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"Early wargaming memories" Topic

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Action Log

16 Jan 2017 5:14 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to Old School Wargaming board

16 Jan 2017 10:11 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to History of Wargaming board

2,823 hits since 15 Jan 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Pages: 1 2 

Temporary like Achilles Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 6:16 a.m. PST

I recently found a book I'd been looking for out of nostalgia and browsing through it again made me wonder what TMPers remember most from their first forays into the world of wargames and wargaming.

For me, there are three very strong memories from younger days and one more recent.

1) Finding a Donald Featherstone book in the local library when I was about ten. One of the Wargaming Through the Ages books, I think; probably the Colonial one. Thereafter I always went to that section of the library first.

2) Winning a school prize for Art History and using the voucher to buy 'Diplomacy'. The first game with various school friends was fairly intense, and after about six hours the leaders of Austria-Hungary and Germany went in to a room to confer, but instead climbed out a window and took off!

3) My first miniatures game, in about 1992, Warhammer (3rd edition), with my school mate and his older brother, who supplied the rulebook and figures. They lent me the book for a few nights before the game, and gave me a list of the figures I would use. I reckon I could still just about play from memory, so eagerly and so thoroughly did I learn it.

4) My first painting session, in 2005, after I decided to get into wargaming proper. Two 15mm DBM army packs ordered from Chariot miniatures; it felt good to finish a first unit – Numidian javelinmen – I can tell you!

What are some of your significant early wargaming memories?


JimDuncanUK15 Jan 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

Much earlier than yours Aaron.

Finding Featherstones War Games in my local library when I was aged 12 or 13 so that would be 1962 or 1963.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 6:58 a.m. PST

Picking up the Airfix Guide to Napoleonic wargaming when I was 10 or so (late 60's!), and ranging my Airfix Waterloo plastic figures out on my bedroom floor and knocking them down with marbles! Then, I picked up Bruce Quarrie's big book, then a Featherstone or two and some Charles Grant. Still have those, and the Airfix guides were and still are a favourite.

Dynaman878915 Jan 2017 7:05 a.m. PST

Reading the back of the "Squad Leader" box about Kruger being wrong. I was hooked.

Veteran Cosmic Rocker Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 7:29 a.m. PST

Playing a WW2 game with my uncle in 1970 – WRG rules and Airfix models – and then very soon afterwards playing a Napoleonics (Airfix figures) using Donald Featherstone's rules (the painted stick to show the bounce of the round shot!).Oh happy days.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

Book wise it was little wars and boys in battle

Figure wise iit was the displays sears used to do with Marx play sets and Woolworth with airfix both the HP and later 54mm

That led quickly to spring loaded cannons with toothpicks

One Xmas woke up to a fort my dad made with lots of mpc and Marx figures

First wargaming store was overseas at under two flags

When I knew I was hooked at a Florida convention

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 7:54 a.m. PST

My earliest wargaming memories are first playing with Airfix, Marx and Britains' toy soldiers when I was a kid in the mid 1970s (I guess that would really count as pre-wargaming). Then in the early 1980s a "real" hobby shop selling Ral Partha and Minifigs miniatures opened up in the town next to me (this was really amazing for rural Arkansas) and I was hooked. By the mid 1980s I started playing Warhammer and there was no turning back. Even though I now collect and play historical miniatures, I still prefer those games with a certain Warhammer feel to them (figures based individually with individual figure removal, etc.).

warwell15 Jan 2017 7:56 a.m. PST

I did a series on my blog that I called Retrospective

I reminisced about some of the influences on my gaming.

Scroll down for the earlier memories

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 8:01 a.m. PST

Airfix French foreign legion fort and figures in the late 1960's.

Lascaris15 Jan 2017 8:27 a.m. PST

A Christmas gift, around 1966 I think, of painted, plastic Northwest Frontier. Probably 1/72nd or maybe a touch smaller. Wish I knew who made them I'd try to find some for nostalgia's sake. Then went on to numerous battles with lego armies and various plastic soldier sets until the early 70's when we started board gaming with AH's Waterloo. Started mini's in '86 I think with 15mm Donnington Romans.

Kropotkin303 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 8:32 a.m. PST

Discovering a Heroics and Ros advert in the back of Military Modelling in the 70s. Sent off for some Modern micro tanks. Up till then I had been making Airfix/ Matchbox 20mm AFVs.

What! You can buy and game with 1/300th tanks? What is 1/300th I wanted to know.

