Wednesday 10 January 2018

Duke Seifried and the Developmnent of American Wargaming

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  • Many previously unpublished photographs of early games.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.
This book is published by the History of Wargaming Project as part of ongoing efforts to document the development of wargaming.


  1. Good addition to the series! I guess the efforts of a man like Duke Seifried are not that well-known on the European side of the pond, so I'm definitely looking forward to this book.

    1. Duke is the American equivalent of Don Featherstone and has done more than most to make miniature wargaming part of the American wargaming scene. I am now working with Ned Zuparko and Jim Getz on collecting early tales of American miniature wargaming.

  2. An unavoidable name in wargaming over here in my younger days but somehow, to my chagrin, I never managed to be in the right place at the right time to play in one of his convention games and meet him. I have added the book to my must get list.

  3. Hello John,

    May I suggest using a Link List Gadget on your right hand side, just above "About Me" to navigate to:

    That would save me having to manually open up another tab and search for your online store as I get older my fat fingers want to do less typing ;)

    Keep up the good work, I still have a lot of "back catalogue stuff" to catch up on but I am getting there ;)

  4. In the early days of our gaming hobby, most of us referred to our hobby as wargaming. However, War does not have a good reputation. Duke attended one of our GAMA (game manufacturing association) meetings and suggested that we begin calling our hobby, ADVENTURE GAMING! Every one liked the idea. It covered the multiplicity of things we simulate and it offended no one.
    When Duke started making and selling lead soldiers, everyone in the industry was selling each casting as a separate piece. Duke decided there was a better way to sell figures and he was right. Duke began selling his figures in clear plastic blister boxes with several figures in each box. So, instead of making a 50 cent transaction, for a single casting, dealers could sell a blister carded set of 6 soldiers for $3.00. Because Duke was selling Napoleonic figures, players needed vast quantities of them to create armies of hundreds.
    After Duke and Heritage models joined forces, Duke pioneered the Paint and play system. In this package, the buyer would find paint, figures, brushes and an interesting set of role playing rules. Duke had created a very superior and special paint for Heritage to use in this package.
    Because Duke had so many armies to paint up, he hit upon the scheme of glueing 5 or 6 of the same figures to an ice cream stick. Then he painted the lightest color first on each figure, and the next darkest color, followed by an even darker color, and ending with black.
    This system sped up the painting process quite a bit. He could paint up 10 or 20 sticks with the same color before going back to the first stick, cleaning his brush, and applying the next darker color.
    Duke played the guitar very well and wrote 5 or 6 very lovely melodies each of which advertised a T.S.R. game. Duke searched the T.S.R. employee roster to find employees who could sing and play an instrument. Michael Grey, the designer of Fortress America and many other titles, played Bass and sang with Dukes musical group. While attending a Gencon, I only got to hear them once, but they were all excellent performers and singers of 4 part harmony.
    Duke told me that he was concerned that Paramount would sue him for his science fiction song because it reminded every one of the Star Trek Theme, even though it sounded entirely different. I told Duke about a law suit that was brought against the author of a song, which remined people of a song he had written. He lost his case when the defending lawyer told the judge, there are thousands of fairy tales, each one of which begins with the words, "ONCE UPON A TIME".