The Project aims to research and publish key works in the development of professional, hobby and educational use of wargaming. It currently includes work from Donald Featherstone, Fletcher Pratt, Peter Perla, Phil Barker,Fred Jane, Charles Grant, Stuart Asquith and Terry Wise...
A game for 1 to 6 players about the experience of flying
bombing missions over Germany 1942-44.
The RAF and the USAAF dropped 1.6 billion tons of bombs on
Germany between 1939 and 1945. The impact on the German war machine was huge,
but so was the cost. Over 55,500 Bomber Command crew lost their lives during
Each morning the weather and moon state were suitable, target(s)
were selected by Bomber Command. Often the orders included the phrase ‘Maximum
Effort’ that meant all bombers that had crews were to be part of the attack. A
complex series of steps were then initiated to ensure the bombers were in the
air, over the target at the appointed hour to deliver their bombs in the
shortest possible time. Concentration of the bomber stream was designed to
overwhelm the enemy defences.
The game allows the player to assemble their crew, select
their target and go through the various stages of the mission. From take-off,
over the enemy coast, through the flak zones and onto the target. Key to
returning home was avoiding the enemy night-fighters.
The rules are embedded in historical research and include briefings,
aide-memoires, maps and period material. Playing the game aims to help the
player(s) understand the experience of the crews of Bomber Command a little
This book is published by the History of Wargaming Project
as an example of experiential learning in the form of a hobby wargame.
The book is available from link and will available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc in due course.
The History of Wargaming Project has accrued one of the
largest archives of private correspondence from the early days of hobby
wargaming 1960-1990. As I continue to collate and digitise the material, I find
myself feeling bewildered how wargaming ever managed to survive long enough to
become the minority, but well-known and established hobby it is today. It is
known by those interested in the development of the hobby, that there were
major clashes such as Tony Bath v Don Featherstone, Fred Jane v RN, magazine
editor X with Y, American A with American B, etc. Many of the key personalities
in early wargaming were at war with each other for intellectual supremacy and
hobby domination. They were rude, vitriolic, harsh and unreasonable.
I now realised why Don Featherstone kept his distance from
WD and some innovations in the hobby; they would have consumed his time and
energy and Don’s key contribution to the hobby of books would have been heavily
Paddy Griffith was a key innovator in wargaming and military
history who inspired many to develop new and interesting ways of wargaming.
Paddy launched WD in response to the demise of Don Featherstone’s Wargamer’s
Newsletter (Don as was bribed to cease publication, but that is another story).
However, Paddy was then on the receiving end of a regular diatribe from random
people around the world. Many were just seeking his advice or accessing his
vast knowledge based in his head (as this was before Google and the Internet),
but some were venting their anger and he was just caught in the cross fire. I am amazed he was so tolerant of their correspondence.
John Davis was a key instigator of large games. He took Don
Featherstone’s efforts and made them workable command post type exercises. This
was along with Paddy, David Candler and others. In 1981 John Davis ran a mega
game on Crete and Paddy then received many complimentary letters about the
game, but many less complimentary.
I am still not quite sure why Paddy became the focus for
these controversies and I am equally perplexed why he spent hundreds of hours
typing his letters in response to them. I am certain that the time he devoted
to these less productive correspondences significantly impacted on the amount
of time he had to make his major and lasting contributions to wargaming and
If anyone thinks I am exaggerating about the letter driven
civil wars of wargaming, here is an example of a letter sent to Paddy about the
Crete mega game that was led by John Davis.
“This is not a critique but a bitch against some of the
things that I felt were wrong in the mini-campaign played on Sunday 15
September.As a member of the German
planning staff I was involved in the campaign for a number of weeks prior to
the game itself.We were congratulated
on the planning papers produced but I feel that this was only to be expected as
we had an experienced group of players writing the overall plan and the
tactical assault plans, Pete Merritt laboured under particularly difficult
circumstances having to change his plan at the last minute.It became obvious however that many of the
Umpires had not read, or had not had the time to read, these papers in detail
and this continued on the day as a number of orders/plans were not implemented
properly by the Umpires, the best case being the deaf, dumb, blind and invisible
Italian submarine which was a result of two misread orders.
