Lately I seem to have little time or little energy for much gaming or painting, so my mind turns to thoughts of gaming in brief idle moments. Thinking about what kind of gaming I want to do, where my inspiration comes from, and where my interests and hobby "habits" take me.
As far as inspiration goes, mine is more of the cinematic and literary sort. I do enjoy reading about history from time to time. But what really gets me interested in games is the story. Larger than life characters, exotic locations, compelling stories, pure entertainment. Especially in the manner of old Hollywood movies from the 30's and 40's, Beau Geste, Gunga Din, Lives of a Bengal Lancer, various westerns and adventure movies. Usually there are a few named major players and the often numerous unnamed extras and minions and masses. With room for sequels and/or serials.
As far as the kind of gaming and my hobby "habits" go (my disinterest in painting large numbers of similar or identical figures, my often slow painting output, my inclination to collect and paint all sorts of miniatures for diverse eras and genres that catch my eye, to name a few), simple rules with simple mechanisms, simple turn sequences, no bookkeeping, no tabletop clutter, small footprint, and a small numbers of figures are all key.
I want to play games where I can use a small number of figures (and possibly stands) to fight something that feels more like a battle than a skirmish. I want to have larger than life main characters and also groups or units of "extras", where the units of "extras" could be as few as one figure or maybe as many as 6 or 8 (or maybe even 10 or so for a horde of natives or goblins, for example). I want to be able to include monsters, dinosaurs and other beasts, vehicles, as well as musicians (especially pipers for my Highlanders), sergeants, standard-bearers, scouts, medical persons, and even recurring villains. And I want to keep it simple! (ha ha) I want to be able to play solo without tacked on or clunky mechanisms to get around rules designed for non-solo play. That means things like hidden movement, card hand management and other "secret" information and planning should be avoided. I also want there to be enough randomness and spontaneity and tension to make an interesting engaging story for me while I play, but I also want to have some control and input. I want to play the game, not have the game play itself.
I have played various games and rules over the decades, and have had a look at numerous others, but have yet to find any rules that match all of my criteria. (rules I have tried that have come closest to fitting the bill include, but are not limited to, TSATF (I am aware of the small unit variations of these and other rules), some of the THW rules, GASLIGHT, Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame, the "Song of" rules, HOTT, Pith Helmet). There are quite a few things I like about all of those, but none of them "tick all the boxes". So that takes my mental wanderings into the realm of writing my own rules. I am by no means a Bob Cordery or Ross Mac and have no pretensions to think I can write something original or that anyone else would find useful, but maybe I can play with ideas that appeal to me. As I have written before I often play "fast and loose" with rules (or with "not so much rules as more guidelines") so who knows where this will take me.
Now, some of the thoughts I have had include the following:
1. Roll for initiative once, before the first turn. Alternatively, a scenario might give one side the initiative, for example, if one side ambushes the other. Then it's "you-go-I-go" after that. First step in a side's turn is to roll for "action points". Action points are used to perform actions, which include moving and firing, in any order. This way who is doing what when will go back and forth. (this is just an intro to the whole concept)
2. Movement and ranges for any ranged combat use sticks divided into 3 distances, short, medium and long (borrowed from the "Song of" rules). Units can only move in a straight line on any one "stick", but maneuverable units might get multiple "sticks". For example, a light infantry unit might get 2 short "sticks" vs. a line unit getting 1 long "stick".
3. Still trying to work out how combat and firing should work. I'm torn between using stands for units (fewer "pieces" to move around) vs. individual figures (more flexibility), or possibly a combination (maybe stands for units and single figures for individuals, getting back to the cinematic idea of named players and extras). Of course I could play with my magnetic bases until I get the basing sorted out. I want to be able to have small units of Brits and their allies stand up to "hordes" of natives, for example. I also want to do something similar with my fantasy armies of dwarves and orcs and goblins and elves, and others.
I will likely be posting more "idle thoughts" as I ponder some more, and will try to entitle all such posts as such for ease of skipping over for anyone who is not interested. If anyone is still here, my thanks to you! I would be interested in any thoughts you might have to share.