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Navigation Bar Legal Disclaimer The BrikWars Universe QuikWars! 1: Gameplay 2: The Mighty Minifig 3: Minifig Weapons 4: The Player Turn 5: Combat 6: Minifig Heroes H: The Horse 7: Special Creations 8: Squads
The BrikWars Universe
"A [construction brick] gaming system for individual level combat originated by Mike Rayhawk. It's similar in intent to other individual level miniatures games, but with an emphasis on mayhem and humor. A wide selection of 'TekLevels' allows players to simulate combat in any combination of time periods and genres.

Like many games offered free of charge on the internet, BrikWars is appealing in concept, but in practice nearly impossible to play. Rules that appear straightforward at first become perniciously more complex with each passing chapter, almost as if the author were using the rulebook as the medium for some long-running and obscure practical joke. It's a testament to the obstinate nature of AFOLs that they've managed to play as many battles as they have, despite the author's every attempt to thwart them."

- Entry from the BrickWiki online encyclopedia as of September 2, 2005

"Anyone who leaves behind him a written manual, and likewise anyone who receives it, believing that such writing will be clear and certain, must be exceedingly simple-minded."
- Plato

Around a decade ago I was bungling my way through college, three thousand miles from the brick collection I’d had to leave behind, always on the lookout for more productive pursuits than the dreary rituals of doing homework or attending classes. A large chunk of my time was spent in flagrant appropriations-committee graft, railroading proposals through to misallocate university funds and facilities for our dorm’s secret Lego Room, all so we could try out these new ideas for a half-assed brick wargame I was cooking up.
The Secret Lego Room
The secret Lego Room, paid for by university funds.
Photo credit: Dan Adinolfi, March 2006

In a few weeks, as best as I can calculate from those inauspicious beginnings, BrikWars will be celebrating its tenth birthday. In other words, I’m getting pretty freaking old.

I was going through a box of old papers a few weeks ago, and came across the remnants of my first stab at brick wargaming. I must have been eleven or twelve when I wrote them, and like many young nerds I was of the opinion that "better" meant "more detail." Every minifig had its own character sheet, and we measured distances with the painstaking counting of studs.

We never made it through the first turn. The game was completely impossible to play.

Six years later, college gave me my first exposure to the brand new World Wide Web, and I browsed my way to a game called Lego Wars.1 Finally a wargame worth playing! Sadly, Lego Wars’ existence was short-lived – LEGO®’s lawyers discovered the game shortly after I did, and you wouldn’t believe the number of dice in their damage roll.

The first drafts of BrikWars, written over the tail end of 1995, were meant as little more than a non-copyright-infringing, non-Lego-specific successor to that earlier game’s legacy. But the next few years brought a process of relentless mutation, as dozens of meddlers added ideas by the shovelful, and the whole mix was blended and re-blended with no regard for consistency or continuity. By the time went live in 1998, the game still had recognizable references to its Lego Wars heritage, but BrikWars had clearly evolved into its own animal.

In the meantime the Internet had evolved as well. I quickly learned to dread seeing the letters ""on an incoming BrikWars email. The AOLien invaders sent waves of abuse for BrikWars’ failure to tell them what to build, or because they couldn’t find a button that started a videogame version, or because they couldn’t download building instructions for example units and therefore found the game unplayable. Too many products of American public schooling, angry at being deprived of having someone telling them what to do, were completely missing the point of a game and a toy that are both about making creations of your own invention. Offers to refund their money (BrikWars has always been a free download) only resulted in further abuse.

