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Author Topic: Rulebook testing  (Read 1246 times)

Offline SJWi

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1061
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2023, 06:40:43 PM »
Radar, interested that your main interest is ECW. What rules do you use? I now play using Simon Miller's "For King and Parliament" buy I know these aren't to everybody's taste.

To turn to your main question. I must say I am intrigued by the DBA comments. I recall when DBA was first demonstrated at the Society of Ancients conference as a light-hearted knock-out game. The rules ran to maybe 3-4 pages. I suspect the complexity was added when it was used in competitions. I witnessed the same trend with DBM. Nothing against competition gamers but wanting "legalistic purity" does lead in a  certain direction.

I have proof read a few rule sets for people, none being in my close circle of gamers. What I found was that quite  a few writers don't explain the philosophy of the rules, let alone the mechanics. I always want to try to understand what the author wants the rules to do.

I'm sure most rule-writers  do engage in play-testing. All I will say is that myself and my mates think we can spot those which have been extensively playtested almost to the point of "breaking them" , and those that seemed to have had a cursory proof-reading . I won't name names.

Offline Easy E

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1565
  • Just some guy who does stuff
    • Blood and Spectacles
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2023, 09:23:51 PM »
I know once my rules make contact with the public, I am always amazed what the public focuses on vs. what the play testers or I focused on.   

 lol lol lol lol
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Offline TheDaR

  • Assistant
  • Posts: 25
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2023, 02:09:22 AM »
To turn to your main question. I must say I am intrigued by the DBA comments. I recall when DBA was first demonstrated at the Society of Ancients conference as a light-hearted knock-out game. The rules ran to maybe 3-4 pages. I suspect the complexity was added when it was used in competitions. I witnessed the same trend with DBM. Nothing against competition gamers but wanting "legalistic purity" does lead in a  certain direction.

The thing about DBA is, once you've actually had it directly explained to you, either via playing it with someone experienced or a good tutorial guide in paper or video, it's just that, pretty light hearted and quick to play.  But the rules themselves are just a bit impenetrable if you don't already understand them.  It's a bit like a fancy swiss watch.  Seemingly tiny, but chock full of meticulously intricate interlocking parts.  Once everything is together, it's a nice clean smoothly operating thing which is simple to work and use.  But if someone hands you a pile of springs, cogs and gears and says "it's easy"...

I'm not bagging on it by any means, either.  It's a bit of marvel how much game is packed into a small space.  Even version 2.2 is only about 12 pages of actual rules, less if you remove stuff like the explanations for how army lists work and historical commentary on the various troop types.  DBA 3.0 only adds a couple pages to the rules with a slightly less dense prose style along with an invaluable dozen or so pages of diagrams showing common scenarios, making the whole thing immensely more approachable.  And that says something; I could never give someone a DBA 2.2 book blind and expect them to be able to play anything like how it was intended, but 3.0's very slightly less compact prose and those diagrams turn it into something an experienced gamer could definitely manage to play without external guidance.

Offline ced1106

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 678
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2023, 02:53:14 AM »
> I also find that writing rules for certain games is far easier than other games.  Board games, hex games, etc. can be far easier because of the reduction in complexity, etc.

fwiw, I like the FFG rulebooks, divided into a How to Play that covers basic mechanics and most gameplay, then the Reference book which covers edge cases. Sorta like the 80/20 rule, with the 20% of rules covering 80% of gameplay in one book, and 80% of rules covering the last 20% of gameplay in the other.
My DIY Contrast mix:
* White-primed miniature lightly pre-inked in a dark shade.
* 1 drop acrylic ink in a small pot of paint (eg. children's craft paint). Do not mix.
* Dip the brush in the ink. As you paint, you can dip into the paint to make the layer more opaque.

Offline Radar

  • Bookworm
  • Posts: 98
    • KeepYourPowderDry
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2023, 05:44:33 PM »
Radar, interested that your main interest is ECW. What rules do you use? I now play using Simon Miller's "For King and Parliament" buy I know these aren't to everybody's taste.

To turn to your main question. I must say I am intrigued by the DBA comments. I recall when DBA was first demonstrated at the Society of Ancients conference as a light-hearted knock-out game. The rules ran to maybe 3-4 pages. I suspect the complexity was added when it was used in competitions. I witnessed the same trend with DBM. Nothing against competition gamers but wanting "legalistic purity" does lead in a  certain direction.

