Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

To The Last Man!» Forums » General

Subject: feedback after reading rules rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Justus Pendleton
Australia
Sydney
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I saw TTLM mentioned somewhere here on BGG and downloaded the rules last night. First off, I am not a wargamer: the closest I've come to wargaming would be my two games of Twilight Struggle. So that's my perspective in this.

TTLM sounds interesting and the presence of a cyberboard module makes it far more likely that I'll try it out. (Though VASSAL would be even better since I mostly use Macs/Linux but beggars can't be choosers It is nice to give a game a try before going through all the trouble of printing and assembling the game.

I read/skimmed the rules last night and here's some things that I thought could be improved. You'll notice that these are all about making the manual more approachable to those new to TTLM:

- I'd prefer to see an outline of the order of play appear before the Game Components. As it is now you have to wait until page 7 to see that by which time you've already seen rules about Entrenchment and whatnot. Maybe it is just me but I like to know the flow of the game before having to worry about the bits and pieces that slot into that flow. I'd like to see a "big picture" of the game before getting into those details. Just a bullet list of the order of play and the game components would help orientate me and help me make sense of the details when they start appearing.

- I realize this is P&P and I think I've seen Tim Taylor say he's not a graphic designer. But while I'm wishing I think the manual could stand some graphic design/sexiness improvements. For instance, having pictures of the game components in the sections where they are introduced would help me tie the 'theoretical' manual to the 'reality' of the game pieces. I notice that the Player Aids do have something like this so I guess I'm suggesting the manual be revamped to be more like that. It would also be nice if the manual explicitly mentioned the Play Aids in the appropriate section (i.e. during Sequence of Play mention that there is a Player Aid summarizing this information). Similarly some tasteful and moderate use of color to help delineate sections might be nice.

- A stronger delineation (by both page layout/design and wording) between "the basic rules" (i.e. about 10 pagse) and "extra detailed explanations for various situations" might help with the 'sticker shock' of those who are just perusing the rules. Also a note on the first page explaining that would help. When I first showed the rules for Twilight Struggle to a friend and tried to convince him to play he said, 'These are 26 pages! There's no way I'm playing that!' Then I explained to him that most of it wasn't actually rules.

- One of the things that really helped me understand Twilight Struggle was the detailed example of a full turn of play. It really helped me see how all the rules worked together. I think something like that would also benefit TTLM. I would put it at the end but mention it in the first page (so that people know that it is there and can skip ahead to it).

- I know very little about the details of WW1. The cards (and some of the alternate rules) mention events but don't give an explanation of the historical basis for them. It is totally unrelated to actual game play but having those explanations might help make the game more appealing to non-hardcore WW1 gamers. Again, I'm looking to Twilight Struggle as an example here (you can download their rules online and see what I mean) which has explanations of the historical roots of all the cards. What is the significance of "German Military Crisis!", for instance?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Taylor
United States
under surveillance
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks very much for your suggestions. As I've said elsewhere, I'm keeping a list of changes for future rules updates. I've added your suggestions.

TTLM! is a living game system benefiting from everyone's input. I mean, without Christophe's and Arnauld's kindness, for example, we wouldn't have any graphics at all.

If you should have any questions, please GM me or ask here in the Rules Forum.

Oh, one other thing. Oddly, just yesterday I uploaded a file that details historical events on a turn by turn basis. When the Admins give it the OK, you may just find some brief explanation of the history you were looking for. I'll mention it when the (sadly scanned text) file is available.

It is now available at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/44823

TT

P.S. Please tell your friends about TTLM!.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Fung
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If I may add my 2 bits:

hoostus wrote:
TTLM sounds interesting and the presence of a cyberboard module makes it far more likely that I'll try it out. (Though VASSAL would be even better since I mostly use Macs/Linux but beggars can't be choosers It is nice to give a game a try before going through all the trouble of printing and assembling the game.

I may create a Vassal module one day. I know Vassal is increasingly more popular than Cyberboard, and I've been using it for Up Front, Commands & Colors: Ancients and various games from The Gamers, but I went with Cyberboard because it's more intuitive for me.

Quote:
- I'd prefer to see an outline of the order of play appear before the Game Components. As it is now you have to wait until page 7 to see that by which time you've already seen rules about Entrenchment and whatnot. Maybe it is just me but I like to know the flow of the game before having to worry about the bits and pieces that slot into that flow. I'd like to see a "big picture" of the game before getting into those details. Just a bullet list of the order of play and the game components would help orientate me and help me make sense of the details when they start appearing.

