Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Allure of Simple Wargaming?

This morning before the sun came up, I was sitting outside with a cup of coffee and thinking about my wargaming hobby and where it's going.  I've been doing alot of thinking about wargaming lately, and to be more specific I've been thinking mostly about simple wargaming, what that really means, and why it is attractive to me, beyond the usual reasons (time, collection, price, solo suitability)

Before I go much further, I should state that my hands have moved many troops around the table over the last 25 years, painted hundreds of uniforms on troops spread across hundreds of years, and turned the pages of scores of rulebooks to serve both my gaming interests and the gaming interests of my friends.  I've collected thousands of dollars worth of miniatures and amassed a collection that won't be painted or maybe even touched until my children are grown.  I've put my nose to the grindstone to quickly churn out battalions worth of armor or infantry to host some memorable and epic mega-games which my closest friends took part in (Aspern-Essling 1809, Tassa Junction 1973, Ponyri Station 1943 among some of my favorites), and even hosted the Ponyri Station Firestorm Campaign game which I had dreamed of for years.  It's been a wild ride.

Tassa Junction 1973 Christmas MEGA GAME 2018 played with Battlefront's Team Yankee - very much a fun and satisfying wargame, but not a simple wargame.  L to R Ken, me, Alex, and Dave

Why, then, would I be writing about the allure of more simple wargaming?  The reasons are mostly obvious - busy job, two young children, house, strapped for time, etc.  But what about the other side of the question?  What is it about simple wargaming that  makes it so appealing to people?  What is it about simple wargaming that makes it appealing to me?  So memorable?  I've played in some truly outstanding games that weren't what I would call simple.  I've also played in some really great games that were so simple rules-wise I was instead answering questions about where the best place to put my Anti Tank guns or armored reserve in, without muddling with mechanics of rules.  

Simple mechanics and rules, simple victory conditions, manageable amounts of units, and even some grid based movement were features of many of the games I've been thinking about.  

Aspern-Essling 1809 - the 2019 Christmas MEGAGAME played with Norm's Eagles at Quatre Bras.  Much closer to what I'm looking for - maybe not the epitome of simple, but definitely the same flavor or color of what I'm writing about.

To start an answer to that question, you probably have to look at the reasons why people game with historical or non historical miniatures in the first place, but that's not why I'm writing here.  I want to get to the bottom of "simple" wargaming, find some simple but effective rules, and simplify things in my own gaming universe.

What Makes a Wargame Simple?

It sounds so obvious but the business of simulating war, even in a recreational game, is a complex affair.  Anyone can write a set of game rules, but to make those rules period evocative, effective, and practical all at the same time is another thing altogether.  So what makes a set of wargame rules simple?

Well I think they should have a basic turn sequence.  The mechanics of combat should be simple - or easy to do requiring little mental gymnastics and as little reference to the rules as possible.  The rules should play quickly - 1 hour to 2 hours.  They ideally should be able to be played from a Quick Reference Sheet or memory.  Did I mention I also like grids and hexes? 

What's this all about, anyways?

If you smelled a project coming on, you would be right.  I'm on the hunt to figure out what it is about simple wargaming rules that make them so great, memorable, and attractive to me, and maybe even replace some of the rules in my stable with more simple games that I can pick up, set up quickly, and play.  I even penciled in some goals for myself this morning:
  • Determine what the allure is behind simple wargaming rules.
  • Find simple, effective, wargaming rules for various eras that I enjoy.
  • Paint and base figures in support of those rules.
  • Incorporate hexes or grids to the greatest extent possible.
I have a plan.

The goals are ambitious to be sure, but they're do-able.  I also have a cunning plan.  I've written down a list of rules that at first glance seem to have what I'm looking for in my miniature wargames (see rant above).  I'm going to play each of those games and apply a series of questions to the results, posting the After Action Reports here for you all to laugh at me while I stumble through this half-baked idea.

