Featherstone and Co. Naval War Games

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That magical number again 793.9 and the end of its (much borrowed?) library career.  

As mentioned in my recent blog posts on my Flying Tiger Pound Store Navy of eraser ships, I have sent off for two books on Naval  Wargames.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/19/my-pound-store-naval-convoy/

One is old, one new, one much borrowed, both are hopefully blue, as blue as the cruel sea …

I await my Lulu order of  Bob Cordery’s recent Gridded Naval Wargames, highly recommended by several people, no doubt being printed and despatched at this very moment.

The distinctive 60s Book jacket design surrounded by my Pound Store ships

However first to arrive, full speed ahead, at the end of its hopefully much borrowed forty year library career, was Donald F. Featherstone’s Naval War Games.

It has its fans, others condemned on my blog comments it as dry as dust. A reprint is available thanks to John Curry’s History of Wargaming Project:

http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/naval.htm

This used copy (in better condition than I expected) cost only a few pounds from 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.

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Stirring stuff? Do you always read the book jacket blurb? Would you be inspired and buy or borrow this book? 
The Tabletop Islands chapter by Joseph Morschauser is unusual!

A wide range of Naval rules by Featherstone “and company”

Some supposedly simple ‘back of postcard rules’ by different gamers that Featherstone starts with.

Slightly hieroglyphic for beginners like many “back of postcard rules”?

Jack Alexander (Jacklex figures) design: how to make a WW1 era battleship
Three completed ‘simple’ ship models shown
An innovative Fred Jane no dice approach to calculate firing and damage!
That eternal boy Donald Featherstone dreams of Pacific War Airfix Combined Ops games
Another inspiring Featherstone image from Naval War Games …

First impressions?

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.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 23 August 2018.

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A Small Salute on Donald Featherstone’s Centenary

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My homecast Salute to Donald Featherstone’s Centenary (54mm Prince August).
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My toy soldier style tribute to Donald Featherstone, Don being the physiotherapist to Southampton FC for many years  (Airfix Footballers). He probably wore a suit and tie,  not a tracksuit.

MARCH is my excuse to photograph my MARCHing figures and MARCHing bands in my collection  so these are a small tribute to Don, the sort of Britain’s figures that he would have seen in his inspiration – H.G. Wells’ Little Wars.

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A tiny parade of some of my vintage Britain’s Guards,  MARCHing  to celebrate Donald Featherstone’s Centenary.
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Some Donald Featherstone inspiration – his 30mm Spencer Smith figures in the Plattville Valley, an ACW game from his first book (and my favourite) War Games 1962 

 

Donald Featherstone (1918 – 2013) would have been 100 years old today.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/featherstone100-donald-featherstone-centenary-20-march-2018/

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Happy Birthday Donald Featherstone! An inspiration to us all.

A little suitable light reading for the day …

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Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 20 March 2018

Featherstone100 – Donald Featherstone Centenary 20 March 2018

 

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March 1918 Late War German Infantry in 15mm by Peter Laing from my collection.

20th March 1918 is an important date in WW1 anniversary terms as the shock troops of German storm troopers stood trained, in position and poised ready to roll through Allied lines on the dawn of 21 March 2018 – Operation Michael, The Kaiserschlact or the Kaiser’s Day.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_Offensive

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Michael

Thousands of British and Allied troops were surrounded, killed or taken prisoner. My eighteen year old Maternal Great Uncle  serving with the British Fifth Army was killed several days later in this confused fighting. Only stubborn Allied resistance by scratch regiments like his and logistics – the Royal Naval Blockade of Germany starving it of war materials – saw this German knockout blow rapidly  run out of fuel and men.

Events of the Russian Revolution in 1917  through to the 3rd March 1918 – the Treaty of Brest Litovsk between Bolshevik Russia and Germany – released thousands of German troops from the Eastern Front back to the Western Front.

A more joyous event – Donald Frederick Featherstone was born on 20th March 1918.

** Some newspaper obituaries have him listed as born on 12 March 1918 but other newspaper obituaries and his death certificate listing says he was born on 20th March 1918.

That makes Tuesday 20th March 2018 the late Donald Featherstone’s Centenary anniversary or #Featherstone100.

As he came into the world, Allied victory in the Great War stood in doubt. He often said in interviews, that he chose the Tank Regiment on enlistment in 1939 because of all his family stories about the slaughter of Poor Bloody Infantry  in the trenches.

How can we best celebrate in our own small gaming ways the Centenary and life of  a man who changed my hobby life – man and boy – for the better, as he did for many gamers of a certain age?

