How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

How Men of Quality Resolve Differences
Pudel and Peper attacks - an ugly but inevitable part of any 17th C. British Civil War, "Oh! The Shame of it All!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Design Thoughts: Turn Sequence

It's MOVE, SHOOT, MELEE, then THEIR turn you see? Really quite simple when you think about it...

One of the defining aspects of any wargame is the turn sequence.  This has a huge impact on how players interact with their units, the opposition, and get "period feel" from the game. As I consider tinkering with yet another OHW period, I find myself hankering for a turn sequence that is evocative of the period, encourages historical options/decisions by players, and isn't too gamey...

"gamey" is when a game mechanic seems to exist for itself and not for the game or its historicity, and when the game mechanic has more importance to the designer than the history / reality of the conflict or the fun of the players.

IGO-UGO or unified turn sequence.  I call this "unified" because one side does all their playing then the other side does all their playing.  Sometimes this is broken up a bit by the passive side having to take morale checks or savings rolls, or otherwise react to the "going" side.  While this turn sequence gets used a lot, and has a lot of lovers and haters, let's start with what NT says about it on OHW in the Ancient Rules section, p.9:

"The game relies upon the use of alternate turns, with one player moving, shooting and engaging in close combat, followed by the second player.  This is far more manageable than the option of having both players act simultaneously, and is somewhat surprisingly more realistic.  For it is only superficially true that armies in historical battles acted simultaneously: what generally happened was that one side would act, and its opponent react - and this process can be reflected quite accurately with alternate turns."


More Manageable. Have to agree, especially for new players and for games where there are multiple players per side, IGO-UGO is an easy way to play.
Realism & Simultaneous Action v. Action & Reaction. I'll agree with this, that generally speaking one command / commander is acting and the opposition or other commanders are reacting.  Games often express this by saying one side has "initiative". 
On the other hand, it is gamey to say that one side does ALL their activity and then the other side does ALL their activity.  It is also gamey to say that units move, then shoot, then melee. While it is clearly true that one side must move into melee, upon being in melee one may say that there's no movement at all of the meleeing units [certainly isn't in the OHW rules, with a couple exceptions] so the sequence doesn't need to remain that way.

Conclusion = The turn sequence and timing of action types [move, shoot, melee] needs to be broken up in a way that is more realistic and yet is more manageable.  but how?

I started with looking at a couple of favorites.  Both "The Sword and the Flame" and "Victory without Quarter" have a "broken up" turn sequence where a deck of cards dictates which units have the opportunity to perform actions.  

To have a specific card for each unit and general [if general figures are used in the game] seems manageable, but I also feel it is "gamey" in that real life battles don't feature units and commanders acting in a totally random sequence.  Same with drawing cards by unit types [e.g. infantry, cavalry, artillery]. So players should have a limited ability to plan and execute sequences of action as well as some simultaneous actions with units, such as moving a long column of troops down a road, or advancing together following a unit with the general's banner, etc.  

TSATF has players pulling over a card that is for their side, red [British] or black [natives] so the players can then begin executing plans that way.  As you are supposed to act without knowing the next card that can be a bit unrealistic also, since armies routinely plan and execute sequential as well as simultaneous actions.  In fact, doing so is often the difference between a successful operation and one that is a failure. 

So one possibility is to turn over more than one card, and/or value the cards in such a way as to give precedence and sequence.  For example, say we are turning over cards three at a time.  We turn over a black 7, a red 5 and a red jack.  We could say that as there are two red cards v. one black, that red goes first with both the red jack and then the 5.  Or we could say that the order is jack-7-5 so a red-black-red side sequence.  To give players an opportunity to shape their game, we could also let each side or player save a card or two, so one might save a high-value card that one doesn't need right away for later. 

Certainly there are several possibilities here.  One could also say that number cards move one Unit and face cards two units, Aces three Units.  Draw three cards, and then give each side those Actions in the order of card precedence.  For Example, I draw three cards, Red 5, Black King, red Ace.  Red gets three units activated, black two, red one last unit.

Another possibility that occurred to me doesn't require a card deck but dices off initative. One can roll off with the standard d6 of the OHW, and the side that beats the other gets the number of actions or acting units by which they win. So if Red rolls a 3 and Blue a 5, then Blue has two actions/acting Units to take. The problem of Blue "winning" the roll-off but then "losing in execution" because Blue doesn't want to act at that moment but rather react is solved by allowing Blue to force the other side to use the actions instead.  So Blue has the possibility, by winning the roll-off, of acting with two units or forcing Red to act with two units. 

