Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm old, but I don't want to wear glasses to read those rules!

Recently I was looking for a good five player game to play in our local gaming group. Since I prefer Wargames over Euro style games I am really tired of St. Petersberg, which I don't enjoy at all. So, I pulled out a copy of Avalon Hill's "Wizard's Quest" which I view as sort of a cross between a Euro and a wargame. Since it had been a very long time since I have played this classic (except a computer version I downloaded from somewhere) I felt it was probably wise fro me to look over the rules.

The rules for the game aren't really complex. However, I decided to create a quick start summary of the rules for my friends who had not played before. As I went through the rules I discovered some very interesting factors. I discovered two problems with the rules as I viewed them.

The first problem was the miniature type face on the printed page. I mean, I'm fifty-two years old, and the font used was proabably the correct size for the adventurers in Isaac Asimov's classic novel "Fantastic Voyage." I pulled out several other Avalon Hill titles from this period and discovered that indeed, almost all of the typeface used for these games were teensy-weensy.

As I proceeded with my project I found the reason for such a small typeface. The author(s) of the rules had written everything in such a wordy format that they took twenty-five words to say what could be communicated in ten or twelve. My 12 point font quickstart came in at 3.5 pages with minimal margins (top and bottom) and I feel that I communicated everything that was in the rules fairly thoroughly. In fact, when our group gets together I am certain that the rules summary I wrote will be pretty much all that is necessary to play the game.

Over the years, I have been daunted by rules for other Avalon Hill games. I never understood "Up Front" at all. I finally sold my copies of the game as unplayable, though I know that many players manage to play and derive great pleasure. I've got a copy of "Mosby's Raiders" that proved to be an exercise in frustration the one time I set the game up and tried to comprehend it. However, viewing the rules for "Arika Korps" was hardly daunting at all (except for the small print used).

I understand that writing rules is a complex operation. However, using more words is not necessarily better. At least the rules for "Wizard's Quest" were well organized and proceeded properly from phase to phase of the game. They were not confusing at all.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to pull out a few more of these beloved titles and see if I have avoided them because of small print or incomprehensible rules.

Now if I can just get the other guys in my group interested in a game that features FRENZYING ORCS!