Wargaming for Grown-Ups Publications publish a range of rules for niche subjects, all featuring unique mechanisms. Rules are usually period, if not campaign, specific, and are designed to reflect what is different about each subject. The rules and their development are usually discussed on the Blog of the same name. In summary, the aim is to produce original, easy to understand rules, with new mechanisms and concepts in an affordable format.
The rule books are written in clear English, using a readable font and layout. The rules include appropriate diagrams and examples, rather than being overwhelmed by toy soldier eye-candy. Where possible, as in the case of all publications so far, the back cover of the rules will be a Quick Reference Sheet. Queries and questions on the rules can be posted as a blog comment, or to the email address in the rules.
Spartans and Successors
"Spartans and Successors" was written to be a quick play, easy to learn set of ancient rules, that could be played with small numbers of figures in a small playing area. Typically games involve 12 bases a side, and are played on a 10 x 7 squared grid. In order to break away from the "Roll a 1 bad - Roll a6 good" paradigm that dominates this type of simple game, the rules use a standard set of playing cards for each player, and no dice. These decks are played through a maximum of twice, to ensure that a game finishes within an acceptable time frame. The cards also ensure that over the game luck will even out.
Compared to other games of a similar size, or rule systems that utilise cards, "Spartans and Successors" provides a completely unique playing experience. Play incorporates elements of resource management and bluff, as well the correct application of tactics. Each turn has a high level of decision making, with players presented with real choices each turn. You can't just roll a dice and hope for the best.
The rule book includes 12 historical scenarios from the Golden Age of Greece and Macedon, and has a QRS on the back cover.
For Whom The Dice Rolls
The so-called "testing ground for WW2", the Spanish Civil War deserves interest in its own right. More famous for the non-Spaniards who fought, from the International Brigade volunteers, who went to fight fascism, to the "Condor Legion" supplied by Hitler, and Mussolini's CTV who backed Franco and the Generals' coup, the Spanish Civil War was a life and death struggle for the ordinary Spaniard which still casts its long shadow today.
"For Whom The Dice Rolls" is a set of rules for Brigade/Divisional level actions on a regular wargames table, from 6' x 4' upwards. Designed mainly for 15mm figures (using figure base sizes from other popular "modern" rule sets), they are adaptable to other scales. They were written specifically for the SCW, and were not developed as an add on or modification to existing WW1 or WW2 systems, with the intention of capturing the unique problems faced by beach side whilst highlighting the tactical development that took place during the conflict.
A unique command system, using conventional playing cards, forces players to make critical choices every turn. Is now the time for dynamic action or caution? Will it be possible to form a co-ordinated all-arms attack, or will command and control breakdown at the last minute. The combat systems are quick and easy to apply, and enable the full range of outcomes, from a complete breakthrough to the bickering fire fight, or the victorious bayonet charge to the bloody repulse. Armour may be a battle winning weapon, but without its infantry support it is vulnerable to any infantry group with grenades or petrol bombs.
Rules include full explanations and examples, typical orbats, a bibliography, background information of the armies and their weapons and a health dollop of eye candy. They are also supported by a free downloadable resources pack.
Mid-19th century China say a series of risings that rocked the Qing dynasty and fatally weakened it. The largest and most dangerous rising was the "Kingdom of Heavenly Peace" or the Taiping, which came within an ace of toppling the regime. Barely known in the West, which has a greater interest in the two "Opium Wars", and the exploits of Chinese Gordon, the Taiping rebellion is the largest and most bloody civil war ever waged in human history. These rules enable you to play games covering the period from the 1st Opium War in the late 1830s/early 1840s through to the eventual collapse of the Taiping Kingdom. The rules are aimed at large scale battles, with a couple of Divisional equivalents aside at least, and not small skirmishes.
