I wish I could trade a banana for a few painted 54mm figures!
Way back in 1966 or so, I got my first set of toy soldiers, at least the first one I remember playing with. No rules, all free play back then. It was the Marx 1964 Fort Apache set. I played with that toy a lot when I was very young. I think a few pieces are still around in the box of “big” toy soldiers that I have stored away. When my son was very young he also played with some of those old toys. The set above is slightly different from the one I had, but the figures look like the ones I had. So this is what my “old school” wargaming was like.
I just got my copy of Henry Hyde’s Wars of the Faltenian Succession. It is a compilation of his articles about how to create an imaginary nations for wargaming. The original articles appeared in Henry’s former magazine, Battlegames. When converted to American dollars, I think the price of the supplement was a bit shy of $7 (which is about the cost of a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal these days). I have always been interested in these “imagination” style of wargaming so I thought I’d risk $6 and some change to see the full package. I had read some of Henry’s ideas about this in book, The Wargame Compendium, but the full package is an excellent buy for anyone interested in creating their own imaginary nation for wargaming.
The full supplement expands the basic ideas that Henry included in The Wargame Compendium. There are 12 sections that take you from start to nearly finish in creating your own imaginary nations for wargaming. It is clearly aimed at creating nations for 18th Century style states, but with some changes would work for other periods. Included are ideas for how to make maps for your nations, movement rates for your armies, logistics, national economies, creating fictional armies, adding personalities to your campaign, linking battlefield combat to your campaign, and siege rules. Despite having played miniature wargames for 33 years and having run several successful wargame campaigns, I learned a lot from Henry’s ideas. Therefore, I can highly recommend the purchase of this supplement for those of use who don’t have the original articles from the Battlegames magazine.
You can get a copy here: http://henrys-wargaming.co.uk/?page_id=1667.
I found an online copy of Rules for the Conduct of the War-Game on a Map, published in 1896. Clearly aimed at the British military or military enthusiast, they used 6 inch to the mile maps and some sort of markers moved around the maps. Referees had a lot of leeway in the games and it does recommend to run refereed games in which the plays only see the units on the table that their subordinates could see. The rules have some interesting ideas about times to recover from morale failures, scouting, and the length of road march columns. I doubt I’d ever play these rules, but they have some interesting ideas, and I just like the “history” of wargaming as well.
Click here for your copy: Wargame on a map
I do have an interest in vintage wargaming. I don’t always find the games super exciting, but as a historian I like to study the history of my silly little hobby. One of the oldest miniature wargames was Polemos, which you can find out more about here: http://wargamingmiscellany.blogspot.com/search/label/Polemos.
I find the cover art very interesting:
I think this is from the 1888 edition of the game. Polemos was sort of a cross between a board game and a miniatures game in that it featured a table cover with squares, which functioned like modern hexes in board games, and it used miniatures, which look like painted flats in the link to the blog that discusses Polemos. What I note the most in the picture is that playing wargames hasn’t changed that much since 1888. You have the slow player (in the civilian attire) who must be taking too long to move. On the far left you can see his opponent is just tired of waiting for the first player to just move and get the game going. Finally, in the middle is the guy who seems to not be playing but is probably full of endless “useful” advise.
The picture also reminds me of how reasonable old school wargaming was. The table is a reasonable size, not some giant 6′ x 24′ nightmare. Also the number of figures was manageable. I have noted that by the 1990s (if note earlier), wargames started to require thousands of figures (ever play Fire and Fury or Empire III?). That made wargaming more of a figure painting hobby and less of a playing a game hobby. Of course Polemos came with painted figures as no Victorian gentleman probably painted his own figures; he had better things to do like be a lawyer, doctor, captain of industry or command a real regiment! That probably made wargaming a rich man’s hobby back in the 1880s (sorry, unemployed guys who live in their mother’s basement need not apply to play back in 1888). However, the reasonable number of units and reasonable table size made Polemos a reasonable game to play as the players were not burdened with running 50 units (after about 30 units I really start to lose my interest). So thinking about wargaming as a reasonable hobby for gentlemen is good food for thought for me.
A fun bit of history to share and you can learn more via the above link about Polemos.