The History of Wargaming – Part Two

Part one

Following the developments of the three Johann’s wargames, wargaming attracted very little attention until 1870 when Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian war.

This victory over France was claimed by many to do with Prussia and her wargaming tradition as Prussia had no tactical edge in weapons, numbers or the training of its troops. The only difference were the Prussians were the only army in the world to practice wargaming.

Following this the first Kreigsspiel manual was published in English for the British Army in 1872. While in America, Krieggspiel was introduced in 1882 and used on US Naval Colleges from 1894.

Little Wars (1913)

H.G. Wells developed the first set of rules to play miniature wargames in 1913. Known as Little Wars, these rules were intended to be basic and fun. They did not use dice or tables for attacks. Spring loaded cannons would fire pellets to physically knock over enemy models while models in hand to hand combat had a specific number of models removed depending on the sizes of the two forces in combat.

Little Wars never caught on, which was perhaps due to the World Wars and public sentiment towards those wars.

Jack Scruby (1955)

In 1955 a Californian named Jack Scruby began making inexpensive wargame miniatures out of type metal. However, his major contribution to the hobby was in creating a network of wargamers across the US and UK. At the time waragming was niche and wargamers struggled to find each other. Scruby organised the first wargaming convention which was attended by fourteen people. From 1957 to 1962, he self-published the world’s first wargaming magazine The War Game Digest through which gamers could publish their own rules and battle reports.

War Games (1962)

Meanwhile in the UK, Donald Featherstone had started writing a series of influential wargame rules which represented the first main stream publishing of the hobby since Little Wars in 1913. Titles such as War Games, Advanced Wargames and Solo Wargaming saw such an uplift in the popularity of the subject that many other authors were able to publish their own rules as well. This combined with emergence of popular miniature manufacturers such as Heroic & Ros meant that the UK hobbyists had a large collection of rules and miniatures to use.

In 1956, Tony Bath published what was the first ruleset for a miniature wargame set in the medieval period. These rules were a major inspiration for Gary Gygax’s Chainmail (1971), which in turn became the basis for the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons.

From 1983 to 2010, Games Workshop produced what was the first miniature wargame designed to be used with proprietary models: Warhammer Fantasy. Earlier miniature wargames were designed to be played using generic models that could be bought from any manufacturer, but Warhammer Fantasy’s setting featured original characters with distinctive visual designs, and their models were produced exclusively by Games Workshop.

Solo Wargaming for your Favourite Games

I’m in the process of creating a series of Wargaming Aids which allow players to play their favourite games in a single player format against an AI controlled enemy army. To find out more on this click here.

For as little as £1 a month (the price of a chocolate bar) you can help support me in this endeavour and receive cool perks as a thank you, such as access to our Discord Server as well as downloadable copies of the gaming aids which you can print out and use at home.

Why not pop over to Patreon and sign up and help me in this project? Money raised will go towards making these as physical products.

Leave a Reply