The rules use a unique mechanism that tracks a unit's will to fight, or "Morale Vigour". Troops types are differentiated by this, and also the method of drill they use and the type of weapons they are armed with in a simple, clear fashion. Games are resolved in an evening, with a clear outcome. Commanders of the period appear as real characters in the game, not simple "+1 to the dice roll" ciphers. As with other Wargaming for Grown Ups rules to date, these make use of a squared grid to speed up movement and combat.
The 100 page booklet include historical background and information of the organisation and use of the the troop types prevalent at the time. There's a bibliography for recommended further reading, and appendices with other useful information, such as unit flags for Western forces.
For the sceptical amongst you, there's also advice on where to find figures for the period in both 15mm and 28mm.
And you thought the Chile rules were a bit obscure.
A free download of extra command cards is available on the main blog, or from Wargame Vault.
When "Taiping Era" was published it was pointed out to me that the armies the British used in China were diverted on the way to quell the Indian Mutiny. With this being the case, why would "Taiping Era" not be suitable. Well, several reasons, so the challenge was set to produce a supplement allowing for battles during the Great Mutiny. Due to COVID-19 and lockdown playtesting was minimal, but it seems the core mechanisms are robust enough to cover the sub-continent, hence the first "Wargaming for Grown-Ups" supplement. Due to the minimal testing and the possibility they may not function for all battles, the rules have been published at cost.
Dicing With Death
"Dicing with Death" is a set of quick play gladiatorial rules, written by experienced wargamer Derek Henderson. Played on an off set square grid (you can use hexes if you prefer) the game has an original combat system that uses both luck, skill and bluff. Players each have a set of 5 dice, and the innovative combat system uses concealed dice rolls as the players attempt to outscore their opponents using holds and re-rolls based on the gladiator’s skill level. The game covers all the known gladiator types who fought each other from the simple secutor with a shield to gladiators with whips and lassos. Record keeping is simple and kept to a minimum. The rules include a straight forward career progression system for both individual gladiators or training schools. Ideal for a quick game in an evening or a prolonged campaign over several meetings. As with all "Wargaming for Grown Ups" rules they include a comprehensive Quick Reference Sheet on the back cover.
Includes full list of gladiator types and details, player records sheets and proforma arena grids.
It's Getting a Bit Chile
Disappointed by generic rules for the mid to late 19th century "It's Getting a Bit Chile" was written to cover the War of the Pacific 1879-1884, between Chile and an Alliance of Peru & Bolivia. The War is also known as "The 10 Cent War" or "The Saltpetre War" as it was fought over taxation and mining rights in the Atacama Desert. Although not well known in Europe the War had long term effects in South America and its peace treaties were only finally implemented at the end of the 20th century.
The armies of both sides had learned a lot from the Franco Prussian War and were equipped with fairly modern weapons and European style equipment and uniforms. Their attempts to mirror European tactics were met with varying degrees of success as they came to terms with fighting with breech loading rifles and machine guns. The armies were small by the standards of European Wars or the American Civil War, making it a War that is reasonably easy to assemble forces for and refight on a tabletop.
The War is well served by excellent quality, readily available books in English (including an Osprey), and figure ranges in 10mm, 15mm and 28mm. The armies are colourful with an interesting array of uniforms. The Bolivians even had a cuirassier regiment! If you can't wait and want to read more of the background, the Wikipedia pages are very good.
The rules were written to be played on a squared grid, but also contain adaptations to play conventionally with measured distances. The mechanisms are original but simple to learn and make use of a Disorder mechanism rather than figure removal, so all of your figures stay on the table for longer. Because of the use of the grid the rules are suitable for figures in all scales and basing. Infantry regiments, for example, are made up of 4 bases. It is unimportant how many figures are on each base, - you could even represent units with 4 figures and play on a large chess board if you are short of space.
The rules include a short history of the war, a uniform guide, sample orbats, Regimental flags you can scan and use and unique characteristics for many of the well known commanders of the War. There's also a Bibliography and a list of manufacturers with suitable figures from 6mm to 28mm.
A bit obscure, perhaps? Well, it's the perfect opportunity to stand out in a crowd and do something truly different.
