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Little Wars

H. G. Wells

Book Overview: 

Miniature wargaming got its start with this thoroughly entertaining little account of how H.G. Wells, with certain of his friends, took their childhood toys and turned play into acceptable middle-aged sport by subjecting the exercise to the civilizing influence of actual rules.

While wargaming progressed far past these beginnings, Wells observes how “little wars” with even his elementary rules can suggest the wholesale crudity of the real thing.

“You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realize just what a blundering thing Great War must be. Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but–the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realization conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.”

Wells leaves almost hanging the tantalizing concept that we might someday simulate war, as an instrument of international decision-making, rather than practice actual combat.

But most of this book is just the fun of evicting the boys from the playroom and spending happy days there, away from the “skirt-swishers”, developing the framework under which two gentlemen might meet and accumulate boastable victories!

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . minute and discharge an alarm note at the end of the move. That would abolish the rather boring strain of time-keeping. One could just watch the fighting.

Moreover, in our desire to bring the game to a climax, we decided that instead of a fight to a finish we would fight to some determined point, and we found very good sport in supposing that the arrival of three men of one force upon the back line of the opponent's side of the country was of such strategic importance as to determine the battle. But this form of battle we have since largely abandoned in favour of the old fight to a finish again. We found it led to one type of battle only, a massed rush at the antagonist's line, and that our arrangements of time-limits and capture and so forth had eliminated most of the concluding drag upon the game.

Our game was now very much in its present form. We considered at various times the possibility of introducing some complication due to the bringing. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This little book sits at the root of the tree of all wargames and roleplaying games. It is a direct ancestor of tabletop games like Warhammer 40k, D&D and military board games. Its descendants also include most electronic titles, including Civilization, World of Warcraft, and Bioshock. This is the f

idea di base molto curiosa ma soprattutto ben riuscita, sempre attuale e profonda la riflessione finale; tutto ciò allietato da una scrittura molto scorrevole.

Excellent book and a must read for all miniature wargamers.

The book describes the rules Wells used and also explains why and how the rules were formed. There is also a battle report(!) and extra untested rules for players to try out.

This little book about wargaming was interesting and humorous, but much too detailed for me, because I have no interest in wargaming. It is entertaining to think about H.G. Wells and his adult male friends lying and crawling around on the floor or lawn moving toy soldiers and weapons around for hour

Illustrations or quotations from this little booklet appear in news articles now and then: photos of the author (or friends) lounging on the lawn in straw boaters, or a choice outrageously-Victorian/Edwardian-sexist phrase. I was planning to re-read Featherstone but instead started here at the begin

Lacking pieces.

This started off as an intriguing read. I bought it thinking that it was a story. I enjoyed the writer's style and the way the book flowed. I was however, disappointed that it was the development of a game. That would have been fine except it referenced photographs and diagrams which

This is perhaps the first book on wargaming. When I was a child I used to do the same as the author. I played little wars in my room and then I wrote them down in my copy book. Well, this book reminds me very much of the times when I was playing "battles" and made plans and pretended I was a real ge

Honestly, this is basically the great grandfather to military wargames (excluding the military uses of strategy and tactics via games which dates back to ancient Egypt, this was for the masses). Its a rulebook basically, in comparison to the hundreds of wargames on the market now - quite simple, but

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