Simple ECW starter rules: a John Mitchell tribute

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Rules for Beginners 15mm English Civil War (collection: Man of TIN)

As a tribute to the late John Mitchell, one of figure designer Peter Laing’s colleagues in early 15mm wargames products, who died in June 2016, I am posting my battered copy of what I believe are John’s typed English Civil War 15mm starter rules (with my childhood pencil additions).

Send no cash or stamps for samples as Peter Laing has now retired! 1982 Miniature Wargames no. 1 (Figures: Man of TIN)

As far as I can remember, these rules were bought from Peter Laing c. 1982/3 and are focussed around the figures and artillery (A501 Culverin, A502 Saker) in Peter’s English Civil War ranges.

As far as I know, the rules have probably not been sold for many years since Peter Laing and John Mitchell retired. They are posted here in tribute.

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Authentically foxed, blotched and aged paper from these (JohnMitchell?) 15mm starter rules reprod(uced)and sold via Peter Laing?

John Mitchell sold starter sets of 15mm (hand painted?) Wargames armies.

The advert here does not mention ECW specifically …

John Mitchell starter 15mm sets advert (magazine and date unknown, c. 1982-3)

… but in this advert from Military Modelling October 1983 it gives more details:


Send no SAEs for details, as sadly John Mitchell has passed away but how many wargames enthusiasts started with one of these sets?

Hmm, If you could whizz back to 1983 in my Man of TIN Tiny Tin Time Machine, which starter army or armies would you choose?

Did you get figures for both sides, so both Roundhead and Cavalier?

I presume many of the starter set figures came from the Peter Laing range. The historic periods covered in the adverts match Peter Laing’s extensive 15mm catalogue well, including his trademark Marlburian figures, the unusual Crimean and Franco-Prussian War ranges and the smaller, almost half to a third of the cost for the WW2 starter set as Peter Laing only made a small WW2 infantry range which we have featured on another blogpost. The costs varied quite a lot in price!

If anyone was lucky enough to be bought or to buy one of these 15mm Starter Armies, I  would love to hear more about them in detail. Did they spark a lifelong gaming interest? Did it lead to a wider collection of Peter Laing figures? I hope that you liked them, although Peter Laing figures have both admirers and their detractors on many gaming and figure forums.

As a young gamer I could never afford a hand painted starter army – I hand painted my own choice of Peter Laing figures instead. I would have counted how many unpainted Peter Laing castings  at  6p or 7p per foot figure I could have bought for the cost of a starter army.

These rules were an interesting specific set for the ECW to supplement the simple rules for other periods available in early Donald Featherstone books. They served me well for my first few teenage years of English Civil War gaming.

The supportive business relationship between John Mitchell and Peter  Laing is hinted at often throughout Peter Laing’s catalogue:


More about John Mitchell’s 15mm card buildings and building sheets in my next Peter Laing related blogpost.

When Peter Laing retired, John Mitchell bought the Laing figure moulds whose whereabouts are currently unknown – probably.

Hopefully John Mitchell’s hand painted 15mm starter armies were the introduction to the scale and our hobby for many of today’s gamers.

John Mitchell, remembered wherever and whenever his hand-painted starter sets  of tiny 15mm metal soldiers fight for his card buildings, by  happy gamers across the world enjoy “a most satisfactory infantry action game.”

Tribute posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, 19 August 2016.




4 thoughts on “Simple ECW starter rules: a John Mitchell tribute”

  1. Thank you for posting these rules. It’s good to see that they just won’t fade into oblivion. I would almost be interested in trying to set up a couple of small armies to try them out. If I could buy one of the pre painted armies, I think I would go with the AWI. Since finding your blog I have started getting back into researching early American wars; an ideal period for small unit actions.


    1. Hello John

      I think I would struggle to decide on which starter army to choose. Strangely it might be the cheapest the WW2 one or maybe the Pony Wars one? Difficult to decide.

      I think I would have the same initial puzzle if these Peter Laing moulds ever resurface – which ones to order first? Probably the Victorian Parade Figures or something unusual like the Samurai / Maya / Aztec / Inca range?

      Hope your early American Wars research throws up some interesting scenarios!

      Mark (Man of TIN)


      1. Not trying to plug my blog, but if you haven’t seen Peter Laing Samurai or the Maya/ Aztec/ or Inca range, I managed to get samples of the different figures. If you go under “Samurai”, both of these lines will come up. The Samurai on horseback is an impressive figure. I guess hope springs eternal about the Peter Laing molds resurfacing.


      2. Why not Plug your blog? It’s an impressive achievement over time? Thanks for signposting me to the pics of these Magnificent figures on your Samurai section – never seen them before – and with your growing talent for casting complex figures, what armies you can create!
        Coming late again to the battle, I’m still reading through slowly your impressive list of blog entries and those of Ross’ Battle Game of the Month and Bob Cordery’s Wargames Miscellany. It’s like finding a new well stocked library or games shop open in town!
        Many thanks Mark (Man of TIN)


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