Saturday 30 June 2012

A Discussion about Tanks Part 2

The second (and final) part of this article.

If reading about the "fulgent example" in the first paragraph of the second scan gives you a feeling of deja vu, that's because this and the following paragraph seem to have been repeated from Part 1.

Friday 29 June 2012

A Discussion about Tanks - 1967 interview with Sir Basil Liddell Hart

Reprinted from Tank magazine in Wargamer's Newsletter ~146 in May 1974. The second part will follow later.

Thursday 28 June 2012

The War Game 1900

Reprinted in Wargamer's Newsletter #170 of May 1976 from Royal Magazine of May 1900. An intersting article on the use of kriegspiel.

Early Wargames Clubs

From Wargamer's Newsletter #109 of April 1971, a brief note on the Oxford University Wargames Club (1877-1914). It refers to other clubs in existence in 1911, including The Inns of Court OTC, the Bristol Tactical Society, and the Cambridge University club.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

David A Wesely - The Place of Fantasy in Wargaming

Appearing in Wargamer's Newsletter #196 from July 1978, this article responds to previous discussion and debate in the pages of WN about the place of fantasy and science fiction in the hobby, and makes a few interesting predictions.

Monday 25 June 2012

Put out the Flags - 200,000 hits

I went out, came back and found Vintage Wargaming has gone past 200,000 hits. Thanks to everyone who vistis, comments, contributes or has othersise supported VW.

Literature by Wargamers #1 - The Forgotten Don Houghton

A real oddity - one of the things I stumbled across when compiling my Wargamer's Newsletter index - is this book by Don Houghton, of At the Colonel's Table fame. I had absolutely no recollection of seeing any of this before. The whole thing is given a slightly surreal air by the idea of a competition for those fighting the engagements in it as wargames and writing them up, plus Don Featherstone's review suggesting using Airfix 1/32 figures (including Airfix footballers as the female contingent...????). As far as I know no Battle Reports from this competition were ever published (though I may have missed them).

I bought a copy off Abebooks the other week for 64p - a whole 1p less than it cost when it first came out.

Reproduced below are the advert in Wargamer's Newsletter #172 from August 1976, together with the announcement of the competition, and DF's book review from the following month.

Friday 22 June 2012

Early ad for Gygax & Arneson Rules July 1975

I'm conscious Vintage Wargaming has had a lot of hits and added many followers recently due to posts from Wargamer's Newsletters of articles by Gary Gygax. There isn't a huge seam of information on early Dungeons & Dragons or Fantasy wargaming in Wargamer's Newsletters, although it is acknowledged as an emetging theme and Don Featherstone certainly didn't ignore it.

There are still a number of Gary Gygax articles to follow, although some of these are converned with historical gaming. In the mean time here is an advert from Wargamer's newsletter #160 from July 1975.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Waterloo Day Saturday 21st June 1975

Thanks to Mike for sending me scans of the cover, list of exhibitors, and afternoon programme (the morning section has not survived the passage of time) from this event, held by Arms and Armour Press to launch their English language edition of Henry Lachouque's Waterloo.

The picture at the head of this post is of the cover of the 1975 edition. I have also added below Don Featherstone's report on the event and review of the book, both from Wargamer's Newsletter #161 from August 1975.

Ted Suren

Inspired By DC over at Unfashionably Shiny I have dug out an interesting oddity to do with Ted Suren and his "Willie" 30mm figures. They are caricatures by Bryan Fosten of figures in Suren's range - I've never seen anything else quite like these. They come from the rather classy calendar produced in 1969 to promote the range.

I have also found a more salubrious picture of Mr Suren to illustrate this post.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

The Battle of Greenhill Farm 1776

Another battle report by Dave Barnes, this time a fictional AWI battle, which appeared in Wargamer's Newsletter #173 in August 1976.

Monday 18 June 2012

Discovery: Les Higgins Subscription Figures

In an earlier post I mentioned the earlier Les Higgins ECW figures which were available on subscription. From Richard via John C of 20mm Nostalgic Reveival I have received this image of a letter from Les Higgins which accompanied the fulfiilment of an order for these figures. It may not be a complete list (the order may not have included examples of all the figures available) but it is the first time I have seen anything approaching a list for these figures, so I thought it would be useful to post it here and also on The Old Metal Detector.