First, I've organized the rules below.  I've taken these rules from various blogs out there and some are commercially available.  If you have others that you feel ought to be included, please chime in and add.  If you're interested in the origins of any of these rules and you can't find them, ask in the comments.  I'm even opening this up to everyone out there to participate in with me.  "The ask" of you will be below...

The Rules

This is my list.  There are many others like it but this list is mine.  It encompasses rules I've read, played, downloaded and never played, or have read about in other people's blogs.  These are rules I will play as part of this project, and then analyze once I've played.  I've organized it in the following fashion:  NAME - COMPLEXITY in terms of most simple, simple, and least simple of my simple selections - finally OPEN or GRIDDED.  Here goes.

One Hour Wargames - MOST SIMPLE - Open

Hold the Line - SIMPLE - Hex
Bryan L's AWI Hold the Line Conversions - SIMPLE - Hex
Glorious Morning AWI - SIMPLE - Hex
Simplicity in Hexes - SIMPLE - Hex
The Portable Wargame ACW / WWII - SIMPLE - Hex
Plan B WWII - SIMPLE - Hex
Alex's Neil Thomas OHW Mod Rules (Dark Ages / WWII) - SIMPLE - Open

Commands & Colors Napoleonics/Ancients/Tricorne/Battlecry ACW - LEAST SIMPLE - Hex
Bryan L's ACW Rules Mashup - LEAST SIMPLE - Hex
Norm's Stable of Rules (WWII, ACW, Napoleonic) - LEAST SIMPLE - Hex
Simplicity in Practice / LEAST SIMPLE - Hex

Again, if I've missed something you feel would be in the spirit of this experiment please let me know and I will add to the list.  

Now to the fun part - if you want to join in this weird experiment, I have a series of questions that I will be using to analyze these rules as part of the After Action Reports I'll write.  If you want to play, simply pick one of these rules and play a game.  Then take my questions and post an After Action Report (AAR) answering the questions below.  You can post it to your blog if you have one, or email it to me and I'll post it here.  This is going to be fun.

Post-Battle Questions

Basic Questions:
How long did the game take to play?
What was the scenario?
What happened?  Anything extraordinary?  (troops holding out amidst terrible odds?  Savage attacks that tore through the enemy line?  A straight string of rolling 6s or 1s?)
Who won and why?
Did you enjoy the game? Why?

Advanced Questions:
After reading the rules, how many consultations occurred with the rules during the game?
Was the scenario created for you or did you create it?
Did any troops perform remarkably good or bad?  Was it luck or part of the mechanics?
What were the victory conditions in your game?
If the game was or was not enjoyable (it has to be one or the other!) was it due to the mechanics?  the outcome?  tension?

I've noticed that usually people tend to like games for their systems, the outcome, or the troop behavior.  By that I mean:

Systems:  The bolts of the game and its mechanics - how the game works.
Outcome:  They win.  Or they believe the winner was historically plausible with the given set of circumstances.
Troop Behavior: arguably part of the system but maybe not.  The experiences of their troops during the game and their activity that is outside of the control of the commander form the narrative in the player's mind about what's happening in the battle.   EG The troops could not pass a quality check and hence did not change their formation.  Or the platoon failed its "Last Stand" check and left the table, contributing to the company's failing its morale and ending the battle.

Okay that was a long-winded post with barely any pictures but bear with me because I think I'm on to something here.  I'm going to play these rules and see what it is I like or that I dislike about them.  Stay tuned, and if you're interested, jump in and we'll figure this out!


  1. Interesting change in direction, Steve, although many of the rules cited have already seen action on your table. Are you wanting to shift much of your gaming efforts toward the simple end of the rules' mechanisms spectrum? Remember that games can have simple rules and not be simplistic and small games produce just as enjoyable challenges as do large games.

    Which period are you focusing on for this experiment or all all periods fair game? Are you looking for one, universal base game engine to work across all periods?

