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

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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.

 

Donald Featherstone’s BBC radio talks 1962 1963

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https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbchomeservice/basic/1962-04-19 

All we need to do is build a time machine and head back to the morning of Thursday the 19th April 1962 and tune in or listen in to “This is the BBC Home Service …” we could have heard Donald Featherstone on the radio.

9.10: THE WAR GAME

DONALD FEATHERSTONE explains how a man of action can spend two years fighting the American Civil War in Southampton – and the South can win! He himself caused the Romans to lose the Punic War, and Napoleon to triumph at Waterloo.

Contributors / Unknown: Donald Featherstone

I doubt if a recording exists but  good news (from  a BBC archives email received today 1st December 2017) both scripts still exist, albeit I have been warned in variable quality,  at the BBC Written Archives at Caversham. I am having copies made and if transcribable, I  will discuss with John Curry whether (with suitable copyright / BBC permission) they could be reprinted in future.

1962 was a prolific period for Donald Featherstone. He published his first gaming book on War Games in 1962, around this time. He had also written  about wargames in Tackle Model Soldiers This Way (Stanley Paul, 1963).

According to his many obituaries, he had been wargaming as an adult since the mid 1950s and organised the first U.K. wargames tournament  in Southampton in 1961 with a national championship planned for 1963. He was involved with the UK side of The Wargames Digest around 1960 and set up Wargamers  Newsletter in 1962. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Featherstone_(wargamer)

A year later in 1963 Don Featherstone was on the radio again and we could have tuned in to the programme TWO OF A KIND on the BBC Home Service (Basic) on Tuesday 15th October  at 9.05 am (and repeated on Thursday 17 October 1963 at 13.40). We would have heard Don as one of two speakers (hence the programme title “Two of a Kind”) on the theme of Models. The first speaker: Father’s Dolls by KATHLEEN BINNS
Playing with Soldiers by DONALD FEATHERSTONE
Introduced by presenter JACK SINGLETON.

This BBC genome website was based on old copies of the Radio Times.

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From Battle Interview Peter Gilder interviewed by Donald Featherstone in 1978 Battle magazine, shown in / courtesy of Peter Gilder A Life in Wargaming website.

I came across this BBC Radio scripts link whilst searching online for an article or interview that Donald Featherstone wrote for She Magazine (a women’s magazine) around 1962. Peter Gilder was shown the She  magazine article about Don’s  wargames by his wife, and the rest is gaming history …

http://petergilderalifeinwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/the-battle-interview-in-1978.html

I wonder if anyone still has that 1962 She magazine edition, if that is the correct magazine in Gilder’s memory many years later?

I asked John Curry who knows Featherstone’s books well and neither this nor the BBC scripts has not been reprinted in any of the excellent Featherstone reprints by John  Curry.

Is it in some gamer’s scrapbook?

It seems rather improbable that Donald Featherstone should be writing in or be featured in a woman’s magazine like She Magazine. As a sports physiotherapist,  he had written a book on Sports Injuries in 1957 and later on dance injuries, Dancing Without Danger (1970/71) but I can think of no obvious link.

I have done a quick online search. Past editions of women’s magazines from 1962 seem pretty scarce on EBay and other old magazine sites, unlike the many hoarded back issues of men’s magazines on transport, modelling  and hobbies.

I have recently found an early press article or two about Featherstone which I will transcribe shortly. Donald Featherstone’s first book War Games was published in this period and as one of my favourite gaming books, it is good to recapture the early improvisational spirit of these games.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 29/30 November 2017.

 

Desert Warrior pound store plastic warrior conversions: Inspired by Featherstone

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Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, part 1 of work in progress on converting some of the stranger Poundland penny toy soldier figures (£1 for a bag or tub of 100).

Some before and after pictures here at:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/desert-warriors-conversions-wip/

These were inspired by the hill tribe  warriors pictured  in Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming book

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Photographs from Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming

I also want to do another set painted black robes instead of white, more Generican tribesmen or warriors, perfect for my future Bronte fiction-al campaigns.

