I've had a flick through the Flames of War rulebook, not quite enough to have learnt the rules - which are always best learnt through attempting to play - but enough to get the jist and to pass on my thoughts on the book itself.
First off in terms of layout and presentation, Flames sets the new standard. The book is full colour, photos on nearly every page, artwook everywhere. GW, Privateer Press et al all need to buck their game up if they want to match Flames.
Of particular note are these little boxes:
At the end of each rule description, there's a little summary box that restates the rules in bullet point form. This should be adopted by every wargame rulebook. How many times have you stopped in the middle of a game of 40k to go searching through a segment of the rules to find the key detail tucked away in the third paragraph? If your memory is as bad as mine, it'll be quite a few.
These little summaries are ideal to speed up looking up rules and for clearly laying out rules.
With every rule segment, there is a full colour picture providing an example of said rule in action. Not strictly necessary, but it certainly looks nice.
Again rather than just a page of stat lines or special rules, each unit type is provided with a nice photo example of such a unit. It's a small touch but a nice one that really improves the overall presentation of the book.
But there is always a but.
While the presentation side of things is great, the rules are well laid out and easy to understand there is a fundamental flaw with the product. And that is how well it is put together.
Simply put its rather shocking that with a book that is otherwise above and beyond the expected quality that they would skimp so much on it's binding.
This is a sample page from the book. As you can see not only has glue seeped out onto the pages themselves, they are no longer properly attached. Literally within half an hour of reading through the book, the pages were beginning to fall out.
I know there are many on the interwebs that decry Games Workshop rule books as having terribly bound spines, but usually the pages only start to become detached with their products after several months of intensive use. This started after a brief flick through.
So overall i'm mostly impressed with the rulebook. But skimping out on the manufacturing side of things has left a sour taste. All the pretty pages in the world are of no benefit if the book falls apart in your hands.