My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ganesha Games Brouhaha

Well, I started a real brouhaha on the Song of Blades and Heroes, etc. Yahoo forum. I wasn't trying to, but I was trying to get the authors to own up to not writing the rules to reflect their intent. I then posted two threads on TMP - Having problems with rules support? and Do U.S. players require too much precision with their rules? - and got a lot of interesting answers.

A number of people harkened back to the 'old days' when rules came in books and were largely just ideas that needed to be expanded upon by you - sort of 'fill in the blanks' as you see fit. Interestingly, they still see it as being that way. These are 'your' rules, so interpret them how you wish.

To me, local interpretation is the last resort. What that essentially means is that you cannot play outside your local group without expecting conflict as you meet new interpretations. That was fine before the age of the internet; communication between groups was sparse because they largely did not know about one another. But things have changed. Because of increased communications, people know more about gaming conventions for example, and in the U.S. that means primarily gaming, not trade fairs (see issue 24 of Battlegames where a U.K. correspondent describes Historicon and how U.S. conventions differ from U.K. ones).

Because we bring diverse groups together for common gaming, I contend that U.S. gamers prefer rules to be locked down, and tight, so that a common understanding results. Having been on the various DBA forums for about a year, you still see people arguing over the definition of "move to contact" and whether mutually assured destruction occurs when elephants recoil into elephants. And DBA is pretty tight, once you understand Barker's writing style.

I agree with several posters that we don't want to get to the point where people bring emails to games to prove some personal clarification they received from the author. That does not help anyone but the local gamers. That is why I call for better support through updated FAQs and errata sheets.

Some made the point that "hey this is a hobby". Again, Battlegames #24 pointed out how it the 'new commercialism' is taking us away from that. First, I reject the 'hey it's a hobby' argument when people are taking my money. Just because you do not do it full-time as your primary job, does not mean it is not a business. If you take my money for your efforts, it is a business, period. And like any product sold to me, I expect it to work. If it does not, I am going to be coming back to visit you, even if it is virtually.

People say the concept of rules support is a new thing. No, it isn't. How the support is given is new. The speed at which support is given is new. But giving support is not new. Maybe I was spoiled. I grew up with Column, Line, and Square, if which Fred Vietmeyer did answer questions by mail - lots of questions - and he eventually published these into a Referred Referee Rulings, what we would now call an FAQ. I guess I was spoiled because I dealt with a man who was ahead of his time. (Thanks, Fred.)

Of course, I cut  my teeth on Avalon Hill board games and if you look carefully enough they had support too. Sure, you had to buy The General, but that was their communication medium. Inside every issue were rules questions and answers by the author or staff. Many issues had errata and clarifications, all of which were official. People might not like to subscribe to a magazine in order to get the errata, but it was there back then. (Besides, if you played Avalon Hill games with any regularity, who subscribed to The General. It was sort of a given.)

Final point, and one I am debating posting to TMP: if a rules set includes a points system, is that not an implication that the game can be played competitively? And if that is true, should not the rules be written tight enough that disagreements on the author's intent should not arise?

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").