Old School Wargaming

Every now and then I check in on Mark Dudley’s blogs. I became interested in his Ilkley Old School blog (http://ilkleyoldschool.blogspot.com/) as it reminded me of the games I played when I first started playing miniature wargames in the 1970s. I never saw a copy of Charge until about 1977, when I saw it at the home of an English boy with whom I played board wargames. Instead, my first “real” miniature wargame rules were How to Play War Games in Miniature by Joseph Morschauser. I got Morschauser’s book from the public library and copied the basic rules (by hand!). I played several small games with Airfix American Revolution figures (some painted, some not) before I lost the rules and I moved onto other things. I was lucky enough to find a copy of these rules for sale at a game store about a year ago. While I don’t play them, reading through them does remind me of the fun I had with them some 35 years ago.

In rereading the rules, I think they had some revolutionary concepts. The most important was the use of several figures on a base, what Morschauser called a “tray”. Each tray was its own little unit, thus allowing players to field a larger number of individual units without thousands of figures (this was the era of 30-48 figure units). Morschauser also had advanced rules, called “The Roster System” which allowed each “tray” to have more than one hit. For example, regular infantry in the horse and musket era had 4 “circles” (hits) and 1 “cross” (a non-firing hit representing the command elements). I always liked that system and I think it was one of the reasons that I liked Volley and Bayonet. Much like Morschauser’s rules, Volley and Bayonet had 1 stand = 1 unit, and each unit had multiple hits it could take before being eliminated. I think my initial attraction to Volley and Bayonet was clearly linked to my enjoyment of the Morschauser rules some 20 years earlier.

Here’s a picture of Joe Morschauser playing one of his games:

I always wondered what happened to Joe Morschauser? If anyone knows please let me know (via a comment).

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