Man of TIN Advent Calendar 2019 Day 4: The War Game for Scouts and early War Game Pioneers



Thanks to a tip off from Phil at Tiny Tin Men and several readers, I have recently bought a copy of The Wargaming Pioneers, edited by John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project.

Available, as are many Wargames books by Bob Cordery, on

Inside  are several interesting  sets of early rules,  not only the well-known H.G.Wells’ Little Wars, but others from late Victorian up to WW2.

“Volume 1 of the Early Wargames series contains a compilation of fascinating pre-Donald Featherstone wargames written between 1898 and 1940. Prior to Donald Featherstone publishing his classic book War Games in 1962 there were numerous attempts by other authors, to create wargames. H.G. Wells’s 1913 Little Wars, was the best known early wargaming book, although only one of a number of early wargaming rules. The many similarities in the rules indicate that H.G. Wells was clearly familiar with some of these when devising his own rules.” John Curry

This book contains selected key wargames all written between 1898 and 1940 including:

  • Notes on the Robert Louis Stevenson Game (1898)
  • The Great Wargame (1908)
  • War Games for Boy Scouts (1910)
  • Little Wars (1913) by HG Wells
  • Sham Battle 1929 (Extract) by Lt. Dowdall and Gleason
  • Mechanix Artillery Duel (1932)
  • The Liddell Hart Wargame (1935)
  • Captain Sach’s War Game (1940)
  • The obvious connection to my Scout Wide Games was the War Games for Boy Scouts (1910), written by A.J. Halladay, a Boer War CIV volunteer veteran who later went on to run Skybirds aeroplane and tank models and figures (perfect for wargaming). Now also reissued

    Scouting Wide Games using STS / Little Britons 42mm Range Boy Scout LBB30 (Spencer Smith Miniatures) including my Girl Scout conversions.

    War Games for Boy Scouts 1910

    I found these Scout War Games rules a curious thing, more like a campaign or map game with terrain marked out by paper pin flags.

    To be honest I  couldn’t really see what role toy figures played.

    The rules rely heavily on an Umpire. I want my Scout Games to have a solo option.

    A simple points system for choosing a force is described.

    The supply of food / supply lines are covered.

    These rules are a historical oddity that at present which add little to my or Alan Gruber’s (Duchy of Tradgardland) aim to bring Scouting Wide Games to the Tabletop or Back Garden.

    These 1910 rules stem from a time, just before Little Wars 1913,  when you could have put the word Boy Scout on anything and sold it,  such was the popularity and commercial opportunity that Baden Powell’s Scouting created.

    I wonder how many Boy Scouts actually did get around to using these 1910 rules with their lead toy soldiers.

    There is a post Boer War concern with manliness, fitness and Empire that links these Halladay rules with the wider concerns of Mafeking hero Baden Powell’s  scouting movement.

    Overall a fascinating book looking at the echoes of Featherstone and Wells on early rule sets

    Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 4 December 2019.

    B.P.S. Blog Post Script 

    John Curry also reprinted as a free PDF some American rules with a curious almost Robert Louis Stevenson feel, the  Tin Army of the Potomac,  a curious Little Wars type hand drawn and lettered games rule book from 1888, including pages erupting with or  disrupted by the charming scrapbook illustrations of late Victorian flat soldiers.

    Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, on 4th September 2019 – Day 4 of our Advent Calendar.