRC who do produce proper books so I'm not sure about the vanity accusation. Though thinking about the quality…..perhaps there's some element of truth in that.

It's main use to me is to have a look at old figures and nostalgia. The rules are quite horrible and fairly derivative. Certainly I never considered actually using them.

Matakishi23 Apr 2006 4:05 p.m. PST

WH Smiths? Really? Well he's fairly persuasive. The SF bookclub is run by Smiths, usually bookclub editions are printed for the bookclub. Possibly it was remaindered stock.
He did tell me once that he'd been 'commissioned' to write a series of similar books on historical wargaming by a publisher. He was planning on doing several a year. Nothing came of this sadly.
Either way it's not really worth the paper it's printed on as anything except a nostalgic look back at old figures.
I did like the way he had plants growing in his dungeons where the light got in though. One good idea there. His rules let giant spiders traverse vertical surfaces too, so another reasonable idea there……….
No, can't find another. Anyone else come up with any?

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP23 Apr 2006 7:31 p.m. PST

He had some interesting concepts for making a campaign, as opposed to just loosely linked battles in a series. I found some ideas in that. I also enjoyed the book as a tour through the fantasy gaming hobby of the period in which it was written. Considering how few books are printed on this topic, I thought it a worthwhile investment, even after I'd read it. ;-) Your mileage may vary.

I can't say much more, but I don't regret purchasing it. I enjoy looking through it occasionally. If you can find it for a decent price (entirely up to you to define what that is…), I would say, "Go ahead and buy it." Cheers!

boggart24 Apr 2006 2:46 a.m. PST

For their time I thought they were okay. But I think they are a bit clunky by today's standards. Like Sgt Slag, I think he was one of the first to look at campaigns. From memory we enjoyed them more than Warhammer from that aspect. I believe that there were some expansions in one of the magazines (Miniature Wargames?) too.

Steve Flanagan24 Apr 2006 3:38 a.m. PST

"I think he was one of the first to look at campaigns"

That'll be news to Tony Bath. Martin Hackett's book was late eighties/early nineties, wasn't it?

Darrell B D Day24 Apr 2006 5:39 a.m. PST

He said "one" of the first Steve; not THE first.

Regarding Martin – his flair is for self-publicity; writing skills are modest.


CooperSteveatWork24 Apr 2006 8:39 a.m. PST

In fairness to Martin, I've disliked every fantasy article he did for MW, but his Sci-fi ones were fine. Think Leicester library has a copy of the book…

Richard Humm24 Apr 2006 10:06 a.m. PST

I don't think it was a "vanity publication" as such – Patrick Stevens Limited was a reasonably well known specialist publisher with a large line of wargames books. However, I believe Hackett was a friend of Bruce Quarrie, who was an editor at PSL. There were also two American editions, one of them being the book club edition, which doesn't sound like vanity publishing.

Ganesha Games Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Apr 2006 3:24 p.m. PST

On the dust jacket of Fantasy Wargaming, three Quarrie wargaming Books are advertised as "other books of interest":
Armoured Wargaming
Beginner's Guide To Wargaming
Napoleon's Campaigns in Miniature

4eme Regiment Etrangers29 May 2007 11:56 a.m. PST

Just to let you know that Martin Hackett has just brought out a new book "Fantay Gaming" – A Guide to Fantasy Role Play and Table-Top Battles. Published by Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7509-4360-4 Cost 16.99.

This is am update of his earlier book mentioned above published by PSL. I think it is very good – with lots on campaigning, rules, army lists and good photos – some from Vendel and others Gripping Beast – but some from his own collection. This is definately a good buy if you do not want to be forced down the Foundry route.

CrimsonChimera24 Jul 2007 5:07 a.m. PST

Just a few facts re the original Fantasy Wargaming (FW) from PSL, published in 1990, which will hopefully clarify many of the points made above.

