Thursday, May 19, 2011

Checking out Chainmail

A couple months ago, I won a couple auctions on eBay for a Collector's Edition OD&D boxed set with the three little brown books, Supplement I: Greyhawk, Supplement II: Blackmoor, Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods, and Heroes, and Swords & Spells. Although I already had them in pdf from WOTC from years ago, it was nice to have actual printed originals. If nothing else, it helps me spot some of the inconsistencies between the pdfs and the originals.

This convinced me to finally print and bind a copy of the Chainmail rules. I'm not as worried about getting an original copy of them, as the printed copy is perfectly readable. I'm also not really sure I want to use it for gaming. I'm perfectly happy using the alternative combat system for OD&D, after all.

I still want to get a handle on Chainmail, though. So the other day I started reading through the book and taking some notes.

My first impression is that this is a much more solid game than I was led to believe. I've seen all kinds of criticism of it, from it being archaic and unwieldy to downright unplayable. There are some things I would probably want to house rule, but I can definitely say it's not unplayable. In fact, from my initial look through the rules, it looks to be a pretty fun little system.

Over the next couple weeks, I'll spend a little more time going through the book in more detail and give you my impressions. It probably won't be a true cover-to-cover analysis, but I'll cover the things I find interesting about it. I'm not really interested in going through everyone else's impressions of it again until I get done, because I want to read it with fresh eyes and see what I see in it on my own. Later, though, I'll try to sift through some of the other stuff online and see where my reading matches and doesn't.


  1. Hey there! You know, it's funny that you wrote this now, because I was just talking to a friend of mine the other day about Chainmail. I've wondered if we should be taking a look at it for our boardgaming endeavors. Specifically, we've been looking to whip up our own boards and pieces on a large scale. Think a huge piece of plywood that would be painted up with a map of Medieval Europe! I've been wondering if Chainmail might not be a good starting place to create some rules for this game to end all games...

  2. I think you would probably have to abstract quite a bit if you wanted to use Chainmail for something with that large a scale. Not to say it couldn't be done, but it might present more problems than help. Instead, you might look at the mechanics for some of the old hex and counter wargames or Games Workshop's Mighty Empires. They tend to work better for larger-scale stuff.

    Of course, now that I write that, it just reminds me that I meant to take another look at Mighty Empires a while ago.

  3. You can check out the first installment of the series here.