A prime example I played a game of Dux Britanarrium last week at the Hartlepool Club. It was our first try out, and at the end I thought it went OK - but just OK. The truth was we had missed large bits of rules we skimmed over in our enthusiasm, and as a result both our enjoyment and enthusiasm suffered - what should have been a good gaming session was just OK.
That got me musing, because it is not the first time it has happened. So I decided to have another game, this time just to try out the mechanisms, and whenever there was any doubt to read the rules carefully.
So I set up a game between Dave & John with me manning the rule book - a full battle rather than a raid so we could concentrate on the rules rather than rushing around in the chaos and tempo that raiding scenarios involve, and we got stuck in. Actually before that I READ THE RULES again just to refresh my memory, and read the rules as things happened to make sure we were getting it right.
It took a while, but we learned rather a lot. One thing I learned was just how good and well thought through Dux actually is, Our skimming and fumbling had meant we had missed some of the more subtle bits in there, and at the end we also had much better understanding and dare I say it, fun. Last night wasn't an OK gaming session, it was a good gaming session. I'm sure the others felt it too.
Moral of the story RTFM!
One last rambling thought. For the last few years I had heard of the Two Fat Lardies rules but had never really tried them. They were for me pigeon holed in the same niche as some Peter Pig rules - nice mechanisms but too light hearted and tongue in cheek to be thought of as "serious" sets of rules - the Carry on Wargaming style of naming, and indeed the whole company name and pie and pint logo thing helped reinforce that. I was (and am) a fan of some of the older PeterPig rules but the layout, presentation and general impressions were always of an amateur production - one man and his photocopier (which to be fair is pretty much what they were at the time). I had subconsciously expected the same from TFL. The other side of the coin was the WRG style written in almost legalistic precision (Barkerese). Like them or loath them you had to take them seriously and read them carefully.
Taking the plunge with Chain of Command educated me otherwise. I think it also showed a step up in ambition for the TFLs. Here they had a product that was in their view (and mine as it happened) superior to the market leader (Bolt Action) in almost every way, but it still lagged behind BA in popularity. I don't want to get into the whole "why" one rules set is better than the other, or what drives popularity, but having looked at both, Chain should have beaten BA hands down in my opinion, and it didn't.
Like Chain, Dux is a well put together and very nuanced set of rules (at least as far as I can say that after 3-4 games), and the resulting game is interesting and enjoyable. It deserves a bit more respect, to be treated more seriously, but I think my initial expectations that the TFL "brand" is a little frivolous had coloured my view. I wonder if the happy go lucky branding that TFL have used in the past is now starting to bite them back a little? I hope not, because if Dux and Chain are any indication, TFL are producing some of the most interesting, thought provoking and, yes fun, rules I have seen in quite a while, with production quality to match. Long may they continue