Then waiting for the parcel to arrive. Each day seemed to crawl past and in those days the adverts said please allow up to 28 days for delivery. Of course H&R took a lot less time.

Yup, waiting for an order to arrive is all part of being a true wargamer. It was like waiting for reinforcements to make it to you across no-mans land.

Still ordering from H&R. One of the oldest firms I know of.

thosmoss15 Jan 2017 8:34 a.m. PST

As a kid I was watching war movies and building model tanks …

My dad, managing a retail store, accidentally received an order of three Avalon Hill games. The stock room manager was in a panic, trying to figure out what to do with this product, and how to balance the books. My dad paid him cash for the games and gave them to me for Christmas – as much to solve a little bump at work as to see whether his son might enjoy these things …

A couple years later, in an attempt to keep their son from constantly pestering his father to come play one of these games, Mom and Dad found and bought me Donald Featherstone's "Solo Wargaming". Their emphasis was on the word "solo", my focus immediately glued to the pictures of painted miniatures …

And finally, with the dawning realization that nobody within a hundred miles shared my hobby, I began to understand if I wanted to try miniature gaming, I'd better get to work …

Add in D&D during high school, which gathered a group of like-minded friends and let me paint up and get by with just a few miniatures at a time ….

Oh Bugger Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 8:51 a.m. PST

A Marks play set called Knights and Vikings after that I was hooked.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 8:58 a.m. PST

Oh *Bleeped text*, we're your Knights cast silver coloured and the viking a lighter green? Mine were. Those were great figures.

Russ Dunaway

Grelber15 Jan 2017 8:58 a.m. PST

I found a Featherstone book called How To Go Model Soldier Collecting, or something like that, in the fine arts section of our library, where I almost never hung out (the cool stuff was in the History section). It was mostly about painting 54mm display figures, but it had a chapter on wargaming.


GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 9:05 a.m. PST

Sorry, memory doesn't go that far back…

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

My first wargame memory was in the mid-1960's when I was in 6th grade setting up my Marx ACW figs in the back yard and a friend of mine and I using pepples to "attack" with. We broke a piece off the casson and I never played that way again. I was in my 30's when I first did miniatures wargaming on the table top. It was a simple, fast, fun game with medieval/fantasy miniatures that I still gave the most enjoyment.

Korvessa15 Jan 2017 9:49 a.m. PST

Getting Napoleon killed at Ligny in the old AH version of Waterloo Circa 1969 (I was 8 and didn't really know who he was) against my older brother

Oh Bugger Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 10:26 a.m. PST

That's them Russ I still have a couple of them somewhere. Man was I a happy child.

dwight shrute15 Jan 2017 10:58 a.m. PST

The britains ball bearing firing naval cannon was a revelation on just how many airfix plastic figures it could knock down .

wrgmr115 Jan 2017 11:09 a.m. PST

Bags of green plastic army men from the Woolworth store back in the 60's.
My friends and I would set them up behind rocks and throw other rocks at them. One split in half. We built dirt forts outside and played.
Around 1965 there was an ad on the back of a comic book for AWI plastic figures, it was very well illustrated with colorfull uniforms about 100 figures for 2.99. I saved up my allowance .25 a week, and sent away the order form cut from the page.
Six weeks later a small box showed up with blue and red 20mm sized figures. Infantry, cavalry and artillery, both sides identical in moulding. Not that great of moulding either. As a child I guess I expected them to look like the illustration. I was disappointed they did not. However these figures were played with extensively. I still have a few.

I built many Airfix models, especially the WW1 aircraft, we didn't paint them. We would run around our back yard airplane in hand, flying and shooting each other down.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

Yes,knocking over Marxist playset figures from age five,discovering plastic kits age 10,Airfix soldiers age twelve(and trying to paint them with Testor's enamels); but I didn't find out about "real" wargaming until,due to teenage SF Fandom activity, I received a few newsletters dealing with something called "Diplomacy".

I came across one of the flat red boxes in a hardware store(!),and my first wargame experience was trying to assemble enough friends willing to play. As an aside, the OP'S story remind me of one told by a psychiatrist I met in 1970: he was sitting in the kitchen of a second story apartment,working out strategy with an ally,when another player came crashing through the window onto the kitchen table. He'd gone out the living room window and crept along the ledge,in an attempt to overhear his adversaries. Now that's dedication to the game!

