Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Twilight of the Sun King and some thoughts on generic armies

Promising but not perfect
The Twilight of the Sun King (TotSK) rules cover the period from 1680-1721. They were originally written by Steven Thomas of Balagan fame but authorship subsequently passed through other hands. I'd been meaning to try them for ages but never got round to it. So I already had an interest when the new, third, version was published by the Pike & Shot Society.

It's a high level game, there are historical scenarios, and, uniquely, it combines different forms of combat into a single unit reaction test. The game has, I believe, great promise but I'm not intending to play it just yet.

My Marlburian armies are currently 'between basing' and my 1690 armies turned out to be too small. For grand tactical games with historical scenarios, this has really concentrated my mind on the desirability of having reasonably generic armies that can be used for a range of historical battles (and rules). Time to look again at 2mm, possibly on 25mm square bases?

The other stop factor is the large number of problems with the rules. The TotSK Yahoo Group is awash with queries and an errata (currently 5 pages long!) is in preparation. Sadly this new version of the rules was obviously not adequately tested or proofed. On the plus side, however, there is a lot of interest in and support for the rules from people who want them to work.

There are two lessons for rule-writers here: get them tested by different groups of people who approach the rules in isolation and get them proof-read by someone like me!


  1. Rule writers need to frequently edit from page 1 right through to the last page in a single sitting to make sure than any rule change or tweak does not cause a contradiction or ambiguity anywhere else.

    have you seen the Perry's new travel game, due out later this month. A small battlefield on a square grid (1" I think), with 8mm figures and suitable terrain etc. It may be worth just holding back and seeing whether a variation of that might be better for your 'generic' forces et.

    here is the link for more info ...


    1. Thanks for the link. I think they are on to something there. Looks a bit like Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame. All indicative of a convergence of board and miniature gaming.

  2. There is a belief that all games should hold to an ideal that if an issue with the rules arises during play it can be settled by polite discourse, a little compromise and a civil agreement. This may be true, but I believe that every set of rules should be written *assuming* that they will be played by twoo people who have never met each other before and will not agree on anything unless it's unambiguously written down in black and white. This may not be true in reality, but it should be the standard against which all games should be developed.

    I find paying money for games which assume I'm going to fill in important areas of game-play myself to be vexing.

    'Twilight' is worth persevering with, however.

    1. I should add that I'm less concerned if a set of rules is incomplete, but is available as a PDF which is updated by the author and which I can then just download again as part of my purchase price. I hold something I have to buy as a physical printed thing (and have posted from the other side of the planet at the cost of a kidney) to higher standards.

    2. It's disappointing. Lots of manuscript amendments could get chaotic. Whole replacement pages would be nice. But I remain interested enough to persevere, time permitting.