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Monday, 6 April 2015

Future Directions for the History of Wargaming Project


The Impact of the Project (2008 to March 2015)
The project to date has made available 4.5 million words about wargaming, through 60 publications, 23 of the books are new wargaming books, 37 are second editions.

Five books contain sets of professional wargaming rules from the Cold War that have not been previously published before. (British Army Tactical Wargame (1956), British Army Desert Wargame (1978), Canadian Army Tactical Training Wargame (1980), Dunn Kempf, the American Army Tactical Wargame (1977-1997) and Tacspiel: American Army's Vietnam War Game (1966)).
 
While all the books in the series contain supplementary material that has not been previously published e.g. new chapters, rules and commentary, it is worth highlighting 3 works in particular that have added to the history of wargaming.
 
·         Fletcher Pratt’s Naval Wargame: Wargaming with Model Ships 1900-1945- Contains extensive previously unpublished material by Fletcher Pratt and material from an interview of the last surviving Fletcher Pratt player, Commander Bothwell.

·         The Wargaming Pioneers Including Little Wars by HG Wells, The War Game for Boy Scouts, The War Game by Captain Satchs Early Wargames Vol. 1 placed the innovations of HG Wells in a sequence of early wargames.

·         Over Open Sights: Early Naval Wargaming Rules 1873-1898 Early Wargames Vol. 6 placed the innovation of the Fred Jane Naval Wargame in a sequence of early Royal Navy Professional Wargames.
 
The annual plan for the Project is largely based on an annual 3 hour discussion with a professional and hobby wargaming veteran, during the car journey to the Conference of Wargamers in July. The journey involves a battlefield tour or a military museum and (a pub lunch), but lays out the priorities for the Project for the next 12 months. The project also receives regular editorial input from Major Mouat (Defence Academy) and the veteran wargamer Arthur Harman (friend of Paddy Griffith, author of staggering numbers of wargaming articles). There are many others such as Peter Perla, Tim Gow, Michael Curry, Charlie Wesencraft, Phil Dunn and others who kindly offer advice.

     The question is what should the Project prioritise for the next 60 book?

Hobby Wargames:  There are a number of books/ articles that need to include in the project. There is also substantial new material to bring into the public domain, largely from the archives of key wargamers who have helped turn the obscure hobby of wargaming into a major hobby. In the last 12 months the Project has published a new book by Charlie Wesencraft, Phil Dunn and Sue Laflin-Barker.

Early Wargame History: The project has already doubled the number of words in print about wargaming pre- 1960, but there is still some major (and minor) publications to get into print.

Wargaming History of the Cold War: Reading the work of Peter Perla (and others) highlights the importance of wargaming in the Cold War, but almost none of the wargames mentioned have reached the public domain. In some ways it is a race to find them before they are lost and no-one who played in these games is left to help.  

Innovations in current professional wargaming: There are some very interesting developments in the military application of wargaming, but the problem is almost none of this is captured, recorded and disseminated. The new book on Matrix Wargames was an example of a hobby technique that leapt into the professional arena and is being used for training and analysis.

Serious Games- Wargaming in education: Wargaming techniques can be applied to transform education. The Project produced a new book on gaming Cyber Warfare and will soon publish one on how games are used for emergency planning in the health service, but there is scope for producing a whole series of books that illustrate how wargames can be used as part of a wider curriculum.

The Paddy Griffith Archive: The Project holds key material, sufficient for many books of unpublished serious games created by one of the key figures in wargaming in UK, the late Paddy Griffith. This is going to take perhaps a year’s work to sort the material into a structured format before producing the first book.

Toy Soldiers: Last, but not least, is the history of Toy Soldiers. These have been an integral part of the development of the hobby, but their history needs to be documented.

So the question I am currently considering is, “What proportion of editorial effort should be directed against each of the key themes above?”

23 comments:

  1. I'm slightly disappointed to see that there haven't been any comments on this post yet. I'll therefore give my tuppence worth, despite it not being too deep.

    My first reaction is 'More Early Wargaming History!', but that purely reflects my own interests. A hard-headed response would be 'What sells?' - publish more of that in order to subsidise the other stuff (which ideally you continue to publish).

    So what is that? I suspect that the Paddy Griffith material would be popular. Perhaps also the Hobby and Toy Soldiers. Ideally, one would produce something that would be used as a textbook (forcing students to buy it!). What do people in the War Studies field want - Cold War? Current innovations?

    Has the cyber warfare publication hit a note? I wonder if public and/or NHS administrators could be tapped?

    Lots of questions there, but no answers. Perhaps it will start a debate.

    Of course, like most publishers, you may just end up relying on what you can find editors willing to produce!

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    1. Edwin, thank you for your reply.

      There is some really interesting stuff in my early wargaming pile to publish, while they may not be best sellers, they do add to our knowlwedge about early wargaming. The project also has an income to help acquire and publish this material.

      I now have had a lot of emails re. the Paddy Griffith stuff, so I must make a start on that archive. It will just take months of effort before anything gets to print!

      Good idea re. a text book, one is starting to shape in my mind.

      The cyberwarefare book was more a working paper that was raising a flag to get the attention of the key people working in cyber wargames. It worked. I am now working on the cyber equivalent of Donald Featherstone's Battles with Model Soldiers for cyberwarfare. Working with two of the top people in the area the book writing has now reached chapter 3- an introduction to cyber wargaming.

      re. NHS- I am working with one of the top emergency planners in the UK who uses wargame techniques to train NHS staff. Niche, but I wanted to the first to actually record how the health service uses games for training. The draft book is written, just working through each chapter to help those not from a wargaming background take the games described and actually use them. Most wargamers have no idea just how much knowledge is crammed in their heads about how to make games work- without this background people need a lot of guidance.

