Accessibility, first impressions

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daveallen
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Accessibility, first impressions

Post by daveallen » Sat Dec 23, 2006 9:37 am

Got the rules a couple of days ago :D thanks guys.

Given the time of year I'm unlikely to squeeze a game in before 2007 but I feel this comment from Don McHugh sums up my initial take on the rules:
... I worry about anyone picking up the rules for the first time.
Even as an experienced wargamer the rules are daunting (40+ pages of operational detail to absorb) and I suspect it is going to take me several readings before I'll be happy to play a game. Without this forum and the opportunity to mull over other people's mistakes/ideas it would be a lot harder.

This is not more of a criticism of AoW than it is of wargames rules in general - I felt exactly the same when I first read Warhammer 40k (now there's a chaotic set of rules!) but the difference was I could just wander into town and get someone to show me how to play...

The most helpful thing in the book is the combat example, it pulls together a lot of rules and gives a feel of how they work together. Might I suggest you include edited highlights* of a full game in a similar style and put it right at the start of the book to convey the excitement of a game to anyone picking it up for the first time and to give them an understanding of how the parts fit together.

*Edited highlights - such as brief descriptions of terrain placement, army composition, deployment, manoeuvre, shooting, charging/evading, two or three combats, game end.

It should include a lot of photos (some close ups of very well painted troops). Try not to use jargon, describe distances in inches or mm rather than MUs, call POAs Points of Advantage (or merely "an advantage"). Have a margin for notes, references to rules and explanations of jargon where unavoidable.

This will take up a substantial proportion of the book but I feel that by drawing someone into the game in this way you give them the incentive to keep reading when the going gets heavy, as well as a context for all the new ideas. It might even make sense to include it as a magazine style insert so readers aren't constantly flicking backwards and forwards to check rules/examples.

Now where did I put that bottle of port?

Dave Allen

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Post by list_lurker » Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:19 am

If it helps - it does get easier. We we first started playing we would never get a result in 3.5 hours. After about 10 games we very rarely get a game that goes the distance (time wise)

Is at the point now where I wonder if the touted 800pt doubles game at USK will last long enough?

Simon

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Post by jdm » Sat Dec 23, 2006 5:35 pm

Dave we are very aware of this issue and we are orking on it. Any suggestions on how to make the rules more accessible are appreciated

Regards
JDM

shall
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Post by shall » Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:53 am

Dave,

You are hitting the issue that is top of the authors minds at present. What is very interesting is that the general reaction so far is:

Intitial read : complex rules
First game: bit slow
third game : this is pretty easy and has a good historical feel
fifth game: easy rules, fast to play, very historical, results in 3 hours

What we need to do now is get it so that the feeling of how much fun it is to play comes out as early as possible in the above process. We are working on a big reshaping of the presentation at present to try to do that with more diags and examples to lead things along.

All specific ideas and views very timely therefore. I expect it will take us a few goes. Wargames rules are unlikely to win prizes for literature however hard we try!! :-)

Si

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Post by olivier » Thu Dec 28, 2006 11:15 am

I'm OK with your learning curve. And it's very difficult to pass the first two obstacle. Especially if you are not a native reader. On other hand , the rule are much more clearer than DBM :).
The first game is hard, inconclusive ..and Boring!
The fun factor come only after the third play.
That's is bad because many players drop away a rule after only one try!
May be if the rule are better illustrated and with an example after each paragraph as FOW or Blood Bowl....
Rgd's
Olivier

plewis66
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Post by plewis66 » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:29 pm

Accessibility.

Just as a throw-in-the-pot:

How about Basic and Advanced rules - within the same book, like in WHFB.

It seems to me that most of the people here are wargamers of some considerable experience, in that they have played lots of games, but probably also played in lots of competitions. I've played on and off over twenty years, and never entered a competition. Maybe I never will.

