PADDY GRIFFITH’S GAME OF WAR: REFLECTIONS ON A LIFETIME OF WARGAMING
◗ Paddy Griffith and John Curry ◗ The History of Wargaming Project (2021) ◗ £15.95 (Kindle edition £9.99) ◗ 230 pages (softback) ◗ ISBN:9798464483880 ◗ wargaming.co
The development of Paddy Griffith’s ideas and his innovations in wargaming, such as contributing to the Wargamer’s Newsletter, launching Wargames Developments in 1980 and his correspondence with some of the key figures in wargaming are the theme of this book. My review will focus on hobby games, but the book also describes his significant role in the development of military and academic wargaming.
The Moor Park Wargaming Conference
contains Paddy’s opening speech, in which he summarised the evolution of hobby wargaming until 1980 and hoped for‘ways of creating games which include both better play mechanics and better historical realism than conventional games.’It is followed by Andy Callan’s keynote speech on Cultural Wargames, defined as games in which‘the action is consistent with the practice and character of the period.’
The Toy Soldier Debate contains Paddy’s article The Case Against Toy Soldiers, first published in Miniature Wargames 13 in 1984, and Phil Barker’s response, In Defence of Toy Soldiers from MW 17.
The Game of War: Wargaming for TV,
describes how initial concept of senior British Army officers refighting great battles of history as umpire-controlled map kriegsspiels became what The Guardian
called ‘the worst television programme Channel Four has ever made.’ (Quality journalism... Ed.) The player briefings and Orbats for Waterloo and Balaklava are provided, enabling readers to stage these games by adding suitable battlefield maps, together with Paddy’s extensive debrief notes and Bob Cordery’s review of the series.
Napoleonic wargamers will be particularly interested in the rules Paddy wrote specifically for the Waterloo game, which could not be administered by the umpire quickly enough for the television programme and were abandoned. It would be an interesting experiment to refight Waterloo following the historical orders, or to stage a smaller, hypothetical battle with active players’orders, and use these rules to determine the results of fire and combat. They will also appreciate his application of operation analysis to the 1814 Campaign in France in an article for Empires and Eagles magazine if they plan to refight that campaign.
Naval Wargaming: Hunt the Bismarck consists of rules for umpiring a map game Paddy ran for Sandhurst students, which readers can also use‘to play most other real or imaginary naval battles’of WWII.
Readers are given the player briefing and decision point pages of the infamous
‘Monkey Orange’ Solo Game that got Paddy barred from Salute for presenting a wargame that the public could play in five minutes, comprised of twelve sheets of A4 paper instead of a terrain diorama populated by hundreds of beautifully painted figures
(must have been before my time... Ed.)
Roleplaying the Experience of Combat offers a simplification of the Men Against Fire SPI-style boardgame in his Book of Sandhurst Wargames, reflecting the insights of combat historian SLA Marshall, that could be staged by a group of friends or wargame club members.
This collection of Paddy’s wargaming ideas will be particularly appreciated by those like myself who knew him and participated in some of his wargames but should be read by anyone interested in games outside the‘ mainstream’ face to face, toy soldier wargame and the development of hobby and academic wargaming. It is a fitting tribute to a controversial character who had a significant impact on the study of military history and the development of academic wargaming, besides containing several games readers can stage themselves.