1. PSL commissioned works and paid authors advances and royalties – they did NO vanity publishing, and used a range of writrs inc the late Bruce Galloway.
2. MH never met or knew BQ, whether he had left PSL before MH wrote for them I dont know.
3. FW was translated into other languages for sale in Eastern Europe.
4. FW sold almost all of the 5000 printed in 2 years and the last few that were remaindered were done through WHSmiths because as Cincinnatus says it was sold as part of a book club deal.
5. The rules were immensely popular as they were used as the rules for the Nationals and at Warfare in Reading and at smaller shows/conventions. Such was the popularity that regionals had to be held to whittle down players for the finals.
6. MH was to write a whole series of wargaming books for PSL, but PSL were bought and sold by R Murdoch, and all contracts were dissolved.
7. MH was then comnissioned by Sutton to do a follow up to FW as a result of Sutton picking up some of the history side from Haynes Publishing who had bought PSL back in the 90s.
8. Recently MH has written Lost Battlefields of Britain, an historical work on 10 UK battles from 893 to 1740s as well as the new and completely revised Fantasy Gaming book which pulls in all the best ideas not only from the other books that MH had written, but also from the magazine articles and all of the notes and suggestions that people provided him with during the tournaments at which he would adjudicate himself – these people are acknowlegded in the front of the new book.
9. As an aside MH is no mean modeller, having won the UK Nationals, quite a number of times over the last 20 years. When it became the BHGS Nationals, MH won the title Best Demosntration Game in GB on no less than 4 times in 5 years, importantly all were different layouts, different periods, and he wrote rule systems for all of them, as well as building the scenery, painting the figures etc. Take a look at the BHGS website for some stimualting battles from the tournaments over the last 7 or so years from a range of gamers.
10. I know that MH also turned down offers from both TSR and Games Workshop to write for them as he wanted to remain an independent writer, and if you read the new FG book, you'll see that MH places as much independent information before the gamer as possible, something which the reviews of the new book have commented on as being creditable.

Cheers for now, CC

battleeditor24 Jul 2007 3:25 p.m. PST

CrimsonChimera is in fact Martin Hackett himself, as is made clear in the Hobby News posting which responds to this thread.

I do think you should have declared that immediately here, Martin, rather than writing about yourself in the third person.


smokingwreckage25 Jul 2007 2:18 a.m. PST

On the other hand, Matakishi's systematic character assassination is all class.

battleeditor25 Jul 2007 8:22 a.m. PST

No, I certainly didn't imply that!

YoursInaWhiteWineSauce26 May 2009 10:10 p.m. PST

Whats the new updated version 'Fantasy Gaming' like?

Worth a read?

f u u f n f24 Jan 2010 12:36 p.m. PST

I have just got my copies of both the 1990 Fantasy Wargaming and the 2007 Fantasy Gaming.
I have to say that I really enjoyed reading both books.
They both are pretty much the same mass combat system, with a few tweaks in the newer one.
The older one includes loads of details on world building and running a campaign.
The newer one explains the mass combat rules much clearer and also includes a set of RPG rules based in part on the mass combat rules.
I got them both off Amazon for about $12 USD combined including shipping.
I have played out one small battle using just the older book, hadn't read the newer one yet at that time, and really enjoyed it.
The written orders thing is new to me and I found it rather entertaining. There are still a few things I just can't seem to get. The formula for determining model point costs in the newer book needs better explanation, as a few of the sample models from the army lists don't match up to the formula. Of course the older book didn't use a point system at all.
Overall, I would certainly recommend them at least for reading. I am enjoying getting ready for another bigger game using them.

Rottenlead11 Jul 2010 7:47 a.m. PST

I agree with Hyper Bunny, at least the first book was very good to read and mine was a regular read back in the 90's. Not sure I like the D100 system with percentage play much though although the flexibility of the system is great. For example wizard spells take turns to happen, so a 2 turn sand pit spell will appear by surprise on the table because you write down the details of where it will arrive when cast. I happen to still have a set of resin cast spells that Martin produced to go with the first book, a ground up spell, a crack of doom, a black pit, fire walls and a sand pit. He really did offer the complete solution to Fantasy gaming.

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