Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The old and the new

As part of his History of Wargaming Project, John Curry has been reprinting several early wargaming books. Amongst the most recent of these are the late Terry Wise's INTRODUCTION TO BATTLE GAMING (ISBN 978 0 557 12097 0) and Phil Dunn's SEA BATTLE GAMES (ISBN 978 1 4457 4297 7).

I bought both books when they were first published, and they cost me £1.25 each. My copies both reside in pride of place on my bookshelves, but when I realised that the newly published editions contained rules that were not included in the previous editions, I had to buy them.

My original copy of INTRODUCTION TO BATTLE GAMING had a Napoleonic-themed cover ...


... as does the latest edition.


What the latest edition has, besides an introduction by Terry Wise and a foreword by Stuart Asquith, are copies of Terry Wise's 18th Century Rules, Napoleonic Wargaming Rules 1792-1815, and Colonial Rules 1874-1914. The new edition does not contain the chapters entitled 'Making Your Own Model Soldiers' and 'The Final Touches' that were in the original, but which I suspect have been omitted as they are more about modelling and painting than about wargaming. The original Appendices ('Battle Gaming Figures and Accessories', 'Publications', 'Societies and Clubs', and 'Directory of Addresses') are also omitted, but as these were current when the book was originally published but are now long out-of-date, their omission makes a lot of sense.

The scene of a surface raider sinking an enemy merchant ship that graced the cover of the original copy of SEA BATTLE GAMES ...


... has been replaced by a partial side and plan view of the Japanese battleship Yamato.


The main text has remained the same, although Phil Dunn has added a very interesting new introduction that looks back over the 39 years since the original edition was published. What has been added are two new chapters entitled:
  • Monster Guns
  • When Big Guns Thunder: A New WW1 Gunnery System
The book also has six new appendices:
  • Hunt the Bismark by Paddy Griffith
  • Books on Naval Wargaming
  • Model Ship Suppliers
  • Rule Sets
  • The Wargames Shows and Conventions
  • The Naval Wargames Society
Buying both of these new editions has been worth the money I spent because of the additions they include. They will now sit alongside the original copies ... and I suspect they will be read and re-read again many times ... just like the originals were.

10 comments:

  1. I bought a copy of Intro to BG when it was a couple of years on but I was neck deep in WRG 3rd, never did anything with it and have no idea where it went. When started to get into the history of the hobby this century, I wished I had held on to it. One to add to the list.

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  2. Ross Mac,

    It was one of the earliest non-Featherstone wargames books that I bought ... and I never regretted the purchase. If you can get hold of a copy of the latest edition, I think that you will find it interesting.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. How many "must have" books are there and why do I get so little time these days to read anything?

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  4. Is Paddy Griffith's Bismarck game a kriegspiel?

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  5. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

    Think of them as an investment for the future ... when you might have time to read them!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Conrad Kinch,

    Paddy described it as a map game ... which means that to all intents and purposes it is a kriegsspiel.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. I still have the originals of both books and Battle

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  8. Johntheone,

    I also have an original copy of 'Battle!' ... and I still find the photographs of the ROCO Minitanks and Airfix figures inspiring.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. I seem to remember using the Introduction to Battle Gaming rules back when I started wargaming at school, and having many enjoyable games with a group of friends.

    Is it just middle-aged disillusion with the present/nostalgia for an imperfectly remembered past that makes those games, fought with badly painted Airfix ACW armies, in blissful ignorance of their inaccuracies of uniform and equipment, with minimal knowledge of period tactics &c., seem so much more fun than most I have played more recently?

    One of the pleasures of the 'Old School' wargame classics is that their authors - Wells, Featherstone, Wise, Young, Lawford, Grant and Wesencraft - could actually write prose that was not a torment to read.

    The rise of WRG and 'Barkerese' has a lot to answer for! I'm sure DBA is a splendid game, but it would be so much better if explained by the Brigadier.

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  10. Arthur1815,

    Perhaps we were all a bit less concerned about the 'look' of what we were doing and more concerned about actually doing it ... and having fun!

    Another aspect was that we had to 'make do' with what we had. There were no vast ranges of metal figures in a multitude of scales ... so we converted what we could get hold of to suit our needs. I used brown-painted ACW Confederates as Boers in my first ever colonial wargame. I seem to remember that their opponents were a mixture of British Guardsmen (with cut-down bearskins to represent colonial helmets) and WW1 Germans.

    You are right about the writing skills of the wargames pioneers; they were literate and understandable. They also expected their readers to use some common sense when using the rules that they had written ... and not to act like a bunch of barrack-room lawyers who argued over every nuance of the rules!

    Ah! The Good Old Days ... probably not quite as good as we remember them to be ... but not as bad as they could have been!

    All the best,

    Bob

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