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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Where have all the nuclear wargames gone?

The world keeps changing and the war planners of the UK are now facing an old threat. On the extremes of the normal distribution of potential futures is a limited nuclear strike on major British cities. London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester. 

Of course, it would take an unexpected confrontation rapidly escalating into war in which the other side, faced with loosing, using a limited nuclear strike. Inevitably old nuclear weapons, poorly maintained launched by a reluctant armed forces (who would not their home country to be nuked until the rubble of their cities glowed) would not be a comprehensive attack, but some warheads would explode and some cites would be partially devastated. There is even the possibility that an American ally, such as the UK, would be the target of the strike. This would make the point to NATO while hoping the USA will not then use nuclear retaliation just because an ally was hit. Would they risk Washington because Milton Keynes had been blown up?

While the UK obviously has the strategic warfighting plans from the Cold War, what it does not have is a complete collection of the wargames run at regional and sub regional level. During the Cold War, game after game was run about managing the situation up to, including the attack and post-strike recovery. The last alert was in 1991 during the 1st Gulf War. A cadre moved into the bunkers, small arms were issued, landmines and barbwire were moved to the key sites. The bunkers would have been operational within 1 hour and fully manned in 4, perhaps less. 

However, the Cold War was over and Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister decided that the UK was no longer under threat of attack and dismantled the bunker system. The problem is the local warplans that had been developed over the decades were largely typed, but a few were produced using the early word processors (Word Star etc…) and they were largely lost. Some no doubt reside in the secret government archives which exist around the UK (but not in Scotland), but with few archivists and practically no librarians, the archives are stuff full of the good, the bad and the ugly in impenetrable mountains. 

I remember seeing a few selling on ebay and I came across a few in long ignored filing cabinets in bunkers, but I have no copies. 

So if anyone has hidden away regional and sub regional plans from these wargames (or exercises) about how society would be managed when facing the worst, do let me know. At the moment I have none and I would like to produce a book documenting these lost wargames from the Cold War.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

New book on Lionel Tarr's Wargame and Bruce Quarries Tank Battles in Miniature Vol 5 Arab Israeli Wars 1948-1973

Lionel Tarr's Modern Wargaming Rules 1939-1945  
Lionel Tarr (1920-2003) is widely recognized as the first modern wargamer, modern being 1939-1945. He first came to prominence when his rules were published in 1962 in Donald Featherstone’s classic book, War Games.  

This book contains much previously unpublished material about the Tarr wargame and his epic decade long WWII Eastern Front Russian Campaign. This wargaming campaign was almost as well-known at the time as Tony Bath’s Hyborian campaign. 

This book includes:

     The previously unpublished Tarr wargaming rules he first drafted in 1947 and modified until 1973.

     Donald Featherstone’s 1962 summary of the rules
     Reflections on the rules
     Tarr’s Armies: Russian and German Army ORBATs           
     Solo Wargaming Eastern Front Campaign             
     Wargaming the Battle of Stalingrad         
     Air warfare on the Eastern Front
     Various articles by Tarr
     A.W. Saunders (Tarr’s cousin) modern warfare rules from 1957
     Tarr’s Napoleonic Rules

I have also republished the classic Bruce Quarrie book on the Arab Israeli Wars

Bruce Quarrie (1947-2004) was a prolific author and military historian. He wrote over forty titles, mostly on the Second World War, and edited many more. Len Deighton described him as "one of our most meticulous and well-informed historians”.

This outstanding work is a detailed introduction to the Arab-Israeli Wars between 1948 and 1973. That area saw four major campaigns, of which those of 1967 and 1973- the so-called ‘Six Day War’ and ‘Yom Kippur Wars’- are of particular interest to wargamers. These wars involved large tank battles with Centurions, Pattons and M-60’s vied for battlefield supremacy with Arab T-54’s and T-62’s. It provides detailed technical information on the weapon systems deployed by the Arab and Israeli forces. Their organization and tactical use, together with numerous suggestions for their accurate recreation in miniature. The book includes wargaming rules for these conflicts. 
 Bruce Quarrie’s classic book on wargaming the Arab-Israeli Wars has been reproduced by the History of Wargaming Project as part of the Tank Battles in Miniature Series.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

A week in the History of Wargaming Project

Ordered final 2 proof copies; one a new book about Lionel Tarr, the first modern wargamer (modern as in WWII) and a 2nd edition of Tank Battles series on the Arab and Israeli Wars, volume 5. Both should be in print within the next two weeks.

Arthur Harman is working hard proof reading Donald Featherstone’s War Games Through the Ages volume 2 for me. While he is doing that, I am preparing the volume 4 of the series. 

Graham Longley Brown, a key UK professional wargamer, has started on a new book on professional wargaming, this is looking very interesting.  We have agreed an outline of the book and some of the material is now coming together,

Peter Perla, 1 of the doyans of professional wargaming, is exploring with me the possibility of a new book on professional wargaming. 

