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"1950s Gridded rule set?" Topic

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Malchor03 May 2021 3:35 p.m. PST

Gridded wargaming was popular in the US and Canada with Gerard de Gre, Charles Sweet, Joseph Morschauser, Henry Bodenstedt, Herbert A. Sherlock, and I am likely missing a few. (Was Bob Bad part of this group?)

Some, perhaps even all, of the above were war gaming in the 1950s. Does anyone know of (and perhaps can share) gridded rules from pre-1958?

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP03 May 2021 3:51 p.m. PST

Not pre-1958 but it was published in 1958. I own a copy myself. "Gettysburg" published by Avalon Hill. I bought it off the local toy store shelf around 1973 or so. Even played it several times. I still have it.


Malchor03 May 2021 4:51 p.m. PST

Ha! Old Contemptible it is Gettysburg that had me wondering about similarly vintage or earlier miniatures rules.

Charles S. Roberts shared a home town with Bob Bard and George Clark, both original subscribers to Jack Scruby's War Games Digest. According to Playing at the World, Bob Bard carried Roberts's original game Tactics that was released in 1954 in his Military Miniatures catalog (would love to see a copy or image of a copy of the catalog to confirm and have a more solid source to cite). That would indicates Bard and Roberts knew of each other and did business together prior to 1958.

Bob's book Making and Collecting Military Miniatures was published in 1957 and included images with a Charles Sweet game in progress (46" grid) and Herbert A. Sherlock's ACW game in action (1' grid). I believe Gerard de Gre was active at this point as well. I'm really curious about those early gridded rules, that seems to have been a mostly US/Canada thing that had some early roots with a few of the US/Canada biggies of the hobby.

I guess another questions might be, does anyone know if Charles S. Roberts showed up in issues of War Games Digest?

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP03 May 2021 5:16 p.m. PST

link In this timeline from the Courier – Charles Grant is listed as having an article in September 1958 on Morale in War Games Digest

However on the same site in 1957 is a listing of Original Subscribers

Charles Grant from Kent is listed

Malchor04 May 2021 4:26 a.m. PST

DisasterWargamer, Grant was very important to the hobby and a pioneer, however Grant was in the UK, and unless I am mistaken, did not play using a gird for miniatures.

Did gridded miniatures catch on in the UK?

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2021 7:24 a.m. PST

You asked if he Grant showed up – all I did was copy a link for 1 article and mentioned that he was an original subscriber – have no clue what gaming he was involved in then

The Subscriber is listed as Charles Grant – Dover, Kent, England – so he was at least getting the Digest

MajorB04 May 2021 9:27 a.m. PST

Did gridded miniatures catch on in the UK?

Not back then, but in the last few years there has been quite a lot of games using grids, such as Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame series, Lost Battles by Phil Sabin, various flavours of Command and Colors, OP14 by Richard Brooks and a number of other designers have used grids – see back issues of "The Nugget".

4DJones04 May 2021 11:47 a.m. PST

On Blue Peter ( a BBC children's TV programme) in the early '60s there was a short series of items on military modelling -castles out of Ajax tubes and the like- which ended with the guest presenter playing out a wargame on a gridded board.

Does anyone else of the right vintage remember this? The guest was British and the board was gridded: an example,then, of gridded wargames in the UK in the early '60s at least.

Malchor04 May 2021 12:31 p.m. PST

DisasterWargamer, Was asking about Charles S. Roberts of Avalon Hill fame.

I do thank you for the help.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2021 12:34 p.m. PST

Not in the UK, but between 1966 and 1970, the MFCA
wargamers ran annual get-togethers at a venue on Womrath
Street in Philadelphia, Pa

IIRC the last three featured competition games using a
gridded board with the ACW as the conflict.

And of course Henry Bodenstedt used a grid at his shop
in Freehold, NJ to run his 'Siege of Bodenstedt Castle'
games also back in the 1960s.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP04 May 2021 1:18 p.m. PST

Got it my mistake

Malchor04 May 2021 5:14 p.m. PST

DisasterWargamer, no problem, totally something I would do.

Malchor04 May 2021 5:26 p.m. PST

Ed Mohrmann, The tread took a trip to the UK, though the original question about about the US/Canada.

