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"Would You Buy a Rulebook Without Art?" Topic

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133 hits since 12 Jul 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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langobard Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 1:36 a.m. PST

Of course, we did this for decades. The new hardback, full color, heavy illustrated books are great, but we survived for an awful long time without them…

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 2:05 a.m. PST

Much prefer that approach, if I want wargamer 'porn' I'll go to the internet.

Unnecessary illustrations detract from the readability of a set of rules, make them larger, more expensive and less useful – can't think of any advantages.

Vigilant12 Jul 2018 4:05 a.m. PST

+1 to langobard. The glossy picture books are a relatively new entry to the market. Happy to have either version.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 4:17 a.m. PST

Would do and have done.

jdpintex12 Jul 2018 7:31 a.m. PST

As long as they have decent diagrams to explain the rules, who needs glossy pictures?

The added expense of all these glossy pictures is not worth the added expense in my opinion and has resulted in me buying fewer rulesets over the last few years.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 8:06 a.m. PST

Of course.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 8:37 a.m. PST

Not any more. They don't have to be full metal Black Powder style rulebooks for me to buy them but I do want illustrations. I am descended from a long line of simians and we are a visual folk.

Coelacanth12 Jul 2018 8:54 a.m. PST

"And what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation?"

I voted "yes", but it was on a "never say never" basis rather than a stated preference; I prefer rulesets that are more visually appealing than a Terms of Service agreement. Well-chosen artwork can help the reader immerse himself in the historical setting; indeed, it's practically a "must" for fantasy or science fiction settings. There have been a lot of rule books that err on the side of "too much", but there are a few (5th ed. Call of Cthulhu, The Sword and the Flame) that got it right.


farnox12 Jul 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

+1 for jdpintex. While the new rulesets are "pretty", they sure are getting expensive because of this.

Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 11:03 a.m. PST

Lavishly-illustrated, hardback rulebooks are great. But simply-produced, down-to-business rulebooks fill a need as well. PDF's work best for this.

Just don't PRICE them the same.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 12:06 p.m. PST

I price my PDFs for as low as one can go – they are free!

Wherethestreetshavnoname12 Jul 2018 12:06 p.m. PST

If I want to look at pretty pictures of minis there's the internet.

All I want from a rulebook is clear diagrams if required.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Jul 2018 10:50 p.m. PST

I wouldn't buy a rule set without pictures. If you can't bother to make a pretty product I can't be bothered to read it.

The cost of a set of rules is pretty irrelevant compared to the time you spend reading or playing them.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Jul 2018 1:50 a.m. PST

Pictors – Shakespeare, Milton, Tolstoy and their like managed OK with no pictures and they got plenty of readers.

Why do you need 'pretty' in a set of wargame rules ? I'm genuinely interested to know what purpose you think they serve that makes them indispensable.

Also I'm guessing that 'Fantasy/Sci-Fi' (in the broad sense of non-historical) and 'Pulp' (defined here as based on published fiction) are more likely to get some advantage from pictures as users may not be familiar with the setting/backstory. Don't really know the answer here as I do very little in that genre.

Would people want the same presentation for historical rules as for other types ?

Parzival13 Jul 2018 12:42 p.m. PST

GildasFacit Shakespeare's works are intended to be performed, not read. Even his poetry would have been assumed to be read aloud (as would Milton's). Thus the plays are certainly intended to be accompanied by a significant visual element, including special effects (such as were achievable in the day). So I think you stumbled a bit off point with that example. grin

But even then, there is considerable difference between a work from which pleasure (or edification) is intended to derive strictly from the reading, as a poem, novel or even scholarly text, and a work from which the advantage and purpose is intended to be in the following of instructions, and especially when the said instructions serve to produce such a highly visually stimulating activity as a miniatures wargame.

So while, yes, words alone can convey the meaning of a set of rules, when the set of rules is intended to result in a visual activity (and presumably an aesthetically pleasing one), then "pretty pictures" may well serve as both inspiration and example of the purpose of the work. I for one don't think images detract from a work, and a well-done presentation effort in fact makes a set more appealing.

Of course, I've bought rules without pictures, rules with pretty pictures, and rules with really ugly pictures. And, while the pretty ones certainly help at least break up the text in a pleasing way, in the end, the true value of a rule set does come down to the writing and the game design.

If the game is good, art simply improves the appeal. If the game is bad, well the old saw about a swine in makeup holds true.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Jul 2018 1:23 p.m. PST

Parzival – we obviously view wargames rules in a very different light.

To me they are a set of instructions, procedures and rules and associated graphics are there to enhance the meaning, application and understanding of them. Anything that detracts from that simple purpose is not only unnecessary but distracting.

I expect to add the 'visual' element myself (along with other players) I don't see the need for the author to do so.

I'd compare it to a motorcycle maintenance manual. You want pictures and diagrams to help in the procedures of maintaining, fault-finding and fixing. You don't need pictures of flash colour schemes or advice of which brand of helmet or leathers to wear.

Possibly Shakespeare wasn't a good example but Milton wrote works or prose and Tolstoy and many other authors of works of prose, both fiction and non-fiction, managed quite well without illustration. I'm sure you understood that quite clearly.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP14 Jul 2018 8:05 a.m. PST

While pictures and art are nice, like langobard sez for decades we bought rules without any pics at all

Parzival14 Jul 2018 7:21 p.m. PST

Milton wrote poetry, Gildas, in an era in which poetry was largely read aloud. I did not discuss your reference to Tolstoy.
But that was all offered as light humor anyway. Hence the illustration known as an "emoticon."

I offer no dispute to your preference on rules publication design. It is what it is, neither wrong nor right, merely preference, as is mine.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Jul 2018 4:36 a.m. PST

Surely you aren't comparing the text in any wargaming rules to the works of Shakespear, Tolstoy or Milton?

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