Close Wars Simplified

Jen’s Normandy 75th Anniversary Game in her library. (Image: Jen B.)

I wish my local Library had looked a bit more like this photo by Jen when I was a child. (What was going on in the inside of my head looked like this!) My lovely local library was a busy but quiet place, a great free source of classic wargames titles, uniform references and history books but not a relaxed place to try out games or crafts.

American gaming librarian Jen B has been literally playing around with the very simple Featherstone Close Wars rules that I often use.

These were first printed as a two page appendix to Donald Featherstone’s War Games, 1962.

Jen has been experimenting with them for a range of historical periods, encouraging young gamers into (historical) figure gaming in her library workplace.

Classic 54mm Airborne versus Panzer Grenadiers? The figures pictured are those much pirated or cloned (therefore easily affordable) Matchbox American Infantry and a mix of Airfix and Matchbox Germans often found for sale in Pound Store, dollar store or bargain buckets. Perfect pocket money stuff!

Simplicity of terrain and affordable budget store figures are important in trying to welcome more youngsters, male and female, into the fantasy and historical sides of figure gaming. This affordable point is explored amongst others blog sites on my own Pound Store Plastic Warriors Blog, the Cheap Fantasy Minis Blog or the Wargaming Pastor’s DeathZap website

The original Featherstone Close Wars Rules posts can be found here:

And reposted on an interesting free war games rules site:’s_simplest_rules

Jen doesn’t have a blog of her own (yet) but left this comment on one of my blog posts: “I ran another WWII skirmish at work today, this time with rules influenced by Close Wars, with simpler measuring.”

Movement: One pencil length.

Firing: (Range/shots)
– Pistol: One pencil length/one shot.
– SMG: 1/3
– Rifle: 2/1
– MG: 3/3, but may not move and fire.
Shots hit on 5+, 6 if target is in cover.

Close Combat (CC): Figures roll off. If tied, both figures retreat one pencil length.

Each side rolls once at end of turn – on a 6 a reinforcement figure appears.

Jen wrote “It worked surprisingly well, and the players were cheering every die roll.”

Cheering? In a library? Not what I remember from the enforced hush of my childhood libraries. This is a great reaction to hear about though, clearly the children were highly engaged and the rules are simplicity itself in materials, terrain, figures, a pencil or two and some ordinary d6 dice. Good entry level stuff!

You could easily go home with a photo copy of these rules and create this yourself as a child or family with available figures.

Featherstone envisaged these simple Close Wars rules as solving the challenge of natives versus troops in small scale skirmish gaming in cluttered terrain such as Colonial era or the French Indian Wars.

It would be easy enough to adapt these rules for drop-in library gaming use to simple Wild West skirmish gunfights, French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary and the Civil War, all with suitably affordable or dollar store figures.

Can’t find cheap historical figs? Try my ManofTIN Imagi-Nations conversions!

As my Pound Store Plastic Warriors strapline or motto says: Little Wars on a Budget

I hope that Jen gets to run more of these games and I’m sure every gamer wishes this venture well.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, regular library user and 70s Airfix child, 14 June 2019

Really this Blog post could have or should have gone on my Pound Store Plastic Warriors Blog in view of its affordable plastic figure theme, so I will crosspost a link on that site.

Can you ever repeat enough pictures like these of classic plastic figures?

Blog Post Script

Mannie Gentile’s Toy Soldiers Forever blogposts on the Civil War often have the laudable focus of encouraging children to explore Civil War history and battlefields through affordable figure gaming. A website well worth a visit.

Blog Update 4th July 2019


Here is Jen’s latest American War Of Independence game in the library – muskets took the place of Rifles – the spirit of 1776, except the British Redcoats won this Skirmish. See more at