Thursday 10 September 2020

Tables & Redundancy in Wargames Rules

I recently discovered a free series of rules from Nigel Emsen and was particularly taken by the set for the American Civil War: Rebels & Yankees.

At only 29 pages, with a clear well spaced layout, the rules are very easy to read with a good structure and lots of useful tables etc.  If they play as quickly as they read I'll be well pleased.

I did spot a few things that I would class as glitches in table layout and design but that doesn't detract from the rules themselves.  However, I would like to use them to highlight how simple changes can have a large impact of clarity and readability.

[1] Resilience Table (Page 10):

Here's the portion of the page which defines the process and the lookup table.

Looking at this in detail:

  • Rolling 1d6 cannot give a score of more than six so the 6+ is misleading.
  • Logically, the bands are not exclusive as 3+ includes 5 and 6.
  • Novices may not know when Gettysburg was so the periods are "loose".
  • The Zealous classification looks strange in a column of dates.

A quick rework gives this table:

Now each part of the table is specific and mutually exclusive.  The classification of the Confederate troops as "Zealous" has been moved to a footer but it could equally be an additional one-entry column.  The latter is a bit excessive for one entry.

[2] Resilience Outcomes Table (Page 12):

Here's the portion of the page with the lookup table for the results.
Looking at this in detail: 

  • The row for a result of 7 is exactly the same as that for 8-9.
  • Not sure what "Carry On" means as it's not defined in the rules.
  • Not sure what "Charge" means, specifically is it the same for those charging and those receiving a charge, as it's not defined in the rules.

Again a quick rework gives this table:

This version assumes that the actions in the table are all compulsory so "Forced" is superfluous. Even so it's still a bit busy with lots of "Carrying On". 

I did try a version that merged like cells across rows, as there's a lot of duplication, but it was a touch too hard to lookup values in columns. One way to solve this is to merge some cells as follows: 

I think this is still sub-optimal but it just goes to show how hard this is.


Nigel Emsen said...

As the author of the rules, I do welcome the feedback about and having seen the examples of improvements, I does show clearly these effects. I will be implementing the suggestions above in the specific rules mentioned and my other sets. Again thank you for the time and feedback. Nigel

Vexillia said...

Not a problem Nigel. Glad to help. My wife says it has kept me quiet today so that's another benefit.

If you'd like further help do get in touch.

Vexillia said...

Replaced all links to "Quick Play Rules" and "Firepower Games" with links to Nigel's Wargame Vault page. Original sites are dead.