Thursday, 26 August 2010

Rain started play ...

Typical British summer weather (i.e. rain showers and overcast skies) has meant that play on the first day of the Fourth Test Match between England and Pakistan has been somewhat fragmented, and this gave me the excuse to push some model soldiers around on my wargames table.

What I actually did was to set up a simple tactical problem, and then played it through several times using slightly different versions of the rules I have been developing from Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules. The versions included the ideas I set out in an earlier blog entry plus suggestions made by some of the blog's regular readers. The results were, to say the least, interesting.

First and foremost, all the variants worked ... and a big 'Thanks!' needs to be said to all those who made suggestions; they were all very helpful. Secondly, this exercise made me think about two things:
  • What was the end result that I wanted to achieve by developing these rules? (i.e. Did I want rules that were simple to learn, quick to use, and fun to fight battles with or did I want rules that were somewhat more complex, possibly more 'realistic', and that might be less 'fun' to use?)
  • Would they still retain the essential 'feel' of the original Morschauser rules or would they become increasingly less Morschauser-like as they underwent further development?
At the moment, I am unsure of the answers to these questions ... but I can feel myself leaning towards the 'quick, simple, and fun' and 'Morschauser-like' options more than the others.


  1. When I was young (if I can remember that far back) I liked "complex, realistic" rules . . . but now I want "quick, easy, fun" rules.

    Life's too short for too much minutia.

    -- Jeff

  2. Bluebear Jeff,

    I sometimes think that the quest for 'complex, realistic' rules is a dead end road that many wargamers are still driving up!

    The more I think about it, what I want is a warGAME; almost by definition that will be 'quick, easy, and fun'.

    All the best,


  3. Bob,
    Was there ever really a "quest for 'complex, realistic' rules"?
    Wargamers were certainly seeking 'realistic' rules, but the complexity - such as the lengthy lists of plus and minus factors for fire, combat and morale in WRG and Quarrie rules, for example - was an uncritically accepted side-effect of trying to achieve realism, rather than an end in itself. What they wanted, but failed dismally to achieve, were simple, realistic rules.

    The 'bottom-up' design methodology was the cause of the complexity: using casualties to determine combat results, for example, rather than deciding the combat and then calculating the losses. Jim Wallman [IRRC] proposed the latter years ago in his One Brain Cell rules, but it had, in fact, appeared in the 1824 von Reisswitz Kriegsspiel! where the proportional dice determined the outcome of the combat and also gave the casualties.

    Like you, I have come to prefer a warGAME - and that has led me back to re-examine 'old school' rules and to largely abandon recreating historical wars or campaigns for imaginary encounters.

  4. Arthur1815,

    The answer is that from my experience – before I joined Wargame Developments – it has to be a resounding 'Yes!' I may have been unlucky, but there were a lot of wargamers that I met in the 1970s that were unhappy with the 'toy' image the hobby had, and wanted to give it a veneer of intellectuality to justify what they did to other people – and I suspect also to themselves – and to show that were not doing something ‘childish’.

    I think that they welcomed the ‘bottom up’ approach because it helped them to justify what they were doing as an intellectual exercise and not ‘playing with toy soldiers’. And this approach was not confined to the ‘hobby’ end of wargaming; one only has to read (or try to read) the work done by Trevor Dupuy to realise that the ‘professional’ end of wargaming was similarly obsessed with having as many inputs as possible in order to make sure that the results were ‘realistic’. The mantra almost seemed to be ‘complex = realistic’.

    Joining WD made me realise that there was another way, and that complexity was not the path to realism. It also made me realise that the solutions to problems were often already there … if you were prepared to look. As Morschauser says in the foreword to his book:

    I cannot pretend all the ideas in this book are completely original. War games were invented and being played hundreds of years before I was born. Someone, somewhere, at some time, has thought of every rule, every exception to every rule, and every exception to every exception. Thus, like the painter who first studies the old masters before striking out on his own, the foundations of my knowledge rest on the work of others who have gone before.

    How very true … and this is one of the reasons why I like his work!

    Anyway, it is the school holidays … just … and there is still a bit of time to do some warGAMING … so let’s go to it!

    All the best,



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