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.