Monday, 22 July 2013

Digital vs print rules....

PhilB produced a thought-provoking post today on the subject of distributing rules digitally, which set me to thinking: which do I prefer?

The first two sets of Lardies rules I bought were IABSM3 and Dux Britanniarum, and in both cases I bought the online version, because - well, duh - I have an iPad, I'm an unrepentant geek, and having rules on an iPad appeals to my inner techno-nerd.

Except? I now own both sets in physical print. And that isn't just because I like keeping the TFL guys from going bankrupt. I use both, for vastly different reasons.

I've found that having a copy of the rules in digital form makes writing about them, be it a blog, a battle report, a scenario, an email or a Summer Special article, much easier. I tend to work on a laptop with an external display, and being able to keep the rules open in a spare window is really handy. In addition, having a copy on the iPad is just really handy for those moments on the train, in bed or whether when I think "I wonder, what if..."


I've found that I much prefer playing off a physical printed book. Partly it's that an iPad tends to go to sleep when you put it down, and I have to keep mine set to PIN lock on sleep (it has my work email on it, and that's a condition of being able to do that). Partly it's that it's not quite as easy to flick pages on a tablet - admittedly, the latest TFL tablet editions do have a handy index which makes that a bit easier.

How about you?


  1. That was a good post. I have an e-copy of all of the Lardy rules. I have hard copies of IABSM3, TW&T, Mud & Blood. I have yet to buy Dux as a hard copy but that is on the to do list. I tend to print my own copy of the e-copies as needed. The low ink version that the Lardies sell tends to help that.

  2. I totally agree with the fact the digital is easy to use and accessible but there is something about having a book in your hand

  3. A copy of the rules in machine-readable format does have this virtue as well: it is easier to make emendments as they are required. If you want to retain coloured pictures, you might try copying the whole thing onto a Word file. At least one could experiment with that.

    I have developed my own rule sets using Word, and, to liven them up, add pictures. But I also print off hard copies. The pictures are there as much to fill up spaces left by page breaks as to make the rules pamphlets a bit more interesting.

  4. Like you, I want the machine-readable rules when I'm referring to them on a machine (game prep, writeups), but at the table I don't want to rely on computers of any sort. Same with role-playing, tricky now that many books are PDF-only; if I know I'll need to refer to something quickly, I generally print it out.

  5. I agree with you. I like the PDF, but when I'm playing a printed copy is best for the same reason that an iPad goes to sleep. I use the sleeve folders from WHSmith to put my printed copies in.

  6. I still would rather have a rules book in my hand than a PDF no matter how long I have used them I have never run out of power on a book :)
    Peace James

  7. Mike, I agree with you hard copy for gaming and the PDF for the pc or tab and pads, for thwe quick reference when planning and setting up for games.

  8. Same here. Different uses. When gaming, the printed rule book next to the table for reference, the PDF on a pad/laptop for searching for specific rules. When reading, the printed rules for bed, comfy chair or throne room, PDF on pad/phone/laptop for trains, planes and automobiles.

  9. I don't think I could ever go completely digital, I just enjoy the physicality and easy of use you get with a hard-copy book. But I can see the benefits of an electronic copy as well. I have a PDF copy of all my key FOW books which is great for easy reference when I'm on the road.

  10. I appreciate the the lower cost and instant gratification of PDF rule books. I also like being able to port it onto my Kindle for when I'm killing time at some appointment for the kids. For gaming though, having a hard copy to thumb through is more reassuring. Sometimes finding the right page in a PDF can be difficult.

  11. My preference is for print, although I wouldn't turn my nose up at any electronic device capable of displaying PDF. I bought the eformat Sharp Practice and printed off what I need, since it was cheaper to do so than have a shiny print copy sent via international mail. It's also easy to annotate a self-printed set with any thoughts or amendments while a game is in progress.

  12. I had some thoughts about this last year so I hope you don't mind me puting a link in to the relevant blog entry

    I need paper in my hand to properly read and play the rules - I will buy cheap PDFs if there is no alternative, but for instance I only went for the hard copy of Dux Brittaniarum

  13. I'm totally out of sync. I stopped printing or buying hard copies a couple of years ago... even books, not to say work related materials!

    I use massively my iPad with the Kindle,iBooks and Goodreader apps and have got used to scan through pdf files easily. The only thing I print are a handy QRS or OOB lists for a scenario.

  14. I love digital everything and I have no nostalgic feelings about anything and traditionalism to me is a little monster that needs to be exterminated.

    And yet..... with the wargames I play I like to go through stacks of books even if Those Guys(tm) have started to bring out most things digitally as well as on paper, with some multimedia content (the latter Apple only however, so that is only a theoretical matter to me until such time that I move to the upper class income level and can afford an iPad).

  15. I'm starting to swing towards all digital, especially for reading new systems before taking the plunge. It does depend on the conversion of the rules too. A straight forward PDF isn't always the best option as it can take ages for backgrounds to load, or the ipad runs out of memory and takes forever to page through.

    Properly converted iBooks rules on the other hand are a godsend. Much as I berate a lot of GW's choices recently, their digital books have the ability to zoom in on things, embed videos and offer overlay rule summaries.

    Having said all that... I do understand that a nice physical book will always win out.


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