To Ur is Human
"To Ur is Human" was written specifically for warfare in the period of the Sumerian City states. Armies consist of spear armed infantry (some armed with shields), light infantry with a variety of missile weapons, medium infantry often with massed archery, and the distinctly interesting equid pulled battle car(t)s. The rules are deliberately priced at less than the cost of a monthly wargaming magazine to tempt people in to have a go at something new.
Given the state of knowledge about a period covering over 1,000 years the rules use generic infantry types that can be applied to any one of the city states, whether Sumer, Ur or Akkad, and the surrounding nations and peoples with whom they fought. Armies in "To Ur is Human" are often slow moving and ponderous on the tabletop, with one or two exceptions, and try to inspire dread in their opponents so that they are in a state of fear before combat occurs.
The rule system uses a square gridded playing area to speed up movement and the calculation of missile ranges. The combat system is simple, using a variable number of d6, depending on unit type, and a variable hit number, depending upon the opponent, together with basic modifiers to the number of dice rolled.
The core of the system is "The Fear Test". This compares two units, generally, and works out which one is the more scared of the other. Unit Fear State moves between "Fight", "Fright" & "Flight" throughout the game, as on rushing battle cars hurtle towards shield bearing phalanxes gambling that they will take Fright and become easy pickings. Clouds of light infantry circle round each other like flies, - as the Sumerians called them - waiting for the moment to pounce. Massed archers release clouds of arrows, hoping to deter their opponents from closing. Even with slow moving units there is a wide range of tactical decision making embedded in the system, and careful planning and execution is often rewarded, right up to the point when your elite battle cars decide not to charge...
The rules are suitable for any scale of figures, as long as you can get four bases worth into a square.
What have people said about "To Ur is Human"?
"an excellent example of a good book of wargame rules, and felt that I could have run a game straight after reading the rules. There were no gratuitous illustrations. Those that were included served a definite purpose, and helped to explain the rules."
" the rules themselves are simple, straightforward and quick to learn. They give a good, reasonably quick game...with two more solo games under my belt, I'm confirmed in my belief that this gives a very playable game"
There's a thorough review here: link, which also has thoughts about other periods the rules could be used for.
Wargaming for Grown-Ups Publications has a stock of paperback rules for direct sale. Prices are:
To Ur is Human £5.00It's Getting a Bit Chile £14.99
Dicing with Death £8.99
Taiping Era £14.99
Indian Mutine-era £5.00
For Whom The Dice Rolls £14.99
Full set: £57.50.
Sales within the UK are postage free, subject to a minimum order of £10. Postage will be 2nd class standard. If you want your order to be signed for at your end there'll be a £2 surcharge.
Overseas sales are subject to a minimum £5 p&p charge, subject to location, but contact me for an exact quote.
Payment will be by my "PayPal.Me" link, in £ Sterling (GBP) or by bank transfer. Email me at email@example.com if you are interested. Orders will be sent out next working day at the latest, assuming the rules are in stock, or a couple of weeks if I have to order some in. I can autograph copies if that's the sort of thing you like.
It will most likely be "Va T'en Guerre" & "Va T'en Ecosse": Two sets of rules using similar core mechanisms. The former are for the Wars of Spanish Succession, and the latter for the Jacobite Risings of the 18th Century. These rules do not use squares or hexes, but are played conventionally, using measured distances. Both sets of rules are written specifically to capture the tactics of the time. Battalions that hold their fire will gain benefits over those that blaze away at a distance; cavalry that can retire and reform behind solid lines of infantry will be able to recover and charge again. For the Jacobite rules a form of the "To Ur is Human" Fear Test determines if the Redcoats are intimidated by the on-rushing Highlanders.
Expected publication date: late 2021/early 2022
After these rules are published I will revisit my rules for the Russian Civil War, if I don't get distracted by other projects. There's a set of English Civil War Rules to be written sometime, and I really need to have another look a the Wars of the Roses. And I have a number of shorter games that are more board game than wargame to deal with too.