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Subject: Favorite Rules Paradigms rss

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Enrico Viglino
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So, I'm working my way through GMT's Halls of Montezuma,
which has the incredibly clever device of putting some
rules only on player aids/within the sequence of play,
and it reminded me of an old AH practice which was even
more effective towards obfuscation - hiding rules in
Q&A pages at the back of the rulesbook. One terribly
notorious example was in Struggle of Nations - but I'd
seen it in other cases - kind of offhand questions about
things that weren't covered at all, with the entire rule
present in this format.

Wondering if others could share their favorite means
of delivering rules too.
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Lucius Cornelius
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I want my rules dead!
Too lazy to track down "living" rules
and kill them over and over! yuk
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Hunga Dunga
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sullafelix wrote:
I want my rules dead!
Too lazy to track down "living" rules
and kill them over and over! yuk


"Living Rules" = "I'm not interested in designing this game anymore."
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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Triumph of Chaos has an entire rules section in the playbook, so you have to jump back and forth, and there are a lot of chrome rules that aren't in the sequence of play (such as moving the gold train).

Edit: ToC is a great game, it's just not an easy one.
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Enrico Viglino
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leroy43 wrote:
Triumph of Chaos has an entire rules section in the playbook, so you have to jump back and forth, and there are a lot of chrome rules that aren't in the sequence of play (such as moving the gold train).

Edit: ToC is a great game, it's just not an easy one.


Sadly, this seems to be the case with a lot of
CDGs. Maybe other modern games too.

I'm not seeing the pure dysfunction that SPI every
now and then managed, but it's really as though things
just aren't getting blind-tested the way they once were.
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Lucius Cornelius
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usrlocal wrote:
Either that or take a couple good Technical Writing classes.
And let them eat cake. whistle

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Rusty McFisticuffs
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calandale wrote:
Wondering if others could share their favorite means
of delivering rules too.

Mine is when the rules for a game are split into two books, so that when you stop the game to check something, you pick up one rulebook and find that what you need is in the other rulebook, so you put down the first and flip through the second, only to find out that what you need was back in the first rulebook.

What's especially classy is when one of those two books is called the "series" rulebook, but no two games in the series comes with the same series rulebook. Only slightly less cool is when the entire series is a single game.
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Bartow Riggs
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calandale wrote:
leroy43 wrote:
Triumph of Chaos has an entire rules section in the playbook, so you have to jump back and forth, and there are a lot of chrome rules that aren't in the sequence of play (such as moving the gold train).

Edit: ToC is a great game, it's just not an easy one.


Sadly, this seems to be the case with a lot of
CDGs. Maybe other modern games too.

I'm not seeing the pure dysfunction that SPI every
now and then managed, but it's really as though things
just aren't getting blind-tested the way they once were.


I think this is true. There are exceptions. I don't like all of Chad Jensen's games, for example, but they are pretty throughly vetted. I've seen it myself over the years.

Others, not so much. There are exceptions of course but I agree with you that blind playtesting is not on publishers "to do" list, in general.
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Reinhard Mueller
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usrlocal wrote:
Although I haven't written a wargame ruleset, I have written a lot of computer code in C and Python. I have a feeling that there are a lot of parallels between writing good code and writing good rules: implementation of algorithms, definition of variables, etc. Getting the logical flow right.

And boolean logic! There are a lot of ambiguities in rules due to wrong use of "and" and "or".
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Joe Thompson
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usrlocal wrote:
Although I haven't written a wargame ruleset, I have written a lot of computer code in C and Python. I have a feeling that there are a lot of parallels between writing good code and writing good rules: implementation of algorithms, definition of variables, etc. Getting the logical flow right. I bet that people who write such rules would benefit from learning how to code well in a computer language like C.


They should follow the software engineering practise of planning to throw away at least one version. The idea being the first version teaches how to write it properly.
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Edward Kendrick
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ShallowThought wrote:

They should follow the software engineering practice of planning to throw away at least one version. The idea being the first version teaches how to write it properly.


Provided they don't then follow the practice of releasing the version they meant to throw away ...
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Jon Gautier

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usrlocal wrote:
Although I haven't written a wargame ruleset, I have written a lot of computer code in C and Python . . . I bet that people who write such rules would benefit from learning how to code well in a computer language like C.


I think maybe you should try writing a ruleset before deciding.

My rules mea culpa is from Devil's Cauldron, where I put a key rule or two in the definitional section, but not in the body of the rules. Bad idea and I won't do that again.
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Count Ringworm
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Barbarossa wrote:
ShallowThought wrote:

They should follow the software engineering practice of planning to throw away at least one version. The idea being the first version teaches how to write it properly.