    While I still enjoy large battles and complex rules, for multi-player F2F gaming I am tending towards simpler rules mechanisms too. I have been using the same core gaming engine for this type of experience for decades. I would say it works for my purposes from solo to multi-player.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Jonathan. That's alot of questions so I'll try to address them in order and not seem whiny. I've grown up on more complex, "textured" games and I'm looking for more simple games that still deliver an somewhat historical experience and give a good narrative. I guess Im just tired of reading through endless rules and not finding what I want. Couple that with some truly wonderful experiences the last few years with simpler mechanics in games (hold the line and battle cry to name 2) have got me really thinking - what was it I really liked about those games? This is really a drill in self reflection and maybe...God forbid.. downsizing a bit? I almost feel as if my collection is embarrassing if I haven't touched some of those minis in years.

      I dont know of this is a shift as much as a reflection of what im really after. All periods are fair game here, too. I wouldn't say in looking for one, universal game for all periods, but more of a stable of games that meet the simple criteria discussed above.

      I failed to mention this above but I'm definitely not averse to larger, grander and more complicated rules, but I feel I'll be more apt to play them at conventions, other people's houses, etc. For me, I used to enjoy solo gaming with games like flames of war, black powder, and bolt action. I dont really anymore, maybe because of the whole tired thing. Simpler games are more conducive to solo play, at least for me.

      What core engine do you use?

    2. Let's not compare embarrassingly large collections, shall we?

      The core engine in use here is a distant derivative of Howard Whitehouse's "Combat Value" engine found in his Napoleonic rules, "Old trousers" and his ECW rules "Ironsides." Like many a rules' tinkers, I took Howard's basic concept and adapted/refined it to my preferences. Essentially, the active player must pass a Response Test to initiate some of the actions. The non-active player may, likewise, pass an Emergency Response Test to react to some of the active players actions. Simple and quick playing especially with about a dozen BMUs per side. I have it all boiled down to play off of a double-sided 5x7 QRS. Similar in size to my TaM and TF-ON QRS'.

      This is a hobby, after all, we should only be pursuing what we enjoy. Good luck in your quest. I will be following your journey.

    3. Jonathan,
      Is the afore mentioned system what you use for napoleonic battles? And in terms of collections I feel as if it's time for me to downsize a bit, which is something I never thought I'd hear myself say. While every miniature was purchased with a project in mind, I will just not have the time to get to then for awhile.

    4. The answer to this question (as in many) is, it depends! For 28mm Napoleonics in the Peninsula, I use this engine. For big Napoleonic battles on the continent, I use a different system.

      With no many periods/rules/wargames/figures/etc., I ought to consider downsizing as well. My problem is that I have so many varied interests that it would be tough to pick which projects to jettison.
      My board, wargaming collection is out of control too. I wish I had you and Norm's discipline to pick a few and stick to them...

    5. Jonathan I tried to keep things at least in only 2 scales (10mm and 15mm) but that has backfired on me in recent years. You do have a very eclectic taste when it comes to eras. I for one never even thought about Spanish American War! For me it is starting to become a storage issue, too. I've had to move collections up into our attic because I hadn't played with them in years and they were taking up precious space for eras and collections I do game with more regularly.

      Part of my problem is also that I have multiple scales for the same era... 10mm and 15mm ACW, 6mm and 15mm Cold War and WW2, 10mm and 15mm SYW etc. This contributes greatly to my storage problem and lent urgency to the idea that perhaps I could downsize a little.

      I will readily admit that i have tremendously regretted downsizing after letting go of whole armies in the past.

  2. Excellent stuff!

    I've been thinking along the same lines since you introduced me to Altar of Freedom.
    That - and the subsequent discussion on the relative simplicity of GDW's First Battle stable with bids/traits.

    I think these two could be added above for Horse & Musket in general, and a great trait/bid based modern / ww2 game. I'm certainly going to pursue the First Battle with AoF traits thing.