ECW/BCW/W3K? I am rather partial to Forlorn Hope. FK&P I struggle with because of the squares, not a fan of squares. I can see the point of them, and they are rather essential for FK&P play. I know that my dislike of grids is possibly irrational, but no matter how much I try they just don't float my boat.

On DBA that is interesting how it has evolved. 3/4 pages and a teacher is a million miles away from the almost legalese way that DBR is written (I don't own a copy of DBA to compare)
www.keepyourpowderdry.co.uk gaming the British Civil Wars in 15mm, and home of the ECW travelogue - dreadful painting, mediocre prose

Offline vtsaogames

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1249
    • Corlears Hook Fencibles
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2023, 04:32:40 PM »
Aside from editors, rules need blind-testing. That is, a group of players who are not in the same room, preferably not in the same state or nation, who try the game from written rules. That will usually generate enough questions to help the rules writer clarify intent.

Also, don't use more than one term for an action. If you decide on close combat, don't then call it an assault or a melee. Try and be concise. And use examples.

I have purchased at least one set of rules that left me unable to ascertain how to play them, and I had been enthusiastic until reading the book.
And the glorious general led the advance
With a glorious swish of his sword and his lance
And a glorious clank of his tin-plated pants. - Dr. Seuss


My blog: http://corlearshookfencibles.blogspot.com/

Offline Hobgoblin

  • Galactic Brain
  • Posts: 4393
    • Hobgoblinry
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2023, 05:37:54 PM »
The thing about DBA is, once you've actually had it directly explained to you, either via playing it with someone experienced or a good tutorial guide in paper or video, it's just that, pretty light hearted and quick to play.  But the rules themselves are just a bit impenetrable if you don't already understand them.  It's a bit like a fancy swiss watch.  Seemingly tiny, but chock full of meticulously intricate interlocking parts.  Once everything is together, it's a nice clean smoothly operating thing which is simple to work and use.  But if someone hands you a pile of springs, cogs and gears and says "it's easy"...

I'm not bagging on it by any means, either.  It's a bit of marvel how much game is packed into a small space.  Even version 2.2 is only about 12 pages of actual rules, less if you remove stuff like the explanations for how army lists work and historical commentary on the various troop types.  DBA 3.0 only adds a couple pages to the rules with a slightly less dense prose style along with an invaluable dozen or so pages of diagrams showing common scenarios, making the whole thing immensely more approachable.  And that says something; I could never give someone a DBA 2.2 book blind and expect them to be able to play anything like how it was intended, but 3.0's very slightly less compact prose and those diagrams turn it into something an experienced gamer could definitely manage to play without external guidance.

Excellent simile and explanation!

I reckon Hordes of the Things is the best entry point for the DBx family; it's better written - even well written, at least in parts - and is a little simpler as a game than DBA 3.0. And it's a very, very good game; very few wargames are widely still played almost exactly as they were 30-odd years ago!

Offline NotifyGrout

  • Librarian
  • Posts: 159
  • Sub-Random, Cut-Up, Trident
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2023, 06:52:01 PM »
I reckon Hordes of the Things is the best entry point for the DBx family; it's better written - even well written, at least in parts - and is a little simpler as a game than DBA 3.0. And it's a very, very good game; very few wargames are widely still played almost exactly as they were 30-odd years ago!

It's still pretty dense.

I couldn't figure the game out until I played it with experienced players- once I did, it made sense. It's a very good ruleset, and one I encourage everyone to try at least once.

On the other hand, a spear unit is a spear unit, and the phrase "ethical monotheism" is burned into my mind forever :-I

EDIT: Forgot the on-topic part- I find Space Weirdos to be a great example of a ruleset that covers pretty much everything it needs to with minimal fuss. It's more reference than how-to, but with 16 pages (and a few of those being dedicated to sample soldier profiles and basic scenarios), it is simple enough to get away with it.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2023, 06:54:02 PM by NotifyGrout »
Current projects: collecting way too many vintage Warzone models.

Offline Easy E

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1565
  • Just some guy who does stuff
    • Blood and Spectacles
Re: Rulebook testing
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2023, 08:39:36 PM »
Aside from editors, rules need blind-testing. That is, a group of players who are not in the same room, preferably not in the same state or nation, who try the game from written rules. That will usually generate enough questions to help the rules writer clarify intent.


If only most wargame companies and producers had such resources.

 

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