Pub Battles. What is it like? Is it really good? Worth the price? Blah, blah, blah. I could talk all day about the system. “Yeah, of course YOU say it’s great. You’re supposed to say that. What do other people say?” It always carries more weight if somebody else says you’re great.
We get feedback emails like this all the time from people. I thought it would help to post some online. This isn’t meant as a formal review. It is hardly even a mini review. The important thing is that it is not from us. I think it does a good job of capturing some key concepts in the game.
There is a fine line between simple enough, and too simple. As far as wargames go, Pub Battles is so simple that many feel the rules are incomplete. And yet to new players it is still intimidating.
Pub Battles is perfect for me. It gives the feel of commanding an army without all the minutia that is actually required to run an army.
I like how it mirrors the look of maps of the battles that we see in history books. The long rectangular blocks. It is as if you just blew up the map from a book and placed your blocks on the starting positions. I had always dreamed of doing that, and then Pub Battles!
I’m also of the opinion that the more detailed the rules, the farther away one gets from an actual simulation.
It’s like this; you have a mental image of a battle that the game is attempting to simulate. All of the rules are essentially an awkward interface with your mental image. Elegant rules are rules that seem intuitive, the kind you don’t have to keep looking up. Every time you have to stop and check the rules you’re breaking the spell. It’s like the film breaking during a movie.
Many of my rules misinterpretation with Pub Battles come from never looking at the rules. For months I played Antietam almost daily, yet I never looked at the rules after day one.
I was doing a couple of things wrong, but it didn’t matter. It worked for me and I had fun. None of the grognards that I played it with ever thought anything was wrong either. They played the rules as I explained them and felt they were good rules.
The biggest adjustment was the non-linear movement. When they would question a block moving out of contact I would just explain that it is simultaneous movement and the enemy wasn’t there when they arrived. If you move second you’ve hoodwinked your opponent. They liked this.