To be fair, as the Wargaming Pastor says, these original core rules are designed for French-Indian Wars ‘troops versus natives’ cluttered forest skirmish, not at first view an obvious match for futuristic fighting in the urban jungles of other planets.
You will find an attractively photographed battle report by the Wargaming Pastor and more reflection on the pros and cons of the Close Wars rules.
Featherstone and Sci-fi Rules?
I had to do similar modifications when gaming with these Featherstone 1962 War Games rules on a past Wellsian garden Star Wars / Little Wars / Close Wars mash-up improvised game:
Not that Donald Featherstone was averse to fantasy and sci-fi gaming, as he left two unfinished or unpublished scenarios (one fantasy, one sci-fi) for his Skirmish Wargaming book that were edited and added by John Curry when he reprinted this classic book in his History Of Wargames Project. He has also reprinted Featherstone’s original 1962 War Games.
“Thisnew edition, includes an additional fantasy scenario and a science fiction scenario: To Claim our Long-forgotten Gold (Third Age) [fantasy] and Mining Station Sigma 9 (Year 3015, the far future) and guidance on how to play solo skirmish wargames.”
Alan (Duchy Of Tradgardland) mentioned that I should look at this post or website by Roger Halvorsen, where he tries out the very simple ‘old school’ Donald Featherstone Close Wars Rules (appendix to War Games, 1962) to fight a modern era skirmish.
You can read this post by Roger at his Model Rails and Wargames blog:
In his search for very simple rules, Roger pushes the Close Wars rules past their original setting (or ‘comfort zone’) of French-Indian Wars colonial forest skirmish with ‘natives’ and ‘troops’ to the tropical forest and urban edge of a fictionalised part of an African country in the early 1960s.
The Blue Helmet UN forces tackle the local well-equipped green helmeted local African forces.
As befits a mention on this my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog, I like the way that Roger has used simple and cheap, widely available dollar or Pound Store Soldiers. 54mm Modern / American Infantry (TimMee / BMC /Toy Story type) and plastic Matchbox figure copies (US Infantry) have been used, differentiated with two different paint schemes.
It shows what a good simple paint scheme will do for such versatile figures.
Roger has some interesting Pro and Con points to make about the simplicity and drawbacks of these two page rules for modern warfare including vehicles and automatic weapons.
John Yorio in the blog comments suggested to Roger using Featherstone’s World War Two rules from War Games or Battles with Model Soldiers.
At the end of the day, much of the experience of infantry combat on foot with rifles in forests or even urban jungles cannot have changed much in two hundred years, apart from more accurate or rapid fire rifles?
Melee and hand to hand fighting (at boot, fist, blade and bayonet level) cannot have changed much either.
This is good basic rules tinkering, working out how and if to include heavy weapons. Is a machine gun is just modern volley fire from 5 or 10 men (as Featherstone often uses) when not using individual figure firing?
Roger links to my 2016 Close Wars early blog post here with the two page original rules pages :
This is my pound store DIY version of the portable war game or Perry Twins’ popular new Travel Battle game.
Semi-Random Terrain Distribution By Featherstone Air Drop
Tucked inside the box lid are some passable or impassable map symbol type hex squares (marsh, river, impassable forest). Once the first river pieces were laid on fairly at random, the other hexes were dropped from on high to randomise their placing.
This is something I remember as a technique using paper circles scattered from a converted Airfix plastic Dakota kit for scattering paratroops, the Dakota held at a suitable height over the calculated or miscalculated drop zone.
I first saw this in a childhood borrowed library copy of Donald Featherstone’s Wargaming Airborne Operations (recently reprinted by John Curry). Airfix paratroop figures then replaced the paper parachute circles wherever they landed, sometimes fatally in water, on rooftops or behind enemy lines.
I would love to try this outside in a back garden / Yarden game. It would even work for beaming or teleporting down to another planet scenario. Beam ’em down!
The Featherstone Airdrop – Brilliantly odd game mechanic!
These map symbol coloured hexes were improvised from thin white packaging card on my Easter 2016 holiday trip and can be lightly tacked down (like the game board) with a smidgin of magic or Scotch tape.
Pretty it isn’t but practical and portable it is.
In my holiday ‘rainy day’ box I usually pack tape, scissors, a few fine liner pens or Sharpie pens and raid whatever watercolours, paints, cardboard or paper I can find to make game bits. Coffee stirrers are really handy and easy to come by, as are bits of stone etc.
For the back drop, I found somebody’s leftover Saturday’s newspaper had an intriguing surrealist landscape advert. With a bit of camouflage (space palm tree cocktail stick stirrers from Tiger.com taped for weight to a spare dice behind gravel stones) to hide the outsize hunter figure, this folded over to form a surreal space backdrop for my improvised Away Team solo game.
I roll a dice to see which side – silver space marines versus red planet natives – are the Attackers, which the Defenders for the purposes of any Melee dice throws etc. if I ever forget. I use coloured dice for game counters for keeping track of hits (for speed each figure started a melee phase / round of only two combat or life points).
A pink flamingo cocktail stick marker marked out which side were the Attackers, another nod to a different famous Don Featherstone, inventor of the pink lawn flamingo. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Featherstone_(artist) Another d6 dice was rolled to see what the melee result was on the Kaptain Kobold d6 Dice Table dice table. The other spare dice was busy propping up the space palm trees.
Who won, who lost? The Away Team Silver Space Marines or the Red Planet Native Defenders?
The result is future history …
I will finish on a close-up of the ‘profit hunter’ from the nonsensical Artemis advert, looking very much like the cavalry or cowboy ‘Rough Riders on Mars’ blog site. I should be able to mock this hunter figure up pretty easily in several scales using Prince August 40mm Holger Erickson cowboy Homecasts, Airfix or various 54mm and OO/HO cowboys.
