I was first introduced to the world of war gaming at the tender age of twelve having arrived initially at it’s threshold via a Märklin model railway which my mother decided, in her wisdom, I should own. I suspect she was mainly motivated in making this generous gift to me whilst harbouring a covert interest in the kind of things that made up a boys world, including their pursuit of games and other hobbies. Anyway, to make a long story short, I soon had miniature locomotive and trucks whizzing around HO scale track which grew in length, and all the while, I steadily enhanced my layout creating scenery and using other accessories such as, model houses, stations and industrial buildings, all accompanied by miniature people etc. I was aided and abetted in this task by my mother who made me gifts of all these extras at birthdays and Christmas times! However, something was lacking, after-all you can only send trains around the layout for a while before boredom sets in………I wanted something more!
And then I found it, the veritable “Holy Grail” for those possessing a historical interest and wanting to “do history” with miniature soldiers! Whilst perusing an issue of “Model Railroader” magazine I came across an article by one, Joseph Morschauser, in which he described how he had created an American Civil War layout on which he reenacted the battles of that period using miniature figures with a set of rules which he had devised!
He had obviously been influenced by H.G Well’s famous book “Little Wars” probably one of the first “modern” publications incorporating relatively simple war game rules. Best of all he had published his own rules in a book entitled “How to Play War Games in Miniature” which I duly became the proud owner of! It is still in my possession today, holding pride of place on my bookshelf. It was the beginning of a lifelong interest and “love affair” devoted to “playing with toy soldiers”
Another “Victorian Gentleman” worthy of note in our “war gaming universe” is Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Little mention is made however, of the fact that one of his favourite past-times was war-gaming, to which he devoted countless hours of his life both as a child and as an adult