Having gamed historical miniatures since about 1965, and for the most part together, we have noticed emerging trends at conventions like Historicon, Cold Wars, Bayou Wars, Recon and Hurricon, to name the major ones.There are fewer “big battles” with 1000 to 1600 figures on a table that take 6 to 8 hours to complete – if a conclusion can even be reached!Even threads on the Internet strongly suggest that many local clubs, both large and small, no longer play big, time consuming War Games.
This has posed quite a dilemma for us in as much as over half of our 28/30mm wargame armies are in the “big” category.Even though both of us are now retired and live 2-1/2 miles from each other here in New Orleans, we too have shied away from time consuming “big battles”.But we were not going to give up on our large, wonderful armies that were painstakingly amassed through all these years.There must be an answer.We analyzed this puzzling phenomenon and after much crunching of our ancient brains we finally got it.The Rules, stupid!
After lengthy perusals of our own and other published rules that we have played or observed, and endless conversations with other gamers, we have determined that the maneuvering of our troops on the field of battleis the primary focus of all our table-top effort.To close and defeat the enemy is what we all strive for in a game.Whether we game using alternate, simultaneous or random move procedures and fire or settle close-combat by bases, individual figures, regiments or brigades, we all want decisive results for all our efforts in getting our troops where we want them when the action is critical.Every other facet of activity on the table is irrelevant and should be as simple as possible.
Like most gamers as we learned more facts about a historical period we instinctively added more detail to our game rules;the result being more detailed, complex rules systems that took longer and longer to finish on the game table.Let me cite just one example from our own past rules; you elect to Charge an opponents unit with one of your own.So first roll a die and consult a Leadership probability table to see if said unit will react. Then roll movement dice to see how far the unit can move.You take a defensive volley, mark casualties and check Morale, you may fall back.If you made contact you check to see if you actually Close and if your opponent Stands.If so, a hand-to-hand combat will take place.
So, to save time on incidental table top actions and concentrate on the essence ofmaneuver, we have taken a drastic course for our gaming.Our new approach, considering the above example, is an elegant simplicity; merely roll movement dice for distance.If you make contact, a Close Combat ensues.If not no Combat takes place.By one simple roll of some dice, leadership, discipline, training, unit morale and terrain irregularities, to name a few considerations, have all been addressed with no more consulting of endless probability tables and dice roll results.Let the dice decide what happened on the table, not endless, verbose paragraphs of rules.
The last approach in our madness is to settle the final, decisive, table-top actions with what we call, “The Close Combat”.Simply fight all the units involved, roll some D6’s and get an instant result.The losing side falls back, all casualties are removed, one simple Rally roll for losing units (they Rally or leave the table!) and the next game turn commences.Depending upon the number of players and the size of the armies involved, we have cut game time almost in half and our beloved “big” armies can once again take to the field.And our 15 to 20 page game rules of battles past are now 6 to 9 pages.
Play Games, Have Fun !!
Larry Brom and George Carr Sr. May 2007
"A Designer has his say..." ~ by Larry Brom
I have been gaming for 47 years. In that time, including 26 years of published rules and 15 as a Game-Master at conventions, I, like other designers, have had my share of coping with the irrational, irritating and sometimes down-right obnoxious behavior of some 3% of the gaming community. (This is based on my own experiences at conventions. Yes, I do keep names.)
We all know some of the more infamous types I'm referring to; "the rules-lawyer", "the pseudo-historian", "the win at all costs player", and that gamer who we hesitate to name, "the cheater". Never having had a public forum at my call, I now take this opportunity to "have my own say". These are, of course, my own opinions, based entirely upon my personal observations.
My first "Official" tirade will be regarding that most universally recognized perpetrator, the "rules lawyer". Or, as I define that gamer, "one who plays the rules, not the game". This gamer usually shows up at conventions, having read a particular rules set from beginning to end, 18 times, and memorizing every sub-section, paragraph and game table. He plays not necessarily for the enjoyment and camaraderie of our hobby but purely to question every rules misinterpretation that the harried Game-Master may make and every mis-move by an opponent. This is the heart and soul of the "rules lawyer".
Over the years, I've heard (and read) from many of my fellow Game-Masters regarding this disruptive gamer and any recourse we could take. The best solution, in my opinion, is for the Game Master to mention the "rules lawyer" by name and ask the other gamers to vote, with a show of hands, on whether they want the "rules lawyer" to leave. In two instances, I've used this solution and both times, the vote was unanimous - the "rules lawyer" was voted out. And he left, usually with a curse on his lips. The game then continued, with the remaining players having a great time. In the long run, it is imperative for you, as a Game Master, to have control of a convention game. The other players will thank you for it, believe me.
"From A Sergeant's Notebook"
This is the finest definition I have ever read of an infantry rifleman. It is from a book entitled The Long Road of War (1998) by James W, Johnston, Machine Gunner, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, WWII, New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa..
"....a "flat-trajectory" Marine is directly on the front lines, fully exposed to the enemy's flat-trajectory small-arms fire. Flat-trajectory soldiers were a doubly-endangered subset of the human species. First because of their small numbers and second because of their precarious, exposed position. Only a comparative handful of soldiers ever experienced the enemy's flat trajectory gun fire."