About the same time,my brother persuaded me to go in halves with him on a new game called Panzerblitz,which got me hooked on board wargaming.

Somehow,I missed miniatures gaming until about 1975 or so,when I saw some Middle Earth figures. Hooked ever since.

Hey Bill, think this thread is worthy of the History of Wargaming board?

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 11:16 a.m. PST

Note the average era of the memories……I think we just proved the "greying of the hobby"…LOL!

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 11:32 a.m. PST

Well,on TMP,maybe. Although the OP's 1992 and 2005 don't seem that long ago to me!

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 12:28 p.m. PST

One of many memories – a nice July day in 1965, playing
Napoleonics in Larry Brom's attic in Greensboro, NC.

After the game, ate a nice supper which his wife, Sarah,
had prepared. Discussed the game's outcome and finally
nothing would do but go back upstairs and refight the
battle to either prove or disprove each side's opinion.

After several hours, we began to hear birdsong. Larry
mentioned that 'birds don't sing at night'.

A little while later the 'phone rang, my wife (80 miles
away at home) wanting to make sure I had not died in
a crash – mostly 'cause I think she wanted to kill me…

Great days…

Weasel15 Jan 2017 1:15 p.m. PST

Reading an issue of White Dwarf, without knowing the rules and cooking up my own version of warhammer 40K, using figures from the "Space Crusade" board game to somehow cook it all together.

I wish I still had those hand scribbled notes somewhere, just for fun.

Fat Wally15 Jan 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

The book that made a real impact on me at eight years old was Curt Johnson's "Battles of the American Revolution". It had pics of Peter Gilder's AWI figs in and was the first time I'd come across him or proper figures. I read and re-read it till it fell apart.

After that, BBC TV series Modelworld had an AWI game with I think Arthur Harman. OK it took 30 years for me to have my own AWI collection but it put me onto wargaming properly.

Never looked back.

alien BLOODY HELL surfer Inactive Member15 Jan 2017 2:14 p.m. PST

Being allowed to sit up late on occasion and roll the dice sometimes when Dad and his mate wargamed. Then starting to be allowed to join in a bit, until I was able to play myself against my dad. We both still love gaming, dad still paints way more than me, in fact, I went halfs with him for the Perrys ACW Battle in a box just before Christmas and he's plowing through it, looking forward to a game soon. If I could get back into painting wed be done quicker mind you :-(

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian15 Jan 2017 4:04 p.m. PST

Marx Army Men in the 60's, Knights and Vikings set (same green Vikings) Xmas '71. Had RoCo tanks and Airfix (Africa Korps and US Marines) to get me started in HO. Friend had a copy of Fast Rules (Reese and Tucker) and soon after Tractics. Lots of "bring what you have" battles in the back yard. Then we discovered DnD…

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2017 6:30 p.m. PST

First of all Airfix ACW troops

Blue versus grey infantry – and those odd red coloured artillery

Then Charles Grant rules

Then Avalon Hill Board games and Minifigs

cosmicbank15 Jan 2017 8:30 p.m. PST

I remember all the hot Girls in High School wanting to spend time with me because my 1/72 Airfix figures had the right cuffs and facings, Oh who am I kidding I never painted that good.

nickinsomerset16 Jan 2017 6:17 a.m. PST

Wargaming at school in the early 70s, units made up of KV-2s and King Tigers!

Being told by the Army Apprentice College Arbofield that I was too young at 15 jo become a member, whilst drooling over a massive ancients game with pikes and elephants everywhere!

Over the last few years I have collected many of the old books I used to get out of the Library,

Tally Ho!

Mike Target16 Jan 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

I think I was primed for it from an early age by films like Zulu, (which would be replayed with Lego) , Sharpe (I tried reenacting the storming of Badajoz with lego…) and books like the Age of Elegance ( by the Byrant chap) which cemented my interest in the Napoleonic wars, at about 7-9yo.

Then one day my mate turned up with these wierd plastic figures he called Elves, 16 of them respelendent in their white undercoat and badly daubed red blobs. They fought to the death on the dining table a few times…I wrote it off as another childish fad that he and my brother would waste some money on…but a few weeks later I was the proud owner of the 5th ed boxed set, and 20 years later I'm still playing. Some fad eh?

Russ Lockwood16 Jan 2017 3:46 p.m. PST

Chess, then the old AH Kriegspiel (pawns become infantry, knights become tanks, and so on), and the rest of the AH world, then the SPI and GDW lines.

