Saturday, 22 April 2017

Left on the shelf

If  your anything like me as a gamer you own more than one rulebook and have played a few of them. Trying out a new rule set can be a lot of fun and discovering the ins and outs, the innovations that make you wonder why you never thought of them, not to mention the rules that leave you arguing with a book due to lack of clarity and plain old common sense is part of the voyage of discovery of gaming new rules. If like me you like to 'home brew' and mash up rulesets to give you the right 'feel' often reading rule books can inspire you to fill gaps in other rules and solve problems that stoop the experience being everything you feel it needs to be.
......Also it means you have a shelf full of books you have to convince the other half you really do need and have to add to as a matter of priority!. I have 2 rule sets (well 3 really) that i gravitate towards when gaming and they have featured more than once on this blog. If i want to fight out a skirmish i tend go for Lion/Dragon rampant. If its a bigger battle its Mantics Kings of war (which i know i always say can be downloaded free here). I just like the way they play, they feel right to me so i stick with them. But what of the other rule systems i have gathering dust?, why have them, why keep hold of them at all?.
If i'm honest i will probably never play these other games if i have not done so yet. But owning a rule book is not just about playing the rules, its more than that.
  As items i love a nice rule book. I love the backgrounds (the fluff) that are often written into the system. Dont get me wrong i will never buy an army book, i feel they are a bit of rip off if im honest, just my opinion but there you go. but even if i dont like the background for whatever reason i like the fact that one is included and will try to get under the skin of it, i appreciate the act of creating a fantasy setting and the achievement of putting together a whole world in which factions cohabit and argue and....well....stab each other with sharp things!. As someone currently trying to do that exact thing in the mentally terraforming series of posts i am putting together i can appreciate the thought that has gone into the evolution of a setting. I also love interesting systems and mechanics, i love the feeling of a writer thinking in new ways to streamline the gaming experience. I love the presentation and 'feel' of a rule book. They have a charm of their own, from the old school print and paste black and white typed books of the early rule sets to the highly polished full colour stuffed to the gills new fangled sets they each have a charm of their own and give you an appreciation for the blood sweat and tears that went into building the tome you are reading.
  But the fact remains i will only play roughly 20% of the rulesets i buy, i may nick mechanics from the ones i dont from time to time but if im honest i will not actually use them to play a game. And i bet its the same for some of you guys out there!.  Its a shame so i thought i would use this post to ask a question. Which rule books do you own that you love but will never actually use to play a game?. I'll go first:

By Gary Chalk and Ian Bailey
This game was from the early 90s and created as an answer to the direction Warhammer was about to go in. Its a very detailed ruleset with rpg elements for character creation and a very interesting order based activation system that almost looks too detailed!. It also has a fantastic background included that was really going somewhere. It is also full of Gary Chalks art work which is worth owning the book for on its own!. Artwork just like this:
By Gary Chalk, legend.

A camp as hell high fantasy system from 1997 by Target games with interesting mechanics letting unit members act as individuals as well as cool fumble and critical rules. In terms of look it has high fantasy well and truly nailed. If you think games workshop did shoulder pads get a load of these puppies!


This one always gets my interest, its a medieval mass battle game, very old school in feel but seems very smooth as a system. Add to that detailed siege rules and very cool campaign rules that encourage diplomacy and a large amount of back stabbing. I keep telling myself i will get round to this one some day....... 

A mass battle game that uses as many or as little minis as you want and that has an inbuilt solo play system that looks pretty tight. It has been said that it is hard to play using the rules as written but that kind of adds something to it for me, call me a masochist but the idea that it will take dedication and not a little home brewing to make it 'go' actually makes me want to try it! (one day!).


Yeah.....i know!
Now dont get me wrong i have a special place in my heart for games workshops behemoth of a fantasy game. I love the early editions that allowed and encouraged you to not only get involved with building the game in your own way ('here's a point system now buy some minis a get on with it!'), i even have a soft spot for 4th and 5th edition even though the game was becoming the wallet draining black hole of army books and 'meta' gaming (uurghh!), breading a generation of list building champions that could beat anyone with just a few loopholes and a calculator ( but oddly not a girlfriend!). It was a brilliant, massive, living, breathing entity that sucked you in and made you part of the world it was building!. So why dont i play it?. Well, its not as much fun as it thinks it is....its clunky, its bloated, its obese and it contradicts itself. There are more fun games out there, not many better settings, its worth buying the rulesets to explore that but on the table it no longer stands up in my opinion.

So its over to you, what rules do you own but will never actually play?.....


  1. I've got Fantasy Warlord; I've got as far as looking at the pictures.

  2. Its a good looking book if you like it retro!. The system looks neat too and i keep saying im going to rip off the order system to bolt onto something else!.....ideas eh?

  3. I got Fantasy Warlord 2nd hand last year - nice looking volume indeed. I started Fantasy wargames with the bolt on fantasy rules in WRG Ancients (version 4 I think). When Peter Irving published Wizards & Warfare I played that for many years - see - the original (white cover) cost 50p which seemed a lot at the time when Mini-Figs figures were about 7p each!

  4. Im not that familiar with WRG games as i came through the gw school of buymoreleadyoubastards but i see them come up alot on ebay and they look interesting and have loads of charm, im often tempted to take the plunge and see what they are like. How do they play? When i think of them i assume they are in the same ball park of hott.


  5. HOTT is a game I have but haven't played! It's like DBA I think which would be the Son of WRG games (I guess). They seemed great at the time, now I can't be bothered with games with so many pages! There was a lot of detail in WRG Ancients and it "felt" like it was representing the period accurately, if you know what I mean; I was young and impressionable then of course! I remember being impressed by the morale tests. The Fantasy bit was tagged on at the back and just made some suggestions but it coincided nicely with MiniFigs Mythical Earth Range.

  6. Hott is also a game i own and have never played!. I almost put it in this list!. WRG games are some that i feel i should check out if only to look at the evolution of wargaming. I also have a soft spot for the idea of multibasing troops and would like to see how the rules work in actual play. Iguess its another project to add to the list!.