Many aspects of the adventure gaming hobby present high difficulty thresholds for newcomers unfamiliar with activities such as roleplaying games, wargames, specialty card games, and particularly miniature wargames. This barrier to entry can discourage many people interested in dabbling in such supposedly enjoyable pursuits (and I’m not even going to mention the issue of the financial cost of immersing oneself in the hobby). Different elements of the hobby have tried to address the difficulty threshold with various “beginner” or “quick-start” products. Certainly the recent popularity surge in Euro-style board games (or whatever you want to call them) has successfully presented any aspect of adventure gaming to engage the general public.
|Top: AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide
Middle: Panzer Leader Rules
Bottom: Settlers of Catan Rules
A simple graphic comparison of some of the materials from the early days of the adventure gaming hobby show major differences with rules for modern Euro-games. I took a look at the rules and handout from Avalon Hill’s classic Panzer Leader game (1974) and flipped through TSR’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide (1979) before looking at the game rules for Klaus Teuber’s Settlers of Catan, arguably the first Euro-style game to break into the mainstream American gaming market and possibly ignite the recent interest in quality board games. All rules are black-and-white, but the earlier ones present readers with a “wall of text” on most of their pages, while the Euro-game rules employ plenty of white space, larger type, clear organization, and numerous images of game components. Now certainly wargames and roleplaying games have since modernized their graphic design and approach in rules presentation – with collectible card games sporting wonderful graphics yet still employing multiple layers of increasingly complex rules – but they still require a serious investment in time and comprehension to play.