I've seen game companies go both ways on this. The problem is, whichever you talk about first, the reader doesn't have the benefit of knowing the other. For instance, do you talk about the difference between artillery/siege and units units first, or do you give the combat sequence of play with separate offensive artillery fire and offensive fire phases?

In the two game companies I'm most familiar with (The Gamers, whose titles are among the top BGG rated wargames, and GMT, whose titles consistently win CSR awards), they usually opt for describing the components before a narrative sequence of play followed by more rules expanding on them. Key differences between them and TTLM rules:

1) The component description is short, mainly with diagrams explaining what all the numbers mean (see below), so the reader can get on with what he's supposed to do with the components. TTLM has 4 pages of rules describing each unit in detail, most of which is duplicated later in the rules. I feel the bulk of these could be saved for later.
2) The narrative sequence of play is supposed to describe briefly (about a paragraph) what goes on in each phase (and sometimes important subphases), such as what happens or what actions players are allowed to do. This is the "big picture" you mention. TTLM has exploded these to the point that they contain important rules. I don't feel the forest is lost for the trees, but I don't know why the, say, 1.5 pages of 2.0 II 4 Combat aren't further back in the rulebook. Instead 8.0 Combat is less than a column. Having rules in multiple locations makes it hard to use as a reference.

This is one of the perennial problems in writing rulebooks: ideally, they should make it easy to learn the game and to find an answer you need when you're in the middle of the game. The problem is the latter prefers everything about a topic in location while the former prefers starting with an overview and then filling in the details later.

Quote:
- I realize this is P&P and I think I've seen Tim Taylor say he's not a graphic designer. But while I'm wishing I think the manual could stand some graphic design/sexiness improvements. For instance, having pictures of the game components in the sections where they are introduced would help me tie the 'theoretical' manual to the 'reality' of the game pieces. I notice that the Player Aids do have something like this so I guess I'm suggesting the manual be revamped to be more like that. It would also be nice if the manual explicitly mentioned the Play Aids in the appropriate section (i.e. during Sequence of Play mention that there is a Player Aid summarizing this information). Similarly some tasteful and moderate use of color to help delineate sections might be nice.

The easy one is color: Most wargame companies print their rulebooks in black and white to save on costs. I've mainly seen color in (electronic) living rulebooks to help players identify what has changed (see GMT living rules). When I've playtested, the developer would do the same so we can quickly get up to speed with the proposed changes, but the tacit understanding is that printed rulebooks are in black and white. To delineate sections, wargame companies traditionally use font, size, and whitespace, even the P&P ones (I think every P&P wishes to be published one day).

As for the use of images and diagrams, usually this occurs in 2 places: 1) component descriptions, and 2) examples. For components, luckily TTLM has fairly simple components. They aren't the level of OCS, where color of the number, the color of the background it's written on, the color of the unit symbol, the presence of absence of various symbols and numbers, and formation stripe all have important game functions. Heck TTLM doesn't even have numbers, besides army designation. I agree a reference to the player aid would help, though.


As for examples...

Quote:
- One of the things that really helped me understand Twilight Struggle was the detailed example of a full turn of play. It really helped me see how all the rules worked together. I think something like that would also benefit TTLM. I would put it at the end but mention it in the first page (so that people know that it is there and can skip ahead to it).

I fully and completely agree.

Quote:
- I know very little about the details of WW1. The cards (and some of the alternate rules) mention events but don't give an explanation of the historical basis for them. It is totally unrelated to actual game play but having those explanations might help make the game more appealing to non-hardcore WW1 gamers. Again, I'm looking to Twilight Struggle as an example here (you can download their rules online and see what I mean) which has explanations of the historical roots of all the cards. What is the significance of "German Military Crisis!", for instance?

Twilight Struggle 2nd edition rules. 9 pages of rules, 6 pages of extended example of play, 10 pages of card notes (though TS has many more unique cards).
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justus Pendleton
Australia
Sydney
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
fusag wrote:
I've seen game companies go both ways on this. The problem is, whichever you talk about first, the reader doesn't have the benefit of knowing the other.


Absolutely. Ideally I'd like to see something like a single page showing an outline of the order of play and the components to give you a bird's eye view. I think part of my problem with TTLM's Game Components is that it goes into so much detail about them before showing me the order of play.

fusag wrote:

In the two game companies I'm most familiar with (The Gamers, whose titles are among the top BGG rated wargames, and GMT, whose titles consistently win CSR awards), they usually opt for describing the components before a narrative sequence of play followed by more rules expanding on them.


