Wargames and quintessence

Note: I already have errata, based on comments.  See the text in red for changes.

“Early Morning Writer”.. whoever that is.. on the Miniatures Page posted an interesting challenge recently.  I was intrigued:

Here is the challenge: to write an ultra simple set of rules in the shortest amount of time possible. And here are the rules – no more than six sentences are permitted and they must be relatively short and simple sentences. Eight hundred word sentences disqualifies you, etc. That’s it, those are the rules, that is the challenge. There is no period or any other restriction But you must write something you believe could actually be played without you being there to interpret the rules for those playing.

The goal? Well, first the inspiration. One of the most enjoyable games I ever played we used rules I concocted in about five minutes that barely used one side of a 3×5 index card (in largish print). Think I still have that card. And the collective goal is for all of us to get some sense of what is the most common point of reference for rules, assuming there is such a thing (obviously I’m assuming there is). And maybe some fun games and some concepts we’ve never though of but someone else has.

For those whose response is, “It can’t be done.” Disqualified.

No, there is no prize and it is not an officially sanctioned TMP event; its just based here because of the membership numbers.

And let it be fun rather than another excuse for some strange trip down those weird and ultimately meaningless corridors too often traveled. Those of you with an appreciation of this know exactly what I mean.

So, on to it. Your best effort at a set of rules in six simple and relatively short sentences. Be quick about it, too much thought will spoil your efforts.


This is harder than it looks.  It may be that the brain (at least my brain) immediately feels the need to complicate things.  Certainly that’s the case with my submission, below. As I’ve grown boat-brained as I have gotten older, a galley game sprang to mind as an easy candidate. It’s not the most complete design, I would have liked to touch on boarding combat, siege weapons, multi-ship combat, fatigue, and flesh out the Ramming rules a little. There’s only so much you can do with 6 sentences.

The Wooden Walls

1) Ships can be 1 hex sized Liburnians (5 hits/5 crew/Ram of 5/no archers/Maneuver 3/speed 5)
1.5 hex sized Triremes (7 hits/7 crew/Ram of 7/2 archers/Maneuver 2/speed 4) or 2 hex sized Quadremes (10 hits/10 crew/Ram of 8/4 archers/Maneuver 1/speed 3)

2) Ships move on a hex map that regulates distance & turning: 3 hexsides turning & 5 distance for a Lib, 2 hexsides turning & 4 distance for a Tri and 1 hexside turning & 3 distance for a Quad.

3) Ships Move/Ram, then Resolve Combat by side (dicing for initiative each turn)– in no specific order.

4) Ships RAM at end of movement (if touching another ship) by rolling # of dice equivalent to Ram Factor, looking for 6s– each 6 is damage point deducted from the target ship’s “hits” total– until it hits zero and sinks.

5) If a Target ship has not yet moved this turn, it may react to a ram attempt by trying to maneuver left or right, pivoting on either end of the ship, up to their maneuver factor, to avoid ram

6) Ships with Archers may attempt archery by rolling a D6 per archer against enemy crews (only), looking for 6s (at 2 hexes distance) or 5, 6 (at 1 hex distance) to eliminate enemy crew.

So herein is contained a first stab at some galley rules from the top of my head.  Sentence 1 defines the variables.  Sentence 2 describes the physical environment and abstract scale.  Sentence 3 attempts to resolve conflict  Sentence 4 expounds on combat a little more.  Sentence 5 gives the ships some form of defense, and Sentence 6 is a little chrome to add some fun.  It’s hard to get at the essential game element here– I see the point of the contest, to be sure.  How do you define the central game narrative in six sentences?  Does every game have some form of “Platonic Form” that can’t be reduced– a quintessence?  Hard to say, I’m sure I’m not there with with game above.  I could have added tons of stuff to it.

Yeah, I admit, I cheated a little. A few of those are some seriously run-on sentences!