    NOw, I'm also VERY keen to try Hold the Line for Saratoga - and keen to try Glorious Morning again. I'd love to try those two and blog the results - so sign me up :)

    1. Thank you, Darren. You're hired :) I just dont have time and energy anymore for the bigger grander rules. Yes, McPhersons Ridge for fire and fury will fit on my 6 x 4, but I dont have 8 hours to play it and I'm too lazy to build all of the rest of the fences I will need. Saratoga with hold the line on a map would be outstanding! I must talk to Bryan L about the map!!!

    2. Great stuff sir.
      I was thinking of using the map from Decision Games' 'First Saratoga' - but using my hexes on table to copy it.
      This is from the same series as the Germantown game we played in with Norm.
      The scale matches the hexes that I have in terms of numbers on the table, so I think it would work well.
      I would be implementing your change re. allowing every unit to use one point, with command points distributed to allow extras.

    3. Darren I will send you Bryan L's modifications to HtL that he brings to the conventions. That's what I've been using and it makes for a very fun and very tense game.

  3. Steve a really enjoyable post and a subject that will probably strike a chord with many, while not being typically reflected in our internet or magazine media.

    I think there are a couple of other strands to this. For example if you are an established wargamer, I think there are likely to be two aspects that will define where you sit on the ‘what shall my wargaming look like’ conversation. Firstly you will probably already have some established armies, which is very different from someone who is coming in relatively new and needing to paint up 200 - 600 figures for one or both armies, so ‘simple’ to the grognard might mean big army simple, but to someone else might mean skirmish simple, because there is a lower collecting and painting threshold to get into the hobby or period etc.

    Secondly, grognards are more likely to remember a time when wargaming just seemed more fun, but I don’t think that is an issue of complexity changing (some older rules where quite taxing), but rather that there was less product about then, meaning less choice and we generally had less money, so gaming was probably more focussed on a more narrow set of subjects that we got to know well.

    In the last two years, my boardgaming collection has been significantly influenced by this thinking and instead of having a ton of different games, which all need their different rules learning and appreciating before each play, I have instead streamlined my collection, so that it is much more reliant on single series game rules, so that many games and modules can be played off one rule set.

    On the figures side, collecting a wide range of periods under the low unit density ‘Pocket Armies’ project with a single set of rules per period likewise addresses the same issue and my thinking behind that is that I want some fun, light and pretty looking games to complement my boardgaming, the latter tending to be more demanding on the old grey cells. That allows me to make a less ‘serious’ demand on what I want the figures to deliver. I want the figure gaming to be different from the boardgaming (though hexes can confuse the two!).

    I see my gaming as needing to be available for two types of time slot, the quick midweek game and the longer weekend game, but in both cases, the first barrier is not the question of whether you can raise the motivation to play, but whether you can be bothered setting it up and have the confidence that you will be able to play to a result and here it is the issue of simplicity that may be at the heart of that.

    It strikes me that at their inception, Neil Thomas rules and DBA rules both (at different times) brought about a renewed enthusiasm to drag out old armies and actually get some ‘short’ games up on the table, even mid week and even with the kids, followed by a desire to collect a few more ‘small’ armies, because it was all so do-able. The balance of course is whether they are also meaty enough to deliver what you ‘need’ from a wargame.

    So I would see ‘simple’ as being small to moderate sized games with fewer but better understood rule sets, that can be played to completion in a single session and that will run off maybe a two sided quick reference sheet, rather than just simple-simple (usually short!) rules per se.

    Sorry the reply is so long .... I am off one :-)

    1. That should say ‘I am off on one’ :-)

      i hope you get a ton of responses to this, the subject hugely interests me and I would love to hear the thoughts of others.