To oppose the desert or hill tribes, I will need some paint conversions of these handy cheap Poundland / poundstore figures into a set of blue coated or red coated Colonial infantry created from these modern troops. Paint, a scalpel and some Fimo additions such as backpacks should help here.

Multiple conversions from a restricted set of figures is an interesting challenge inspired by a photo of one plastic cavalry figure converted ten different ways  (Are these Spencer Smith cavalry?) in a different early Featherstone book, Tackle Model Soldiers This Way (1963).  This was his second book, produced just after his first  book War Games(1962), also for Stanley Paul. It has a lovely little chapter (almost a summary  of War Games) on “Fighting War Games with Model Soldiers” too, to match his short “War Games” chapter  in Henry Harris’ How To Go Collecting Model Soldiers (1969).

 

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Ten conversions from one plastic cavalryman figure in Donald Featherstone’s Tackle Model Soldiers This Way (1963) – some looking very much like Spencer Smith American Civil War cavalry?

The full restricted range of these pound store penny figure poses to play around with are shown here:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/more-pound-store-warriors/

Lots of penny figure fun in a poundstore near you. All very much work in progress for the coming winter / year …

Postscript

Checking through it appears that the cavalry are Spencer Smith Napoleonics now available in metal.

http://www.spencersmithminiatures.co.uk/html/ssm_naps.html

Blogposted / Crossposted by Mark, Man of TIN, 16 October 2017.

Pound Store Plastic Away Team on a Surreal Space Planet

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Pound store plastic silver space marines Away Team on the Surreal Space Planet Artemist, my Away Game, a  portable game board. 

Pound store plastic silver space marine Away Team on the Surreal Space Planet Artemist, aboard my Away Game or portable game board.

Cross-posted from my sister Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog site:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/pound-store-surreal-space-planet-away-team/

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, 1 June 2017.

The Land of Counterpane

 

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Another writer famously inspired by toys was Robert Louis Stevenson. In turn, early wargamer Stevenson’s works like Treasure Island will surely have inspired many pirate games.

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Jessie Willcox Smith’s famous illustration of the Land Of Counterpane (Image source: Wikipedia / Wikipedia)

“The Land Of Counterpane” from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885) is a poem I have enjoyed since I was a small child, because it chimed with my own happy memories and experiences of  bedtime and playing with toy soldiers.

It reads as if this poem child, this I Of the poem, really was  Stevenson who lived and then relived this Land of Counterpane situation through verse, as he was at times a sickly bed-bound child; A Child’s Garden of Verses is dedicated to his nurse or nanny Alison Cunningham.

Something to save for another blogpost but several other verses in his  classic book of poems are about toy soldiers (‘The Dumb Soldier’ and ‘Historical Associations’, both precursors of garden Wargames) or ‘Block City’, which seems an early wooden precursor of Minecraft.

Some of his lead toy soldiers appear to have survived in this RLS museum collection in America and are pictured by Nancy Horan on Pinterest:

http://stevensonmuseum.org/the-museum/collections/personal-objects/

Just tracking the many illustrations of this poem online is an interesting web browsing activity, easy to do on picture sites like Pinterest.

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,

To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

RLS

In this book of poems, there are some interesting ideas of scale, scenarios and temporary miniature worlds that are explored playfully and humorously as proper ‘Art’ and ‘Photography’ by artists today such as Slinkachu. http://www.slinkachu.com

Lots of ideas to explore or return to over the coming months and years!

On Pinterest you can find several illustrated versions of The  Land of Counterpane poem by different illustrators including the famous one by Jessie Willcox Smith in the USA.

Another favourite illustration of the Land Of Counterpane is a 1966 version by Britain’s house painter and illustrator Brian Wildsmith, who recently died aged 86 in August 2016, again with the usual Wellsian red versus blue troops. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Wildsmith

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Detail of the red and blue troops in Brian Wildsmith’s illustration of Land of Counterpane ( Child’s Garden of Verses, 1966 version)

A patterned bedspread or counterpane is obviously an early version of a grid square or grid hex wargame, or any early improvised version of what today we would call or buy as an wargames terrain mat.

