When did Wargaming start? Perhaps around the mid-1970s, when Games Workshop started up? Or even further back, in 1954 with the publication of Tactics? Some looking around, and a helpful article has shown me that it goes back even further. Going by this news, Wargaming is now at least 100 years old. And it comes from what I think is a somewhat unlikely source as well, H. G. Wells.
We should all know H. G. Wells as a talented Science Fiction writer, but it seems he was also very much into miniature wargaming as well, though at that stage it was quite different than what we see these days.
His book, Little Wars, has complete rules for garden wargaming, that are a lot more involved than anything offered from the more modern games that I am aware of, such as how much forage cavalry need per 6 moves and how many moves it takes to rebuild a railway bridge. Also, the rules are for realistic games, rather than fantasy based ones. There are also rules for real firing artillery. I love the descriptor for his book; “A Game for Boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books”. Hilarious.
HG Wells in hat, war gaming in the garden of his home at Easton Glebe, Essex.
And amazingly, people still play with these rules, or at least a version of them. Funny Little Wars is an updated version of the old rules, and is played by around 100 people in the UK. These updated rules also expanded on things that H. G. Wells was considering at the end of his book, bringing them into the game.
Funny Little Wars is a homage to HG Wells, and handy guide to garden wargaming with proper toy soldiers
There is more going on here than just a man enjoying a nice game of War, there are psychological things that are usually attributed to this sort of thing, like apprehension of real war. If you are interested in that side of it as well, then here is a BBC News article that is more in-depth on that subject than I have been.