The unintended consequence of this sequence is that one now moves, melees or shoots in any sequence determined instead by the order in which units act.  I find this much more realistic altho it can be a bit less "fair" for the side that loses.  So I could choose to act with a Unit in melee, roll high enough to destroy the enemy unit and that unit doesn't get to melee back.  Same with shooting - I could shoot at a unit with lots of hits, destroy it with a good roll, and that unit gets no chance to act that turn.  This is also the effect of the above use of cards.

One could unite the two sides by continuing the action sequence of Move - Shoot - Melee, and have the players interacting within that limitation.  The dicing off would just be for all movement, all shooting, then all melee.  Again, this seems a bit gamey to me in that it mandates the order of action types, and of course military reality isn't like that - sometimes you shoot to pin the enemy, then you move in to charge him, then you melee.  Or you retreat, then shoot at your pursuer with supporting fire, and avoid melee, etc etc.

Of the two interactive turn sequences, I like the dicing off better as it doesn't require another "gadget", and works with the gadget at hand, the d6.  For the Pike and Shot rules, one would have to make action types: Charge, Move, and Move-Shoot are the three in the original rules.  As I don't see any reason to only shoot after movement, I'd include Shoot-Move along with Move-Shoot.

The only unintended consequence I can think of at this time that I'm uncertain of is that the moving and shooting represents the continuous shooting by ranks who then fall to the back of the file to reload as another rank of the division steps up to fire.  This produces a continuously moving unit that is also continuously shooting.  Using the above sequence gives a choppy effect that is more like volley fire depending on how much interactivity there is during the turns - it'll increase as units get closer together.  Only way to find out is to try it.

There are some other fun possibilities with the rolling off.  One side could have a +1 or even 2 if they showed a lot of initiative in the historical battle.  Army morale could also affect this - as you lose units you get a -1 to your initiative roll.


Ok, so I did try the rolling off with d6 while playing scenario #4 again [after all it was already set up].  The only added burden is that one needs to remember / mark units as they act so you don't forget if a unit has already move / shot / rolled for melee.  I liked the sequence in that it really keeps both sides closely involved with the game.  You always have the possibility to act, even if you lose the roll as your opponent may want you to act even if he wins.  There's also still plenty of margin for player error and that heightens realism for me also.  Even playing solo, sometimes I don't see an opportunity until it is "that side's" turn and I'm really thinking about it.  

The game was very close and came down to the last couple of die rolls which involved not just combat resolution, but turn sequence being critical to how to move a unit to second-guess where it was needed depending on unresolved rolls.  It was intense how close it was and there was always the slender hope to roll a big difference roll and give a significant left-right combo to the other side.

I also like that since you can't predict easily when you will get to go - at least at the start of a turn, you need to play conservatively sometimes, which is part of the methodical, stately feel of the period.  Commanders preferred to train for predictability and reliability than flashy tactics and wild possibilities.

This is a bit better than the card idea in that one could get a difference from 1-5 and at a critical moment even the difference of '1' mattered.  I'll definitely be trying this turn sequence again.  Thanks to the Swedish rules "Ga Pa" for inspiring the idea!


Final playtest: card deck.
I used the card deck with the following rules:

  • Draw three at a time, blacks were the Blue side, red was the Red side.
  • Attacker wins ties.
  • Play off the three cards in value order, King highest, Ace lowest [a '1' value].
  • Each side can save one card by playing it to their hand rather than on a Unit. The card can be used later to trump a card that has been declared to be played on a unit.  The trumping card is played out from the hand, and then the opponent has a free choice with the card that was trumped.
  • Instead of playing a card or saving it, the player can use the card to force the activation of an enemy unit instead.
  • Stop drawing cards when one side has completed all their Actions, and the side with unactivated units activates all those units.
  • The Actions I used were Charge [move into contact], Move, Move-Shoot.  I want to add Shoot-Move, also.
It gave the player a view to the future a little bit, but without knowing the entire turn in advance.  If three reds were drawn, then you knew you were going to get to act with three units, so a general advance was possible, especially if you had a high ranking card in your hand.

