Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rules, Rules and more rules

So I have now read about 7 or 8 rule-sets for WWI. Some are skirmish or semi-skirmish (Price of Glory, To the Last Man, Trench Wars), some are Brigade level (If the Lord Spare Us, Contemptible Little Armies, Bloody Picnic)others Division level (Bloody Picnic, Square Bashing)or even Corps level (Great War Spearhead). I originally set out with Division or Brigade level as my goal. Why? Well as you probably know I'm interested in the Indian Army, and when using Divisional rules you can use different figures for each Battalion sized unit.Since the Indian Army's Division's tend to be made up of 1 "British" btn and three different Indian Battalions (for example Sikh, Gurkha and Punjabi battalions)this is a good way to have colorfully mixed forces on the table. Also it just feels like the right level for this conflict.The only rules I have actually played are Price of Glory.
After reading all of the above rules-sets, it would seem to me that P.O.G. is the best choice for small unit skirmishes. I like the abstracted movement style and the way that you can mount your figures using any method you care for. The rifle fire seems too accurate and too fast though, especially when compared with the stats for Lewis guns and Maxims. I also believe that it would be better to treat Artillery and HMGs as almost nearly static. In the last game I did not allow either side HMGs and the Turks started with a fixed artillery piece.

Without having played them, I like Square Bashing, If the Lord Spare Us and Bloody Picnic about equally well for higher-level actions, but for different reasons. Bloody Picnic seems the most comprehensive and most up-to-date, ultimately it's rules are simple and very clean. They are based on General de Brigade but are much cleaner. That being said the rules are expensive and long, since the designer covers everything from weather to preliminary bombardment and air superiority. If you ignore much of that (and the rules do not mandate that you pay any attention to that stuff) BP is really nice.
Square Bashing (and it's supplement Storm of Steel)is much more abstract (see this web-site and is explicitly boardgame-like. The rules are the oldest on this list, but are in many ways the most innovative (again see the link above for more info). SB seems to me to be the rules-set that most accurately represents the War in all of it's varied facets / fronts while at the same time being playable. Though the rules say they are for 15mm figures, the "Square" system means that any scale is usable and if, necessary the squares themselves can be scaled up or down. If the Lord Spares Us is a Brigade-level game from Two Fat Lardies. Poorly organized, it is still a really solid set using a card-based activation sequence. It is the only game that is specifically oriented towards WWI in the Near East.
I'm a rules nerd, so my dream would be to play at least one game with each of the above higher-level rules-sets, but I'm going to try to see if someone will play a game of Square Bashing.

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