I have also been looking at the new Battlegroup Kursk set. For an outstanding review, see here. As you'll see, it's 237 pages long, it's a modelling and painting guide, it's a 25 page history of the Kursk campaign, but... the rules only cover one year of one theatre of WW2. Want to play Poland 1939? You'll have to wait for (and pay for) the supplement. Might be out in a year or two.
Yes, I am a bit bewildered. We all know that more playable and generally simpler rules have been a notable development in wargaming for quite a while. 'Fast Play' is all over the cover of most recent sets. But paradoxically the rule books containing these simpler, fast play rules just keep getting bigger and bigger. A4 size, full colour, quite likely over 200 pages, but somehow incomplete. There's apparently just not enough room to include all you need for your period in these grand books. You'll just have to buy the supplement(s). Not to mention that using that encyclopedia-like tome at the wargames table might be bit inconvenient as well, especially if you're juggling the rulebook and the supplement whilst referring between them.
So there you are. Rules that are too much and yet not enough, at the same time. Marketing concepts seem to be getting in the way of a satisfactory product - getting in the way of utility, if you will. Maybe there are customers out there for someone who just wants to produce a rule set: minimum size, minimum fluff, maximum coverage. Customers for a rules author or a wargames company that can spell concise. But perhaps the profit margin just wouldn't be high enough. In fairness, I should add that my trawls around the interweb would indicate I'm in a minority on this. Most wargamers seem very happy with these recent rulebooks and intend to snap them up.
Funnily enough, if I ever did a third gaming period it would pobably be DBA, with a view to progressing to the 'Big Battle' variant. Ah, DBA... probably counts as Old School by now. A5 format, 52 closely typed pages covering 3500 years of history including army lists... Hmm. Perhaps that's going too far in the other direction. But make that an A4 format, a few more examples of play, and you're there. Fortunately for my bank account, I don't think I have the time to support 3 wargames periods.
And whilst I'm on the subject...
Battlegames continues to be the magazine for the thinking wargamer. On the subject of rules, columnist Neil Shuck suggested in issue 30 that maybe the way into a new period was to choose a set of rules that attracted you, and go from there. Let the rules decide. An interesting idea, I thought, but I wasn't sure I agreed. In issue 32, Mike Siggins helped me clarify my doubts by writing that he thought Saga was a good rule set, and the figures available were excellent, but having played a few games he had decided the Dark Ages was tactically a bit boring. Yes - to avoid disapointment, it's surely best to put the period first.
I believe that the way into a new period is by research - investigate the new period, get to know and understand it. That should be a pleasure in itself. Then check out the rules and figures afterwards.
Even if you're a butterfly, it's better to be an informed butterfly.