By George Arnold
I have now finally acquired the John Curry reprint of a favorite old book, “How to Play War Games in Miniature.” The reprint was published a few years ago. Paul Le Long reviewed it for this blog in April 2012. I hadn’t been in a great hurry to get my hands on the reprint because I’ve still got a copy of the original 1962 edition, authored by Joseph Morschauser III. It was the book that first let me in on the world of wargaming.
I came upon Mr. Morschauser’s book by accident, happening across a review in a U.S. news magazine of the day, which carried an article describing the author’s ideas about a “war game” with rules and mentioning that the book had just been published the week before.
I don’t recall how I first acquired the book itself, perhaps through a local bookstore. (Such things existed back then, even in small towns such as the one I grew up in.) I read it with avid interest and it’s had an honored place on my various bookshelves over the years. It’s still in reasonably good condition for a 54-year-old book. The original dust jacket is long gone, tattered to the point of needing to be discarded at some point. (There’s an image of the dust jacket below.)
Joseph Morschauser is now considered one of the almost forgotten founders of modern wargaming. His pioneering work was the first to offer such ideas as multiple figures on single bases as “units,” gridded game boards, fast-play rules and more. As I’ve become more and more of a convert to gridded games, I was especially interested in the reprint version because it has several additional articles on gridded gaming that were not part of the original edition of the book.
The original also included favorable mentions of Jack Scruby, another pioneer in the hobby, based in California, who was manufacturing metal figures of his own design for wargaming back in those long-ago days. In time, I’d have the funds to buy some of those figures and a few of them remain a part of my games to this day.
All in all, “How to Play War Games in Miniature” was a huge influence on my interest in wargaming. I agree with the sentiment that it continues to deserve wider notice.
Below is a copy of the original article in Newsweek magazine’s December 17, 1962, edition. And, yes, I’ve kept the article tucked away in the book all these years.
And here’s a copy of the original dust jacket for the 1962 edition. I believe the figure on the front is an old Imrie-Rislie 54mm ACW cavalry trooper (assembly required).