Another very close and exciting game.  I like that the cards give you a few more ways to play, save, and otherwise add to the realism and drama, yet they didn't overpower the system.  I like this even better than the roll-off system, and will stick with it for a while.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Reinforcements on the way!

Reinforcements are on the way, sire!  Sorry to interrupt your grog and sup...,-1900.html

Well, having almost kept all three promises I made regarding purchases:
  1. Only spend money made on sales of my hobby stuff on hobby stuff, 
  2. Not to buy more figs for this project until all 72 figs were assembled and primed,
  3. Place S&S orders at the $200 free shipping level,
I can now place my next order!  It feels good that it's both "free money" and that promises were kept [PTL!].  As I'm planning for my holiday break, I have to finish assembling and cleaning my ten buffcoat cavalry and ten command figures by Dec 26.  I think that's manageable, and that I'll then have time to knock out a few more units over holiday but I need to order them now to have them on hand then.

With 20 pike, 30 shotte, 10 command, 10 horse and 2 generals, I need a little more infantry and a bunch more horse.  

I want to have one foot battaglia with armor in an early war "Trained Bande" style, so that means 5 Romanoff pike to match their 10 shotte. The proportions are then a bit off, with 25 pike and 30 shotte, so another 20 S&S shotte are needed for 25/50.  Some more command figs are useful so the other S&S command pack [with preacher] seems like a must.  That will give me 25 / 50 pike/shot, and 15 command to spread around, for 90 foot total, enough for 5-6 small infantry battaglia of about 15 figures.

I'm also ready for some scouting / skirmishing, so I need some dragoons.  While not present in large numbers proportionately, dragoons were present in every battle, especially small ones.  10 Dismounted and 6 mounted would give me both commanded shotte and more horse.

I also need more cavalry since they were common in smaller battles b/c of their mobility - they were always in action.  With only ten horse now, a horse pack with back and breast and command would be good, bringing me up to 26 total horse, or about 1/4 of the total.

40RTW1 Armoured Pikemen "Charge Your Pike" 5 figs @$17
$17 to make Romanoff Trained Bande of 15 figs + command

40ECW3 Musketeers Firing, 20 figs @ $45
40 ECW202 Infantry Command B, 5 figs @ $17
$62 for 25 more foote
$79 for 30 total foot

40ECW5 Cavalry in Back-and-Breast 7 figs @$45 [parliament cavalry with Pistols]
40ECW203 Cavalry Command 3 figs @$23
$68 for 10 more cav figs

40ECW101 Mounted Dragoons 3 figs @$23 x 2 = 46

40ECW102 Dismounted Dragoons 5 figs @$14.50 x 2 = $29
$75 for 6 mounted and 10 dismounted dragoons

TOTAL = $ 219.50

A bit over the $200 free shipping threshold, but it'll give me about 7-8 foot units [6 pike/shot, 1-2 dragoons] and 3-4 horse units, plenty to play with and start experimenting with the ECW rules I'm working on.

In the future, we'll need some artillery to fight over and / or try out rules for it.

40ECW301 Artillerists 5 figs @$14.50
40ECWE1 Falconet 1 gun @$14.50

$29 for a Gun

Cav Order alternative:

40ECW7 Cuirassiers 7 figs @$45 [parliament cavalry with Pistols]
40ECW203 Cavalry Command 3 figs @$23
$68 for Armored Cav troops

As I'm still experimenting with the rules, I don't need to worry too much about details of units, just have enough variety to experiment with rules and fight.  Probably the hardest thing has been for me to hold off on ordering lobsterbacks - they just look cool!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pushing 10K - definite plans in the works - Really!

Attend upon me here lad, while I finish this message with our plans...
Re-enactment of the English civil war Postcards, Greetings Cards, Art Prints, Canvas, Framed Pictures, T-shirts & Wall Art by Peter Jackson

Well, this blog just keeps running along without me!  Here we are pushing well into 9,000 hits on our way to 10 - what would happen if I actually POSTED things?  Well, we're about to find out, as I've posted twice today and have another well along.

First post is a review of a great - if older - ECW resource, "Wargamer's Guide to the English Civil War, 2nd ed.".  Lots of new stuff out there, but not many with as much info as this book has for the gamer.  If it is a bit dated occasionally, that's easily remedied with some asking around or buying a couple other books.  Hope Bill Protz is doing well out in the midwest USA as he does some great work, even though his rules are a bit old school for my taste.

