Thursday, September 12, 2013

In Which I Find a Dead Tree Copy of Little Wars

While driving through town today, I decided to stop in at 2nd & Charles and see if I could find something to spend my credit on. Something game related, preferably.

There wasn't much in the way of older rpg material there, today. Some 2e stuff. Buncha 3e stuff.

Old Warhammer stuff. The wargame, not the RPG.

And someone had dumped a shit-load of Rifts!

Curiously, people are always dumping shit-loads of Rifts at 2nd & Charles. 

Then I spotted a small little book, almost hidden.

Little Wars: Including an Appendix on Kriegspiel by H. G. Wells. With an Introduction by Michael J. Varhola and a Foreward by Gary Gygax.

The Ur-text of Wargaming! Woo-hoo! It's the 2004 Skirmisher Publishing edition. I was just thinking a couple of days ago, that I wanted to get a copy for my library. So, I snagged it!

From Mr. Gygax's Foreward:
"Consequently, Little Wars influenced my development of both the Chainmail miniatures rules and the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game. For example, it established the concept of a burst radius for cannon rounds, an idea that was translated into both the Chainmail catapult missile diameters and the areas of effect for Fireballs in D&D."
For those interested, the text is available online Here.


  1. How extensive is the introduction? Would it be worth picking up this edition for perspective on D&D or Chainmail?

  2. No. The quote above was the only passage directly dealing with Chainmail/D&D, save for his mentioning that he and his Chainmail co-author turned to other, better developed sources for inspiration in dealing with melee combat resolution.

  3. Nice find!

    I remember seeing a documentary on Peter Cushing that talked about and showed him playing Little Wars.

  4. Cool. You might be interested in the books by John Curry that are reprinting many other wargaming classics. Wargaming History Project. The Early Pioneer books are especially interesting.

  5. Incidentally, I think Gary may just be being geneorous with his credit in light of wargaming history.

    I think a huge amount og Chainmail, including cannon firing with the bounce sticks, in actuallity comes form a early 1970's Napoleonic wargame "Column, Line, and Square". This was written mostly by Fred Vietmyer and featured prominently in Twin Cities Napoleonic circles. It seems likely that Gary would have been familiar with it.

    In the late 60s to early 70s American wargaming had entered a complexity=reality phase and most would eschew earlier rulesets that were simpler, particularly Don Featherstone's, since he was quite vocal about the uselessness of complexity and many American's disagreed.

    The Column, Line and Square rules are available for free download, just Google search them.

  6. Sorry to wall of text your blog James.

    The avaialble editions are second, the Batle manual (which is a reordered and rewritten second edition, easier to learn), and the third.
    All of these post date Chainmail, but the origianl edition pre dates it.

    Second is very close to first, just more stuff.

    Also, most of the Napoleonic articles in the Courier relate to the ruleset, as does the series written by Vietmyer in the early, pre-Dunnigan/SPI, issues of Strategy and Tactics.

    If you can't find any of this material email me at middleton ---- 8vu9----- @ ---- yahoo and I can forward.

    1. No need to apologize. Thanks for the suggestions! I'll check em out.

  7. Little Wars was the book that got me started in Wargaming back in the 70s. I had watched Charge of the Light Brigade on TV, and went to the library to get a book on model soldiers I remembered had a lancer on the cover. But the library had done some reorganizing and the model books had been moved. But, nearly in their place was a book with an author I recognized, H.G. Wells. It had toy soldiers on the cover so I checked it out. I started gaming with my back of the comic book American Revolutionary soldiers...and marbles (no firing cannons).

    This led to Featherstone, Grant, Lawford & Young, Then to the local wargames store, Little Tin Soldier. It was mostly wargames there, but since it was Minneapolis, I inevitably came into contact with a weird game about dwarves and elves...

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