Thursday, September 5, 2013

The passing of a legend

I, like may gamers, was saddened to hear of the passing of the one of the legends of our Hobby, Donald Featherstone at the ripe old age of 96 (not a bad innings that!). If modern wargaming traces its origins back to HG Wells Little Wars then the popularity of wargaming as a hobby today owes a lot to the seminal works of Featherstone (along with Grant and others) during the 1960s and 1970s.

Like many gamers growing up in the 70s and 80s my interest in war gaming started with the books of Donald Featherstone. My friend Ian and I must have had his books on semi-permanent loan from the Christchurch public library and the WWII rules in Wargames (by Lionel Tarr IIRC) were the basis of our own rules which we hand typed on an old typewriter (we were very keen 10 year olds!). Later we added elements of Operation Warboard and these rules were used by us for many, many years.

Featherstone’s books inspired me to delve further into history and introduced me to a hobby that as given me thousands of hours of enjoyment over the years. Even today I enjoy reading Featherstone’s books- they really were cookbook of ideas  and an approach that is missing from today’s much more polished rulesets- gamers were supposed to tinker, adapt and modify things to get the game that was right for them.  

 Donald Featherstone was one of the pioneers of our hobby and has been a major influence on it. In an era when there was no internet, or other instant means of communication to link people who shared a common interest, his books inspired wargamers around the world.

Farewell Donald, and thank you



  1. Couldn't have put it better Craig, I too started off , very similar to you it sounds like, with finding his book Wargames at the library (yes it was Lionel Tarr rules at the back of his book) and having it on almost continuous borrowing, the library got Operation Warboard in and that joined his book.
    I learned to type, making cheat sheets and rules at the same time.
    His book on tank/desert warfare was a brilliant read.

    Rest in peace old fellow, you have earned it