    2. PPS! I will get something up on the table and respond to your questions.

    3. Thanks, Norm, your last paragraph hit the nail on the head! Smaller sized games, played to conclusion with fewer but better understood rules sets that will run off a 2 x sided QRS is precisely what I am after, and for all of the reasons you mention. I am also one of the former gamers in your scenario with established collections, and so this is taking a component part of my collection and using it.

      When OHW first came out, i didn't like them as they were not "meaty" enough for my taste but I'm starting to come around to the idea of them much more.

      It reminds me of an age old debate I've had with gamers about the destination vrs the route. If I take you on the quickest route, does it matter how we got there? The preference for simplicity in a person might lie somewhere in their answer to that question. Some people want to play a game where each weapon in the squad is rolled for individually. Some people want to roll for the cumulative effect that the firing had on the squad. The squad's morale will be impacted but both scenariosfir how we got to the overall squads morale are widely different.

      Anyways I too am hoping for a bunch of replies as I'm very curious about everyone else out there!

      I'd love to see a game on your table with something simple and I'd appreciate any feedback you provide!

  4. One Hour Wargames and One Hour Skirmish Games have been a firm favourite of our over past years. To be honest I have culled quite a lot of figures and terrain from my collection. I have not missed any of it so far. Not that I have been gaming at all due to the current unpleasantness.
    I am finding more and more that I just cannot do large scales battles with complicated rules anymore.

    1. Cheers, Simon, I am really coming around to the idea of OHW and 1HSW lately. I'm 100% with you on this topic, by the way. I have less and less patience and time to be flipping through rules anymore and as stated earlier, I prefer a rule set where i can fit on a small qrs and you have it memorized after a few games.

  5. An interesting post and good luck with your plan to play through the various rulesets. The simpler approaches are often geared to smaller spaces and fewer troop requirements. OHW got me back into historical wargaming after a 25 year absence due to the easy entry level and stripped back approach to rules.

    1. Cheers, Peter I'm trying to avoid a hiatus with this move and hopefully I will do just that by coming up with some interesting and fun simple rules to try out.

  6. Sounds like a great project. As you already know from my blog, I'm a fan of OHW (with some extra chrome). For some reason I'm playing around with the Portable Wargame again at the moment.

    My main thing these days is setting up games which are playable via Skype, which means card mechanisms like Command and Colours are out.

    1. Martin,
      I have also been reading up on the PW these days and also the napoleonic version. I bought 100 wooden hexes with the idea of creating a small 3' x 2' board that can be carried around and placed on a coffee table for a game. The additional terrai hexes (woods, hills, etc) would be plopped onto the hexes on the board. My thoughts were to play games like the ones mentioned above (PW, Simp. in Hexes, etc) on this board which I could take almost anywhere.

  7. I never read a post that I had so much to disagree with....

    Joking! 😀 As you can tell from others comments that I’ve also read, your not alone on wanting something a little simpler. I’m like you with the busy job, young children, endless chores that I sometimes think to myself ‘what’s the point bc there never is enough time.’

    Though I sometimes think that when people want simple what they actually want is streamlined. Most games that I play are already simple in that there’s nothing in the mechanics that is hard, but each rules are different and if one jumps around from rules to rules your in a constant phase of learning the rules versus playing the game (so to speak). I think that’s the appeal of “simple” rules in that you can learn the rules rather fast. But I also think people would be happier if they streamlined/ reduce the amount of rules we play. You can play a little more complex game more quickly if you knew it pretty well (have already learned it) and just played it more often.

    For example; I almost bought an ACW ruleset the other day. But I already have 9 ACW rules and all I end up playing is Fire and Fury so I stopped myself.

    I don’t know if I made my point really and this has rambled enough. 😀. I’m trying to say that it’s not so much the complexity of the rules but the complexity of our choices.

    I wish you good luck in this endeavor!

    1. Stew I get it and my little group discussed this very thing. Your comments also echoed Norms comments above. One of the issues we've had has definitely been gaming ADD in that we have not settled on a rules set for any era in the last 10 years and that has certainly lent itself to unfamiliarity with rules sets because we haven't played anything consistently.

