This used copy (in better condition than I expected) cost only a few poundsfrom Better World Books, an Abe Books Internet supplier of ex-library stock whose profits go to literacy and library projects worldwide. What’s not to like?
I never borrowed this Featherstone title from my local library, it was always out on loan.
Some supposedly simple ‘back of postcard rules’ by different gamers that Featherstone starts with.
No obvious simple (solo) convoy game rules but should be some interesting ideas. Add Bob Cordery’s book and ideas as well, it should promise to be an interesting few months puzzling out some rules for protecting my eraser ship convoy from the Wolf Pack.
Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures.
I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures.
Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules.
To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...
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6 thoughts on “Featherstone and Co. Naval War Games”
Back in th early ’70’s I’d have been reading Douglas Reeman novels but reading those extracts I am now struggling to understand why I found DF dry as dust :0)
I must seek a copy for myself.
Sometimes like a good cookbook you can read Donald Featherstone at his best for his enthusiasm and the pleasure of his prose without cooking / having to build an army for the period.
Not read any Douglas Reeman for years, one to search for again in the library https://www.douglasreeman.com
I am experimenting with the 1875 rules in the Featherstone book, but have been caught up on his typical issue of not describing the full rules. Two problems so far – are turns simultaneous? It appears shooting is. And – can ships fire or be fired on whilst being rammed?
I have found writing out the rules on a crib sheet to be very helpful for parsing many ambiguities in the rules.
Other examples are on your scanned pages 17 and 18 – what are the gun ranges for the 17 game? What score must be thrown to avoid sinking for the 18? This really WAS early days, and Featherstone’s habit and, I suspect, ethos was that the gamer should tailor the game to their own purposes!
Douglas Reeman is excellent, with plenty of game ideas too, and I have always preferred his Richard Bolitho Napoleonic naval series (under the pen-name of Alexander Kent) to O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin. (Though I do enjoy David Drake’s sci-fi reworking of Aubrey/Maturin as the RCN series, partly because the Maturin expy is a librarian.)
I think often “back of postcard rules” are a summary sheet that leave a lot assumed or unsaid, which is not helpful / hopeless for beginners in a new period or area.
As you say, gamers tinker and tweak and steal, so probably this is assumed you would launchpad onwards from these rules. This was the 1950s / 60s age of DIY everything, Practical Householder magazine etc, so lashing up your own figures, games table, terrain and ruleset with a bit of research in a few books from the local library would be half expected. Featherstone books are very “How To…” avuncular advice.
Writing out (or typing – very Featherstone) your version of the rules as a crib sheet should help to explain or fill the gaps. When in doubt, invent a rule. Change it as needed. Flip a coin. Roll a dice. If you don’t use a rule or forget it in heat of battle and still get by without it, then quietly lose that rule?
I haven’t read the 1875 rules yet. One book, many sets of rules, many periods, very good value in today’s terms of expensive rule sets.
With the gaps, I wonder if there are printer errors (mine is 5th Edition, so shouldn’t be) or if in all the cobbling together and collecting together of different peoples rules, some gaps or errors crept in?
Had Donald Featherstone playtested all these other people’s rules? I doubt it.
I shall add a few old Reeman and possibly Drake titles to the library requests for my Winter reading list.
All the fault of a £4 twin pack of pencil eraser ships …
I also have this one in my collection from the period.. worth checking??
Thanks Steve for the tip – usefully it looks like affordable reprints are available via John Curry, History Of Wargaming Project http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/naval.htm