Wednesday, August 28, 2013

H. G. Wells and the "Kriegspiel"

One of the first of it's kind...
Nerds, 100 years ago
"Little Wars is the game of kings for players in an inferior social position. It can be played by boys of every age from twelve to one hundred and fifty and even later if the limbs remain sufficiently supple, by girls of the better sort, and by a few rare and gifted women." (H. G. Wells, Introduction to Little Wars, p. 7)
One of the very early predecessors of the War Games that led to D&D was Little Wars by H. G. Wells (which itself, as far as I know, was inspired by some other game, used by the Prussian Military to train it's officers).
Discussing house rules of playing
with tin soldiers in 1913.

The first edition was published in 1913 (July of that year, to be precise) and is in the public domain now (you can get it here in every format you could possibly need).

It's delightful to read how they worked on the game to make it more and more "realistic", the debates and problems and the fun they had playing it. All that no less than 100 years ago!

Fascinating, not only as a historical artifact, but also as a game. Small shooting toy cannons should be easily enough attainable. No need to mention miniatures, I guess.

More thoughts about it as soon as I've finished reading it.

I'll start a virtual bookshelf for this blog and this will be the first book on it...


  1. I've been trying to find that book for four years. Is it a good read or really dry? With H.G. Wells involved I imagine that it's got to be enjoyable.

  2. It's really something. I'm very much enjoying the tone and the ideas for the game. Here is another excerpt:

    "Now for a while you listen to General H. G. W., of the Blue Army. You hear tales of victory. The photographs of the battlefields are by a woman war-correspondent, A. C. W., a daring ornament of her sex. I vanish. I vanish, but I will return. Here, then, is the story of the battle of Hook's Farm.
    'The affair of Hook's Farm was one of those brisk little things that did so much to build up my early reputation...'"

    And with 140 small pages (including photographs and illustrations) it's also quite short. In my opinion, it's a wonderful read.

  3. Excellent book, quite inspirational, as you say. It would be fun to play this game some time...

  4. Yeah, we're currently looking into those small toy cannons. If I ever manage to pull it of, I'll share the experience, of course (and would be very interested in hearing how others experienced it). It does sound like a good game :)


Recent developments made it necessary to moderate posts again. Sorry about that, folks.