Now following on from some earlier posts ,Here's a thought. How do you play? Do youy play to "period" or do you play "the game" . Now to me this is a no -brainer -period EVERY time. One of the more depressing changes in the hobby in recewnt years has been the rise of "game" over "period" . This manifests iteself in various ways . Perhaps the most obvious is the re-appearence of multi period rules that purport to have it all "Black powder " and "Rank and File " being the most obvious recently . Now forgetting how good the "game" may be for a moment how the hell can a set of rules purporting to be historical cover conflicts as varied and different as the Seven Years War and the Spanish American War in one set that is not phone book thick?.
Now to be fair I have not tried Black powder- at £30 a shot it can whistle since its all-encompassing style is very unlikely to give me the period feel I want in any set of rules. Rank and File are however too generic with pre-set unit sizes(now common proactice in many sets)and repetitive mechanisms these are simplistic and lack nuance. Both of them are of course full of pretty pictures of mostly bland "perry-a-like" units which seem to be their main selling point.
Of course generic rules are not really new DBA M R MM or whatever has done this for years and there has alway been a tendency towards one size fits all in pre-gunpowder sets where at least the similarity of many weapons forms something of a basis but the DBs again are so generic and abstract that they are merely chess without the chess and like many such games soar majestically to the height of mediocraty.
Now for the record I use the following sets in my games
WW2 Command Decion- have tried others but keep coming back to these as they treat you like an adult.
ECW and TYW- Forlorn Hope- nothing else I've tried comes close though I do still have a soft spot for WRG- Gush 2nd edition as it handles the wilder stuff pretty well.
WAS and 7YW Warfare in the Age of Reason- Heavily fiddled with I use larger units in most cases but the basics are simple and elegant so I stick with them .
ACW - My own mostly based on Featherstone.
General De Brigade for larger battles but my own Featherstone a like for my 40mm games.
AWI- British Grenadier lately but also Warfare in the Age of Reason- with amenrments
The point here is that according to the publishers Black powder and Rank and file should be able to handle all of the periods from the 18th century onwards alone - excepting WW2 of course.
Now mostly I tend to prefer umpire controlled games- especially if you have an "Active Umpire" to make your life hard and change the conditions and rules to suit the scenario. So for me period knowledge is key not to mention crucial but these days is often absent in the mainstream- the "knowledge gap" filled apparently by the rulebooks. Some almost do this WHAB and FOG both being better than a pretty low average. FOG having the edge here mainly because of Osprey's publishing expertise.
Of course it never helps that I find rules reading a real pain- I'd rather read Charles Dickens!! . As I've said in an earlier post NO set of rules has EVER inspired me into a period (though Charles Grant came closest) it has always been History or Art that has done that - usually history so perhaps its no surpise that"games first history nowhere" rules tend not to get my vote.