Like many others, I owe a lot to Donald Featherstone.  Many were the warm and richly deserved tributes and obituaries on Don’s death aged 95 in 3 September 2013.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Featherstone_(wargamer)

I’m  glad a Featherstone gaming weekend happens each year with Don’s lucky dice as the annual prize. http://www.wargameshc.co.uk/event/donald-featherstone-tribute-weekend-chancellorsville-march-23-25th-inc-2018/

#bestFeatherstonemoment

My best Featherstone moment this year  was tracking down at the BBC archives and receiving a PDF of the almost illegible typed and hand annotated talk scripts of two Donald Featherstone radio talks.  As John remarked, I may have been the first person to read these since Don Featherstone in 1962/63. I have passed the copyrighted transcripts to John Curry for future use and publication through the History of Wargaming Project.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/donald-featherstones-bbc-radio-talks-1962-1963/

I have also been tracking Don Featherstone through the newspaper archives

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/donald-featherstone-tabletop-generals-daily-herald-article-march-21-1961/

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Daily Herald March 21 1961 – almost a nice 43rd birthday present!

How should we best celebrate the Centenary of Donald F. Featherstone? 

1. Read one of Don’s many books?

Plenty of military history titles as well as his wargaming books to choose from. Reprints are available through the  History of Wargaming Project set up by John Curry. http://wargaming.co

2. Play a Featherstone inspired game?

Plenty of scenarios in his books across all periods. Plenty of his simple “Back of postcard” rules on  my blog or in his books.

3. Watch the great little short video with Don and John Curry on YouTube

 

4 Listen to a podcast by Don about his WW2 experiences  from Bovington Tank Museum

http://tankmuseum.org/download?id=41236

How amazing that the author of the handtyped 1960s Wargamers Newsletter and BBC Radio talks  should be recording a podcast and only missed the games blogging age by a few years.

5. Do a Featherstone themed conversion such as finishing my Airfix footballer to saloon girl conversion?

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Don was famous for his homecasting or his conversion of one available figure into many others.

This inspired many others and does still today including Rod MacArthur who had the privilege of gaming and figure making with Donald Featherstone and Tony Bath  from 1960 onwards  https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com/about/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/donald-featherstones-unusual-take-on-casualties-and-campaigns

 

 

 

 

#MARCH-ing bands aside, my Featherstone footballer turned wildwest showgirl is my current unfinished work in progress. #MARCH

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/fembruary-post-no-4-a-womans-right-to-vote-and-serve-march/

Arguably every gaming day is a Featherstone day for many gamers, every day that we use a version of his rules, read his books or do our hobby thing, especially if you were inspired by Donald Featherstone’s books out of the library as a child, we celebrate his life, his hobby and his work.

What might you do to celebrate Donald Featherstone’s Centenary or #Featherstone100?

I’d love to hear your #Featherstone100 plans or your #bestFeatherstonemoment through your blogs or my comments page.

“The pleasure does not begin and end with the actual playing of the war-game. There are many pleasant hours to be spent in making model soldiers, painting them, constructing terrain, carrying out research into battles, tactics and uniforms …” Donald Featherstone, War Games 1962. Wise words indeed!

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The very library book that started it all for me – used in my Airfix ACW game last year.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 3 March 2018 (Centenary of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEMBruary 2018 progress so far

FEMbruary progress so far

Two or more weeks already into February, how am I doing on the three or four targets that I have set for myself to celebrate the female figures in my toy soldier and gaming collection?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/fembruary-hobby-challenge-conversions/

#FEMbruary Challenges 2018

#FEMbruary 1: look through my toy soldier collection and pick out some of my favourite female figures for this blog

#FEMbruary 2: do a tissue paper and PVA Featherstone conversion on one of my childhood 1:32 Airfix Footballers into a high stepping saloon girl (with or without rifle?) for 54mm Wild West games

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/donald-featherstones-unusual-take-on-casualties-and-campaigns/#comments

#FEMbruary 3: convert one of my Steve Weston Mexican Civilian women into a handy Votes for Women Suffragette?

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Then we had slight “challenge creep” into Challenge 4: choose a figure from Annie Norman’s range at Bad Squiddo Games

and one more challenge over on my Pound Store Plastic Warrior sister blog.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/colonial-amazons-women-soldiers-of-dahomey-and-siam/

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My Fourth FEMBruary challenge: The lovely Land Army women from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo Games have been on the painting table this weekend.

Some quick “pewtering” (a quick coat of paint and then wiped off before dry) brought out how much detail these figures have. It also usefully fills in some dark and shadowy places before the colour coat.