In case the photo is hard to decipher (it is not a scan) here is the list:

English Civil War


King Charles I with cloak
Royalist fencing (with cloak)
Royalist fencing
Cavalier standing
Cavalier for horse


Oliver Cromwell
Walking Roundhead
Roundhead fencing in low position
Roundhead fencing standing

Universal figures

Running musketeer
Musketeer shooting
Officer doffing hat
Pikeman standing
Pikeman receiving
Pikeman at push
Musketeer, gun on shoulder
Running figure
Trooper for horse

Other Periods

Guthram 878 AD with cloak
Grenadier 1742
Queens Cameron Highlander

Guthrum was a Dane who first defeated and then surrendered to King Alferd at the Battle of Chippenham in 878 AD. This figure is almost certainly the one posted last week by Harry P here on his Parum Pugna blog.

Wargamers in Literature #1: Neville Thwick

Inspired, as frequently, by Conrad Kinch (of Joy and Forgetfulness - this post here) I have decided finally to post the following. Having received no response to a request to Penguin Books for permission to publish it, I will treat this as a long quote instead.

It is from Chapter Four of Spike Milligan's marvellous novel Puckoon, first published in 1963 and published by Penguin in 1965.

I'm not aware of many other wargamers in literature. I can think of one in fiction - a villain in a Dick Francis novel who suffocated someone by encasing their head in ModRoc - but I wouldn't call it literature. Mr Neville Thwick is memorable in his own right: the author's psychological observations are interesting too. As far as I know Don Featherstone seems to have omitted to review it in Wargamer's Newsletter.

“Immediately, Mr Neville Thwick, a thin, veiny, eel-like man with acne, deftly replaced the flags. He had volunteered for the job. Insignificant since birth, sticking pins in maps gave him the secret power he craved. The walls of his attic bed-sitting room were hung with treasured maps of famous battles, campaigns and sorties. Solfarino, Malplaquet, Plassey, the Somme, the Boyne. There were three hundred in scrolls under his bed and scores more, carefully indexed, placed on every shelf and ledge. He possessed his own pin-making machine, and a small triangular printers' guillotine for manufacturing flags. Power, what power this combination held!

Every night Mr Thwick would leave his desk at Mills & Crotts bird-seed factory and catch the 33a tram to his home. On arrival he would prepare tea and perhaps a one-egg omelette. After a wash and shave he would place a battle-map of his choosing on the floor. From a chest he would select a military uniform suitable for the period. Dressed so, he would pace the room, making little battle noises with his mouth. Last Sunday had seen his greatest victory. After much deliberation he had decided to re-contest Waterloo. Dressed as Napoleon he placed himself at the head of the French army of 600 flags. The thought of it had made him weak, he felt giddy and sat down to massage his legs. After a measure of ginger wine, he felt strong enough to continue. There followed a night of move and counter move. Despite knockings on the walls from sleepless neighbours, he continued his battle noises, thrusting flags hither and thither. He force-marched a platoon of French Chasseurs till their points were blunt, he reinforced Blucher with a secret supply of mercenary flags from Ireland and destroyed the Prussian threat to his flank. At three o'clock he played his master stroke. He thrust a white flag right into the English H.Q.

Wellington and his staff were humbled in the dust. To the accompaniment of the people around hammering with shoe heels and brooms, he accepted Wellington's sword and surrender. Then victorious to bed with a hot water bottle and a spoonful of Dr Clarkson-Spock's Chest Elixir. Next morning, dressed as a civilian, with very little resistance, Wellington's conqueror was evicted by his landlady.

Living in the Y.M.C.A. curtailed his activities, but the present job kept him in practice until conditions changed. After all, peace, as any good general knew, couldn't last for ever, and the only way to end wars was to have them.”

And Conrad I might have been inspired - but I haven't turned off word verification (yet).

Saturday 16 June 2012

The Generation Gap Goes to War - by Dick Mitchell

Here are both parts of this article, by Dick Miller from Wargamer's Newsletters #154 and #155, January and February 1975.

A salutory tale.

Thursday 14 June 2012

How to win a war - throw a five and stampede the elephants

From Wargamer's Newsletter #88 of July 1969, and repronted there from the Evening Standard (the London evening newspaper). The article includes sightings of Peter Young, Chris Ellis, and Don Featherstone's elephant rules. Further thoughts on elephants in wargames can be found on Harry P's blog Parum Pugna here.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Gary Gygax on Fantasy Battles

From Wargamer's Newsletter #127, from October 1972.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

The Combat at Pigeon's Ranch by Chares Grant

This version of this article is from Wargamer's Newsletter #77 August 1968, athough it is reprinted from an earlier Wargamer's Newsletter. I don't have this earlier version so I don't know in which issue it first appeared.

