Recumbent strategist: H. G. Wells, left, plays at war in a game of his own devising. (Illustration from the Illustrated London News – 1913)
By Mark Wallace
If you happened to visit the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, in April, you may have spotted neat ranks of red- and blue-coated soldiers converging on the front lines of a grassy battlefield — a miniature battlefield, that is, peppered with soldiers just over two inches tall. Their commanding officers were gathered to celebrate the centenary of the book that gave birth to their hobby and, in so doing, spawned a family tree that has since branched out to include tabletop role-playing pursuits and big-budget video-game extravaganzas.
The book that started it all, “Little Wars,” was written by H. G. Wells, who is better remembered for his science fiction than for his game design. “Little Wars” was published in 1913, after Wells — inspired by a child’s discarded toy soldiers and breech-loading cannon — created a set of rules that the “recumbent strategist” could use to wage war across parlor floors or neatly manicured lawns and gardens……
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