Rather then try and fail to emulate the superb matt realist painting on the packaging by Andrew Taylor, I thought I would use Gloss Acrylic (as I don’t have or normally use Matt paint anyway). I wanted a more gloss Toy Soldier style look which is a bit more difficult at 28mm, rather than at 54mm toy soldier size. Still some tidying up to do on the Land Girl figures including smoothing out the gloss / flesh Acrylic mix, which is a bit lumpy still.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/fembruary-3-annie-normans-bad-squiddo-land-girl-picnic-and-a-cuppa/

I was trying to second guess what figures from Bad Squiddo Games that Marvin at Suburban Militarism would choose, having incidentally introduced me to FEMbruary. I chose Land Girls, he chose Catherine The Great

https://suburbanmilitarism.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/the-fembruary-challenge/

Aim high and aspire for the top jobs, why not? Empress of Russia, or the Queens shown as my first part of the FEMbruary challenge, photographing some of the female figures in my collection.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/fembruary-challenge-1-two-queens-and-one-vc/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/fembruary-post-2-a-few-more-female-figures-and-a-florence/

More photograph blog posts in preparation.

High kicking! Work has begun on FEMbruary No. 2 the Donald Featherstone suggested Airfix footballer to Wild West saloon girl conversion. First out comes the PVA and tissue paper to add some feminine attributes, hair and then flowing big flouncy showgirl dress.

At this early stage, the big hair still looks like a 70s footballer Kevin Keegan, albeit in a dress. Some more work required here! Once the frills, chokers, flounces and real tiny feathers are added, hopefully ‘she’ will look more like a 1880s saloon girl.

Pound Store Plastic Warriors FEMbruary challenge.

The Pound Store Plastic Warriors challenge to convert these Poundland 32-36mm plastic soldier figures into tribal African style Amazon female warriors is underway. These should be colourful, more red and yellow and bling, than the white robed male desert warriors that I have worked on recently.

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/colonial-amazons-women-soldiers-of-dahomey-and-siam/

To be fair, we started late, not on FEMbruary the First. There are still nine days left of the FEMbruary challenge 2018 and there are plenty of topics and figures left for FEMbruary 2019. There is always MOREFEMber too!

What might you do you for FEMbruary this year or 2019?

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, FEMBruary 18th 2018.

The domestic modelling joys of the Roll Top Desk

Reprinted from Henry Harris, How to Go Collecting Modelling Soldiers (PSL, 1969)

Posted in response to the photos of his desirable new roll top desk for painting and modelling by Alan Tradgardmastre at the ever interesting Duchy of Tradgardland blog

http://tradgardland.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/new-to-me.html

Some illustrators I know use roll top desks for much the same tidy domestic reasons.

Henry Harris’ useful little book also has a 6 page chapter on Wargames by Donald Featherstone including a short rules section, reprinted here and those in Featherstone’s own Book Tackle Model Soldiers This Way (Stanley Paul, 1963) :

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/featherstone-simple-ww2-rules/

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 15 September 2018.

Donald Featherstone’s unusual take on Casualties and Campaigns

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Evening News September 13 1952 (Sports Desk)

Medical Science
The part played by medical science in the treatment of injuries to footballers is the subject of an interesting article by Mr Donald F. Featherstone, physiotherapist to the Southampton FC in the current issue of the Football Association Bulletin.
Mr Featherstone keeps a daily log book in which details of injuries and the treatments given have been set out. In addition weekly charts have been kept showing in graph form the rise and fall in injuries and treatments as the season progresses.

The facts help in ensuring that eleven 100 percent fit players go out to the field for each game. The policy aimed at is that the player, theoretically at least, should be ready to take his place in a team immediately his injury clears up.

In other words ‘treat and train.’
Evening News September 13 1952 (Sports Desk)

Another unusual Featherstone article for someone to track down.

This is an early press mention of Donald Featherstone in his physiotherapist years, several years before he wrote his book on sports injuries and before he was regularly (writing about) wargaming.

What interests me is the connection or overlap between a football team as a trained uniformed unit fighting a series of battles (matches) over the course of a season (or campaign)  having to deal with injuries (battle casualties) and the war games campaigns that he would shortly be involved in and writing about.

This seems to me be an interesting overlap between Don Featherstone’s professional working life and his busy recreational gaming and writing life.

Football injuries and wargames campaigns? 

I was reminded of this clipping whilst listening to the Veteran Wargamers podcast with Jay Arnold in  America, interviewing Henry Hyde about his forthcoming book on Wargames Campaigns.

http://henrys-wargaming.co.uk/?p=2710

Henry and Jay talked about how battles are changed  in real life and on the table if you are playing or disengaging from action as part of a campaign. In this situation, you are aiming to inflict as much damage as possible whilst conserving your men and materials for the next battle, whilst considering how to return the wounded or injured to front line service. Jay and Henry both mention various sports and also sports based RPG or board games in their discussion.