It is of particular interest as it relates to Charles Grant's earlier American Civil War gaming, which as I understand it predated the SYW set up represented by The War Game.

Monday 11 June 2012

More on the Big Battle League and the Invasion of Arcadia 1975

Peter Merritt has been in touch about the Invasion of Arcadia and kindly passed on his write up of the game to be posted here. A little bit like the Ukes he can say, "i was there"...

"I was a member of three clubs at the time - South London Warlords, SELWG and Whitehall Warlords - and therefore helped to co-ordinate our 'combined tank corps'. There was a LOT of prep before the game (the article aludes to this), including planning meetings and kit collection. The rules for l/r fire were on a LOGARITHMIC scale(!) which didn't bother me, but Mr Wise was definitely out of his depth (although to be fair, he was not alone)... However, our side had a superb guy doing initial co-ordination, with lots of modern soviet doctrine (and kit), who also took a very 'operational' approach - once the broad plan was agreed, sectors were allocated and other groups given carte-blanch for deployment. Lists of useful kit were also submitted (see later), and key assets pooled under CinC reserve; very 'Stavka'.

The combined SLW, SELWG and WW 'division' held the right flank of the defences (about 1/3 of the entire frontage), which unfortunately had the asst umpire - so didn't appear much in the write-up (although to be fair it was only the secondary beach). About half the equipment was WW2 vintage (shed loads of artillery, flak, T34s, artillery, and German light flak; oh, and artillery), with the 'modern' kit (T55, M60s and Centurions) held in reserve.

Our front faced a heavily reinforced 'Israeli' battlegroup (I believe) with bags of modern a/c and special forces in support - which would have been great if facing 1973 arabs (or Pact for that matter). Unfortunately for them, they found that:-
# radar jammers are no good against thousands of unguided 20mm AA rounds! We actually set-up some big 'juicy' targets (big rader stations etc [which we weren't using]) in order to temp their fighter-bombers into our own 'valley of death' - and they did, time and time again....
# no matter how 'special', infantry forces are not Nebelwerfer/Katyusha-proof (they quickly knocked-out a big [old] coastal battery on some cliffs, but no-one came to relieve them in time...I seem to recall the rescue h/c was caught in the deluge of Nebelwerfer fire!)
# a few high-tech ATGM launchers are NOT the best way to stop a 'charge' by 30-ish T34s, which at one point overran part of the beach until forced back by point-blank naval gunfire (not easy with one turn's targetting delay)!

Their frogmen did do very, very well; the guys running this (and some other special forces assets) were very 'switched-on', but fortunately for us no-one on their side seemed interested in their suggestions/warnings - including not cancelling the big para-drop after the flak suppression mission failed, the survivors landing right on a huge tank/mech force, already on full alert. Seemed very different to our C-in-C (a real 'Zhukov') who insisted on one rep from each front reporting back each turn, apart from any written notes; this was not just for orders, but true command discussions took place, especially during the night periods.

The frogmen were helped because the river formed a major club/unit boundary, and although we had agreed who was protecting each bridge, our neighbours had removed their guards but forgot to mention it.... To be honset, the forward bridges were of more use to the enemy, so no-one (of the of our division) was that fussed; as soon as the first blew, we had arranged a reception at the next two obvious targets. Well, it gave the heavy mortars something to do as the invasion was a bit behind schedule!

As mentioned, all the defending clubs pooled critical assets like a/c and strike h/c (about 20+ models in the latter case), which is what did for the attacker's last big tank assault (their own much more limited effort and unescorted attack was seen-off by the SLW People's Air Defence Regt [=massed Airfix Mig15s] flying CAP). This assault had been seriously delayed in any event by some cargo a/c making an almost unopposed run along the big forest (where everyone was obviously sheltering), and instead of paratroops it went gaily spreading A/T mines from automatic launchers. All this stuff was straight out of Janes' latest editions, with which Mr Wise was all-too familiar by the end of the weekend!

There was also the Saturday-night scratch built German coastal sub, which caused consternation on the Sunday among unescorted follow-up waves (the confusion was more then the actual damage caused - it's why one lot landed at the wrong end of the beach). All-in-all it was a very tough fight, and we were especially pleased at how the WW2 kit (massed T34s, light AA and Nebelwerfers) had caused such problems to our high-tech reliant opponents. Our resident T34 maniac was most pleased at the end to punch-through the thin ATGM ring and get to the beach with enough kit to start firing over open sights at incoming landing craft, thus proving Rommel was right!