      I think my "beef" is that I'm tired and lazy and strapped for time :)

      Truth be told I'm very pleased with more streamlined and modern games like Black Powder, Bolt Action, Hail Caesar, Iron Cross, Battlegroup Kursk, Flames of War, Blucher, Volley and Bayonet, Fire and Fury / Age of Eagles, (see my problem??) etc. I think my problem though is that there is "something" about the more simple games that is very appealing that I want to delve into. Think of this all like spring cleaning in my brain.

      Does that make any sense???

  8. Steve, I have thrown up a game with the firepower rules and answered you questions. LINK -

    1. Thank you much, Norm! I just commented over on your blog and will repost a link to your blog in an upcoming AAR post soon.

  9. Having come to this via Norm's Blog, I find it chuimes with my thoughs over the past few years. I have now focussed on a few core rulesets that, whilst not nescessarily simple, I know more or less insdie out so can play the game via a QRS. This now allows me ( and my friends) to focus on the 'game' rather than constantly referring to the rulebook etc. It is very liberating and as with many things, something I wish I'd done many moons ago. The rules in question are BKCII, Honours of War, BPII, Bloody Big Battles and Neil Thomas' Ancient & Medieval Wargaming. I have many more rulesets but these just tick all the boxes for me.

    1. Hi Steve and thanks for your comments. It has been a recurring theme with comments that people have stuck with a particular rules they liked and through repetition, those rules have become familiar and comfortable. I'm definitely at that stage where I need to settle on a rules set for a given period.

  10. Really interesting post!
    I have gone from many years of "warhammering" to historicals and more and more searched for simple rulesets (Neil Thomas "One Hour" was an eye opener, and I have tried "Eagles cheaper"). To me the allure is both practical and theoretic. Much of my gaming is solo in limited time (family, work...) and therefore I want to get as much "moving and shooting" out of my time as possible and not reading charts, looking up exactly how units retreats in special circumstances.

    And then it comes to the experience. A friend of mine once said: "Napoleon didn't win his battles because he knew in what angles he should position his troops to maximise his chances of being able to flank charge, nor did he now what modifications it gave to movement crossing ditches or firing from a hill." Imho, having a lot of charts or modifications makes the recreation of a battle into very much a game of how to optimize rules and numbers. It may be pompous of me but the more mature me (not the warhammer-me) want tactical decisions (directions, timing, use of reserves etc) to be the most important thing in the battle, combined in a simple way with chance/dice rolling.

    Besides other projects, I'm building a big Lützen 1632-game (I'm from Sweden) and my thoughts are to play it with a game master so that the players can concentrate on being commanders and to be able to have special events hidden, troops out of sight etc. And for the cause of having a "battle umpire" decide what's possible and not instead of having to write tight rules for it. Simple or not...? :)

    If I get the time I will try to do a battle and answer your questions. I think they are a good way to review and improve ones gaming. Thanks!

    1. Wow thank you for that comment! Very well said, sir! It sounds like you want to get down to the business of fighting. I well appreciate that and find myself agreeing with you.

    2. Also what did you think of Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells? It's one of my favorites!

    3. I think it's very good. It's a simple fast-play system that I can play from memory. It's also stable, so that one can easily improvise, add specials (I like the list in the end) and make judgements. I've played some Blücher and tried fast-play Grande Armee, but since they are to different degrees more complex systems they are more difficult to modify. Playing Eagles on hexes takes a few minutes to modify. And the dice-rolling are well balanced between "statistic attrition" and "acts of bravery".

      I was inspired by your post so I actually took a break from painting and had a battle with it today, so I'll be back later with some kind of report.

    4. Thanks Erik, I am very much looking forward to what you come up with! "Eagles Cheaper" is one of my favorite games and I'm looking to take it into the AWI and ACW eras as well.