Look for more reviews to come quickly.  Have been heavily and closely reading two that are excellent and proving very formative to my own thoughts, including Osprey's "Pike and Shot Tactics, 1590-1660" as well as the wonderful surprise, "Famous by My Sword".  If you don't like to read details, all I can say is buy them both - immediately!

My development plans still revolve around a respectful start with the Neil Thomas "One-Hour Wargames" rules.  I did order his "Introduction to Wargaming" which apparently has more pike and shot as well as WWII rules.  But for me the best place to start is with OHW - start simple and figure out what the minimum chrome is needed to get the choices and feel I want.  To that end I've already played off three playtests of scenario #4, "Take the High Ground".  The second ended up being in the AAR which was posted today.  The third was the best yet, with lots of interesting maneuvering and clever use of firepower.  A good game!

As Christmas approaches, I look forward to some time off for myself, which I intend to include finishing the 40mm ECW I have from Sash & Saber and Romanoff.  These include 30 Shotte, 20 Pike, 10 Command, 7 Buffcoat Cavalry w'3 Command and 2 Generals.  Probably only enough for 6-7 Infantry, and two cavalry units, but I can get going with them on temporary basing.  It does make me think that I should order some more to have ready for the holidays just in case I've time to knock out some extra Horse, especially.  I'd love some dragoons and horse with back and breast, as well as dismounted dragoons to use as commanded shotte.  Hmmmm....

Well, I hope your advent is proving to be a thoughtful and humbling time before the joy of Christmas.  If you've no Christmas, then borrow a bit from those who do, or enjoy such holidays as you like, but at all times:

Image result for Oliver cromwell images

"Trust in God and keep your powder dry"!

1st Playtest: Neil Thomas "One-Hour Wargames" Pike & Shot rules in Scenario #4, Take the High Ground

Altho I am still fuddling around with the figures, I decided I HAD to try out the rules, at least to help me get a feel for basing, unit size, etc, which will help inform my next round of purchases. Also, I've been doing a bunch of reading and have a lot of rules ideas in my head. Still, I want to obey my maxim with Neil Thomas rules - "play them RAW, first!"

I've had numerous humbling episodes of botching up the modifications and having to go back and simplify again.  This is more easily avoided by playing the rules as written and starting with how little needs to be changed to improve the historicity and playability of the rules. During the read-through, I immediately had some things I didn't like the sound of, but again, stuck to my maxim!  So please excuse the lack of figures.

Above is the table set for the first turn.  I think it adequately presents the book's diagram, Below, altho the hill is twice the size it is supposed to be:
This is actually quite important, as the scenario states that the defending Red player must set up two units on the hill.With the smaller hill this puts the two units in the "zone of death" as 5/6 of the attacking Blue player's units shoot.  As all may shoot after movement, and all end up in range, the first playtest resulted in the two units being handily wiped out on Turn 1, and losing possession of the hill that is the objective.  On T2, the rest of team Red arrived to find their friends wiped out and the hill in enemy hands!  Needless to say, they lost playtest 1.  So I had to make some amends and let the hill be larger, and keep the two units back on the hill so they were only in range of three of the attacking Blue units.

In the foreground, Blue units are lined up on the base edge.  All horse have a small base sitting on top of the big base, while all infantry have a small base next to the big base.  The three Infantry in the center are numbered 1-3 with black dice and white pips.  The two Reiter horse have black dice and red pips.  The Cavalry unit has '1' white pip on black. 

In the background, behind the hill is the Red sacrificial lambs.  They are behind the hill because I saw that as their only chance to survive after playtest 1.  However, I put them on the hill when play started as I wanted to respect the scenario and play it RAW, also!  They are numbered 1 and 2 in red.  The red squares mark the crossing of the 1' squares, so as you can see there are nine squares of a foot, or nine square feet for this board.  Easily played out on my IKEA folding table within my home office!

