Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Wargaming Pioneers

During a break from helping my wife to sort out her father's affairs and selling my father's house I managed to read the latest addition to John Curry's History of Wargaming Project, THE WARGAMING PIONEERS INCLUDING LITTLE WARS BY H.G.WELLS, THE WAR GAME FOR BOY SCOUTS AND THE WAR GAME BY CAPTAIN SACHS 1898 - 1940: EARLY WARGAMES VOL. 1.


That may seem like a very long title, but the book contains so much of interest that anything shorter would not do the contents justice!

The one thing that struck me as I read through the book (and I came to this conclusion before reading Arthur Harman's excellent appendix to the book in which he compares the various rules contained therein) was the fact that H G Wells' LITTLE WARS was not the first book of wargames rules but that it was probably the most well known in a series of sets of rules that were published in and around the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. LITTLE WARS is the antecedent of the LIDDELL HART WAR GAME (1935) and CAPTAIN SACHS’ WAR GAME (1940) but it also appears to be the descendant of THE GREAT WAR GAME (1908).

Of particular interest to me was the inclusion of:
  • THE WAR GAME FOR BOY SCOUTS (1910) because of it is a more strategic/grand tactical game than the others,
  • SHAMBATTLE (1929) because of some of its very interesting game mechanisms, and
  • MECHANIX ARTILLERY DUEL (1932) because it features exploding ships, forts, and tanks (!) and appears to be a version of the classic game of BATTLESHIPS but with actual guns being fired over a screen at unseen targets.
I thoroughly recommend this book to any wargamer with an interest in the history of their hobby, and in particular to anyone who has an interest in both H G Wells’ LITTLE WARS (the book contains the full text of the original version) and its most recent development, FUNNY LITTLE WARS by Paul Wright.

PS. I do get a passing mention in the book – and took the cover photograph as well – but I would have recommended it anyway!

10 comments:

  1. Got a copy of this - excellant and very interesting !.

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  2. Mosstrooper,

    I am glad that you agree!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Hi Bob,

    Certainly one for the Xmas list! Shambattle looks really good and I recall seeing a game using some very nice wooden soldiers - Foreign Legion vs Arabs IIRC.

    Did you ever make any progress with the original Polemos?

    All the best,

    DC

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  4. David Crook,

    The book has lots of things that commend it ... including the (incomplete) text of 'Shambattle'. By the way, I also remember the game that featured wooden soldiers ... and very nice it looked!

    I and others are still trying to track down a copy of the original 'Polemos' rules. We know of at least two copies ... but their owners are reluctanct to let us have sight of them.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Please continue your efforts with the Polemos rules, the game looks so interesting.

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  6. Martyn Simpson,

    I will not give up the search, but it may take longer than I originally hoped.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Hi Bob:

    Many thanks for letting us, or at least, me, know about the History of Wargaming project. Delighted to know those titles are still in print. Lots of titles to add to my wish list.

    Cheers,

    Mike

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  8. Mad Padre (Mike),

    I would strongly recommend this book and the others in the series. The project will provide any wargamer with an interest in the history and development the hobby with a priceless resource that they can dip into as and when they feel the need.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. It's a shame the Shambattle section is incomplete--I have a complete copy of the text. I guess it's too late to send it on now.

    Best regards,

    Chris

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  10. Chris,

    If you have a complete text of SHAMBATTLE I am sure that John Curry would try to include it in the next edition of the book.

    All the best,

    Bob

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