My earlier review of Neil Thomas’s book One Hour Wargames – which praised his scenarios while heavily criticising his stripped-down rules – prompted a spirited defence of those rules by several readers. It’s nice to have generated some discussion, so rather than circle the wagons I thought I’d just flag up these alternative views, as follows…
The Neil Thomas books are basically what they say they are, namely introductions into the hobby with very simple rules that are easy to learn and will play to a definite conclusion in an evening.
That said, they also provide a good starting point for anyone considering writing their own rules, because in my experience it’s much easier to add your own ideas to a basic set of rules, than start with a complex (and generally expensive) set of rules and strip out what doesn’t suit your ideas for the period.
Paul has it in one.. for me their main benefit is that they provide a framework for you to hang as many of your own ideas on as you want.. out of the box I would say that they will not satisfy any war-game grognard, but tinkered with and added to (which is part of the fun), they are a delight.
Thanks for posting this. OHW is the book which has motivated me to play more games in the past two years than in the previous five combined. I agree that scenarios are the strongest part of the book and very good value in themselves : I have adapted some to play on much more complex rulesets.
However the rules should not be dismissed too easily. Yes they are very simple, but Neil does a good job of introducing the logic behind them: eg when explaining how he divides fro age infantry into two broad categories ( warriors and shields all infantry). That said I agree that the ancients section does feel overly ‘broad’. One of the virtues of the rules mechanics is that they do allow for tinkering by the players . I have enjoyed colonial era games (a period not specifically catered for in the rules as written) simply by having 19 C armies fight against dark age warriors (zulus!). All worked well. I recommend trying the solo random event section. They do offer a level of complexity and randomness which is useful even in 2 player OHW games.
It makes a little more sense if you read his article Keeping it Simple which was in a Battlegames magazine.
I’ve been using his Machine Age rules for the 1920’s NW Frontier and have been happy with them. I am now looking at 12th century England and think that there are too many knights and not enough levy and archers but he does invite you to make changes.