There are 8 different versions of Tractics rulebooks. The actual contents are identical. The rulebooks & Play Aids have three main differences in features: Binding, Chart "view" and Color. 4 Rulebooks' Binding are softcover with Perfect (square, glued "spine"), 2 are Coil (lays flat when opened). 2 Rulebooks "D & H" have a hardcover, slightly smaller 8.25x11" pages (instead of 8.5x11" like the other 6 rulebooks) and no color tabs on the edge of the page to note sections.
The charts in the back of the book are identical (just as all the rules' pages are identical) but for the shape: Landscape (at right) has the charts wider than tall and Portrait, taller than wide (below).
This is the example that Amazon gives for Standard Color which is printed on 55-pound paper stock.
For economy, Rulebooks A & B and the Journals are in Black Ink only. The rest of the products have color ink. In addition to the diagrams and illustrations, the color helps to tell which section is which: Direct Fire Mode, Infantry, Artillery, Morale etc.
Both Amazon and Lulu have an equivalent option for Standard & Premium color. What is the difference?
For some wargamers, the Premium difference may be worth it. So I include products at every price point so you can decide what you want.
The paper stock that they use for premium color is a bit heavier. Lulu's premium paper is heavier than Amazon's.
Both Amazon and Lulu have an equivalent option for Standard & Premium color. This is what Amazon says:
"Printing differences between standard and premium color ink
To lower printing costs, standard color paperbacks are printed on lighter paper (the same as our black-and-white paperbacks) using inkjet printers that are more efficient than the toner-based printers we use for premium color paperbacks.
Standard color is ideal for books with a high page count, and interiors with fewer images, where a balance between cost and quality is needed. Paperbacks printed in standard color have a matte finish and are different in sharpness and richness of color as those printed in premium color.
Premium color is ideal for image-heavy color interiors, like children's books, cookbooks, or photography books, where image sharpness and clarity is pivotal.
Note: Standard color is not available for Amazon.co.jp [and Australia]
Differences in detail page listings
You and your customers won’t be able to distinguish between the detail pages for books set up in standard and premium color ink."
This is the example that Amazon gives for Premium Color. For a non-art book, it does not seem like a big difference. Another difference is that Premium Color is printed on a bit smoother, 60-pound paper stock.
My experience during the Christmas season of 2021 is that Amazon was occasionally faster than they said it would be. For example, I ordered four softcover copies to be sent to the proofreaders on Thursday and normal shipping was to deliver it the following Tuesday. Three got it on Saturday and while the fourth was supposed to be delivered on Saturday, but it was Tuesday after all. On the other hand, the hardcover edition was to be ten days. With Lulu, the promised delivery was 8-11 days and as of today looks like it will get there in 8. So, the companies' estimates are pretty accurate or do better.
Another consideration is return policies. See the FAQ for links to those and other issues.
I have made many different editions so that you have choices. But that can lead to indecision. I initially thought that the black ink edition would be fine for me, a thrifty guy. But once I assembled the color ink edition, I thought it's nice. To me, the hardcover is not as appealing as the coil-bound approach—it lays flat when opened. The critical caveat with the coil is whether the pages will fall out with heavy use. Several buyers are very satisfied with the coil.
I should mention that part of my plan is to make a chart wall as we had back in the day. So I already got Chart Supplement #1 and had a print shop cut the binding off. I should mention that some of my friends have said that the non-vehicle charts in the Portrait are a bit small for them. Since I will have a chart wall, the Portrait-view in the rulebook is okay. And I am nearsighted, so I can look over my glasses to read smaller print than some are comfortable with.
*Once one has read the rules, most use of the rulebook is having a handy reference when making up scenarios. Otherwise, most of the game is played with reference charts. When we played a lot, we bought three rulesets to make up a chart wall (charts in the first edition were printed on both sides), plus a three-ring binder with sheet protectors for scenario design and the players to use during the game.
Back to Tractics
The unique feature for the PDF version: hyperlinks!
Hundreds of hyperlinks that allow you to instantly find in-text references to other parts of the book, a table of contents with links to 81 major sections, similar bookmarks, hundreds of links from the Index*, and links to navigate the Game Reference Charts and their rule sections.
On Game Reference Charts (like the German Vehicles pages shown here), there are multiple links when there are more than one page for a nation.
Other links take you to the relevant rules page for that chart.
*Plus with a PDF you can enter CTRL/CMD-F and Find all occurrences of any term in a blink of an eye!
Free Play Aids to Download
Tractics has numerous play aids and scenarios available, including the newsletter Duckbills: free to download. Described in Duckbills issue #4, here is a spreadsheet that automates the DFM, Direct Fire Mode: