Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The London Wargames Section

My recent bit of wargaming 'detective' work rekindled my memories of the rules produced during the late 1960s and early 1970s by the London Wargames Section. I certainly owned copies of some of them, and used them for a time.

From what I can find out, they produced rules for the following:
  • Modern
  • Napoleonic
  • American Civil War
  • Greek Naval
  • Napoleonic Naval
  • Samurai

The writers included John Tunstill, Bish Iwaszko, Ed Smith, Sid Smith, and Ken Smith, and were quite innovative for their time.

35 comments:

  1. Look, this nostalgia stuff is all very nice, but it's making me feel old! I had the ACW and Napoleonic sets. Even had some of the same plastic figures John Tunstill used in his Miniature Warfare ACW campaign.

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    1. Gary Amos,

      Sorry to make you feel old ... but I am, and like to wallow in nostalgia once in a while!

      The plastic figures were Spencer Smith figures - I think - which are still available as metal castings.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Ah yes, but he also used some hard plastic ones from a playset from America(?). They were good even by today's more exacting standards. Appeard in several shots in MW and on at least one of the covers. They were part of a Christmas present and came from kendals in Manchester. When I got there intending to get more with my 'Christmas money' they'd sold out and never reappeared. ¦O(

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    3. That sort of thing brings back memories. Back in the '70s I bought a modelling shop's entire stock of Airfix Romans: 6 boxes. Do you reckon I have seen hide or hair of a 7th box since? Nada!

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    4. Gary Amos,

      I did not know that! I wonder who made those figures?

      Thanks for sharing that memory with us.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    5. Archduke Piccolo,

      I had a similar experience when I bought my first Minifig ACW figures. By the time I had finished painting them and went back for some more, the range had been completely re-modelled and I never did complete that particular project ... although I do still have the painted figures!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Well there's a bit of nostalgia. The little informal group I belonged to at the time owned and played the top three of those.

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    1. Epictetus,

      Nostalgia ain't what it used to be! Seriously though, from what I can remember the LWS rules were very popular in their day, and rightly so.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. ACW ones were the first set I bought, just after I bought my first two (ACW) armies. Also bought Newbury rules (as I recall). Never got on with the latter but the LWS still form the basis for my home grown set I use to this day.

    Cheers

    Andrew

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    1. Rumblestrip (Andrew),

      I'm glad that I am not the only person who could not get to grips with the Newbury rules ... and that you are still using your own version of the LWS ACW rules today.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. I am sure I have the Greek Naval Warfare rules stashed away somewhere in the archives. The author, Ed Smith, was a member of my club back then and took part in my playing group games. Ed was a palaeontologist if I remember correctly. I wonder where he is now, he was a bit older than me.

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    1. Jim Duncan,

      What a coincidence! I know Ken Smith - who I think is Ed's brother - and from what I can remember Ed is still around. What I don't know is whether or not he still wargames.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. The cover of the Greek Naval rules looks familiar. I vaguely remember having a few garrison triremes and that we tried one game at college. Didn't take off and I don't recall what happened to the first of my 2 naval adventures.

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    1. Ross Mac,

      The Greek naval rules were one set that I never bought because I saw no attraction in naval wargames that did not involve some form of steam power ... and then I took part in a re-fight of the Battle of Lissa!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. Never owned any of these sets - went straight on to WRG 3rd Edition. Looking at rules for other periods, had a few plays with Tercio and God's Acre, but that was mainly because the authors were friends of mine. They also tended to beat me.

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    1. Xaltotun of Python,

      The LWS rules were quite popular in their day, but the arrival of WRG seemed to push their use aside. From what I remember, this was also a time when there was some groundswell support for the creation of some sort of national body for UK wargaming, and the move to everyone using WRG rules seemed to form part of that move.

      It is interesting to hear of your experiences playing wargames with the designers of the rules you are using. In my experience this is not always a good thing as they often have in their heads the latest version they are working on, and not the version you are trying to use ... and I write this as such a designer!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. Hi Bob,

    I could be wrong but I have a feeling the Napoleonic set (and I have the name Steve Tulk ringing long distance bells in this respect)eventually morphed into the Bruce Quarrie Airfix set at some point.

