The agonies and joys of play-testing

By Mike Crane

Okay, I admit it. There is much to be said for writing your own rules and making up your own games. But, there are a lot of agonies involved in play-testing those rules. First, every set of rules, no matter how perfect it may seem, will have to be amended as the result of play-testing. Second, the game may prove to be too bland or too bloody. No matter how good the rules may have seemed, they are useless when the game is useless. Third, you feel really disappointed whenever a game doesn’t pass the play-testing test. You feel as if you wasted a lot of time and energy.

Now consider the good things about play-testing. First, play-testing can bring a sense of euphoria when the game goes right. Sure, some amendments will need to be made to the rules, but the game is good and you know it. Second, only about one in ten or twenty games will be good enough to replay and share. The silver lining for play-testing all of the failed games lies in the fact that you did research on that particular era. That has to be good — in fact, research is one of the most enjoyable aspects of wargaming. Third, when you play-test often, you actually play a lot of games in a lot of different eras. These games may not be as good as you had hoped, but you did get to play games and, over time, that means a lot. Fourth, remember that your next set of rules probably will be better.

About mike crane

I am a retired high school teacher living in Texarkana, Arkansas, USA. Although I enjoy wargaming in all periods, my favorite eras are WWII, Colonial, ACW, and Napoleonic. I enjoy making rules that are simple, fast, and fun.
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4 Responses to The agonies and joys of play-testing

  1. dexey says:

    Do you share your rules?
    I am looking for simple late colonial with machine guns.
    Pretty please? :0)

  2. Mike Crane says:

    Derek, thank you for writing. It is always a pleasure to welcome someone into the solo wargaming hobby and I would be happy to be of any help that I can.
    First, let me say that I have not wargamed the North West Frontier (NWF) during the time period that you are interested in (during the 1930s) and therefore I do not have any scenarios to share. I will mail you some old colonial rules, however, and perhaps you can change them to fit your needs.
    Second, the father of Rob Morgan, one of the principle contributors to the Lone Warrior magazine and blog, served in the NWF between the world wars and Rob would be an excellent person to ask questions about that era.
    Third, you will find scenarios as you do research and read books about your subject. In Lone Warrior magazine Kevin White wrote three articles about a NWF campaign in a fictional province called “Dhunda.” It is set in an earlier time but the problems are probably similar to the ones in the time you are interested in gaming. These articles appeared in issues 178, 179, and 180. You can find scenarios there. George Arnold also has excellent articles with ideas about colonial campaigning in 178 and 180. You probably will want to buy back issues of these three volumes in a hard copy form or PDF format.
    Again, welcome to solo wargaming!

  3. dexey says:

    Hi Mike

    Thank you for the emails – pics and docs – I will start looking through in a few minutes after I have printed off the Kevin White articles in LW’s 178, 179 & 180.
    I seem to have all the pdf’s from 109 excepting 116 but never thought to look there. Mind you the obscure titling of some articles can make finding a specific item of interest very hit and miss. It would take a man, or woman, of infinite patience to create an overall index based on subject, period, etc..

    I have emailed you separately and will do so again when I have looked at the docs.

    Regards, and thanks for the help .. Derek

  4. Mike Crane says:

    I need to make a correction. George Arnold’s second article on colonial campaigns appears in issue 179 instead of 180.

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