Sunday, 28 February 2010

Morschauser – The way ahead?

In his comment about yesterday’s blog entry with the same title, Jim Wright made the following points:
‘I have only two questions concerning your commander conundrum.

Do you really want them in your game?

Do you really need them in your game?

Or is this want/need a reflection of you being influenced by years of using rules that had command thingies of one flavor or another.

We are a product of our environment. Maybe so?

Are commanders necessary to make the game fun for you?

If yes, then take the simplest course of action that makes you happy. That is all that matters. It is your game. Be happy.

I think all our suggestions are merely confusing the issue and causing you to pause on the road to a fun game.'
As ever, Jim has managed to get to the nub of the problem in one go. I had got myself so tied up in trying to write a set of rules based on those written by Joseph Morschauser and trying to add bits of probably unnecessary ‘chrome’ to make them appeal to a wider audience, that I had lost sight of why I was actually going through the process.

So what am I trying to do?
  • I want to write a set of simple, fast-play wargames rules based on those written by Joseph Morschauser
  • I want to be able to use the rules for solo battles as well as face-to-face battles
  • I want to use a gridded battlefield to reduce the amount of time spent measuring movement and ranges (and the associated disagreements that can occur in face-to-face battles)
  • I want to be able to use my existing collection of 15mm 19th century figures, most of which are based on 40mm wide multi-figure bases
  • I want to be able to have some means of representing an army’s commander on the battlefield, and I want that commander to be able to exert some influence on events as they unfold
  • Finally, I am writing these rules for my own personal use, not for anyone else; if other people want to use the rules – either as they stand or modified to meet their own requirements – this should be possible but should not be a defining factor in what I include or chose not to include in the rules
I have written my specification; all I have to do now is write my rules!


  1. Hi Bob, To use the mantra of the Financial Services Authority these rules should be 'clear, fair and not misleading' so I think your mission statement hits the nail on the head. You are tidying up a set of old rules and bringing them into a modern setting - ensuring that the spirit of the original holds sway. The temptation to add chrome is a big one and it takes a lot of self restraint to rein the urge in!

    I think perhaps the trees may have been swamped by the wood - so stepping back and detailing exactly what you want is probably the best idea. Thanks for being so clear as it has helped me enormously in setting my own mission statements for my own rule writing adventures.

    All the best,


  2. Bob,
    You should, of course, adopt whatever rules, systems and degree of detail that suit your purposes as described in your analysis! Don't be embarrassed about deviating from/developing the original Morschauser rules - I think any author of wargame rules accepts that individual players will make their own house rules, amendments and even misinterpretations - just as the author of a play knows it will be performed in different ways by different actors.
    The great virtue of your developments of the original is that the rest of us can easily make our own adaptations, and insert 'plug-in' rules of our own to fulfil our own aims, and experiment with such variations.
    The original Morschauser rules, as written, were rather simplistic, which is perhaps why they did not achieve great popularity - especially on this side of the Atlantic. On the other hand, his use of stands and rosters, rather than individual model soldiers, may have been the ancestor of such modern rules as Grande Armee, which use brigade stands. What you have done is demonstrate that the bsic Morschauser system, and the use of a square grid for movement, can still produce a playable game today.

  3. Ogrefencer and Arthur1815,

    Thanks to both of your for your comments and support over the past few weeks.

    I have re-read Morschauser's book, and I feel that the next stab I have at updating his basic design concepts will retain the flavour of his ideas but will also - hopefully - improve on them slightly. If I manage that, I will be a happy man.

    All the best,


  4. Wow, a lot of posts to try and catch up on. I thnk your latest post covers it well. Morschauser himself constantly urges gamers to write their own rules and adapt his to whatever suits their taste so absolutely no problem there, if anything it almost goes against the grain of his book to use them as written.

    The 2 key points imo and the ones that have tripped me up most in the past are the ones about being clear in your own mind about what you want, and remembering that it is you that needs to approve of and like the final product, having others like them or approve is a bonus. Oddly, often pleasing oneself makes it more pleasing to others.

    You're doing good so far!

  5. Ross Mac,

    Thanks for your support and comments as well.

    I must admit that I broke my own rule - to always write a specification of some sort beore begining the process of writing a new set of rules - when I started to play about with Morschauser's rules; hence the problems I have ended up having.

    I now feel far more positive about the whole project, and although the next version may well have much in common with previous versions, it will be written from scratch.

    All the best,


  6. Bob,
    Good luck with your rewrite!
    May I just make one request: that you leave the existing rules accessible to us, firstly so we can - if we wish - amend them for our own use; secondly, so we can compare with your new rules.
    Following your development has been very interesting, has stimulated me to work on my own Morschauser derivative for Napoleonic army-level actions, and - most importantly, perhaps - kept the flame of wargaming flickering at a time when I've been very depressed by work and wondering whether to continue with the hobby.
    For the last, especially, I'm very grateful to you!

  7. Arthur1815,

    I will certainly be leaving the current rules available via the RED HEX WARGAMES website for the foreseeable future. The files are very small by modern standards and hardly take up any space at all.

    I am interested to hear about your Napoleonic army-level rules using a derivative of Morschauser's 'system', especially if they have helped to keep you motivated with regard to wargaming in recent times. If I have done something to help with that, then that alone has made everything worthwhile. We older wargamers have got to stick together and show these young 'uns how to do it!

    Keep smiling,

    All the best,



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