Hexscapism and War Gaming in Bed

Donald Featherstone in his Solo Wargames book mentioned in a chapter on “Wargaming In Bed” exploring the apparent possibilities of lying in bed as wargames terrain

“At first glance beds , with their blanket-covered hummocks, hills and valleys, might seem pretty reasonable places upon which to fight a wargame, but experiment soon proves that this is not so. In the first place, the figures will not stand up and even the most judicious positioning of the legs under the bedclothes so as to make the hills less steep will eventually be defeated by cramp if nothing else …”

This excerpt is from Chapter 20, “Wargaming in Bed” in Solo Wargaming by Donald Featherstone (1973 /2009 reprint p. 139), an excellent chapter full of suitably simple rules for skirmishes with jousting knights or duellists.

After all, the easiest wargames terrain is a cloth draped over hills made of books, again if only you can manage to get your figures to stand up on it.

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Rough sketch of the ‘terrain’.

Using  Hex boards it should be possible to recreate the 3D terrain of legs, knees and bumps(adaisies) to recreate those Counterpane type battles.

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Twin Peaks, Foot Hills – The Counterpane terrain transformed into hexscape terrain in my notebook (Man of TIN)

When I get sufficient spare Heroscape hexes and cover these with offcuts of patterned fabric, I hope to build a ‘Land of Counterpane’ type terrain with those suitable tiny German wooden toy buildings and trees, beloved of ‘old school’ and grid wargamers.

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My  sketches of Jessie Willcox Smith’s troop types (Man of TIN notebooks)

On this patchwork grid or  ‘counterpane’ terrain I should be able to play out further Toysian / Wellsian adventures using my version of Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars simple two page appendix rules, a bash about mash up of rule versions I have called Close Little Wars.

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

On a vintage gaming site recently was a clever reprint of an article on how to convert your bed into the footings of  a wargames table (and still sort of sleep in it). Brilliant – but I can’t find the link at the moment.

Redesigning the Counterpane bed for more gaming value

Alternatively, bed manufacturers could embrace the wooden shapes of the bed into suitable features for imaginative play for the child and young at heart! Imaginative Counterpane redesigns include:

 

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Delusional sketches of how to turn that childhood bed in the Land of Counterpane into something with even more gaming or  play value.
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More delusional sketching on how to turn that Counterpane childhood bed into a more attractive gaming feature.
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Reimagining that Land of Counterpane child’s bed with a more Dambusters / Barnes Wallis theme …

More interesting blogposts from the web on Robert Louis Stevenson and toy soldiers:

http://georland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/robert-louis-stevenson-voyage-to-winward.html

http://georland.blogspot.co.uk/2013_12_01_archive.html

http://georland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/robert-louis-stevenson-intimate.html

Pages from Stevenson’s wargames journal the Yallobally Record, in an article Stevenson at Play,  was recently reprinted on the ever interesting Vintage Wargaming blog:

http://vintagewargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/robert-louis-stevenson.html

Stevenson’s ideal home has a Wargames loft (much like Donald Featherstone!)

http://vintagewargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/robert-louis-stevensons-ideal-house.html

A reprint of  Project Gutenberg Child’s  Garden of Verses including this simple illustration below –

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/25617/25617-h/25617-h.htm#Page_33

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Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, December 2016.

 

 

 

Early 1963 Featherstone rules update

featherstone-3Recently I uploaded a set of early 1963 Donald Featherstone rules  from his 1963 book Tackle Model Soldiers This Way that several WW2 gamers were interested in.

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

I noticed today a reference to these 1963 simple rules in Stuart Asquith’s interesting article in Lone Warrior’s free download articles. It has the wonderful article title of Comfortable Wargaming (now there’s a book I would buy if it had a title like that!):

http://lonewarriorswa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Comfortable-War-Gaming.pdf

It’s his Hook’s Farm / Little Wars style adaptation  of Donald Featherstone’s 1963 Horse and Musket rules, adapted and made freely available with Featherstone’s permission. Well worth downloading and like the article, back to basics, simple stuff. Delightful!

As Asquith concludes, “If you want to shell out around £30 for a set of rules, then feel free, but you know, you really don’t have to – don’t worry about phases or factors, go back to simple enjoyment.”

Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, October 2016.