Calculations of 1/3 casualties are dead, 1/3 are wounded in hospital  and 1/3 return fit for the next match (the remount department) are something that Donald Featherstone suggested in the Campaigns chapter of his first games book Wargames (1962).

Usually some kind of victory conditions are involved in the rules or scenarios  – reach the enemy baseline with half your forces (sounds a bit chess-like here) or entirely defeat the enemy as in Featherstone’s Close Wars. Alternately in other rules or scenarios you might have to retreat or concede when you have lost over fifty percent of your army, a certain number of army points etc.

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Victory conditions mentioned on page one of Close Wars, this handy two page rule set by Donald Featherstone from War Games (1962).

 

There would be none of the usual  fight to the finish as my small skirmish games are, despite using  such simple rules as Featherstone’s Close Wars useful appendix to his War Games book with its varied victory conditions.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/close-little-wars-featherstones-simplest-rules/

No doubt when Henry Hyde’s Wargames Campaigns book comes out, it will be compared with Donald Featherstone’s original 1970 book on Wargames Campaigns. Copies of Wargames Campaigns are available secondhand online or reprinted fresh via John Curry’s the History of Wargaming Project website http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dfcampaigns.htm

Football otherwise didn’t  often make it into Don’s wargaming books, except a suggestion for high-kicking Wild West saloon  girls in Skirmish Wargaming converted or being made from Airfix 1:32 Footballers.

“For dance hall gírls, and those who cannot afford Rose Miniatures’ classy ladies, try converting an Airfix 54mm footballer. Adding certain natural attributes with Plasticine, trimming the waist suitably and dressing her in tissue petticoats – a high stepping Mama emerges!” (Figure sources and ideas, p.97 Skirmish Wargaming,  Donald Featherstone.)

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Can you spot the future high kicking saloon girls? (Image from EBay)

No game of mine has ever required this radical gender reassignment or conversion.

The mention of high kicking dancing girls reminds me of one of his other  non gaming books, 1970/1:

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Advert from The Stage newspaper, c. Late 1970/ early 1971

A glimpse of Donald Featherstone’s other life as a physiotherapist and author of such books as treating injuries to firefighters or Industrial injuries: Their prevention and treatment (1964)  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bjs.1800510554/abstract

Interestingly Donald Featherstone and Southampton FC were well known  enough  to have the following news widely reported in sports pages in March 1955:

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Birmingham Post, March 25 1955.

What an amazing and varied career.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, December 2017

Donald Featherstone Tabletop Generals Daily Herald article, March 21, 1961

 

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Don Featherstone’s famous sandtable and American Civil War troops, 1961. A similar set up is shown in the ACW game in War Games 1962.

Tabletop Generals – Daily Herald article, March 21, 1961
A group of men who take toy soldiers seriously prepare for a council of war – article written by Jon Akass.

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Refighting a war with hindsight often plays tricks with history. Donald Featherstone recreates a battle in the American Civil War.

Mr Donald Featherstone sent his cavalry charging towards me over the creek. I was pinned down, doomed.
“This,” I said, “seems a good time to surrender.”
“I see what you mean,” says Mr Featherstone, “but it goes to prove, doesn’t it, that you are not half as good a general as Stonewall Jackson.”
It did, too. For the battle we are fighting was one of the most elegant set-pieces of the American Civil War – the Shenandoah Valley in 1862, in which Jackson pinned down a Federal army which out-numbered him three-to-one.
With me in command, this classic encounter had turned into a dog’s breakfast.
Playing with toy soldiers is a very complex business. Mr Featherstone himself says it is like playing chess with a thousand pieces – and Mr. Featherstone does not exaggerate.

There are only about 20 wargame enthusiasts in the country and next month about half of them will attend a council of war at Mr Featherstone’s home in Southampton, another ten or so will come from abroad, one from Aden, another from Chicago.

[Man of TIN Note: the one from Aden must be Carl Reavley].
Rules
The basic rules for the British school of war games are usually taken from a book written, astonishingly, by H.G. Wells.
This is called “Little Wars” and involves actual little guns which fire actual little shells knock actual little soldiers flat on their backs.
“We have dispensed with the guns,” said Mr Featherstone, “because we now go to a lot of time and trouble to get the soldiers and uniforms exactly right.”
“We don’t want to knock them about all the time.”
Mr Featherstone, a rosily-fit physiotherapist of 42 was a sergeant in the Tank Corps, during the last war, serving in North Africa and Italy.
Modern wars, though, bore him. His speciality is the period 1861 to 1890.