The new book by Chris Engle et al on the theory of matrix games is progressing well. 

Started work on a new book on medieval wargaming book with Richard Brooks (the military historian). 

Received a science fiction set of rules with a view to publishing them. 

Waiting for some material to be declassified, before going to print with a new book on modern professional matrix games. I am expecting the classification to be dropped in March. 

I was asked about working on some cyber wargames in London later this year, cyber wargames are the new frontier of professional wargaming.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

With Thanks to Henry Hyde Editor of Miniature Wargames 2006-2016

Henry Hyde stepped down as editor of one of the major wargaming magazines in October 2016 to pursue other projects.

He was editor during a period of great change in wargaming:

Over the last 10 years:

  • Wargaming shops on the high street have almost vanished. 
  • Ebay has become a major part of selling and buying 2nd hand wargaming stuff. 
  • Facebook/ Twitter feeds, blogs, Pininterest and other social media have allowed geographically dispersed wargamers to link up and network. 
  • Professional wargaming has emerged from the shadows and the hobby is contributing to professional games and visa versa. 
  • The hobby has rediscovered its respect for some of the early modern wargames, acknowledging the best work of the founding fathers, and in the finest tradition of the early wargamers, many people are again writing their own rules and modifying the work of others. 
  • The History of Wargaming Project has developed into  a key focus of older wargaming material, as well as documenting professional wargaming. 

Henry, through his  editorship of Miniature Wargames has been a commentator on these paradigm changes and also a part of influencing these changes.

So this wargamer would like to publicly say thank you for your hard work and encouragement over the last decade.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Sandhurst Krieggspiel now in print

This book is about training games for the modern infantry officer.

Wargaming has been an important part of military training since the Prussians first used it to develop their warfighting capabilities in the 19th century. The aim of this book is the first of a series to provide off the shelf wargames that may be of immediate use in military training. 
This book contains 4 ready to use wargames:

Game 1: The Sandhurst Kriegsspiel aims to allow officers to test the plan they devised in a TEWT on the actual ground using the tool of wargaming. The explanation includes an example of a platoon as well as a company level game. 

Game 2: The Battlegroup Kriegsspiel is next level up game. While still a kriegsspiel, dependent on sound military judgement by the umpire (and players), it includes some hard operational research based tables to help arbitrate the combat outcomes. 

Game 3: Current Ops: the Modern Infantry Battle is a more rigid kriegsspiel, with more detailed rules to govern movement, combat, suppression and ammunition expenditure. It is more similar in format to the hobby wargames, but still embeds some key military lessons within it. 

Game 4: Counter IED Kriegsspiel is an excellent example of using some of the recent developments in wargaming to create an engaging game to be used as part of training around patrolling when faced by an IED threat.

The black and white edition of the book can be bought from or the full colour version can be bought from 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

George Gush's A Guide to Wargaming

This classic book is now available again via the project. First published in 1980, it was at the end of the first golden age of wargaming publishing. So it contained an excellent summary and analysis of where the hobby was at that time.

The book includes 3 sets of rules; later 19th century, 20th century skirmish and medieval wargaming rules.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

New book Paddy Griffith’s Counter Insurgency Wargames (1980)

Paddy Griffith’s Counter Insurgency Wargames (1980) 

with a foreword by Brian Train

Paddy Griffith (1947- 2010) was a leading British military theorist and historian, who used wargaming as part of his tool set to critically analyse operational and tactical military history. This book includes two previously unpublished COunter-INsurgency (COIN) wargames from 1976 to 1980 and an example of a British Army live-roleplaying COIN from 1980.

Paddy Griffith examined COIN situations using wargaming as part of his professional work, which included being a lecturer in war studies at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. This book includes previously unpublished material from his archive about three such exercises.
The first COIN game, Longreagh Village, is about a security force base facing a particularly challenging week of supporting the local police in a border village. Briefings are provided for the security forces and the opposition group. This is supported by a sketch map, intelligence files and a breakdown of activities for each day of the week. 

The second COIN game, summer in Dogem-on-Sea, is set in ORANGELAND. The local police are facing a two pronged threat against the local population. The security forces part of the game was run as a committee game, whereas the opposition side was run as a role-playing game. Detailed briefings are provided, the events diary of the local police commander, tactical sketch maps of key locations as well as other background material. 

The third COIN game is an outline of a British Army live-roleplaying exercise, with a cast of 250 people. Soldiers and civilians were drafted in to create a backdrop for an intensive 48 hour exercise to allow the officer cadets of Sandhurst to gain practical experience of COIN. As a lecturer in war studies, Paddy Griffith contributed to these exercises, in particular, the development of the exercise narrative. 

This book is almost unique in providing detailed historical examples of COIN exercises and as such is a window into the professional perspective of the British Army into COIN at that time.
The foreword is by Brian Train, a well-known current game designer, who specialises in producing games about irregular warfare.