There was certainly gridded miniatures wargaming going on in N. America pre-1958, Bob Bard has photographic proof in his book. Are there any surviving rule sets from that period?

There is All About War Games by Jack Scruby, from 1957, but Jack did not play gridded. That said, Jack includes Homer Delabar's melee rules, and it seems Home did play with a grid. I guess that makes gridded wargaming a bi-coastal thing.

parrskool05 May 2021 4:00 a.m. PST

4djones ……….. yes I remember that Blue Peter show. Christopher Trace talked through it with what looked like ho models …… very inspiring.

4DJones05 May 2021 5:19 a.m. PST

parrskool, The details are coming back to me: the board was gridded and they figures were grouped on movement trays. Was the period Napoleonic?

Escapee Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2021 1:36 p.m. PST

I have no expertise in this area, but I have always suspected that gridded wargames derived from chess and variations were being played in some fashion or another long before they were written down or became widely played.

Without grids, there is Kriegspiel, often touted as the first "modern" wargame that looks like what we play today. Are there any other examples, grids or otherwise, that pre-date the 1820s? And what games would have been considered wargames in their day?

Malchor05 May 2021 2:25 p.m. PST

parrskool and 4DJones, the Blue Peter show does sounds interesting, thanks both for sharing that.

Tortorella, no this was not war chess. Gerard de Gre, Charles Sweet, Joseph Morschauser, Henry Bodenstedt and Homer Delabar I believe used 4 to 6' grids. i believe it was just a way to measure quickly without needing for breaking out rules.

Herbert A. Sherlock used a 1" grid, but also played with hidden movement and a referee tracking everything on a map and each side having a team, very much in the style of a professional military wargame.

One note: Kriegspiel means Wargame, it was originally used as the name of of the really war chess games that evolved into the Reisswitz the younger's game.

pellen18 May 2021 2:02 p.m. PST

Games on a grid before 1950's? I posted on this board a few years ago about a game called Strategonon, published in Austria 1830 ( It used a grid like Morschauser, with flat painted cardboard terrain (buildings and trees) set up on the lines between squares. I think both rulebooks recommended the same division into smaller 12x12 square boards for a more portable game? Strategonon also used a sheet to track unit losses similar to the optional unit roster Morschauser describe, but in more detail (counting the exact number of men remaining in each unit, removing a mini from the base for each 100 lost). No dice or other randomness in Strategonon though, so slightly more chess-like, if a game with several pages of tables to calculate combat losses can be described as chess-like.

Another early gridded game, that I am surprised has not been brought up here yet, was Polemos in 1883. John Curry published the first or second edition rulebook as part of his History of Wargames project (I think Bob Cordery was involved in that one?). I have scans of the third edition rules and two patents for the game from the British Library. Again no dice, but there is some fog of war sometimes making outcome of attacks uncertain.

Tortorella: "Without grids, there is Kriegspiel". That famous Kriegsspiel you think of (by von Reisswitz, 1824, and all of its clones) was based on a similar game by his father (also von Reisswitz, 1812) indeed used no grid. But both were heavily inspired by contemporary "war chess" games, that often only had the square grid in common with chess. The game by Opiz published in 1806 is a great example that had a square grid, some miniature soldiers (used for officers; units used blocks), and 3D terrain (for hills only; terrain types were just painted on the grid). It used dice to resolve combat and was overall surprisingly modern. No one would guess it was over 200 years old if you introduced them to it now without showing them the rulebook.

Another was a wargame played in the 1810's in Wien that was published in 1858 as "Ein Altes Kriegsspiel" ( Played on a square grid with terrain painted on, using square cardboard tiles with painted unit symbols, not very far from modern board wargames. No randomness, so a bit chess-like, but a fun and fast game with some chrome and clever rules. It would work well with miniatures and it can scale up to any size with a point-system to buy armies like in many modern games (point cost for units are also used for counting victory points), and a chapter in the rulebook with recommendations for how to design your own maps.

There were also some early wargames using point-to-point movement (one before 1819, one in 1826) and at least one in the 1810's using a triangle grid. No miniatures in those particular games though.

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