Provided they don't then follow the practice of releasing the version they meant to throw away ...


Or the microsoft practice of releasing OS versions alternating between very good and complete crap.
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Jon Gautier

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Drop me a geek mail when you retire or feel you have the time. I can get you plenty of work.
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Carl Marl
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Everything should be in one place - the rulebook. If there are rules on cards or other player aids, they should be there as a quick reference tool. They also should have been proof read, not full of typos and bad spelling.

I am reminded of the old SPI practice of rushing rules into print with up to a full page of errata included with the game. Sometimes it got so confusing, I had to mark up the rule book to include where rules were corrected by the errata.
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Jon
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When I read the OP what first popped into my head was Columbia Games.

I like their rules in general. I even quite like the anecdote-like margin notes and paragraphs. However, sometimes I caught a rule or two in the margin. At the time a found myself thinking that perhaps it deserved to be moved from the margin and into the rules proper. I wish I had an example, but alas I am too lazy and football is fast approaching on my TV.

Nit picking I am. I guess it is a judgement call as to what gets into the body and what gets onto the margin. Overall they are pretty good rules in my opinion. Easy to read anyhow and that is increasingly important to me.

Speaking of which, one quick shout out to the rules from Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. Easy to read and I have yet to come across a question that was not answered clearly.
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Jon
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calandale wrote:
leroy43 wrote:
Triumph of Chaos has an entire rules section in the playbook, so you have to jump back and forth, and there are a lot of chrome rules that aren't in the sequence of play (such as moving the gold train).

Edit: ToC is a great game, it's just not an easy one.


Sadly, this seems to be the case with a lot of
CDGs...


I have not noticed that myself Enrico. Except in the case of ToC and Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975. Not that I am disputing your claim, but rather alarmed at my lack of attention .... LOL!
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Pelle Nilsson
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usrlocal wrote:
Although I haven't written a wargame ruleset, I have written a lot of computer code in C and Python. I have a feeling that there are a lot of parallels between writing good code and writing good rules: implementation of algorithms, definition of variables, etc. Getting the logical flow right. I bet that people who write such rules would benefit from learning how to code well in a computer language like C.


Im afraid in my experience it is not of much use. It helps in other ways (like knowing how to use version control, markup languages, scripts...), and sometimes in figuring out rules, but not much for typing clear rules.
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Pelle Nilsson
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Ringworm wrote:

Or the microsoft practice of releasing OS versions alternating between very good and complete crap.


Microsoft at least had a very inspiring naming convention for their operating systems that could be used to make it easier to remember versions of series rulebooks.

"So this game is compatible with rulebooks starting from version Me to version Vista. I have rulebooks 2008 Server and XP. Hm."
 
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Pelle Nilsson
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fambans wrote:
Everything should be in one place - the rulebook. If there are rules on cards or other player aids, they should be there as a quick reference tool. They also should have been proof read, not full of typos and bad spelling.


Yes and no. All rules should be in the rulebook. But if you can make an effect by not having to spell it out in a rule, like just setting unit values to cause the intended effect, I very much prefer that.

Or if you can implement something as a simple table printed on the map, and minimize the rule to explaining how to use the table, that is better than two long paragraphs of rules explaining how to roll 2 dice and implement 4 different kinds of effects depending on how the values compare ("but if the colored die is lower than half the other die, and the sum is less than 4, or the total plus the morale of the affected unit exceeds 13, then...").
 
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Pelle Nilsson
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etagimbo wrote:
usrlocal wrote:
Although I haven't written a wargame ruleset, I have written a lot of computer code in C and Python. I have a feeling that there are a lot of parallels between writing good code and writing good rules: implementation of algorithms, definition of variables, etc. Getting the logical flow right.

And boolean logic! There are a lot of ambiguities in rules due to wrong use of "and" and "or".


Rulebooks should make more use of predicate logic!

This is actually something I believe programmers can do well. I find I am good at finding logical problems in rulebooks. A reason I have decided to help out proofreading some rulebooks is that I know I can catch lots of contradictions and ambiguities that I prefer to find before a game is released rather than later when I try to play.

Have also been bugging designers about removing repetition ("Don't Repeat Yourself"). Sooner or later some repeated definition will come out of sync and say something subtly different, even if in a particular version of the rulebook there are no such problems (not that I think THAT is common).

So I can do micro-optimizations of the rules, but it doesn't help much in figuring out how to do a good organization of the rulebook.
 
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