While in a long-gone game store, bought two TTG 'army in a box': Middle Imperial Romans and Early Visigoth. 15mm. Looked cool. Didn't know much about either. Rules were some UK set that was unfathomable -- still have it somewhere in the attic no doubt. Can't remember the name.

1988 Origins in Milwaukee, listened to this fellow named Featherstone talk about his RTR in the Desert. Wandered into a WRG tournament with…ancients! Asked a fellow to if I could sit and watch. Then asked if I could look at his Spearpoint magazine. Found an address for a miniature gamer who lived in the town where I worked. gave a call and been gaming with this same group of guys for the last 28 years.

Ottoathome Inactive Member18 Jan 2017 9:51 p.m. PST

Long before I got into War Games I found a book on my older sister's shelf. "Games Ancient and Oriental and How to Play them." I believe by Faulkner. My sister who was ga-ga about ancient Egypt bought it for the Egypiant games. I loved it for the chess games from other times and places, Chinese Chess, Shogi, Burmese Chess, Turkish Chess, Shatrang, Tamerlane's Chess, The Jungle games, Rythmomachina, and others. When, four years later Mimi bought me for Christmas Joe Moreschausers "How to play war games in miniature" it fell on very fertile well prepared ground. I still love to play with those other styles of chess.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2017 1:23 p.m. PST

I tried to understand the battle rules from the roleplaying game Chivalry & Sorcery. I did not know about miniatures (we just drew dots on paper for RPG fights), and would have benefited from having a bit more context on what it was all about. I do remember cutting a bunch of rectangles of paper, so I got base size, I guess. Never actually played anything.

The next thing was getting the rules for Space Marine 2nd edition, at the time to use for Dirtside II. That was my first big box game, and wow it had a lot of stuff. Very fond of that. I started playing SM 2 because of the simple base rules. It took time to see the effect of special rules making it more complex. I love big boxes of figures, though.


zoneofcontrol Inactive Member23 Jan 2017 7:01 p.m. PST

Setting up Airfix WWII soldiers and shooting them with Star Trek Tracer Guns. Last one with soldiers standing wins. (Really complex set of rules, NOT!)

Setting up the family Christmas Tree and railroad platform each year. Battling from one end of the town to the other with the same Airfix soldiers.

Also had old school bags full of Green Army Men and MARX 6" soldiers. My parents built a family room onto our house and I used the dirt mound leftover from the dug out foundation. Dug forts, trenches, foxholes, etc. and battled with dirt clods.

On my 8th grade fieldtrip to Gettysburg, my friend and I bought AH's Gettysburg and played it constantly. I have around 150 – 200 board wargames in my collection.

Didn't get into minis until 2003. Bought some pre-painted minis from TommyGunner 15s and some pre-painted buildings, including the French Cathedral, from Musket Miniatures. Played in a BAPS WWII game at Historicon that year and bought the ruleset, my first.

pbishop1210 May 2017 10:21 p.m. PST

I have 2 brothers. We were born in 49, 50 & 51. Since early childhood we played with Army men, cowboys & Indians, and American Civil War. Always had tons of figures, which we threw in together to give us big armies. As we grew into young men, the Vietnam War was on, and the 3 of us served in different branches. I stayed in.

In 77 I went back to the UK with my now ex wife, and stumbled on the Airfix Waterloo wargame. I still have the game. I took the game back to Athens where I was stationed,, and my pal Terry and I played it incessantly for 2 years. Along the way, I found some Minifigs and that all brought me back to my childhood days of playing 'men.'

At 67 years old, I have an impressionable collection of 28MM Napoleonics, but due to my lifestyle, I solo game.

My brothers and I still reminisce about our boyhood days, when being sent to our room wasn't so bad. We played wargames. That was before a TV in every room, computers, etc…

A few months ago I bought one brother a book about American Indians. The same day I went to WalMart and found a bag of cowboys and Indians. Sent him both.. My wife thought it was nuts. My brother got a big smile out of it.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP11 May 2017 11:14 a.m. PST

My own memory is clouded other than vague ideas about some D&D mini sets in the 70's. At some point I asked myself, "What would a big army battle look like?" The local public library was happy to oblige …

I do remember DOM in grade school for a "personal heritage day" (or somesuch) project building some reasonably accurate Medieval Frankish buildings. Then she set them on fire for a bit, put them out, and posted some of my 28mm Vikings outside to celebrate her Swedish and Danish heritage from SWMBO's side and the Curonians from which my ancestors sprang. Does that count?