We built a certain level of detail into our orders and these
did not seem to come out at the time the Umpires did their calculations, this
was a problem particularly felt by our Air player, Mike Horah, who commented
that it did not seem to matter whether he put in an 80 aircraft strike or 8
groups of 10 aircraft, I will not elaborate on this point but there is a
difference when the aircraft are sent in as a 'cab rank’ for continuous
aircover and the ground players are not informed of their availability.There seemed to be a total lack of
understanding of airborne operations on the part of the Umpires and this was
particularly noticeable in the scatter of battalions during the assault
operations. During 1005 sorties flown by the transports on the two
assault operations only 1 aircraft was shot down and two damaged which would
indicate very light opposition to the actual drop and yet 2 Bn's, 1 on each
lift, were dropped directly onto airfields, which are clearly defined and not
their drop zones, and 1 complete Bn. was dropped in the sea. We pointed out to the
Umpires that all our drops were in daylight but we still lost a complete Bn.
during a frenzied period of aquatic sport.
This lack of understanding also reared its ugly head amongst
our opponents when at the debrief one of them, who shall remain nameless but
works at RMA Sandhurst, stated that it would take para's 6 hours to organise on
the ground (if this is true why were so many para units used during W.W.II?) and
he had been led to believe that 6 to 1 odds were required to eject his men from
prepared positions (when most para attacks in reality were against the odds and
a high proportion of them successful).If I had been told this prior to the game I would have had serious
reservations about going to Crete.I
could expand on these points, and many more, but this must not turn into a book
of the game of the plan of …
This is beginning to sound like sour grapes but in fact we
won, I think.In conclusion, I must
apologise to one of our juniors, at one point I received a message timed 0950
am from one Umpire and this was followed by his arrival as the runner for
another Umpire to tell me it was 2000, he was then forced to retreat pursued by
a stream of abuse.I apologise and thank
him and the other juniors for their endeavours through the day.
These lessons are that Umpire teams must be properly
prepared, briefed and organised, they must co-ordinate their work and be seen
to be working smoothly.Also, it is an
asset if they understand the subject/problem under consideration and have at
least an equal knowledge to the players so that they can reason out a situation
and subsequently justify the result from a position of relative security.I do not believe that Umpire decisions should
be justified by statements similar to "I'm the Umpire here, so
tough".Also, from what I heard at
the debrief it sounded as though the Umpires used dice to an alarming extent.”
This is a new book by David Wayne Thomas, with a chapter by John Armatys.
The author has been a wargamer since the 1970s, member of
Wargame Developments and a serious rule writer since the early 1990s. His
longstanding interest in asymmetric warfare led him to develop a series of
wargames to reflect the individual characteristics of such conflicts. This is
his first book published through The History of Wargaming Project.
The topic of counter Insurgency is under represented in
table top hobby wargames. The relatively few sets of rules in this area have
nearly all focused on the tactical level combat.All except one of these sets of rules are
written to portray the operational/ campaign level situation. Using card based
systems, these games are particularly suitable for the solo wargamer.
These games are not ‘fair’; they each aim to give the
wargamer a greater understanding of the particular conflicts they represent.
From the sands of the Sahara, to the Mountains of Afghanistan, they place the
wargamer in the position of command; facing an elusive enemy.
The games include: Boots on the Ground: Company Level Actions in the early
21st. Century An Isolated Outpost: Six Months in the Sahara Eight Years in a Distant Country: Soviet involvement in
Afghanistan Ovambo: Counter- insurgency in South West Africa Good Morning Vietnam: LBJ’s War 1965-68 Flying Column: The Irish Troubles 1920-21
This book is published by the History of Wargaming Project
as an example of recent innovation in hobby wargames.
The next book to go to print is a WWII bomber game, Target for Tonight, also by David Wayne Thomas. Link
Uncle Duke is one of those larger than life characters who helped develop miniature wargaming in the United States. The Jack Scruby Award (1995) summarised him as an American original, an entrepreneur and business man, a master sculptor, designer, and painter, a rule writer, publisher, and historian, a master showman, salesman, and advocate. He was also a good friend of Donald Featherstone.
