Saturday, 7 September 2013


A trip down memory lane...

Instead of doing something more important, this morning I spent some time reading through Don's War Games. Neither of my two copies are originals, both were picked up years later second hand, my first copy being long lost. One is a 1972 reprint and the other a reprint from 1976 which looks like this. 

On reading it again I was really impressed with the book. In addition to the usual introductory material (like how to make your own lead soldiers!) the book has four sets of rules:
  • Ancients by Tony Bath
  • Horse and Musket (ACW) by Don
  • Modern Warfare by Lionel Tarr
  • Simplified Modern Warfare by Don
Each set of rules is accompanied by a description of a battle using the rules and a set of photographs showing how the games work. Quite frankly, these rules look quite good. They are straightforward, don't require a big table (two of the three games described are on 6' by 3' tables) and still look fun. The Tarr rules are a lot more complex and really need a bit more description about how to use them (number of men in a unit?) but they have a really interesting "strike point" mechanism for all fire other than small arms.

As well as being typically 1970s in style the dust jacket carries some great quotes from reviews:

"Unusual, interesting and entertaining" Yorkshire Evening Post
"Excellent layouts for historic battles" Daily Telegraph

It also carries an advert for Advanced War Games:

"A fascinating book for the war-games experts who can now regard their hobby almost as science" Manchester Evening News

Ironic given that Don's view of wargaming is that it is a pastime not a pseudo science!

My copy of Advanced War Games is a 1970 reprint picked up second hand and it looks like this:

It has some great content ranging from firing sticks and paper computers to something called the "Bulgin melee system" which sounds like a Common Agricultural Policy arrangement for peas, beans and lupins. Inevitably, complexity creeps in along with a lot of simply mad ideas. At this stage I was old enough to go off on my own adolescent complexity kick. I invested in the London Wargames Section Napoleonic rules (pink paper in a curly plastic binder with a picture of a gun on the front?) and had to learn about "impetus" whatever that was!

One last stop in memory lane is Solo Wargaming:

Mine used to look like this, a very nice hardback with great illustrations and suggestions about using matchboxes for hidden movement. Unfortunately I sold mine (for not much) to a second hand book shop in the early 1980s. I immediately regretted it but I haven't yet found the heart to buy one of John Curry's recent reprints. Well, one day maybe.

Time to get on with real life but perhaps a nice cup of tea first and some reminiscences about Airfix Combat Group soldiers and Napoleonic French Artillery.......and maybe Advanced Wargaming for bedtime reading!