Monday, June 29, 2009

Concerning Rules

Like many wargamers I am a rules junky. Hardly a new set comes out but I look at it an ponder starting a new period, a new scale, or a new campaign. It doesn't matter that up until that moment I had no interest in gaming the War of Jenkins' Ear, nor indeed knew who Jenkins was, much less why a war should be fought over his ear. No, I must have the new rules. And when I begin a new miniatures project it is no different. None of the old rules will serve. I must go forth and quest for the One True Rule Set that will bring glory an perfection to my wargames table.

This brings us in a round about way to the early 18th Century and the GNW and WSS. Over the years I have come to realize a few things about my tastes in gaming.

First, I like simple fast play rules. With two small children and a wife I do not have 8 hours to devote to gaming out a simple skirmish. I ned rules that will allow me to set up, play, and take down inside of 4 hours. The rules also need to be fairly simple as long periods of time may elapse between games. Realizing after set up that you cannot remember how to play is not fun.

Second, I like rules that play well solitaire. I am primarilly a solo gamer so rules that rely on secret informaion do not work well.

Third, I like rules to capture the essential "feel" of the period. For me 18th Century warfare is characterized by long lines of troops, slow stately manuver, and an emphasis on morale over casualties.

For this period I want the look of massed linear formations. Wanting also to be able to hook some friends into the period I want figures that are large enough to see, but cheap enough to afford in bulk. This led to my choice of 15mm.

I would like rules that also reflect linear warfare, both in basing and play. Currently two sets of rules are looking very promising.

The first is the venerable Volley&Bayonet. Although these rules focus more on the later Horse&Musket period they should work well for this project. Tey are straightforward grand tactical rules, with 3 inch frontage by 1 1/2 inch depth standard bases.

The second set is Fields of Battle a streamlined version of Piquet. These feature card driven turn sequences which keep even solo games exciting and unpredictable.

I am not yet certain that I have it upon a basing scheme that will work for both rules sets and satisfy my asthetics. Part of the issue is the pike men in GNW units. Without the pike a simple double line of musketeers would be all that was required. The pike need to ba at least three figures wide, but no more than 1/3 of the total unit. This is a tall order in a unit of 16 figures, including command.


  1. I know what you mean about rules. I've collected a few sets over the years that I've never played. And I'm leaning more and more towards simpler and simpler rules. 4 hours is a long game for me. If I can get a game in in half that time or less I'll more likely find time to play. I don't play often and don't remember rules well so that's another push towards simple rules. On the other hand I do want things that throw unexpected developments into the game, being pretty much solely a solo gamer (things like card-driven games seem to allow for that while not over-complicating things). Another factor is space (and the fact that I get bored painting too many of the same figure - lol), so rules that work well with small units are a must (no big battalions for me!).

  2. I am using V&B for the postal (ok email) game that I have just started. Definately a classic. In this case I have scaled down to 1/2 size bases, with each SP = 250 men and a turn of 1/2 hour. If you took it down another level you could have 3 bases to a battalion, each of 6 figures. 1SP = 100 (or 75)men, 1turn= 15minutes.
    Just a thought.

  3. As I posted elsewhere, I'd highly recommend either Bill Protz's B.A.R. (Battles of the Ancien Regime) and Koenig Krieg. Both are quick to learn and actually simple mechanics. I think K.K. would work better for you as its average battalion is 12 figures strong. BAR provides a much more tactical feel while K.K. focuses on grand tactics ...