Sunday, 22 January 2012

'All About War Games'

My interest in the hobby seems to be slowly reviving, inspired in the main by some Old School messing about. I have been tinkering once again with my own SYW rules, which started by being based on the Horse and Musket rules of Donald Featherstone. I have now added some ideas inspired by Jack Scruby and John Schuster, as explained by the Don in his book Solo Wargames, and the rules have been simplified significantly. I have tacked on my own basic command and control rules. You can download the current iteration here. It felt a bit weird at first, tinkering with rules that I thought might never actually get used, but the fascination is undeniable. I think I may be doing a bit of solo wargaming in future, where I can please myself and watch the game unfold and see how the rules work, away from some of the time pressures of gaming with friends.

Scouring the net for more Old School inspiration, I found (to my surprise and delight) a full copy of Jack Scruby's All About War Games. You can find it here. This seminal work was 'published' in 1957 - it is made up of about 25 pages of typed information and rules, photocopied and sold for $1 at the time; presumably to any of Jack's customers who were interested. The illustration at the top of this post is the only photo in the work - showing a table and armies most of us would  be proud of in 2012, let alone 1957 (the year of my birth). If only it was in colour! Shown below is a battle map from the last page of the booklet. There is no accompanying explanation, but within 30 seconds of seeing it for the first time I was planning a SYW scenario to go with it, and wondering how my own terrain pieces could be used to reconstruct it at home.

I recently cancelled my subscription to Wargames Illustrated. My thanks to the staff member who helpfully and with good grace arranged for me to get a refund. But I was quickly becoming fed up with the magazine itself. Too many adverts, too many advertorials, too much like an industry periodical. Considering all the work that goes into making WI such a glossy product, how odd that true inspiration should come from some very basic photocopied sheets from the distant wargames past.

Of course, if this is your kind of thing, you need to visit

Best wishes 'til next time.


Peter Douglas said...


Great stuff, thanks for the link


James said...

Have you looked at Battlegames magazine? It's much more of the thinking wargamer's magazine. Not as much "oooh shiney!" but much meatier articles.


Keith Flint said...

James, yes indeed I have. I subscribe currently though I'm not sure if I will renew. As someone said in a past comment, once you get to a certain age finding anything really new in a hobby magazine gets a little hard. And the recession is biting a bit so i may decide to save money.

James said...

True enough! I only get new magazines when friends with better pay cheques buy them and pass them on!

I've thought about a digital sub (to save money and space) but without a dedicated eReader or laptop they'd just get stored on my desktop's hard drive and sit unread!

Ray Rousell said...

I subscribe to 2 mags at the moment, and like you, am seriously considering stopping, with all the info you can find online nowadays, do we really need them, especially the Flames of War mag (WI), that's really getting on my $%£&!!!

Rodger said...

Have to say I agree bwith these comments! I think I am past "that age".

Montenegro said...

Great document, Thanks

real inspiration