Home Forums General General Do You Remember the First Time .Ahem First War-game You Ever Played!

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    Avatar photoWar Panda

    Although I had been modelling different periods of war all my life I wasn’t even aware of the concept of historical tabletop wargaming till much later in life (I blame living in a fairly remote and rural part of Ireland) and it wasn’t till around 2004 that I came across Axis and Allies miniatures game (which I would regard more of a board game…pre-panited minis plus a game provided hex map doesn’t really constitute?!? 🙂 …)

    I then spotted an article about Flames of War and its modelling style of table inspired me to take the plunge.

    Over two months I modelled a normandy table (as you would a diorama which as you all know wasn’t at all practical for the purposes of gaming ). My wife ordered a bunch of pre-painted 15mm buildings for Christmas so I officially opened my war gaming career on Christmas morning with a solo game of Flames of War. And I just loved it!

    So when was your first time?

    “The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad,
    For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    1973 at school with Dave Hay and a few others (some names lost in the mists of time, others redacted to protect the guilty!) . French v Brits Napoleonic, I seem to remember some Hinchliffe riflemen in a churchyard totally impervious to everything thrown at them, holding the whole Grande Armee at bay. I’d played a few solo things after getting hold of Charge! by Lawson and Young the year before but had found Dave and a few others after much searching. And here I am 42 years later still (just about) going! (I still have my Hinchliffe Napoleon in a box in the attic – the rest of his men having been sold off long ago) The poor man didn’t even make it to Elba!

    Avatar photoRod Robertson

    War Panda:

    My first wargame was played in the fall of 1967 when my buddy Mark Fraser and I took some dice and some Airfix models and invented our own wargame in his basement. We fought around hills made of piles of books and terrain pilfered from his dad’s model railway table. This was the R&D period. However the real games started in the spring of 1968 when we took the dice and tanks down the road to a construction site and made terrain and contours atop the sand piles dotted there. We were able to do this because of a two-week long “construction holiday” that was mandatory in Quebec in those days. Those two weeks set me on a path that I am still on today 47 years later.

    The games grew and diversified as kids from the neighbourhood joined in. At one point in 1970 five kids had built “bases” on their properties and we were launching air raids against each other, once again using Airfix 1/72 scale planes instead of tanks. A savage arms race broke out as everyone involved ran down to Ted’s Hobby Shoppe to buy better and faster aircraft. As Alex Hill had a paper route and therefore an income of sorts, he was able to up-grade fastest and eventually crushed us with Phantom F-4’s and a pair of Vulcan bombers. Spitfires, Lancasters and Stulkas stood no chance against him and we were all vanquished.

    Then in 1972, after an unnamed friend and I decided that what the neighbourhood really needed was a functional mortar, we began design and testing in the fields and swamp behind our homes. The fire that resulted wasn’t that bad and was put out in short order by the fire department, but my parents decided to ship me off to Bristol, England where they were going to spend a year+ on a sabbatical leave. I was enrolled in the Bristol Grammar School and there discovered table-top wargames. What a revelation, that these games could be played on a table! It never occurred to me or my friends in Canada to have done this. Well, I was hooked. When Howard Watkins-Jones told me about the Modeller’s Den, I went to this magical place and felt I had arrived at Mecca! Ancients, Medievals, Napoleonics, Zulu Wars and World Wars miniatures and models galore. I went crazy. I joined the BGS wargames club and was in heaven. Here too another revelation, you didn’t have to make up your own rules for games. Other really smart people with access to information I never even dreamed had existed, had already written rules – really good rules. Alas, my parents whose frugality put the harshest practioners of the Protestant Work-ethic to shame, would only allow me to divert some of my paltry allowance to this new and wonderful hobby. I scrimped and saved and hoarded bus money by walking to school and back every day. I managed to amasse a fairly nice force of Desert War tanks and a small soft-plastic Napoleonics force was put together. Then disaster struck again. It was time to return home to Canada in the Fall of 1973, and my dad decided that the models and Napoleonics would take up too much luggage space to return with me. Stoically I gave them to friends at school.

    Back in Canada people looked at me funny when I tried to explain the idea of wargames on tables. Worse still all my old buddies had discovered girls in my near two-year absence and had neither the time nor inclination to revisit childish games. I was alone in the desert and didn’t even have my desert tanks to to occupy me. Wargames went into a long hiatus as I too discovered sports, girls and D&D to occupy my time.

    In the late 1970’s through contacts made through playing D&D and other RPG’s, I found a circle of miniature wargamers and we have being playing ever since.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson


    Avatar photoPatrice

    Ahem. A few days ago, I already mentioned what I thought was my first wargame (with proper Airfix soldiers) here:


    But since you ask, I remember another one before that!

    Before Airfix soldiers arrived in France (or before I noticed they had arrived), I was still playing with bigger toy soldiers (not sure of the exact size?)

    My aunt, who was (and still is) 14 years older than me, once wanted to play with me. I was a child, she was 20(+?)

    For the game, each of us took half of my toy soldiers and half of my toy cars and trucks. I did not notice that amongst the toy trucks she choose, was an excavator.

    There were no rules. I made a fortress with some wooden blocks (from some construction toy), I thought that my soldiers were very well protected behind it, and I built all my strategy on that.

    My aunt put two of her soldiers in the exacavator’s shovel …and she lifted them on the top of my fortress.

    You should never trust your aunt.


    Avatar photoWar Panda

    Guy, Rod and Patrice…these are the real treasures of this hobby. Honestly brilliant. Thank you for sharing these.

