Monday, May 23, 2011

Battles with Model Soldiers

This blog is about a group of guys from Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin who get together periodically to play miniature wargames; or small battles on a tabletop with model soldiers. This group has been in existence playing regularly for about 10 years, but individually most of us have been involved in the hobby and known each other since the 1960’s.

The hobby of Miniature Wargaming has been around since before the 1900’s. The Prussian Army played a form of miniature wargame called “Kriegsspiel,” a military training game invented by Georg von Reisswitz, which used blocks of wood to represent troop formations and was played on a large scale map. Sir Winston Churchill played a form of wargames with his own large collection of toy soldiers when he was a young man. In 1913, the British author H.G. Wells published a book entitled “Little Wars,” for which this page is named. You can read this book free on line at the link below:

The game played in “Little Wars” used large lead or tin toy soldiers. The game rules allowed for movement of troops and combat. Cannons which actually fired small projectiles were used to “kill” opposing troops. Since “Little Wars” was published in 1913, the hobby has steadily grown and matured over the years, and is especially popular in England and Commonwealth countries, as well as the United States. The hobby really expanded in the 1960’s, early 1970’s. Authors/gamers who have been great influences in the hobby include Donald Featherstone, Brigadier Peter Young, Charles Grant, and Phil Barker from England, and Jack Scruby from the United States. The difference between the games played today and those of H. G. Wells are that the miniatures representing soldiers from nearly any period in history are available in many different scales from numerous manufacturers, and are qualitatively much better in appearance and detail. The rules that are used today are also advanced from the original “Little Wars” book. Much effort is used to make the terrain of the miniature battlefield have a more realistic appearance. 

This blog is also dedicated to our friend, the late Charles L. Prosek, USMC (retired), who was a voice of reason in our hobby that is sorely missed. Charlie was a veteran of the Korean War and the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Due to the traumatic nature of his military service, Charlie had difficulty listening to battle sound effects of modern war movies, having to turn off the volume. We used to regularly hang out at Charlie’s hobby shop in Winfield IL for many hours over many years, discussing the latest happenings in the hobby. 

Our gatherings for games are called "Al-Con," ("Con" or convention) for our friend Al, who usually hosts these events at his home. Here, we will periodically post articles about our latest battles, and may show some that we’ve had in the past. We play these games in all military periods and scales. Your comments and questions are welcome. 

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