Saturday, July 31, 2010

In the beginning....

I started wargaming about the age of 10. The biggest influence in my early years being the books of Donald Featherstone- Wargaming, Advanced Wargaming Solo Wargaming, Wargaming Campaigns, etc. I must have had those books on semi-permanent loan from the Christchurch Library.

Many of those books are now available again thanks to John Curry and having bought several of them last year I was surprised at how much I still enjoyed reading them. The books are really more a toolkit of ideas and suggestions as opposd to the 10 Commandment style of modern rules where players are actively encouraged NOT to tinker with the rules and take ownership of their own fun.

I fondly recall my friend Ian and I as 10 year olds laboriously typing out the Lionel Tarr World War Two rules from Donald’ Featherstone’s books, and then over time modifying and adding to our own take on the front armour of a king tiger. When I was about 13 I bought my first ever wargaming book, Operation Warboard, which I had to order from the UK. Ian and I loved the way the rules were set out and these rules were incorporated into our own homebrew rules. Airborne landings and sea invasions became a staple of our games. We still prefered Lionel Tarr’s combat rules to those in Operation Warboard so cobbled the two rulesets together.

About 1986 we finally saw a copy of the WRGs WWII rules and added parts of those. About that time Ian became infatuated with D10 (too much Dungeons and Dragons) and modified the WRG tables to create his own WWII D10 ruleset which he used for many years.

One of the thing I love about old school rules is that they harken back to a day when wargaming was a hobby and not a consumer driven business. If “off the shelf rules” didn’t suit you modified or adapted them and made them your own. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy playing modern rules and GW and Battlefront have really lifted the standard for both production values of rules and the quality of figures on tables but at the same time I do feel sorry for younger players who missed those years when gaming was still in its infancy and rules encouraged players to dabble and use their OWN imaginations. I guess I’ve been lucky with my two favourite hobbies- Wargaming and Role Playing games to have started to exciting hobbies that unlock the imagination and encourage creativity- and so for that I guess I, like many wargamers my age (damn, I’m sounding old!) I owe thanks to Donald Featherstone for making wargaming accessible.


1 comment:

  1. I remember those books too, though it was Charles Grant's Ancient Wargaming and some of the WRG Ancient books that I had out on almost permanent loan.

    As I never got the figures together, most of these rules never got experimented with. Instead they tantalized me and I spent my gaming time playing boardgames.

    I did spend a lot of time tinkering with rules, but these were more speculative, in the absence of any actual gaming with figures. I had plans for campaigns that never came to fruition.