    5. I have had thougths on it for a while, and now I have started my own gaming blog (and hopefully I will continue with it). I made a battle report and answered most of the questions there:
      I will follow it up with my hex-modifications to Eagles. /Erik

    6. Very nice post, Erik! I just commented over on your blog!

    7. Also, my friend Alex has written a dark ages and also a World War 2 variant of the Neil Thomas 1HW which are very much fun as well.

    8. Thanks for the encouraging words!
      Are those rules to be found anywhere? :) I actually lack ww2 figures, but have a collection of medievals somewhere.

    9. Their author, Alex, might be able to send you the most up to date versions. His email is: Brasidas19004 at Gmail dot com.

      He has 2 blogs that I have linked over to the right:

      "Up the Blue!" For WWII
      "Spear to the Strife" for Dark Ages and Medieval.

      Those blogs may have his rules QRS in a post so trolling through them might be helpful.

    10. Thanks! I’ll have a look at those.

  11. I have been seeking the simple wargame for many years. For me that means the rules should cover no more than 4 pages of A4 and a QRS should always be one sheet. With some of my rules only taking one or two sides of A4 there isn't a need for a QRS at all. A number of my game designs have featured in the pages of "The Nugget" (the journal of Wargame Developments) over the years, as have other WD members' game designs (most of which are also simple). I recommend you take a look at what is on offer at the Wargame Developments web site:

    1. Thanks Mike, I'm going to check this out now. I like that you have set parameters for what you're looking for.

  12. There is also this for more Neil Thomas adaptations. You may even find some of my stuff in there! I think the allure of simple rules is probably down to most gamers of an certain age’ starting out with home grown rules or Featherstone and the like. With little adult contact - and probably more enthusiasm than knowledge - we were able to devise rules and fill any gaps with common sense and imagination. When you get older and join groups you tend to meet with the more ‘grown up and realistic’ rules and, worse, competitive types and rules lawyers. After a few years, with breaks for family, jobs etc, you have less time and patience for this sort of nonsense so the simple games of youth beckon. Or maybe that’s just me!

    1. Cheers Jeffers! I am a member already of the AMW formerly Yahoo group! I rarely post there, though. Your description hit the nail on the head here and I echo the reasons you mention here as my own rationale behind going for more simple games and gaming. It is definitely not just you!!!

  13. Steve, adding to the above. I am just embarking on a boardgame. I read the rules that refused to sink into my head and so I played the opening sequences, with rule set in hand to try and get a better grasp. It took a couple of hours to get the flow, but I now feel I understand enough to go away and read the rules again, which should now be easier to absorb and together with a crib sheet, then start to play. Each playing adding to an establishing of the system. Now all of that sounds bad based on what we have discussed so far....... However!

    Why am I doing this, because the game package is a ‘series’ game. I have three of the games, which will give me 20 battles, including the very, very important Bosworth. I am hoping that in my world of streamlining periods into series rules, this series will become my early to late medieval set and so the question I am asking myself here - and this will be the test of whether I stick with this system .....

    Does the investment in learning become worthwhile Vs. The number of scenarios and hours that I can get from this and also is the extra learning worthwhile to get something that on the ‘Generic to Detailed’ scale, is at a place that I feel I will give rewarding and meaningful play.

    I say this from the point of view that I do feel that too simple is too generic and not engaging enough.

    Time will tell of course and I am already finding the process frustrating rather than enjoyable, so there is a certain discipline needed here. will all of this result in me having an engaging game that is ‘becomes’ relatively simple because of so much investment?

    I have my reservations, because I play with som much, that I may not return to it for 4 - 6 months and then we will almost be back at square 1 - perhaps a game every month could avoid that, but how many of my systems can I play once a month, I don’t have that much available spare capacity.

    I am just posting this here because it is another leg of my own journey of streamlining and simplifying and once I get a game or two played, may feed into your own overall ‘evaluation of the matter’!

