Over the years I've played a lot of different rules in different periods. I own some sets I've never yet played- and possibly never will.
So in part to set my own thoughts in order here are all the sets I can remember owning or playing., Those I have used in the last couple of years or still do play are in bold those I have never actually played are in italics
Featherstone Ancient Horse and Musket and WW2 Lionel Tarr WW2 Iszwaco WW2 (spelt wrongly) Spearhead WW2 Command Decision WW2 versions 2 and 3 London Wargames section Napoleonic Grand Manner, Empire, General de Brigade,WRG 1685-1845 Charles Grant 18th cent, Charge, Age of Reason ,Age of Discovery, Forlorn Hope , File leader WRG Rennaissence - 1st and 2nd eds British Grenadier. Lance, Tercio, WRG ancients 5 th 6 th eds Tactica Ancients Tactica Medievals Fog, WHAB WhabECW Fog R Combined Arms , Over the Top Contemptible Little Armies Black Powder. Beer and Pretzels Ironclads, Beer and Pretzels Skirmish, Volley and Bayonet, RevengeMedieval Fire and Fury Airfix ACW Sons of the Desert, Warpaint, Katana Fog Napoleonic . War and Conquest(ancients set) DBA,DBM,DBR (I don't own sets of the DBs but have played and hated them )
This list doesn't include rules I've only played the odd time or two such as Rapid Fire(godawful) FOW (more Godawful) or the various Role playing games I tried in the 70s such as Traveller and of course D and D and many of its spin offs. Needless to say there will be some I have forgotten completely .
This list only represents I should estimate significantly less than 10% of the rules available to us both in and out of print
The point here is that the above is only as complete as my memory and doesn't include a couple of sets I wrote myself - A Dark Ages Set and ACW set and a set designed for 40mm company/battalion level games.
What it indicates to me is the deep level of dissatisfaction I have with many with rules in general.
Of course the level of dissatisfaction will depend upon what I'm after in any given set of rules.. There is no such thing as the perfect set of rules but equally any sets have something to teach us- even if its only how not to do stuff.
Now over the years I've heard many opinions on what makes a decent ruleset and often the opinions are to me at least a little weird- Its that circular conversation again
"I don't like these they are rubbish"
"Why are they rubbish"
"Because I don't like them"
The number of variations of this conversation I've had is legion.
"Why do you like these "
Cos I can win using them
"But they are historical nonsense- for- list reasons"
" I don't care I win with them "
That conversation is more rare but has happened more than once- most often when a chap is ordering a deeply unhistorical army which conforms to some loophole in an army list.
This last is a relatively recent phenomenon. probably only coming to the fore in the last 15 years or so outside of the competition arena where it has up to a point always existed but then tended to pertain to army lists rather than the relatively small numbers of rulesets then available..
There are other criteria I hear more these days than formerly
These are simple
These are FUN (there is that word again and always in bloody capitals)
I can finish a game in under an hour ? 2 hours ? 15minutes ?(delete as appropriate)
Very rarely indeed do I hear I like these because they are accurate (list reasons).- I can only think of a couple of times when this has happened in the last few years. Once from a FOG player and one from a Pike and Shotte player- both were able to illustrate their reasons so it wasn't the usual case as illustrated above. .
Its as if the gap between Wargames Rules and their Historical roots is ever widening. the idea niow seems to be to produce yet another FUN fantasy game in vaguely historical trousers Now for myself my criteria for any given set of rules is pretty simple
1/. "Could it have worked that way back then"
2/."Will it look nice on the table"
3/.do they fit the period they are supposed to.
(this is not quite the same as point1/. since I've often found myself using rules for 1 period that were written for another or sets that were "ERA" sets for only a small period of that ERA- most obviously WHAB for Feudal games - where they sort of worked but not for Classical games where IMHO they did not
These are the major points in order of importance other criteria will include
If I'm using the set for 25mm or larger then I want casualty removal and unit detail
this will not be needed for 15mm or smaller or for higher levels of command- such as say a Volley and Bayonet FPW game
|15mm Malburians. I don't want figure removal in this small scale- the units would be comparatively anonymous|
I hate "set unit size" rules for battalion level games. Real battalions were different strengths at different times. All you have to do is read unit and campaign histories to work that out. So those rules which tell you that a unit is 6 "stands" all infantry units are 12 figures - well no not for me Especially if the gamesystem relies on those set unit sizes to function (AOR advises set unit sizes BUT(big but) the system is figure based so any size unit works AOR is a very flexible system.) One could wish that other systems were as flexible
As a general rule it always seems to me that the further up the chain of command you go- and by implication (but not always) down the scales the n the more anonymous the units become. Thus in standard Fire and fury the 69NY are not a unit but are merely part of a numbered brigade with a name label and a few stats scrawled on it.
Now this is where personal taste come in as a general rule I'm far more interested in the doings of an individual name model of a historical regiment than those of "the 3rd game counter from the left"
|Aforementioned 69th NY volunteers advancing against the 43rd NC (I think) . The picture is several years old but illustrated that in 40mm I want individual regimental detail rather than mere game counters.|
Rles after all are merely tools to be used as desired they are not Holy Writ . Exsperience tells me that- in some periods at least I have more knowledge than the rules writers. I don't want a set that puts smarmy games mechanisms before the History and further I'd opine that many many rules are only fit for hanging on that nail in the smallest room.