Basically, the rules give a good feel for the period, which includes late renaissance through the ECW and 30YW.  "Infantry" are mixed pike and shot, and shoot 1d6 - even after their 6" move - and melee 1d6.  "Swordsmen" include rabid highlanders and sword-and-buckler men; they can enter woods and melee at d6+2.  "Reiters" shoot 1d6 - even after their 10" move - and melee 1d6.  "Cavalry" melee 1d6+2.  Both Infantry and Reiters run out of ammo if they roll a 1-2 on d6 when they shoot [so a 1/3 chance] after which they are allowed to charge enemy units.  Both Cavalry and Swordsmen melee well against their respective types and can always charge.  All cavalry melee Infantry at 1/2 effect due to the pikes, and Swordsmen melee cavalry at 1/2 effect due to the lack of longer weapons and their loose formation.  While dragoons and commanded shotte are not present, I feel like all the main units have been covered, along with all the most important effects.  So how do they play out RAW?

Below is the end of Blue T1.  I just realized that Red is supposed to go first each turn, which would help with them getting off the hill and behind it, but wouldn't help with the problem of taking and holding the hill which is the victory condition.  In any event...
The rulers show the entry distance of the Blue force, with Cavalry on left going 12", the Reiters next at 10" and within range of both Red Infantry, the two Infantry plodding along at 6", the second Reiter at 10" and in range of either Red Unit, and the final Blue Infantry 3 going 9" on the road with the 3" bonus.  
*There's no rule saying that you can't shoot using the road bonus, but you can't enter melee using the road bonus.  Red Infantry 2 is wiped out from Blue shooting - Not that hard since there's 
*no targeting rules so I was able to concentrate fire on Red 2, as well as 
*shoot sequentially until I got the result I wanted. 
Red Infantry 1 hits with a measly '1' and goes out of ammo.  Clearly, someone forgot to supply this force!  Blue 3 goes out of ammo.  The white dice are the ammo dice [out on a 1-2] and the green dice at the Hits inflicted, which are also marked on the target Units.  Blue Cavalry took the 1 Hit.

Below is the end of Red T1.  Things aren't looking good.  Note that if I had the turn sequence right, I could've moved both Red Units behind the hill and out of LoS, so they couldn't be shot.  
*This also brings up the ease with which units move - they can turn both before and after they move, up to 180 degrees.  
Altho this cedes the hill temporarily, it would've kept the Units alive for a couple of turns and they could've counter-attacked.  Goes to show that you always make some sort of mistake and you can't worry too much about results when playtesting - there's a lot to think about just with learning new rules!

Below is the end of Turn 2.  The destruction of Red Infantry 2 has left Infantry 1 in dire straights and being overrun.  Since Blue Infantry 1 & 2 can't charge until they're out of ammo, it has repositioned itself facing the Blue left flank horse, the most immediate threat.  Blue's left flank horse continue their envelopment of the hill and threaten to charge the flank.  Blue Infantry 3 and Reiters 2 advance up the road to protect the right flank by anchoring a position between the hill and wood [there are no units that can move through wood, so it's effectively an obstacle], note that they've switched positions and Reiters 2 is now on the outside.  Red Cavalry [big red '1' dice] and Reiters [red dice, black pip] lead the way, followed by Infantry 3 while 4 is advancing up the road. Shooting from Red Reiters and Infantry 4 against Blue Infantry 3 is poor - the Infantry go out of ammo and both roll a '2'.  It's bad enough to have a poor situation, but rolling badly on top of it...?  C'mon lads!  

End of Blue Turn 3 below.  Infantry 1 & 2 massacre Red Infantry 1 with another 9 Hits. Knowing this was likely, the two flanks have moved on to the reinforcements racing to the rescue.  Blue Reiters score a '5' and '6' wanging Red Cavalry and Infantry 4 respectively. This support was needed to help Blue Infantry 3 who took 4 Hits.  Reiters are pretty dangerous, overall, with their 10" move and shooting as well as Infantry.

End of Red Turn 3 below.  The lack of Red power on hill has resulted in their remaining four Units charging forward in attempt to overwhelm some Blue Units and get an edge somewhere.  With dice varying from 1 to 6 this is possible with just a bit of rolling up.  
As units have 15 Hits, it takes a minimum of three turns to destroy a Unit if you attack with a d6, possibly as little as two with a d6+2 [8 and 7 would be 15].  So both the Cavalry and Swordsmen are dangerous Units when they roll up.  Neither shoot, however.  
Anyway, Red Cavalry charge Blue Cavalry, equaling the '5' Hits they have.  Red Reiters square off against Blue Reiter 1, while Red Infantry 3 and 4 hold the line against the rest of Blue's force.  The advanced wings of Blue's force threaten Red's maneuvering yet weaken the mutual support of Blue Units - if a couple Units get knocked out, they may be in trouble. Not that they would lose the hill and the victory, but they'd certainly lose more Units.  Red Infantry 3 puts a solid '4' Hits on Blue Infantry 3.