This advert has great fun ‘alien desert’ terrain, easy to create from some of the more lurid plastic aquarium plants and terrain.
One of my favourite simple ideas chapters in Solo Wargaming by Don Featherstone is called “Wargaming In Bed”.
Transposed to the garden wargame, maybe this should be called “Wargaming in the Flower Bed”?
Here in this chapter, there are simple, mostly skirmish ideas, mostly for a few 54mm figures. There is an interesting short section on the “Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust” duelling game invented by Gerard Du Gre of the MGC (Model General’s Club) in America.
(Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust does sound like an odd bunch of solicitors or estate agents.)
What I like about this card system is that it can be played solo or two handed.
It is almost a card version of “scissors paper stone”, a gaming system used for thousands of years and harnessed for a great caveman / tribal game many years ago in Miniature Wargames. Must look this one out for my Homecast Prince August cavemen!
A set of cards is prepared with one of the following actions on each.
Cut to Head
Parry and Lunge
I prepare a set of three cards for my hand, then a set of about thirty cards for my ‘opponent’ solo games.
Once you gave decided if you are attacker or defender (toss a coin for this), you can turn up the top card for your non-existent opponent’s choice of action at random. Return card to bottom of pile.
Alternatively, you can split the pack in half and play each figure as ‘random’, taking the top card blind from each pack for each figure.
Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust – Combat Points
For each successful hit, remove 1 point / counter from the number given.
Featherstone / Du Gre gives 2 Combat Power points to light foot.
I usually give 5 points to each of these unarmoured swordsman to prolong the game.
Featherstone / Du Gre gives 2 Combat Power points to light foot. You can choose your own points table.
Light Foot – 2 points
Heavy Foot – 3 points
Mounted Knights 3 points plus 1 point for horse
Light Mounted (unarmoured) 2 points plus 1 point for horse.
In the case of Mounted men, the first hit is against their horse. When their horse is killed, the rider continues to fight on foot.
When all points have gone, this opponent is dead.
The winner can be given an additional point / counter.
If you both choose or draw the same card, consult the separate hit deck. The cards either say Both Hit or Both Missed.
To further randomise the opponents cards, I added in a couple of ducks and slips (either being hit or missed) as chance cards.
This is the closest I think I will get to card activation.
Points are kept by scoring pointers – pebbles on the beach, sweets, coins or in the sandpit example, some spare Tiger store flamingo cocktail sticks in homage to the other Don Featherstone.
Duelling in Angria and the Bronte books?
There are lots of examples of the pistols or swords and six paces sort of thing in the Bronte juvenilia Imagi-Nations I have been following up on my Man of TIN blog. Most officer figures with many toy soldier sets had suitable swords.
This duelling card system an also be used to sort out Melee in an interesting way in Solo games and otherwise. Once troops are engaged, time stops whilst an individual skirmish is played out. Morale, Retreat or disengage cards could be added for variety.
Fantasy Gladiator type skirmishes are possible.
The addition of life or hit points means that you can give a combat / defence / life points value to anything from a dinosaur to a mounted knight. Or even in the Heroscape box, a Mounted knight on a dinosaur …
Quick Samurai version?
I am slightly jealous of the attractive cherry blossom in the new Samurai Game Test of Honour featured in Tony’s Tin Soldiering On blog,
although i think its mainly the cherry blossom and not the rules system. I remembered I had some ‘free’ Samurai swordsmen in the couple of Heroscape starter sets which I bought for the hex tiles.
This works equally well in the garden with appropriate Japanese plants like this lovely Acer (Japanese Maple).
And the equivalent of Featherstone’s swoppet knights that as a convalescing invalid he hopes to “Bribe a nurse or browbeat your wife into bringing to your bedside a couple of those plastic 54mm Swoppet armoured knights and position them at either end of the Bed table.”
Maybe suitable figures can be found in their modern equivalent Lego mini figures or Wilko bootleggo mini figures, or pound store bags of knights or pirates.
Interchangeable weapons, heads , legs – Lego type minifigures are the modern version of Britain’s / Herald or Timpo type Swoppets.
I even found Lego minifigure fencing figures and do by chance or blind bag luck own two fencers, but could only find one for the photograph.
Somewhere I have Lego Star Wars and also metal figures of duelling Jedi figures with their lightsaber laser swords – these rules would also work well for this!
Featherstone mentions that “Minor actions can be fought: half a dozen Airfix men can try to capture a Bellona pillbox manned by a German machine gun team”. Well, having seen handmade trench raid weapons in museums and visited trenches like Dixmuide the Trench of Death on the Yser in Belgium, I can see that a World War trench raid is about as close to medieval foot combat as you can get, especially in the dark.
Not sure, having researched my village war memorial, if a trench raid is a bit too close historically to have the gloss or romance of history and fiction that makes pirate sword fighting or duelling an enjoyable card activated game though …
Airfix OO/HO sets like Robin Hodd / Sheriff also feature lots of swordsmen or men with quarterstaffs suitable for the Lunge Cut and Stop Thrust card game.
Pound store or seaside store pirates have useful duelling 54mm pirate swords men. These proved good fun to try out these rules in a recent family visit to the beach, though the cards get as soggy at the edges as you can see in the sandpit. Sandcastles have to be built and defended!
More elaborate and attractive laminated /sticky back plastic game cards could be made that would last longer in the garden or on the beach.
Jousting rules are also included in this chapter “Wargaming In Bed” in Solo Wargaming by Donald Featherstone but that’s one for another blogpost.
And finally … who was Gerard De Gre of the Model Generals Club who invented these Lunge Cut and Stop Thrust rules?