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  2. Put me down as very interested in Cold War Wargaming (Cold War Hot seems to have a resurgent popularity too, so this could be not only interesting but a good seller) and Hobby Wargames titles.

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    1. I have checked my sales and I agree there seems to a surge in interest in the Cold War. One of my best titles was the 1956 British Army rules, as they are very good guide to how mechanised battles of 1944/45 actually worked. Tacspiel (America 1980) is unplayable, but is full of operational detail and has been used as a source for perhaps 8 scholarly works about Vietnam. Inspired I will get an American Divisional wargame into print shortly.

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  3. I'd like to see the Paddy Griffith material myself. This is the kind of thing that makes great supplementary reading and helps put the larger works in perspective.

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    1. Thanks for that, I now realise that his archive is worth publishing, but it will take a lot of work first to sort. Fancy a game set in North Ireland used to train the Brit Army during the Troubles? Written by Paddy Griffith, it looks fascinating glimpse of a very difficult period of British History.

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  4. My votes go for hobby wargames and early wargames pioneers. I just picked up Festherstone's Pike& Shotte on Kindle and really enjoying it.

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    1. Peter, did you like the rules at the end of the book. Don said to me he tried these, but they would never catch on. I thought they were a toy soldier set of rules that looked in some ways very modern.

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    2. John, the rules look interesting! I will likely give them a try when I have two forces painted!

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  5. Paddy Griffith and the Cold War stuff would suit me best. Another volume like Innovations in Wargaming 1 would be good too.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    1. Peter, please see my comments about the the Paddy Griffith stuff above. The Innovations book was a bit rambling (to me) but has gone down surprisingly well. I outlined three more books in the series, but have not yet started.

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    2. Hello John, I'd agree with you that the Innovations book was a little rambling but I enjoyed it primarily because I can game parts of it or at least import some of it's ideas into the hobby games I do play (and have subsequently done). Being able to use the books I buy is my primary reason for purchasing them- too young to view any as nostalgia tbh. Hence why I'm keen to see more Paddy Griffith stuff. The Cold War stuff comes from my academic interest (albeit a modest one). I hope that explains why I buy what I do.

      Cheers,

      Pete.

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    3. Glad the books are of some use. Look out for the new American Divisional Wargame from the Cold War- should be in print next month.

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  6. Early hobby wargames rules and some stuff on early/obscurer toy soldiers ie Schneider semi-flats and the old homecasting scene.
    Alan

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    1. Alan

      good ideas. I have done half a book on early modern rules, and will finish it in due course.I am trying to find someone to help on a book about the early wargaming figures. I would love to get something like that into print.

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  7. As a toy soldier collector who happens to wargame, I would say there are already literally hundreds of books on the history and development of the toy soldier, in every scale and medium, but they are written from the perspective of the collector. Although some of them touch on wargaming and the early manufacturers of smaller scale figures they don't consider them as toy soldiers or view them as the collectables that the earlier ones are now becoming (the sort of thing covered by the Vintage20mil website).

    I can't think of anything that charts the move away from 54mm down to 20mm and that schism in the 1970's when the smaller scale white metal figures burgeoned and wargamers considered it an anathema to suggest that they played with toy soldiers. It might be nice to get those early wargame manufacturers documented in one source while there is plenty of material around and the people with memories and anecdotes of them are still alive, at the moment this information is surfacing on blogs etc. but it's very fragmented and how long will it last in cyber format?

    Hope this isn't too rambling, best wishes, Brian.

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    1. There are many books on toy soldiers, most of them out of print. One option is to start to hunt down these authors and get their work available again. I would love to get a book on early wargaming figures, now the hunt is on to find someone to lead the project! I sell toy soldiers once a year at the Birmingham Toy Soldier Show in October. Great fun.

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  8. Evening John,
    I know you were in touch with Charlie Wesencraft re wargames books which led to his latest release, but I am certain that when I interviewed him for Miniature Wargames, Charlie mentioned that he had been working on a set of ACW rules for the last twenty odd years. Charlie is so modest that I would be surprised if he actually mentioned what could be a really interesting book.Just a thought.

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    1. Hmm, most interesting. I will investigate. I have managed to get three new books out of key 'older' wargamers in the last 12 months- Charlie Wesencraft (AWI), Sue Laflin Barker (Intro to Ancient Wargaming) and one by Phil Dunn My World War (about to go to print). I have just started a new book by another key figure- but this is 'under wraps' for a little while longer.

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  9. Hi John
    I will put in another request - more of your books on ebook formats! For me it is way more cost effective than shipping books across the pond, plus there is a get it right now factor that is very appealing. I was looking for Battle Note for Wargamers and couldn't find an ebook that I could actually access, which may be due to living in Canada. Any advice?
    Cheers and love your stuff
    PD

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    1. I produce Battle Notes as an ebook, but there is a technical problem with it on Amazon. I will try and identify the problem and get it available!

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  10. Mike Horah said: “It depends John what you consider the primary objective of the project to be. Is it to capture , edit archive and collate, and where material publish or republish ( or make available in other ways) material that is no longer available? In which case Paddy's archive would seem to fit that objective and/or the cold war wargaming option. That is probably my personal interest.

    Or is to foster further and to develop "wargaming" ( or the equivalent ) in a variety of current settings, professional NHS etc . This objective has no end point in a sense and. while I can see how well it fits with your skill set and profession it will have quite a different audience, although there will be some overlap."

    But you do have to make it 'do-able' for you - or get help!”

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