    Rod Roy if you wrote a book about this I would buy it. Brilliant story. I’m glad I asked.

    And I too was an avid RPGer as a teenager…would love  to play again in fact

    “The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad,
    For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

    Avatar photoRod Robertson


    The Maginot Line all over again! Quel Dommage!

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    Avatar photogrizzlymc

    I remember it well. Latee November, early December 1970, me vs dad, 39 figs a side. He won, he won the second game. I beat him a week later with hills and hidden movement.

    Minfigs Napoleonics, my 12th birthday present. About half of them painted.

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    I do not remember a time when I was not playing with toy soldiers, green army men, building model ships ,areoplanes and tanks. Airfix and others  Checkers, Chess, Board games  you name it and I played it. Tactics II, Blitzkrieg then Airfix guides to war gaming and Tractics , Cordite and Steel (built my own 1/2400 ships) then lead figures and The Sword and the Flame !! So I have always been playing just got formal around 1974 ish.

    Avatar photoPijlie

    It must have been 1986 and the game was the Raid on Chatham 1667 played with the Wooden Ships & Iron Men rules but with 1:2400 scaled ship models and buildings I made to fit the board. Instigator was Bram of freshly opened FLGS “De Draak” in Nijmegen and I am grateful to him ever since. We played the game in his shop over the weekend. Great memories!


    Avatar photoSteve Johnson

    It would have been 1975 or possibly a year or two earlier, I can’t really remember. The first game was either Airfix WWII rules or Thane Tostig/1st D&D. We were playing both sorts of games so hard to think which came first. I can still picture 4 or 5 games clearly in my mind. Happy, happy days.

    Avatar photoirishserb

    I’m another who invented war gaming, only to find that many others had beat me to it, and done a much better job of it.  My first game with completely silly home made rules was probably in early 1974, using Marx and other toy soldiers.  My first proper wargame was Avalon Hill’s France 1940.  A long and slow process that first game was, 1976.  First published miniatures game played was Panzertroops from Heritage in 1979.  We ended up using 1/72 plastic kits and infantry, as the 15mm metal figs very were hard to come by.


    Avatar photowillz

    I had been playing with Airfix soldiers and tanks up until my first proper war-game that was 1972 in Ipswich at school, my mate Kim Watts introduced me to Napoleonic war-gaming with Airfix figures.  The first game was after school in one of the large classrooms, I remember moving some figures achieving very little and firing my artillery.  After that I found a copy of “The Wargame” in the local library and the rest is history as they say.

    This is a photo of Military Modeling which also sent me down the war-gaming path, my dad got me a subscription and I remember drooling over the advertisement’s.

    Avatar photoRod Robertson


    William Harley:

    Lordy, lordy:

    If my parents had seen that magazine cover, my wargaming experience would have ended immediately! Shades of the movie “Caligula”!

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson

    Avatar photoJozisTinMan

    It all started with toy solders on the floor, but I eventually got into the hard stuff:

    • Board wargame: Richtofen’s War in 1985
    • Miniature wargame: DBA in 1994


    Avatar photoAbwehrschlacht

    I used to collect 20mm Napoleonics, when I was about 11/12 years old. I just used to set them up on the vac-formed battlefields that Esci produced, but to no real gain other than them being a nice diorama. Then one time in an English lesson (I’d recently started at secondary school) we had to bring something in to talk about, so I brought in a box of Esci British Napoleonics. One of the guys in the class told me that he used to wargame with 1/300th tanks and explained some of the rules to me, in brief.

    Then, one evening before school disco, I convinced another mate, who had no interest whatsoever, in playing a game with the figures. This was before I had the chance to meet up with the actual wargamer guy, but I couldn’t wait to try out this new game.

    Anyhoo, the game consisted of 50 British soldiers against 50 French soldiers, with absolutely no formations or discipline. The rules, as far as I remember were: One man can move 6″, or one man can shoot. The ranges were broken down into 5″ bands with each band being the number needed to hit on a D6. So, 1-5″ would mean anything over a 1, 6-10″ anything over a 2, etc. A hit meant a kill. That was it, no morale, nothing.

    Mind you, we had fun and that was the main thing.

    I did find some old pictures of one our refights of Waterloo, that happened in 1988, there are some pictures on my blog: http://stormofsteelwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-archaeology-of-wargaming.html This was a massive step up from the original game though….

    Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/stormofsteelwargaming

    Blog: http://www.stormofsteelwargaming.com


    My grandfather painted miniatures with my mum – He used it to as therapy after his wounds in WW2. Mum then showed me one day how pops used to paint them and it sort of started from there really. I had lot of airfix napoloenic toy soldiers that i used to paint and muck around with but not wargame.

    My first wargame (Rules, table,terrain) was in around 1990 after I went to a show and was invited to play an ACW game with a guys airfix figures. I won the game and it was great fun, eating crisps at lunch and coke, a days wargaming at the club was a real outing for me.



    Avatar photoMartinR

    We used to play with Airfix figures at junior school, but my first ‘proper’ wargames rules were Charles Grants ‘Battle’. So 1970/71ish?? Later in the 1970s we played a lot of 6mm WRG WW2 and Napoleonics.

    First boardgame was AHGCs ‘France 1940’, again early/mid 1970s.

    First RPG was White Box D&D in the late 1970s, althgh were also big fans of Tunnels & Trolls.


    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoMike

    Do You Remember the First Time .Ahem First War-game You Ever Played!

    I don’t.
    I know it was WFB, the Hardback edition.
    But that is all.


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