Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Writing Rules With Your Children

When my boy was four or five he expressed interest in playing with Daddy's soldiers. Some years before that my daughter expressed the same interest.

In my daughter's case I was working on Six Gun Sound: Blaze of Glory at the time and we happily used those rules with some long forgotten additions to cover the deer, rabbits, and other critters that always seemed to flock to her aid.

Now my boy was a different proposition. He had very strong ideas about what he wanted to play (Star Wars and related Sci Fi) and what held no interest for him at all (anything else).

Now the thing about wargaming is, that aside from being jolly good fun, it actually teaches as well. Critical thinking, and numeric concepts such as "greater than" and "less than" as well as simple counting all come into play.

In this post I am going to share a set of rules that my boy and I wrote together to suit his needs. He was soon teaching the rules to his friends although as is often the case most of them preferred and still do prefer video games to a game of soldiers.

While you, dear reader, are free to use these rules as is, perhaps of more value will be the methodology used in producing them.

My first introduction to the wargaming hobby was through my cousin, who had stumbled on to some books by Donald Featherstone. Many battles were fought between boxes of Airfix soldiers through the late 60's. Grand times indeed.

Wargames rules have come a long way in terms of simulation and mechanics since then (or have they? ) but some constants remain.

  1. The game has playing pieces and these pieces are assigned values.
  2. You need to know how far a piece can move.
  3. You need to know how far and in what way a piece can attack.
  4. You need to know how to tell if a piece survives an attack.
Those really are the basics. There are a host of other things that can and perhaps should be added (morale for example) but really those four are all that are needed for a complete game.

So the first step was to establish a base line. I explained that a Dude (normal human) with a Little Gun (basic infantry rifle) could move 6" in his turn, and hit his target on a d6 roll of 5 or 6. If hit the Dude would be removed from play on a further roll of 5 or 6. Range is unlimited.

I then asked the boy to rate other figures he would like to include based on a comparison to how that figure would move. attack, and resist damage, as compared to our basic dude.

FWIW the figures in this case were Star Wars collectible miniatures games and Lego figures, AT-43, figures, and assorted plastic army men. Mind you he would never mix types in the same game!

Well with the boring "how to" section out of the way here are the rules we came up with:

Little Gun

Hits on 5 or 6
Kills dude on 5 or 6
Kills tank on 6

Big Machine Gun

Hits on 4, 5 or 6
Kills dude on 4, 5 or 6
Kills tank on 6

Tank Gun

Shoots twice
Hits on 3, 4 5, or 6
Kills dude on 3, 4, 5 or 6
Kills tank on 5, or 6

Knife, Sword, Club, Rock, Claw

Must be touching to attack
Hits on  4, 5, or 6
Kills dude on  5 or 6
Does not Kill tank

Power Sword, Saw, or Axe

Must be touching to attack
Hits on 4, 5, or 6
Kills dude on 4, 5 or 6
Kill’s tank on 5 or 6


Dudes move 6
Tanks move 12
Little Bugs move 8
Big Bugs move 6
Cyber dogs move 12
Zombies move 4

These rules have given us many hours of fun over the years.

With these rules as a springboard it should be fairly easy to cater to any genre.

I hope this post will inspire others to come up with their own rules. It's so easy a four year old can do it : )

And remember: The family that plays together stays together (or so they say)!


  1. Lovely post Bob. Just lovely.

    Keeping children interested can be tough but if they are then the rewards are immense.


  2. Great that your kids are interested in our little hobby, lets hope you can keep his interest in the coming years!

  3. Thank you gentlemen!

    Predictably my daughter lost interest...although now at 18 she is considering playing D&D with friends.

    My boy just started plastic modelling with those splendid ROBOGEAR sets out of Russia, and as previously posted just GM'ed a game for me. So looking good so far : )

  4. My son is a burgeoning game designer and I've been trying to think of how to foster it in him more. Thanks for the rules I'm going to run them by him. I'm also off to google robogear.

  5. I really like the idea of coming up with the rules with the children. That is cool. Thanks for the pointers. I will have to give it a go real soon, my 4 year can read the d6 pips now so onwards and upwards!

  6. Would love to read the experiences of others taking this route.

    Carry on!

  7. These rules look like they would be perfect for my son. I attempted to teach 'Song of Blades and Heroes', but it was too much for him. We'll give these a try soon and let you now how they went.

  8. Glad you like them.

    Hope they work well for you!