    1. Thank you for that comment, Norm. One thing I'm finding with the majority of these comments and ideas from around the 'net is that the allure of simple games - the driving force behind many "Grognards" seeking these types of games out is that they're after a the decision, the game, and the battle. They're strapped for time, patience, and maybe even space, and that they want something that's going to scratch the itch and deliver a good, fun, and historically plausible game. There's another camp that argues that the solution I'm seeking has less to do with simplicity, and more to do with familiarity with the rules played. That's a pretty significant factor that I did not take into account but it makes alot of sense and you touch upon it in your comment here - namely that the more rules you play, the less familiar you are with any one of them, which could increase frustration, research, etc during a game. So the argument being that if you played only Black Powder over the course of a year, you'd be so well-versed in it, that it would be simple for you.

      That's a great point about too simple and not engaging enough. I feel like the question is "is decision making enough?" or do you want more detail? How much detail? A saving throw for armor? or a D100 chart based on millimetre thickness of armor :) I always felt that's where One Hour Wargames fell a bit short - meat on the bones. that said - the structure is solid enough to add your own (eagles cheaper than brain cells Napoleonic, and Alex's "Up the Blue" WWII mods are examples of adding more meat on the bones)

      Norm one game a month would be good to learn and stay sharp on a system. I do think you really need to be put it through its paces to learn. My group, and this is my fault probably, can never stay put on a single rules set for longer than a couple weeks. I also find myself confusing rules from one set to another - a classic exmaple that i'm playing too many things!

      By the way, this is OUTSTANDING dialogue and I'm so pleased with the results so far.

      Already 2 gamers (you and Erik D) have already played and answered the questions. I have played and am working on the blog post now for Commands and Colors: Ancients and just today at lunchtime finished 2 x games of Mr Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames Horse & Musket, Scenario #20.

      Thank you for sticking with this neat little project so far!

  14. All good, will head over the C&C post now. ‘simple’ will also be at a different point on the simple v detail line For each and every one of us. I note that in One Hour Wargames, I felt the weakest rules were the WWII set, but I believe that is because it is my primary interest and I want more from a rule set, whilst I am much more forgiving of the rules used for a secondary interest such as ancients etc, where I am more inclined to want a fun game ...... simply because I don’t know enough to be more demanding of the rules, the same with naval games.

    It sounds like your plate is full :-)

    1. Norm I couldn't agree more re the 1HW WW2 set. I really have enjoyed Alex's "Up the Blue!" Variant which have much added chrome.

      That's a really great point about familiarity with a period perhaps leading to a bit more leniency or patience with a rule set.

  15. Interesting post.

    I'm also an afficionado of "simple" wargaming rules, and focusing on the "fun" bits. That's why I also mostly write my own rules.

    For me, my rules should focus on
    1. decision making
    2. playing with the soldiers

    Let me elaborate:

    1. Decision making: players should be able to make meaningful decisions during the game. I have drifted towards activation systems, where you roll a die for each unit to do something. If the die roll fails, turn is over. I know that many wargamers don't like such a system, but it's a very flexible way of forcing the players to think.

    2. Playing with the toys: wargaming is a tactile hobby, and should aim for maxmimum manipulation of the toys. Hence, a strong focus on movement and manoeuvres, and less focus on combat resolution. Combat resolution should be as simple and quick as possible, because that's not where we are playing around with the toys. But during movement, we pick up and move the toy soldiers, and that is what makes miniature wargaming miniature wargaming.

    1. Excellent points, Phil! Thank you for commenting! I like your point that we should be playing with the miniatures!

  16. Having played through Fields of Honor (fOh) twice now with a second BatRep to follow, I think it fits into your SIMPLE classification. would you like to see FoH given your SIMPLE GAMING QUESTIONNAIRE?

    1. Jonathan I would absolutely love to see what youve come up with, and any additional informmation you'd like to share relative to this project!