Weasel11 May 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

Using my Space Crusade figures to come up with my own version of war hammer 40k based on an issue of white dwarf.

Henry Martini11 May 2017 4:26 p.m. PST

I don't know why, but I have this strange feeling of deja vu, Weasel :- ).

Weasel11 May 2017 6:12 p.m. PST

Henry – Those were the days huh? :)

Everyone I knew used those space marine figures in their first real 40K armies.

Great War Ace Inactive Member11 May 2017 8:53 p.m. PST

Like most of you, I played with plastic "army men". But wargaming was "revealed" to me: that is to say, playing the games with rules. I had never made the logical connection. On TV, in NZ, I saw a little documentary on how these mostly old looking guys were pushing armies of Napoleonics figures around cool looking terrain. I started designing my own rules on the spot, so I could replay the battle of Hastings, and really, I haven't ever stopped………..

WillieB Supporting Member of TMP12 May 2017 6:55 a.m. PST

PLaying (war) games with my dad and Airfix soldiers. DAK and 8th Army were the first, quickly followed by Foreign Legion and Arabs. Then about 4-5 boxes each of Union and Confederate soldiers . Dad re-painted some artillery boxes in blue and grey as well as some of the cavalry. We didn't like the lying down (crawling?) men so these became casualties.

Lions Den Inactive Member18 May 2017 12:44 p.m. PST

My favorite memory is looking through a homemade "Lionel Tarr" periscope as built from instructions in Donald Featherstone's "War Games". That view from the tabletop level is the most addictive vision a young wargamer can have.

AICUSV16 Nov 2017 1:32 p.m. PST

My first official war game was in 1957. I say official, as this was the first time we used real rules. It was fought out between my brother and I use H.G. Wells, "Little Wars". Figures were Britains and used everything as Wells showed in the book. We were lucky in that our Dad had been collecting toy soldiers for many years before and had everything we needed. Of course when he came home and found out that we had been shooting his figures with metal bearings, my brother and had our vocabulary expanded.
Later we discovered Elastolin German field guns, these guns had a breech plug, that could be pulled out. One side would hold a cap (toy gun type) and the other had a little tube that would hold a small amount of powder. We would load the plug up, and then place a BB in the barrel. This worked well until one day we actually cut a Britain figure in half and again Dad came home earlier.
As afr as actual war game figures goes, my first "army" was an ACW of ASE 25mm* figure. I then collected WWII forces made up Authenicast 15mm* figures and armor. This was followed by Scruby colonials and Stadden Napoleonics.

* scales sizes are approximates as this scale name didn't really exist then. Even with the Authenicast the figures and the tanks were not the same scale.

Please forgive any typing or spelling errors as I can't find my D*** glasses.

Early morning writer Inactive Member16 Nov 2017 9:45 p.m. PST

Airfix backyard battles in the sixties, hand carved wooden ship battles with mimeographed rules in the early seventies, admiring a friend's home cast Napoleonic figures – and some were even painted about that time, playing some board games with my older brother in the late seventies and (somewhere in there playing at real 'war' in the navy, no combat experience though) early eighties, and then the real kick starter, meeting my late friend and playing a Sudan game with TSATF in 25 mm. That hooked me right in and thirty some years later I've collected – though hardly painted them all – an average of 1,000 figures or more per year. Soon to be done collecting for all intents and purposes.

Great War Ace Inactive Member18 Nov 2017 8:41 a.m. PST

@Reg Wirth: I read that to my wife, after she heard me chuckling and wanted to know what was so funny. Great story!

khanscom18 Nov 2017 6:49 p.m. PST

I'll always remember my first real wargame (with minis-- not just cardboard counters). Lowry's Hobbies had just relocated to Maine, not far from where I lived, and I received an invitation to join in with Don, Tom Wham, and Pete Bennett. Rules were probably some adaptation of "Field Regulations" or Charles Grant; figures were a mix of Airfix and Scruby 25mm.

When a regiment of lancers in my command suffered a direct hit from a howitzer, I remember Tom rummaging in a box of figures and, finding the appropriate minis, scattered a handful of Airfix dead horses around the shell burst. I was hooked! (and more careful of my cavalry after that).

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

Buying "Charge" from a book shop on Shaftsbury Avenue in 1968, the year my family lived in London for a year. Up until then I had messed around with Airfix Civil War figures, but never played a real game.

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