The host club actually did very well considering the odds, vast numbers of arguing gamers, untried rules etc, as evinced by the immediate clamour for a campaign (see below).

There was a tremendous 'arms race' in the run-up to the game. You had to have the models, painted and ready (no partials), which was great for me - multiple tins of humbrol green/earth spray and 20+ Airfix polythene M60s and Centurions.... But top prize goes to our North London leader who scratch-built a perfect recce Mig25 which flew 5K+ ft (?) above the opposition's flight of brand new Airfix F14s. Annoyed? Yes, they were....

They also forgot about camoflage (you could prep so much trench OR camo). Given the leathality of the weapons, I opted for loads of cammo netting, which had to be recce'd for effective fire to be laid, which lead to lots more a/c losses.... And the l/r sensors (in 1976) were no use either - because the always WAS 'something' under every piece of netting, it's just that at l/r a clapped-out old Pzr4 wreck and assorted junk was identical to three or five closely-parked T34s. Or a masked battery of light flak!

But could we pull the same 'scam' today with our WW2 kit? I think not - I believe 'modern' modern stuff would trash us (night/smoke vision, RPVs, computer targetting & counter-battery etc), apart from most old kit bouncing off Chobham armour!

The Campaign:
The enthusiasm generated an entire fake world campaign (designed to generate battles), with economic factors affecting what units could be built. All I remember from this phase is:-
# using a series of 'front' companies and allies to corner the world supply of rubber
# 'recruiting' a huge militia force of my WW1 plastic figures (you had to actually have the models for your units)
# launching a long-range airstrike to cripple one of our bigger, stroppy neighbour's oil production
# selling the rights to a strategic island airstrip - to lots of people! When one big lot finally began to smell a rat and insisted on taking possession (more payments), we also acquired a wing of brand-new F14s which they flew-in unescorted (the 'ground crew' were liberally mixed with our own special forces).
# and last but by no means least, we staged a massive coup-de main on another country by arranging for our extensive and ubiquitous national 'tanker fleet' (lots of hidden soviet naval amphib stuff) which just happened to be docked/passing a few minutes before war was declared......

The campaign fizzled-out as campaigns always do - our clubs didn't do any more big games, and the problem as ever was how to balance the NATO/WP blocks - 'third world' clubs stood no chance at all. Still, a wargaming milestone; well done to Terry Mutlow and co for the hard work."

Thanks to Peter for this very informative account.

Wargamer's Newsletter Index

I just finished last night the indexing of the Wargamer’s Newsletters I have. I’m posting below a list of the ones I’m missing, in case anyone has them and wants to send me the relevant information to add to the index. Having done a large number of them I know this is quite a commitment however.

I have indexed articles, book reviews and regular features – Wargamer of the Month, Counsels of War, The American Scene, Battle Report of the Month – but not the Must List, Looking Around, News from the Clubs etc.

The information indexed is:

For articles and features – title, author first name, author last name, and where appropriate theme (from a list below)

For book reviews – title, author one first name, author one last name, author two first name, author two last name, publisher

Themes used include:

17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
Napoleonic Naval
20th Century
WWI Naval
WWII Naval
Post War
Science Fiction
Board Games

Issues I am missing are:


The last issue I have is 214 – I don’t know if there are more after this one; the editorial says Tradition have pulled out but announces the Newsletter will continue. It is the last one in the long run that I have, anyway.

I'll wait abit to see if I get any extra information in, and then I will see how best to make the index avaialble - though my main purpose in doing it is to help me manage and keep track of content for Vintage Wargaming. I have compiled the index in Microsoft Excel.

If anyone wants to send me any information from the "missing" issues, please contact me using the link in the Contacting Vintage Wargaming page (next to Home at the head of this page. If you contact me first, I can send you a blank spreadsheet into which to enter the information.

Friday 8 June 2012

European Championships

One result of my current indexing of the issues of Wargamer's Newletters I have has already had the desired sffect of throwing up items to post that I don't remember or have forgotten.

One timely find is this article by Brooks and Douglas from Wargamer's Newsletter 150, from September 1974.

With Poland and Greece kicking off Euro 2012 in Warsaw tonight, it seems appropriate to post it today.