Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Star Wars Command’s Little Wars Heritage

For my birthday my son got me several sets of the Star Wars Command 54mm plastic soldier figures and not-to-scale vehicles. (The Little Guy loves getting other people presents he can play with/usurp, too.) They’ve been discounted at Walmart for months; I’ve watched fellow gamers and Star Wars fans snatch them up, play with them, even paint them like the old 25mm metal miniatures. I didn’t get any sets with the “Roll Attack Strikers” that enable one to attach vehicles and their bases, then pull back and send speeding to knock down enemy soldiers, though I saw them in other sets on the back of the packaging. Yet this entire set-up – toy soldiers standing around waiting for some mechanical contrivance from the enemy to knock them over – seemed oddly familiar...just like the gameplay H.G. Wells proposed in his Little Wars.

Those macrobinoculars won't help
find those Tusken Raiders....
Noted English writer H.G. Wells – also called the father of science fiction – published Little Wars in 1913, ironically only a year before Europe would plunge into an armed conflict so devastating it was dubbed “The War to End All Wars.” As wargames go it seemed pretty simple: players arrayed toy soldiers and artillery on a playing field, moved them around and shot at them with the artillery pieces. A very simple system resolved close combat, often resulting in captured soldiers as well as casualties. Nothing nearly as complex as the wargames created in the previous century by the father-son Reiswitz duo, their contemporaries and successors; certainly nothing as complex as the numerous miniature wargame rules available in the “modern” era of the hobby today. Ranged combat relied on a particular mechanical contrivance, a 4.7 naval gun toy manufactured by the same company that made toy soldiers popular at the time, the venerable Britains, Ltd. The toy gun shot little dowels at soldiers, knocking them over and sometimes causing collateral damage to nearby figures.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Schweig’s Gaming Roadshow Gallery

A few posts ago I talked about “Schweig’s Gaming Roadshow,” a host of toys for running both roleplaying games and miniature wargames I’d love to take on the road to various regional conventions to share with gamers (though I’m often restrained in this effort by financial and scheduling considerations). “Don’t tease us!” wrote one astute reader. “You talked about all this wonderful terrain and only gave us a handful of pictures!” And he was right! So I spent this past week tidying up the basement wargaming table, setting up some lights, and systematically pulling out goodies for most of the games I mentioned for numerous photographs. They’re not all that great, but I’d like to think they offer a more comprehensive look at some of the toys I’d like to share with convention-goers. In a few places I’ve relied on a few older photos, some from the actual Valley of the Ape rulebook as well as some Panzer Kids photos from my discussion of “Making Use of What We Have.”

I apologize in advance, but there are more than 30 photos in this post; it may seem long and it may take a while to load. Click on the photos for a closer look. They offer a closer, more expansive look at the materials in Schweig’s Gaming Roadshow.