Pen and Sword, Tabletop Wargames

Title: Tabletop Wargames... 
Author: Rick Priestley and John Lambshead
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
ISBN: 978-1-78383-148-7

...a Designers' and Writers' Handbook

Wargaming has long been a popular pastime, one which still attracts a lot of modellers rather than just being distracted by computer based games.  This is a new book written by two experienced authors of gaming rules.  An interesting comparison is that of tabletop wargaming with Chess.  If you play Chess, you play to a common set of established rules.  For tabletop gaming (not board or computer games) then there are a host of different sets of rules you can buy to play with.  However, the more you play then you may well find yourself feeling that there are things about them that would suit you better.  Over the years that has resulted in the wide variety of rules that are on the market as gamers adapt a base set of rules to find solutions to what they find as issues in the playing of their games.  One of the comments I especially like early in the book is that games are generally fought on tables 6ft x 4ft (approx) as this will fit most homes, and while some manage 8ft x 4ft while 'larger and permanent set ups are rarely encountered beyond the confines of long-term bachelerdom'.

The book goes on to examine the question of scale, and how different scale models favour particular subjects, and various data tables offer the alternatives you might consider.  This also includes sections where scale has an influence on Fire and Movement, Line of Sight, Cover and so on.  Then it moves on to the Language of Design, and things to consider when designing rules, such as the Play Sequence, as it is difficult for one player to move their pieces, fire and so on, without any reaction from their opponent, along with many other considerations.  Chapter 4 looks at the use of dice as an important tool to measure chance and probability.  Next it moves on to the considerations of Design and Presentation of the rules you come up with.  The need to be 'usable' so consider the end user, either a new gamer who needs to be able to understand them, and the experienced user who wants to simply access the appropriate bit when playing a game.

Chapter six looks at rules for smaller scenarios, or 'Skirmish Games', while chapter 7 talks about three principals of writing rules and the importance of writing clearly, putting yourself into the position of the end user.  With all this done there is more material on Expanding the Rulebook, with helpful guides such as Army Lists and on into the last chapter which considers the playing of wargames as Campaigns.  Throughout the book there are lots of beautiful colour illustrations of a wide range of wargames in progress, and some superbly presented and painted figures and scenery to be seen.  These by themselves might well provide additional inspiration for either wargamers or modellers.  They cover a full variety of scenarios, from Sci-fi, WW2, Napoleonic, ACW, Ancients and more.  Lots of delightful colour in these to grab your attention.  All in all a well presented book which offers lots of things to consider when writing your own rules.  They don't say everything must be done one way, but gives excellent guidance on what thing you need to think about and decide on where the priority lays.  It may be with historical accuracy, or it may be more towards playability.  It could be easy to overcomplicate things so plenty in here to think about, and I think, inspire you to have a go at doing something you might have thought about but never actually done anything about.

List Price in the UK is £14.99.

For details of this and other books by Pen and Sword, do check their website.