Thursday, 18 November 2010

2013: The Centenary of 'Little Wars'

Today has been another of those days when 'synchronicity' seems to have had a major part to play in events.

Over the past two days I have written blog entries about John Ruddle's Garden Wargame, and it set me off on a nostalgic reverie about the wargames I played in my youth. I used assorted and ill-matched plastic and metal 54mm figures in my garden wargames, and the memory of those sunny, carefree days filled me with the desire to recreate that sort of wargame again at some time in the future.

Today I was talking to an old wargaming friend, and he mentioned that 2013 marked the centenary of the publication of H G Wells' LITTLE WARS and that he thought that it would be a good idea to refight the ‘Battle of Hook’s Farm’ (or a similar action) as a tribute to the anniversary. Coming as it did after my musings about wargaming in the garden, I jumped at the thought of doing what he suggested.

The discussion went on for some considerable time, and after due consideration we came to the conclusion that we may have to forgo a garden venue (too much chance of losing what might be expensive figures) and move the event indoors. A quick reference to LITTLE WARS reminded us that the rules were originally designed to be played on a nursery floor, so an indoor game would be in keeping with spirit and the letter of the book. We also talked about the figure scale that we should use, and after a lot of toing and froing (and a further reference to the book) we have opted for 42mm figures. Sets of suitable figures are sold by Irregular Miniatures for prices that will not make the project prohibitively costly, and the ‘war’ will be set somewhere in the Balkans (perhaps Laurania vs. Maldacia?).

We have plenty of time to prepare the figures, test the rules, and plan the event … so watch this space for news as things (hopefully) develop over the coming months.

14 comments:

  1. Irregular is a good choice for this project. You may be able to mix in some of Andy Copestake's Victorian soldiers. They are a bit chunkier but about the same height. http://www.oldgloryuk.com/disp_item.php?c=501&oc=5687

    However, did you consider Armies in Plastic's 54mm Plastic Colonials as an option?
    http://www.armiesinplastic.com/

    -Ross Mac
    - Ross Mac

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ross Mac,

    Thanks for the suggestions about figures.

    We had not considered the 'Armies in Plastic' range of 54mm, but I will certainly look at them

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the spirit of "funny hats", I do hope you guys wear straw boaters during the game...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bob,
    A refight of the Battle of Hook's Farm is a great idea! When William was younger we fought several floor battles with assorted 54mm plastic figures of WWII infantrymen using the Wells rules. The figures were unpainted - so no qualms about the projectiles chipping their paint - and organised into 'regiments' by colour and pose. We used Playmobil ACW 12 pdr guns; although hopelessly out of scale, they fired a plastic bolt that could knock figures over.
    I'd be very interested in being involved - I now have my own Britains 4.7 inch gun!
    Arthur

    ReplyDelete
  5. Chris,

    And blazers and flannels as well!

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  6. Arthur1815,

    One thing that we are looking at is how to ensure that the figures are not damaged when the game is being fought. Using the Playmobil 12-pounder guns would be a possible solution to the problem. Another that we are looking at is tiddlywinks to simulate rifle fire.

    We are looking at running the refight at COW2013, but I suspect that there will be a series of trial games beforehand, and if they go ahead, I will let you know.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. I envy you. I always wanted to own a 4.7-inch gun, but never managed to get hold of one when I was young. Now they are a horrendous price to buy, and I do not feel that I can justify the cost … at the moment!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bob,
    My 4'7 inch is not contemporaneous with Wells, but a much later remake by Britains, with a slightly different 'trigger' mechanism for firing, but otherwise looks just like those in Little Wars. I got it on ebay about three years ago for about £12just to have as a display piece symbolising old school gaming.

    When shooting matchsticks out of it at plastic 54mm figures I find it has a good range [there is an adjustable elevation mechanism] but little power beyond point blank to actually knock figures over - which is essnential in Little Wars. The Playmobil gun shoots a hard plastic bolt, with good range and hitting power, but would, I suspect, be liable to chip paint!
    That will always be a problem, I think. Wells was clearly no respecter of his painted toy soldiers...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Arthur1815,

    I had not realised that they had made 'reproductions' of the original 4.7 ... but a quick look at the Internet indicates that it and other spring-powered 'toy' field guns can be bought form a variety of sources.

    I suspect that the lack of power is a reflection of the current obsession with ‘safety’ when it comes to toys. The original 4.7 could probably blind someone if they were hit in the eye … and was probably painted with a lead-based paint as well!

    As to Wells having little respect for his ‘toys’ … well, to him they were probably easily replaced (he had enough money to buy quite a large number and have the special terrain ‘blocks’ built for him, so a few chipped soldiers probably did not rate high on his list of concerns).

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well, perhap the 2013 COW will have a H. G. Wells theme to it. Hard to credit that I own a 1st edition copy, found while on a cycling holiday about 20 years ago/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ashley,

    That is a nice idea. I will mention it to Tim Gow next time we speak/text/email each other.

    I envy you your 1st Edition copy of the rules. I only have a later facsimile reprint.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  11. This all sounds good to me. I remember that Britains made a 4.7 in the 1970s, but in was in the 'impossibly expensive' section of the catalogue next to the 155mm 'Long Tom'. I had to settle for the 25 pdr - which would fire a matchstick about halfway across my Primary 5 classroom. Sorry Mr R...
    Tim

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tim Gow,

    This sounds more and more like a runner to me!

    With enough people on board we could easily run a game without it costing any one of us too much money.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. I also have a 25-pounder (or two) stashed away somewhere ... if only I could remember where.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have a 4.7, not sure when it was made. I'll have to check the box. I'd like to promise that I'll make COW, but given a looming mortgage and the current state of Ireland* that might be a rash promise.

    We've played quite a bit of Little Wars. You can find some pics here.

    http://joyandforgetfulness.blogspot.com/2008/12/picture-post-little-wars-at-dominicon.html

    *I have a friend who maintains that the current situation is just proof that the whole 'home rule experiment' as he put it has been proved a failure.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Conrad Kinch,

    I would hope that you - and your 4.7 - can make it to COW2013.

    Thanks also for the link to the pictures. They show that a lot of fun can be had with the rules.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. The way things are going, the impact of the solution to the problems in Ireland is very likely to be felt here in the UK. After all, the UK still trades more with Ireland than it does with China, India, and Brazil; if Ireland undergoes a massive wave of public spending cuts, it will affect suppliers in the UK. Coupled with the interlinked nature of both nations’ banking systems, the prognosis of this problem being confined just to Ireland are - IMHO - quite small. Ireland's 'cold' could be quite infectious. Here endeth the political comment!

    ReplyDelete