Tuesday 20 November 2012

A Wargaming Epiphany

Epiphany: A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization

I have had one. Actually I have had two.

I was happily typing my way through a 1700 to 1850 version of Bob Cordery's 19th Century Big Battle Portable Wargame when I suddenly stopped.

I stopped because it suddenly occurred to me that what I was doing was in effect almost rewriting the whole set - and for what? The rules are absolutely fine as they are - except that they don't feature the points I wanted to add that would have been included in the rewrite....

The same thing struck me when I considered the implication of the changes I wanted to add to the modern set. Clearly this was a conundrum.

The solution? Well, this is in two parts, one easy, one less so. Use the rules as they are - no problem there - they work really well and give a cracking game - and the more difficult option? Write my own set. Actually write my own two sets - one for the Horse and Musket era and one for the 'Modern'.

My first instinct when seeing a set of rules is to see exactly what is missing - or to be more accurate, what I think is missing. I then tend to go into 'now if I added.....' mode which usually starts a process ending with something completely unusable. In this case the game is not worth the candle as there is little point in me trying to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse.

To be honest, ever since I started on the block project I had ideas in mind about drafting my own rules but for a variety of reasons - chief of which was the desire to get some games under my belt - I never really got on with it and instead relied on the excellent work or others.

Time to stand up and be counted.

An impossible task? I don't know the answer to that but I do know that unless I try I will never find out.



Ray Rousell said...

Good luck, get that thinking cap on!

David Crook said...

Hi Ray,

The thinking cap is firmly in place! Luckily much of the spadework has been done and so in a sense I will standing on the shoulders of giants.

All the best,


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


Good luck with your efforts.

Just remember to keep whatever you write and whatever mechanisms you use as simple as possible ... and to strip out as much complexity as you can as you go along. It is very easy to add something to a set of rules, but much more difficult to remove it later.

And if the rules do not end up working as well as you had hoped? Well look at how many drafts and re-writes the PORTABLE WARGAME rules have gone through to get them to the stage they are now.

Writing wargames rules that work is not as easy as many people (usually those that have never tried to do it) think, and trying to so is a great learning experience.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Many thanks for the kind words of advice - bearing in mind the r and d process that my various naval rules have gone through it will certainly not be an overnight success!

I will email you later with further thoughts and rationales etc.

All the best,


PS The biggest single thing I will need to do though is to be a little more disciplined in respect of electronic version control!

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

Go for it! Good advice from Bob.

I'm of two minds on electronic version. I'm sure it can be annoying for some readers when there is a constant flow of drafts with small changes but I have often benefited from comments on the changes and I always prefer testers to have the latest version. I am trying to slow down myself though.

The second I probably don;t need to tell you but try to get some goals down on paper before you start and check back.

Good luck! I look forward to seeing what comes out.


David Crook said...

Hi Ross,

Many thanks old chap! Seeing the latest draft of the Square Brigadier also served as a reality check for me as when I saw them I thought 'hmm, now that's a good idea!'

As mentioned, I really wanted to do this right from the start with the whole block thing but got pleasantly sidetracked by pretty much all of Bob's rules. I am not complaining, far from it, but I feel that I now need to act on what I want from a game rather than trying to foist it onto another set!

The whole process will feature on the blog as it unfolds and as and when it happens.

All the best and thanks,


Paul O'G said...

Good man - you'll find its more difficult and more rewarding than you think!

David Crook said...

Cheers Paul!

Work is already underway and to be honest, there will not be any startlingly new mechanisms on display - just the old and familiar!

All the best,