Colours
“This was the last time colours were carried into battle and the troops wore elaborate uniforms. Modern war is too messy and the fire-power is too great to make a game interesting.”
He makes his own soldiers, mostly out of lead, moulded in plasticine and baked in a gas cooker. In the three and a half years since he took up the wargame he has collected 7000 soldiers ranging from Spartans to commandos.
A battle often last longer than a test match – and an entire war can linger on for years.
Playing against a Southampton accountant, Mr. Featherstone fought every ditch of the American Civil war over two years. This ended with the Federal troops screaming for mercy outside Washington.
“We sometimes get results like that because we can avoid the mistakes made by the losing side. The Indian Mutimy, for instance, always ends up with the total defeat of the British. We try to be as realistic as possible, but there are limits.”
Mr Featherstones’ version of the war games works like this.
The two opposing generals work out their first manoeuvres on maps, each trying to outwit the other, until they area ready to do battle. This usually happens at the same place as the original life-size battle.
They then go upstairs where Mr Featherstone has a table laid out with wet sand. The terrain is moulded and painted and a screen put across the middle so that the generals can deploy their forces in secrecy.
The screen is taken away and … bang. Well not quite bang. A wargame, like chess, moves very slowly and the contestants are lucky if they get through five moves in an evening.
Everything is taken into account. If a general loses two battles in a row he is deposed and the morale of his army goes down appropriately.
Troops moving across rough country are put at a disadvantage and special account is taken of things like fatigue, disease, fear and panic.
Incalculable factors like accuracy of aim, alertness, courage and so forth is taken care of by the dice.
“At first I was dissatisfied with the dice,” said Mr. Featherstone. “It seemed unrealistic. Sometimes you have a run of bad luck, throwing low numbers all evening.”
Luck
“But then, as I studied the subject, I realised that this made for more realism, not less. Even the greatest generals had days when everything went wrong. Many battles have been won through sheer good luck.”
A special refinement of Mr. Featherstone’s game is that tactics employed in a later war cannot be used in an earlier one.
“If you are fighting the Marlborough campaigns, you can’t use the tactics of the Napoleonic Wars,” he explained.
This makes an already difficult game totally impossible for the beginner – unless he is prepared to spend months mugging up on military history.
For all that, Mr. Featherstone’s game is simple compared with the variations of other players.
One enthusiast, a brigadier at Sandhurst, starts from scratch. [Man of TIN Note: This suggests Peter Young?] He has invented a completely new world, divided into completely new, peaceful countries.
When these countries quarrel as they must, they have to raise armies in relation to their budgets, industrialise, build munitions factories and engage in frantic diplomatic quests for allies. All this has a direct bearing on the outcome.
The game is conducted by post, many contestants live overseas, and the rules are so fantastically complicated that they baffle even Mr. Featherstone.
Realism
Another man, who plays all by himself at Exeter, is a stickler for realism. He specialised in the Russian front of the last war and has now carried the German advance as far as Stalingrad. [Man of TIN note: this must be Lionel Tarr of Bristol].
Americans have already adopted the war game for domestic use. For around £3 you can buy the “Gettysburg” kit, which comes complete with original mapboard and markers for the actual units used at this crucial stage of the American Civil War.
Individual soldiers are not used and the units can only be bought in at the time and place they really appeared. Opposing generals tick off their moves on the time-sheet divided into hours. At night a unit’s movements are restricted.
Advertisements for this “adult game” in sophisticated magazines like The New Yorker stress that “the South can win.”
It is all good clean fun and it goes to show jolly war can be. For generals.

Tabletop Generals – Daily Herald article by Jon Akass, March 21, 1961

Transcribed from the British Newspaper Archive by Mark at the Man of TIN blog. The Daily Herald ran from 1912 to 1964. The writer on the Daily Herald was Jon Akass (1933-1990)  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Akass

I found this a fascinating  account of Don Featherstone’s early battles, admittedly at second hand through the eyes and lively pen of a Fleet Street journalist like Jon Akass.

This article was written the year before War Games was published in May 1962. Written in March  1961, when there were “only about 20 wargame enthusiasts in the country,” the next month  in April 1961 appears to have been the date of the proposed War Games conference in Don’s house. Pictures of his event can be seen here at http://www.tabletoptalk.com/?p=709

Some of the names of people are left out in the article such as the Southampton Accountant as Don’s early contestant, who must be Tony Bath, featured or mentioned in War Games 1962.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 1st December 2017.