Sunday, 29 April 2018

Retro Rules- Rule -well sometimes.

 Saturday 28th April saw a gathering of four of our meebership at our usual venue and watering hole for the April Game.
 Andrew the Tekkie was in the chair and opted for a WW2 game in 15mm using the 1970s rule set Operation Warboard by Gavin Lyall.
 A full battle report can be read on Andrew's Blog

So I will confine myself to  a few observations on what was a rather good game with significantly more than lip service paid to the history involved than is usual in more  recently published "games" .
 For a first game using this system the whole thing flowed exceedingly well. Leaving the mechanics in the hands of the Umpire is- for us- always the way to go. The Umpire IS the rule book - and -being human- can  throw we players curve balls at his leasure and, when all works well,  elevate the whole affair to something more than a mere dice rolling exercise.
  So we actors upon his stage must simply don our motley and play our parts. Therein lies the "fun" but in order to play our parts we have to have some glimmering of knowledge  outside of the pages of the rule book otherwise what the hell is the point. I might as well play snakes and ladders.
An Me 110 gives some poor British transport a proper Strafing 

Which brings me to  the latest issue of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy- this issues there- Raiding during the ACW is well handled and indeed the whole magazine has plenty of reading in it though I do find some of the attitudes expressed really rather narrow minded. This narrow mindedness is most ably expressed in The Irregular" column by one Ian Beal. Entitled "Don't be a Bore It's just a game" it is yet another paen of praise for the supremacy of the game designer over other mortals. Another sharp telling off to anyone who actually does his own research and dares to come to his own conclusions.  That may not be what Mr Beal intended  but by Gum that is how it reads. Such narrowness is equally as annoying as Mr Beals chosen  Betes Noir "wargames bores who have once  read an Osprey" . Now I am not witout sympathy here but surely informed discussion and debate is part of what we do?. At a show- where you are on public display  (and therefore should perhaps expect to get shot at) it is also ill- mannered (though perhaps less so in the confines of "club- night" ). However overriding all this that that now common and  rather childish attitude of " I don't want to use my brain I only want to play a game" which - for me often seems to reduce our hobby to nothing more than dross. This is examplified in Mr Beals piece by his description of one of his WW2 games "The Stuart was the last remaining vehicle running around the table trying to keep out of the way of the big guns". I suspect that by his light all of our group would be classed as "wargame bores"- to which we would object mightily "history bores " though ... perhaps not so much.
 Now don't gety me wrong here if that is the way he enjoys his hobby fine go ahead but  don't assume I or anyone else  has the same narrow game -centric attitude. Don't assume that we cannot read somewhat more than an Osprey in our chosen periods. Don't assume that game designers must be right.
 However having said all that and dished it out a bit I find myself in complete agreement with his penultimate paragraph. This is what we normally do. Give a set of rules a good airing and decide which bit we like and which bits (or even the whole book) go in the bin. But we don't do this for reasons of mere game we look deeper than that. Therein lies the fun.


  1. I must admit, having read the same article, that I find the author’s idea of a wargame bore as someone who has read an Osprey quite insulting. Not to denigrate Osprey authors or readers (of which I am one), but an Osprey is at best an introduction. If you truly have an interest, your reading material can and will go much deeper than that. The fact that he uses the example of a person who has read an Osprey as all knowledgeable speaks volumes. And yes, I would class myself as a history bore for one very good reason: I read, digest and consider.

    1. Just to clarify, I am a reader of Ospreys, not a writer of them. In case that sounded like I claimed to be both.

  2. But then I also know 2 or 3 writers of them - one of whom I sometime proofread and "contribute" so I can also attest that they also do their research and also- speaking for myself- that the most useful part of an Osprey can be the bibliography.

  3. I find Osprey's very useful resources. They have to be to satisfy their readership. As something of a history buff myself, I tend towards a rather casual attitude to the appearance of armies, which is why my library of military uniforms and such is pretty limited. If it looks like what it purports to be, that's good enough for me.

    The lesson was brought home to me by a comment by one Confederate field officer (possibly Brig-Genl John D. Imboden), who reckoned he saw precisely once any individual in proper regulation CSA artillery uniform. The dude wearing it was an infantryman.

    Colours fade, dye batches vary (try getting house paints to match if you buy them at different times!), uniform deficiencies get supplied by whatever comes to hand.

    I tend to be much more interested in battles and campaigns, especially the strategy and tactics thereof. Much more interesting, and the sort of thing I like to relive in my own games. Yes: I write my own rule sets.

    1. All true Ion but it was the attitude of the piece and its writer that excited my ire. I have about 100 Ospreys- perhaps a few less and they are always my starting point for a projectas well as a reference source. BUT for what might be termed major projects I like to go a bit deeper so the ECW library alone is around 100 books including repros of original sources. Nevertheless I LIKE Ospreys but this due was not having a bash at them per se but the blokes that read them - or indeed anything- that disagrees with HIM

  4. I haven't received my issue yet, but I have certainly seen that attitude crop up from time to time.