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Sunday, 27 October 2019

To Ur is Human

Before I begin, several caveats.

Firstly, the author of TO UR IS HUMAN – Graham Evans AKA Trebian – is an old friend of mine, a fellow blogger, and long-time member of Wargame Developments.

Secondly, I have no great knowledge of Ancient wargaming in general, and warfare in Sumerian Mesopotamia in particular.

Thirdly, I would not have bought this book if I hadn't known the author and followed the development of these rules over the past few years.


The book is US Book-size (i.e. 21.6cm x 27.9cm), is thirty-six pages long, and contains twelve sections or chapters:
  1. Introduction
  2. The Basics (including Playing Area, Ground and Figure Scale, Figures and Units, Troop Types, Generals, and Units 'In Support'
  3. Game Set Up and Unit Deployment
  4. Turn Sequence
  5. Movement
  6. Charges
  7. Ranged Combat
  8. Hand to Hand Combat
  9. Fear Tests
  10. Winning & Losing and Unit Values
  11. Appendix – Sample Deployment Cards
  12. And Finally
In summary:
  • The rules are very straightforward, and I found them easy to understand.
  • The ground and figure scales used are abstract (something that I tend to use in my own rules), and except for Battle Carts, units comprise four bases.
  • The playing surface is gridded (Ah! There's nothing like a gridded playing surface to grab my interest!), and D6 dice are used throughout.
  • Simple diagrams are used to explain examples of how the mechanisms work.
Looking at the rules, there is one aspect that I really, really liked, so much so that I am giving serious thought to using something very like it in my own rules ... the Fear Test!

Simply put, the Fear Tests take the place of morale tests, and occur when two opposing unit are either in combat or about to be in combat with one another. It reflects the level of fear a unit has of their opposing unit, and can result in somewhat unpredictable outcomes. For example, a unit may win a hand to hand combat with an enemy unit but then fail its Fear Test because it perceives that the losing enemy unit remains steadfast and shows no sign of breaking and running.

TO UR IS HUMAN: TABLETOP WARGAME RULES FOR CONFLICT IN SUMERIAN MESOPOTAMIA was written by Graham Evans and published in 2019 by Wargaming for Grown Ups Publications (ISBN 978 1 699 82492 4). It is currently on sale for £5.00 from Amazon.

28 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review, Bob. Feel free to pinch the Fear Test. I think it should work well for Colonial Warfare, but you might want to dial the variability back a little bit.

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    1. Trebian,

      I thought that it was an excellent example of a good book of wargame rules, and felt that I could have run a game straight after reading the rules. There were no gratuitous illustrations. Those that were included served a definite purpose, and helped to explain the rules.

      I've used an abbreviated version of my review on Amazon, knowing that reviews help to sell ... and your book deserves to sell well.

      The Fear Test would work well with Colonial rules, which is where I was thinking of using it.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Thanks once more Bob. Where you lead, many follow.

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    3. Trebian,

      Years ago Paddy wanted WD to become a publishing house. It hasn't ... but it members have set up several. It just took us longer than he expected.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. There were many things we didn't foresee at the beginning. We really under estimated the power of PCs to enable self-publishing, thinking they were better for game control instead.

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    5. Trebian,

      Very true! I'd never have written anything significant without being able to use a word processor.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    6. I think it is as much access to affordable home printers as well. The ability to amend and re-print rules easily, - and make copies for players too - is very powerful in game development.

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    7. Trebian,

      I totally agree!

      I wonder if 3D printers will eventually have an even greater impact, with wargames (including playing pieces/figures, terrain, and rules) being sold as simple computer files that purchasers can print when they want to.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Bob
    I received my copy from Amazon last week. I haven't played it yet though I intend to give it a try with 2mm figures. The Fear Test looks good as you have noted, and it is a grid game so I was sold at once! I really like the presentation which reminds me of games past; approx. foolscap size with quick reference tables on the back cover for people like me who are hard of remembering. And all for a Fiver!

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    1. Maudlin Jack Tar,

      I look forward to reading about how you get on with the rules. The Fear Test is an interesting type of reaction test, and reflects the sort of result one sometimes finds happen on a battlefield.

      Looking at the way the book has turned out, I'm tempted to follow his lead and publish my future books in this larger format ... and to include a quick reference table on the back cover. As to the price ... well it's cheaper than a monthly wargame magazine, which makes it a bargain in my eyes!

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Thanks to both for the comments. The size was forced on me a bit as Amazon publishing doesn't like A4,but I'm really pleased with it.

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    3. Trebian,

      I like the size, and have published my two mini-campaign hardbacks in it. I'm giving serious thought to using as my future default book size.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Man, I would have bought them just for the title - best ever among rule titles!

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    1. I have a South American set called "It's Getting a Bit Chile" in the pipeline, and some from 19th century Chinese called "Taiping Era" as well.

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    2. You are a master of the pun and homophone.

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    3. I does me best. Who doesn't love a good homophone?

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    4. Dick Bryant,

      He's a very clever chap ... although he will deny it.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    5. Trebian,

      I will certainly be buying IT'S GETTING A BIT CHILE when it us published.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    6. Jonathan Freitag,

      He's a great punster ... and plays a great tune on the homophone!

      All the best,

      Bob

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    7. Trebian,

      Do you prefer the bass or treble homophone?

      All the best,

      Bob

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    8. I deny everything. I can only paraphrase Newton "I've only got this far because I am standing on the shoulders of giants". Paddy has a lot to answer for.

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    9. Chile is quite tempting for the next go, as I now have a guaranteed sale. There's a bit more work to do them to get them to the required standard however. Maybe something to look at now the nights are drawing in.

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    10. Trebian,

      Newton was right. We all benefit from what our predecessors have done ... and anyone who claims otherwise is a fool.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    11. Trebian,

      I was hoping to avoid starting any new projects ... but your forthcoming book may well ensure that idea goes by the board.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Love the title and an interesting sounding set of rules. Off to check them out...

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    Replies
    1. There's more about them over on my blog, Wargaming for Grown-ups. With photos and the odd battle report.

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    2. The reports on your Blog looked intruiging, so have bught a copy of the rules. Look forward to getting them and some battle carts into action:)

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    3. Whatever you think, it's an army with real charm.

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