I purchased the Judges Guild Ready Ref Sheets from RPGNow several days ago.
The Ready Ref Sheets include roughly 60 pages of tables and other content, both stimulating and stale.
Stimulating content includes rules for "Offensive Locution". For example, Characters can use witticisms and repartee to try to affect combat: successful repartee will stop your opponents from attacking, while successful witticisms will allow you to strike your opponent first. What a fantastic idea! If employed as both role-and roll-playing (rather than simply the latter), the idea of repartee and witticisms in combat would add a fascinating dimension to a pirate / robin hood / swashbuckling / three musketeers campaign!
As for the stale content? How about two pages of rules for initiating and maintaining a successful amorous liasion?
Overall conclusion? For all its faults, at $3, Ready Ref Sheets is one Judges Guild product you should not be without.
Several of the included combat tables in the Ready Ref Sheets are printed (with permission) from the Chainmail rules for medieval miniatures. Most of you will already know that the standard combat rules for Original Dungeons & Dragons assumed ownership and use of Chainmail, but that an "alternative" set of d20 combat rules were provided in OD&D, for those OD&D purchasers who did not already own Chainmail. By the time Basic and Advanced D&D replaced OD&D, those "alternative" d20 combat rules had become -- and still are -- the standard. Whether the recommendation to use Chainmail combat was simply a marketing ploy by Gary Gygax, to sell more books, or whether he truly considered the Chainmail rules to be superior, I cannot say.
What I can say is that, looking at the Chainmail man-to-man combat tables, I am struck by how different the Chainmail combat rules operate, as compared to the now accepted wisdom of the D&D community.
Some of that accepted wisdom:
1. Attack probabilities are linear functions.
2. Shields provide additional protection from attacks.
3. Swords are the most effective weapons.
4. Plate is better than Chain, is better than Leather.
In studying the Chainmail combat tables, you will discover that none of that accepted wisdom holds true in all cases!
Take attack probabilities. In standard d20 D&D combat, an +1 improvement in your combat ability will result in a flat 1 in 20 (5%) improvement in your potential combat success.
But the Chainmail combat table uses 2d6, rather than a d20, to determine a successful hit. Therefore, in Chainmail, an improvement (reduction) in your required "to-hit" number, from 10 to 9, improves you probability to hit from 16% to 28% (a 12% improvement). Likewise, an improvement in your "to-hit" number, from 9 to 8, improves your probability to hit from 28% to 42% (a 14% improvement). Think of the impact, then, that a +1 or +2 weapon would have on your combat success, using the Chainmail combat rules! A +1 weapon in Chainmail is the equivalent of +2 or even +3 weapon in the d20 combat rules. This may explain why, in Chainmail, Gygax considered Excalibur to be, at most a +2 or +3 weapon.
As for the use of shields, looking at the Chainmail tables, you will note several instances where shields are either of no value as further defence against attack, or make you more vulnerable. Case in point: a Mace hits on an 8+, whether I am employing chain, or chain and shield. Even worse: a Halberd hits on 8+ against Leather, but against Leather and Shield, 7+.
Turning to the effectiveness of swords, you will note that the mace, hammer, and morningstar all have the same or better to-hit probabilities against most armor types.
Finally, when comparing armor, there are several instances, such as with the Mace, Hammer or Flail, where Leather, rather than Chain, is the better armor, and other instances where Plate provides inferior protection.
Without a further understanding of the underlying assumptions applied to the Chainmail combat tables, it is difficult to reconcile these Chainmail combat design features with the "modern" d20 combat rules.