I decided to read through the rules to This Accursed Civil War again, only this time I printed off the latest version from the GMT Games website just to be up-to-date. I was dismayed to find that v4 of the ruleset has bloated to an intimidating 26 pages, from the friendly 16 pages of the original out-of-the-box ruleset.
Even worse, the out-of-the-box rules were gracefully written and easy to understand, but v4 has many passages of almost impenetrable legalese - useful perhaps for a regular player who wants every last exception tied down, but very difficult for the first-time player.
I blame Consimworld.
This is the way it works. The new designer, keen to promote his new game to "the community", spends every spare moment day or night online (nearly losing his job and his marriage in the process), fielding questions from the grognards on the Consimworld forum dedicated to his new baby. He is quickly overwhelmed by a tide of queries, criticisms and suggestions from a small but vocal minority of "fans", who are usually only interested in competitive, tournament play, and who specialize in rules-lawyering and loophole-finding. Invisible to the designer is the silent majority of gamers who are happy to play the game as a friendly, sociable contest with a like-minded friend, and who have no interest in bending the rules or maintaining weird readings of ambiguous wordings in the face of all common-sense. The inexperienced designer, anxious to please, starts to make on-the-fly rulings, rewording rules, adding new rules, or even redrafting whole sections to meet the loadly articulated requirements of the tiny but vocal minority. And before you know it an elegant, beginner-friendly 16-page ruleset has mutated into a 26-page legal document.
The answer: close down Consimworld. It's damaging our hobby. Deny the grognards a platform. Now, before it's too late.