    I stand to be corrected though.

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. Speaking of Bruce Quarrie's Airfix set, I played a game with these 9I know it was a BQ set anyhow) about 10 years ago. Great game (it was a C.S.Grant Scenario: #16 from the Green Book) from the point of view of events unfolding, but, man it took a long time to play: two whole club day sessions.

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    2. David Crook,

      I am not sure that your memory is correct regarding the LWS rules morphing into Bruce Quarries' Napoleonic rules, although the latter may well have borrowed from the former.

      Bruce Quarries' rules are one of the reasons why I did not go down the Napoleonic route in wargaming until recently. I tried to use them a couple of times, but found them to be one of the major examples of the 'complexity equals realism' school of wargames rules that were boring and almost unplayable unless you had whole days to devote to re-fighting even a small battle.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    3. Archduke Piccolo,

      You obviously had a similar experience regarding how long battles using these rules could take ... and more patience than me in actually not giving up before the end was reached!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. I had and played the samurai rules with Minifigs,great fun.

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    1. Tradgardmastare,

      Do you still have the rules and the figures?

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Tradgardmastare,

      That is a pity.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. There were also the LWS "Rules for Ancient Wargames" my copy is dated 1971. I didn't like this set as much as the ACW (1967) and Napoleonic (1968) sets that I still have as they calculated casualties in men rather than figures. Maths was never my strong point as a kid and the Ancient rules were too much like hard work!

    I don't think LWS could have become the basis of Bruce Quarrie's rules as they are very different in their mechanisms. I still use elements of the LWS Napoleonics rules in my own rules "Muskets & Marshals" used recently for Vintage Waterloo, so some of the concepts are still going strong nearly 50 years later!

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    1. I remember when the idea of calculating casualties as figures seemed a good idea and of course it became very popular and carried through seven editions of WRG Ancient rules (and, amongst others, into Bruce Quarrie's Napoleonic ones). In retrospect I regard this as a horrible mistake which turned us into bookkeepers rather than players.

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    2. Sorry, I meant to write "calculating casualties as men"

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    3. Stryker,

      I am not surprised to read that they produced a set of rules for the Ancients period ... and like you, I hated that method of calculating casualties. I'd much rather either remove or mark figure casualties and not try to remember to keep a paper track of how many men in such-and-such a unit had been killed.

      It is interesting to read that you are still using elements from LWS rules in your own rules; you must have found that the originals had mechanisms that were well enough designed to stand the test of time.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. Mike Hall,

      It did sound like a good idea at the time, but my experience was - like yours - that I ended up more like a bookkeeper than a wargamer ... and that the system also seems to produce even more table clutter than normal!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  10. I was member of the London Wargames Section back in 1969-72 thereabouts. I used Bish Iwasko's WWII rules and his modern rules at the time. He later set up Miltra a firm making military training aids - 1/100 recognition models and full size replicas of Soviet mines for instructional purposes. Wish I'd hung on to my copies of the rules. I wonder how they would stand up today?

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    1. David Bradley,

      I am impressed! I actually know someone who owns a set of Bish Iwaszko's recognition vehicles ... and they are very, very good. As to the rules ... well if I could find my copies I might be tempted to give them a try, just to seem how good they are compared to more modern sets. I suspect that the majority of them would probably be able to hold their own without too much trouble.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  11. I still have the Samurai and Greek naval rules happy days playing with them

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    1. Johntheone,

      The LWS rules seem to have been - and remain - very popular. One wonders whether or not it might now be time for them to be republished.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  12. Hi Bob

    I only have the ACW rules. The Bayonet rules were of similar and vintage. I have managed to collect a few of these rules.

    Mark

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    1. Mark Dudley,

      Bayonet Publications! Another old set of wargames rules that I once owned!

      All the best,

      Bob

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