Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pruning is good for roses ... and wargames rules

I am not a gardener ... but both my father and paternal grandfather were. They took it very seriously ... so seriously, in fact, that my grandfather won prizes for his flowers.

Although I was not very interested, I do remember some of what I was told as a child about gardening, and one thing in particular sticks in my mind ... and that is that if you want your roses to grow, you have to prune them very vigorously at the right time. The same is true of wargames rules.

I have begun the process of redrafting the modern version of the rules I am developing from Joseph Morschauser's originals to use with my portable wargame ... and very soon realised that I had a serious pruning job on my hands. On re-reading what I already had written, it was very apparent to me that I had forgotten one of the basic rules for writing wargames rules ... namely to keep things simple and not to fall prey to over complication. As a result, I have been having a field day with the word-processing equivalent of the pruning knife; the 'select' and 'delete' functions!

I still have some way to go, but the rules are already looking a lot slimmer and less complicated.


  1. Pruning is good, I tend to wander around in a briar patch.

    Looking at the activation dice issue,and still mulling over the early move and fire issue and then adding pruning I just got a drastic idea, not properly thought through and perhaps way off the mark but I'll throw it out anyway.

    If one were to rule:
    1) that all units may fire OR move in a turn.
    2) that firing or moving required the use of an activation point.
    3) melee happens if units are in contact as per the melee rules and does not require an activation point (in other words the attacker paid to move into melee and the defender may defend themselves)

    The effect of this on a players decision making and generalship would be marked. A good general could set up a fire base to soften the opponent before attacking. An aggressive general could in a way, pin the enemy since the enemy would have to choose between firing on the enemy's attack or making his own advance or bringing up reserves.

    in short, having made a plan, a player would be constantly measuring his options and making decisions and possibly either be forcing the enemy to conform or conforming to the enemy.

    Or maybe it's too restrictive. A good general will be forcing his will on the enemy anyway.

    I now have a cloth battlefield with 3" squares marked on it.


  2. Bob
    I've said it before - good rules aren't defined by what you put in, but rather but what you manage to leave (or cut) out!

  3. Ross Mac,

    As usual, more thought-provoking comments and ideas!

    At the moment I am looking at two options:

    1. Get rid of the movement/activation dice completely

    2. Change the turn sequence as follows:
    A. Side A moves
    B. Side B fires
    C. Side B moves
    D. Side A fires
    E. Close Combats are resolved

    I am likely to go with option 2 for the moment, but until I have play-tested it, I will not make a firm decision.

    All the best,


  4. Tim Gow,

    I quite agree! Less is better when it comes to wargames rules.

    All the best,


  5. Ross Mac,

    I have been giving your ideas some thought as the evening has gone on ... and the more I think about them, the more they appeal to me. I will see if I can integrate them into my existing draft so that I can play-test them.

    All the best,


    PS. Now that you have a suitably gridded cloth, you can experiment with the rules and let me know how you get on with them.

  6. Bob, I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I'm on my own this weekend and planning to put that new battle mat to use.


  7. Pruning is also good for management structures!


  8. Mark,

    The problem is that in management structures, it is usually those who should be pruned who do the pruning!

    All the best,