So, I guess it depends on whether you are aiming the rules just at hard-core competition players, or also at casual entertainment players. If the latter, then Basic/Advanced might be an idea. The level of detail that is required to close loopholes for the purposes of formal competition are the kinds of things that put off the casual gamer - they are the reason why I probbaly won't play DBM more than a few more times. And if AoW gets as wordy and as involved as DBM - without providing the option to play less formally - then I think that would be a shame.

Not that I'm suggesting it's at that point now. Au contraire, as I said in my first feedback, I feel it's much, much simpler than DBM, and overall very logical. But I see that it has the potential to get to that point. Perhaps it is even necessary to get to that point, simply to make competition fair.

With a simplified subset of rules available for non-competition play, you could provide a bridge for people with a GW background to get into 'serious' wargaming, without the pain that seems to be associated. And I guess that you must be looking at the numerous people who have a GW background, then hit a certain age and start to think that elves and orcs are bit silly...

shall
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Post by shall » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:53 pm

We are trying to solve much of the competition stuff by putting a section on detailed mechanisms. Most people won't refer to these much for social gaemes as a there or there abouts approach often suffices. We have put most of the pre-battle stuff into a later section. We are trying hard to keep it less competition oriented where possible.

We have been mulling over simple and advanced rules but we thus far came to the view that it was in fact a different set rather than a simplifcation of the main rules - a la DBA vs DBM. So we may come to the idea of a feeder product once AOW is finalised. Similar mechanics on a less grand scale perhaps. Any thoughts on what a simpelr version might look like would be interesting. Basicall we would need to keep the core of the rules in shape.

Cheers

Si

vincent
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Post by vincent » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:55 pm

plewis66 wrote:Not that I'm suggesting it's at that point now. Au contraire, as I said in my first feedback, I feel it's much, much simpler than DBM, and overall very logical. But I see that it has the potential to get to that point. Perhaps it is even necessary to get to that point, simply to make competition fair.
I have been playing for more than 20 years now, with a lot of competitions and umpiring. My personnal experience is that no matter how careful you are in writing a rule, the imagination of competitive players to work out unintended interpretation is almost limitless (if you include dishonest players, it becomes truly limitless :twisted: ). However, the less you write, the more chaotic competitions become, sometimes leading to situations where players from different clubs can't play each other since they can't agree on interpretations. This is not the case for friendly games, but it can becomes a real pain in competitions.
Perharps we should aim for a 2 levels presentation of the rule. State the main rule in normal fonts, then add below in smaller script all those small technical details, not needed if you play with a good natured partner, but definitely necessary when confronted to a devious competitor. To take an example from an on-going discussion in a separate thread, you can just state "remove a base when you fail a death roll", then add all those details about first rank/second rank/same type/keep frontage/contact... in smaller script below to cope with hard competitors.
I also like it when the authors include some inserts, besides the main rules, where they explain how they interpretated some historical battles and why they have chosen to simulate the historical effects with the mechanisms which are set in the rules. Very often, the rationale is KISS. I have found that it is a good politic to set this "historical disgressions" apart from the main text to avoid competitors looking for arguments in these parts of text where there should be none.
Best regards


Vincent

plewis66
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Post by plewis66 » Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:03 pm

I think Vincent has the supernatural gift of reading into my deepest desires.

I would simply LOVE to see the rules presented in that manner.

I'm less keen on the idea of a 'feeder' game, as DBA is (supposed to be) for DBM. My problem is not with the complexity of the mechnics, but with the complexity of the language required to make interpretation consistent. A game with simpler mechanics, but complex language would be less than desirable. Complex mechanics is a good thing, complex language is not. That's why I never bothered with DBA, and went straight to DBM. I thought if I have to wrestle with such language, I might as well have a decent game at the end of it :roll:

shall
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Post by shall » Sat Jan 13, 2007 7:12 pm

useful input thanks

I expect we are still 2 or 3 iterations from the final layout and words even though most of the mechanics are now working well.

Si

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