Below, end of Turn 4.  Red Cavalry have caught up to Blue Cavalry, and the dice will decide who wins this 11 to 9 Hit contest. Similar situation between Red Infantry 4 and Blue 3, with a 10 to 14 contest and Blue's turn to attack next. The Reiters are chalking up slow but steady Hits, while Blue Infantry 1 & 2 perform low and put 5 Hits total on Red Reiters. At this point, a little luck with Red could have two Blue Units break equaling things a lot, altho the hill would still be in Blue's hands. But we are looking for defeat with dignity for Red, at least, aren't we??

Below, end of Blue Turn 5.  The Cavalry inflict 7 Hits with a 5+2 and send Red Cavalry packing. Mutual destruction is occurring between Red 4 and Blue 3 altho I seem to have forgotten to mark it. The center is peppering away, with 2 Hits to the Reiters and 7 to Infantry 3.  Blue Reiters is looking weak at 10 Hits.  Lots of problems for both sides, but Blue is still strongest.

End of Red Turn 5 below. Red managed to take out Blue 3 but lost Red 4.  The Cavalry loss was disheartening to say the least.  It would've helped a lot to have won that and threatened Blue Reiter 1. As it stands, with only two Units left to five and a weak position, Red tries to retreat with dignity.

As I seem to say so often, "The rules play a lot better than I thought".  The differences between the Units is very expressive of the period altho not reflecting the details of the ECW all the time.  The general scheme of maneuver, firepower and charges makes a lot of sense and encourages one to think like a pike'n shotte commander.  I botched the turn sequence so that's a good reminder to "always read the scenario rules carefully".  Still, the game was quite engaging and there were lots of interesting decisions to make each turn for both sides no matter how well/bad things were going.

The lack of specific rules about melee contact leave the experienced gamer to fill in the holes and the newbie to guess or dice off.  Either "system" would work fine, but I think a little effort spent in that direction would be welcome and take up very little space. Same for a target priority rule, and the turning / shooting while using road movement.  The downward spiral of Hits leaves me wanting even just a minimal ability to rally off Hits.  I can live with the historicity and suspense of running out of ammo on the first shot while rolling a '1', or never running out of ammo while continuously rolling 6s.  Some days some Units are on while others are off, fair enough.  There is a tendency for things to even out, with dice values but timing can really matter.

Overall, these are a decent set straight from the go, and won't need a lot of changes to be fun and flavorful, as well as tactical.  I do have a few changes in mind, however, that are more expressive of the choices an ECW commander would be making.  Those will be for another post!

Bill Protz's "Wargamer's Guide to the ECW, 2nd ed."

Review in short - A MUST-HAVE RESOURCE!

I saw this in a bin at Cold Wars a few years ago - can't remember the vendor, sorry.  As I like some of Protz's other work [BATAILLES DE L'ANCIEN REGIME 1740-1763(BAR), I grabbed it altho it was $16 and the print was tiny, as though someone had shrunk down an 8.5x11" book into a 5x8".  I was just starting to get into the ECW as a player / painter, and it looked like a useful resource.

The table of contents said it all, and still says it all.  It has an intro to the period, a complete set of [very old style] rules that include; how to organize your units, lots of diagrams and drawings, written orders-simultaneous movement-sequential shooting-melee.  Also useful info on uniforms, flags, army characteristics, a list of sieges, deployment, tons of info in fact!  The rules also cover lots of small details that are educational also, such as formations and the terms for them during the period.

While the mechanics of the rules have aged badly - involving lots of unnecessary details and lots of math - the information is still pretty accurate.  I think Bill must've had his sensible head on when he gathered all this together.  There are a few things that have gone by the wayside with new research, but if you want a single book that has lots of information that is 80-90% still good, then this is for you.  If you want the latest, then there are new Ospery's and publications by Partizan that update things, but this is the perfect place to start.

So - "buy this book!"