It is impossible to discuss the development of early American miniature wargaming without discussing Duke and the many people he collaborated with over the years. This book is a celebration of his contribution.
The book includes:
The Jack Scruby Award 1995 citation.
The MWAN tribute of 1989 by Hal Thinglum.
Early memories of American miniature wargaming and reflections by Duke and his lifelong friend Jim Getz.
Many previously unpublished photographs of early games.
The book also includes two complete key sets of rules that were a huge influence on American wargaming:
Melee (1960) by Duke.
Napoleonique: A Miniature Wargame Strategic- Tactical Manoeuvre in the Napoleonic Era (1979) Written by Jim Getz with the assistance of Duke Seifried.
I have a professional interest in gaming counter insurgency
(COIN) and have published Paddy Griffith’s Counter Insurgency Wargames (1980)
in 2016. I looked around and some hobby gamers have been doing some interesting
stuff about gaming COIN on the table top, so I will shortly publish Small Wars:
New Perspectives on Wargaming Counter Insurgency on the Tabletop.
The Matrix game methodology has made a huge impact in
professional wargaming circles, so I am editing a handbook on the subject, working
with Chris Engle and Peter Perla to produce a more academic examination of the theory
and practise of matrix games.
I occasionally publish a non-wargaming book. The one this
year is going to be one on an epic road trip around the USA that visited every Vietnam
I want to publish more books for the solo wargamer. I have
done Donald Featherstone's Solo Wargaming
and Donald Featherstone's Battle Notes
for Wargamers Solo Wargaming Edition. The next one is going to be a solo
game about a WWII bombing mission.
I have been interested in naval wargames for a long time and
at last I aim to publish a book about the great naval wargames of the America
navy prior to WWII. I thought the material has been lost, but now it has survived.
It just needs collating and publishing.
I also want to finish a book A Practical Guide to Medieval
Warfare, covering the real detail. Of course, this will include 3 new sets of
rules to illustrate various aspects of our understanding.
Of course, I also have various authors such as Phil Dunn,
Charlie Wesencraft, Stuart Asquith who all have new stuff that needs to get into
print. In the background I am continuing to digitise, sort and collate huge
archives of wargaming material, which will no doubt lead to further books. I
guess this explains why I do not tweet much.
Col Richard Kemp and John Weigold have been investigating
Alderney, Channel Islands and found several previously unrecognised V1 launch
sites. The key factor to me is the tunnel configuration is similar to those in
mainland Europe. The conclusion of the two historians is that the launch sites
were almost ready and using nerve gas they could have fired at Plymouth and
Weymouth. They conclude this would have thrown the Allied invasion plans into
chaos, D Day would not have happened on the 6th June 1944 and the whole course
of WWII would have been drastically altered.
What does wargaming add to this analysis?
If a V1 had launched from the Channel Islands, the islands
would have been subject to bombardment by sea and air. Based on my WWII bomber
command games, I know that targets were selected in the morning for the night
time raids. So it would take 10 hours to direct England’s heavy bombers to the
new target. Based on my naval games I also know that heavy cruisers with 8 inch
guns were available the RN Channel flotilla. They could get up steam in a few
hours and they could fire from 17 miles away. It would take 24 hours to get
battleships into position to hit the islands.
Alderney is approximately 100 km south of the English coast,
so in 1944 the Allies would have achieved air superiority over the islands
within hours. This would allow daylight bombing raids and daylight ship to
The conclusion is the island of Alderney would have been
destroyed within a few days and the threat of V1 rockets with Sarin from them
would have been ended.
Wargaming experience also allows the history to be explored
further. If the Germans used Sarin, they would fire it from as many of their V1
sites as the German chemical industry could supply. How would the Allies
retaliate? Having explored this in a very dark committee game of the English
War Cabinet in 1944 I would say Anthrax. The Allies would have dropped Anthrax
on cities and random agricultural areas. This would have been likely to have
created a panic such as the world has not seen in modern history. It would have
ended the war in Europe quite suddenly.
To understand military/ political history requires, reading,
lectures (for the stuff no yet published), seminars (to discuss the reading/
lectures) and I would also add wargaming to the list. Having sport with ideas
is the way to wisdom and serious historical wargames are certainly having sport