Regardless, the AOL users, while loud and annoying, were little more than an irrelevant distraction from my target audience of people with brains. The worse problem were the more intelligent morons, the idiot-savant Anoraks,2 adept with details and calculations but oblivious to the more critical objective of having fun. I started hearing one horror story after another of a breed of player whose single-minded goal seemed to be the derailment of his group's enjoyment in favor of making sure everything was done By the Book and, above all, that his personal interpretation of the rules was Right. The story that topped it off was of a BrikWars battle staged at a LEGO-enthusiasts' convention, in which the guy running the game was such a rules nazi that he literally made his players cry rather than let them have fun.3

From that point forward, the BrikWars rules became a personal battle between myself and the Anoraks of the world. But how do you write rules to stop people from following rules? Strident commands to ignore the rulebook had no effect; nor did long passages dividing Anorak behavior into bullet points and disallowing each one in specific. For some guys the compulsion to be Right was just too strong.

So with the 2000 and 2001 editions I tried a different tack: I set out to give the Anoraks more building-blocks than they could put together. I concentrated my efforts on overloading the book with so many details, systems, and optional sections that anyone trying to obey all of them would be forced to throw their hands up in defeat, leaving only the superior breed that knows how to treat rules with the proper disrespect. I happily congratulated myself when the web’s hardcore wargaming sites panned BrikWars in their reviews. There are plenty of adequate games catering to the wargamer mindset; BrikWars was intended for the construction-brick mindset, whose brains are expertly trained to pick out the specific elements that serve their goals and to chuck the rest.

It was a brilliant effort. In the end, it was a complete failure. And that failure’s name was NELUG.

The New England LEGO® Users’ Group has been the wellspring of a frightening proportion of the LEGO® fan community’s most dominant centers of power, including the LUGNET™ newsgroups, the Peeron™ parts inventories, and lately even laying claim to the ultimate prize, the BrickShelf™ galleries.

By some trick of fate or geography, the members of that group represent a concentration of Anorak powers more viciously intensified than can be found in any other construction-brick club in the world. No matter how desperately I struggled, I couldn’t create a volume of detail larger than Dave Eaton could memorize, or systems and formulae complex enough to satisfy Shaun Sullivan's unslakable thirst for obscure modifiers. No system of rules was woven tight enough that Joe couldn't twist loopholes out of them. And no matter how daringly clever, no counterintuitive passage or trick of psychology could prevent Jonathan from using every game as a platform to aggressively pursue an agenda of proving himself Right.

So I offer you the tenth-anniversary edition of BrikWars as a kind of apology. I did everything I could to write a game that was impossible to play, but what seemed automatic at age eleven has proven hopeless in the age of the Internet. So I’ve given up. I humbly present BrikWars 2005, a game that works for everybody, construction fans and Anoraks alike.

But just because the rules are playable this time, don’t feel obligated to follow them. Never forget who they’re written by, and his long history of legislative deceit.

Mike Rayhawk, September 2005



1 "Lego Wars," Eric O’Dell and Todd Ogrin, ©1991. Lego Wars was not associated with The LEGO Group and was annihilated for making improper use of the LEGO® name. LEGO’s legal team did their best to obliterate the files from the web, but they can still be found moldering away in forgotten archives by adventurous types daring enough to Google for them.

2 I don’t remember who suggested the term Anorak, or why we originally thought it made sense, other than that we’re fond of words ending with the letter K. UK trainspotters are infamous for their dorky attire, and this may have been the source of the name.

3 I heard this story secondhand from Adult Lego Enthusiasts on the scene, which throws the matter into some doubt. It's been my experience that hardcore ALEs are unrepentantly vicious and backbiting when gossiping about one another, and their stories sometimes bear only the vaguest relation to the truth. However I should also add that if I remember correctly, this particular gentleman ended up getting hired by The LEGO® Company a little while later, which makes me think that the story of his purported sadism towards the enthusiasts is a little more believable.


Legal Disclaimer
Navigation Bar Legal Disclaimer The BrikWars Universe QuikWars! 1: Gameplay 2: The Mighty Minifig 3: Minifig Weapons 4: The Player Turn 5: Combat 6: Minifig Heroes H: The Horse 7: Special Creations 8: Squads
The BrikWars Universe