I did notice that in a few other wargame manuals I've skimmed. Maybe it is because I am not a wargamer but that presentation style seems confusing to me. But remember I'm coming from a more Eurogamer point of view. Those manuals generally show the board and game components first but it is a single page, generally a photo.

fusag wrote:

The easy one is color: Most wargame companies print their rulebooks in black and white to save on costs.


Yep, and I almost mentioned it in my original post . When you're trying to save on printing costs no-colour makes perfect sense. But I'm greedy and unreasonable and I want colour in my free-to-download games . (I think part of the problem here is that the designers have done such a great job with the rest of the components that it raises my expectations on for the manual!)

FWIW, I also notice that Field Commander: Alexander has a full colour manual that feels (to me) more like a Eurogame manual than a traditional wargame manual. I like it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
flag msg tools
Boston Redsox
badge
New England Patriots!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Criticisms from a non wargamer who has never played the game are quite amusing. As a wargamer ( over 40 years) I think your rule book is fine. Trying to make it more euro would be a real turnoff! shake
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Taylor
United States
under surveillance
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A full turn example of play is a great idea!

I think the second battle of Ypres in Spring 1915 would make a good example. Once again, I'll be referencing the McEntee text...

I'll ask Christophe nicely if he might be able to collaborate with me on this request of yours.

cheers,

TT
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Swan
Australia
Randwick
NSW
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
billyboy wrote:
Criticisms from a non wargamer who has never played the game are quite amusing. As a wargamer (over 40 years) I think your rule book is fine. Trying to make it more euro would be a real turnoff!

If I were a designer, I think I would value criticisms from a "naive" observer just as highly as those from an experienced grognard like yourself. While the latter type of reader can speak to advanced things like play imbalances and replayability, the former is perfectly placed to comment on things like accessibility (e.g. how easy the rules are to understand). For a game intended to be simple to learn and easy to play, this is a pretty important success criterion.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
flag msg tools
Boston Redsox
badge
New England Patriots!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
game_boy wrote:
billyboy wrote:
Criticisms from a non wargamer who has never played the game are quite amusing. As a wargamer (over 40 years) I think your rule book is fine. Trying to make it more euro would be a real turnoff!

If I were a designer, I think I would value criticisms from a "naive" observer just as highly as those from an experienced grognard like yourself. While the latter type of reader can speak to advanced things like play imbalances and replayability, the former is perfectly placed to comment on things like accessibility (e.g. how easy the rules are to understand). For a game intended to be simple to learn and easy to play, this is a pretty important success criterion.



Thats like saying " I have never drank coke before, I drink pepsi. I think you should make coke taste like pepsi!" shake
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Fung
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
billyboy wrote:
Criticisms from a non wargamer who has never played the game are quite amusing. As a wargamer ( over 40 years) I think your rule book is fine. Trying to make it more euro would be a real turnoff! shake

When I started wargaming, a lot of people I spoke to in forums were bemoaning the lack of new blood, how new gamers turned to computers or CCGs, that the average age of people who called themselves wargamers was slowly increasing, and that wargames were increasingly becoming a niche market with no hope of expansion. In short, they feared wargaming had stagnated, and would eventually wither and die. Things have changed since then, of course, and many people consider the present a new golden age of wargaming. But when it ends, the industry may fall back on hard times. I have a hard enough time getting people to play euros; I'll redouble my efforts to welcome new wargamers.

What I hear from Justus is a person who wants to play TTLM but it isn't quite accessible as he'd like. There may be more like him. This is rather important for a game like TTLM. 1) As a new game, every new player is a significant increase in fanbase; 2) as it has a small fanbase, there are few people who can teach the game in person, so most will learn by reading the rules for themselves; and 3) the game is on the lower end of the complexity chain and probably isn't targetted at, say, monster wargamers with several dozen rulebooks memorized.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christophe Sancy
Belgium
Zaventem
B
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmb
Herr Niemand wrote:
A full turn example of play is a great idea!
(... ) I'll ask Christophe nicely if he might be able to collaborate with me on this request of yours.
TT


Excellent idea. I'll be happy to help Tim providing you soon such an illustrated sequence of play.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Taylor
United States
under surveillance
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb



http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/46114
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.