If time allowed I would love to play all the wars covered in my favourite periods but a young family and work has meant I now have to focus my wargaming attention. So for the last couple of years I have concentrated on the Napoleonic period and have played a bit of WW2, something I think we'll be doing a it more of in the future.
I play occasionally at the local wargames club but more usually I play either at my place or a friends house. I have 3 friends I play with on a regular basis but know a lot more people who occasionally join us for games. I think I'm quite lucky in that I usually get to have at least one game a week, often two.
As for rules, I've played a very large number. I was a bit of a rules junky, often buying a set just to check out their mechanics. In this day and age rule sets have become a lot more polished, usually full of great eye candy and production values are very high. Inevitably this means the cost of new rule sets has rocketed and so it's pretty hard to justify the purchase of a set just in case they have a good mechanic. That said, I still buy many of the bigger rule sets and the advent of PDF purchasing means I still buy rules on impulse.
This rules obsession proved to be a real headache for my gaming friends as just as they started to get the hang of a rule system I'd want to try something else. After sometime I realised we had to settle on a rule set and stick with it. As a result I went for Black Powder. That's because it pretty much covered the whole period I loved and we played it a lot. The trouble is I started to find all the games a bit samey despite using a variety of house rules and various amendments for each period. We started playing a lot of Napoleonics as my collection of 15mm Nap's grew and once again I decided to try something else. Lasalle had just been released and I am a big fan of Sam Mustafas rules (I love Might and Reason and Maurice). After a number of games I felt I'd found the right rule set and I probably would have settled for them if I hadn't of stumbled across just one more rule set, Napoleon at War
( http://www.manatwar.es ). I thought we may as well give them a go before making a final decision and after a couple of games I was totally hooked on this ruleset. My fellow gamers took a little convincing at first but now everyone is into it.
In my view a wargamer requires a balance of two key aspects, the first is simulation of the period, how well the rules represent a battle. The second is the game, how good a competitive game it is. Wargamers often want more of one aspect than the other. Many like hardcore simulations whilst other want to push their figures around and just have a good game. Just how much is the right amount of simulation v game differs from gamer to gamer and therefore rule set to rule set.
The other key thing for me was time. Our game time is mostly restricted to gaming sessions of three to four hours. That means with set up and clear up time a game has to be pretty fast play if we want to complete it. Many rule sets I tried were excellent with the right simulation/ game balance but just took too long to play. General de Brigade is a great example of an excellent rule system I simply don't have time to play.
That's why Napoleon at War has become my rule set of choice for Divisional size Napoleonic games. It's a pick up and play system based on army lists and set scenarios. But the real thing is that for me it has the right balance between simulation and game for the game time allowed. The rules feel very Napoleonic and fit nicely with how my imagination, after much reading, sees a Napoleonic battle. Yet the mechanics are simple and quick delivering a fast game. For pick up games you can dice for a scenario, roll for terrain and away you go. It's certainly not for every one but it's a real winner for me.
I'm still on the look out for a good Grand tactical Napoleonic game. I have many rule sets but haven't had time to really try them out as most of my time has been trying to master Napoleon at War. I think soon I'm going to pay a lot more attention to Grand tactical games. Like many I'm eagerly waiting for Sam Mustafas "Blucher" to ride in!
The other game I'm beginning to play more of is Flames of War. I know it divides the community but as a pick up and play system it delivers a great game. WW2 has never been my main interest and as such I don't do any background reading hence I'm willing to not let some aspects of the system get to me. My friends are much more heavily into WW2 than I am and so that's why I play. We also like "I ain't been shot mum", "battle group Kursk", and are just starting to play "Chain of Command."
Well I've waffled on far too long. Hopefully from here on in the posts will be full of AARs, photos and more exciting stuff than this post ;-)