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Full text of "Little wars : a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girls who like boys' games and books"

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Uniform 'with this volume 


With over ioo Illustrations from Photographs and 
Drawings by J. R. Sinclair. 

"This book will arrest the attention of grown-ups ; it 
invests Floor Games with a romance and a reality they 
have never before possessed — will keep the young people 
absorbed for hours together. Mr Wells makes a world 
teeming with life and movement, a wholly delightful 
world. Parents and children alike should, and doubtless 
will, remember Mr Wells in their prayers. He has 
placed them heavily in his- debt by telling them of the 
game of the wonderful islands, of the building of cities, 
of funiculars, marble towers and castles, in this book of 
books." — Birminghatn Post. 














frank; r palmar 






All Rights Reserved 
First Published July 191 3 





The Country 

The Move 

Mobility of the Various Arms . 

Hand-to- Hand Fighting and Capturing 

Varieties of the Battle-Game 

Composition of Forces . 

Size of the Soldiers 









4 o 










THE WAR GAME (INDOOR) . . io-ii 


OPEN AIR . . . . .18, 19,30 


I. General View of the Battlefield and Red 

.Army . . . ■ 3 1 

II. A Near View of the Blue Army . 40 

III. Position of both Armies after first move . 4 1 

IV. The Battle developing rapidly . 5 2 
Wa. Red Cavalry charging the Blue Guns . 53 
Vb. After the Cavalry Melee ... 62 

Via. Prisoners being led to the rear . . 63 

Vlb. Position of Armies at end of Blue's third 

• : ■rn'on-e ' . "..' '. • . 7 2 

VII. Red's Left Wing attempting to join the 

Main Body; . \ ) . . . 73 

VIII. The Red Armv supers .Heavy Loss . 84 

IX. Complete V'uicry of. ' the. Blue Army . 85 


" Little Wars " is the game of kings — 
for players in an inferior social position. 
It can be played by boys of every age 
from twelve to one hundred and fifty — 
and even later if the limbs remain 
sufficiently supple, — by girls of the 
better sort, and by a few rare and gifted 
women. This is to be a full History 
of Little Wars from its recorded and 
authenticated beginning until the pre- 
sent time, an account of how to make 
little warfare, and hints of the most 
priceless sort for the recumbent strate- 
gist. . . . 

But first let it be noted in passing 


that there were prehistoric " Little 
Wars." This is no new thing, no 
crude novelty ; but a thing tested by 
time, ancient and ripe in its essentials 
for all its perennial freshness — like 
spring. There was a Someone who 
fought Little Wars in the days of 
Queen Anne; a garden Napoleon. His 
game was inaccurately observed and 
insufficiently recorded by Laurence 
Sterne. It is clear that Uncle Toby 
and Corporal Trim were playing Little 
Wars on a scale and with an elaboration 
exceeding even the richness and beauty 
of the contemporary game. But the 
curtain is drawn back only to tantalise 
us. It is scarcely conceivable that 
, anywhere now on earth the Shandean 
Rules remain on record. Perhaps they 
were never committed to paper. . . . 


And in all ages a certain barbaric 
warfare has been waged with soldiers 
of tin and lead and wood, with the 
weapons of the wild, with the cata- 
pult, the elastic circular garter, the 
peashooter, the rubber ball, and such- 
like appliances — a mere setting up 
and knocking down of men. Tin 
murder. The advance of civilisation 
has swept such rude contests altogether 
from the playroom. We know them 
no more. . . . 




The beginning of the game of Little 
War, as we know it, became possible 
with the invention of the spring breech- 
loader gun. This priceless gift to 
boyhood appeared somewhen towards 
the end of the last century, a gun cap- 
able of hitting a toy soldier nine times 
out of ten at a distance of nine yards. 
It has completely superseded all the 
spiral-spring and other makes of gun 
hitherto used in playroom warfare. 
These spring breechloaders are made 
in various sizes and patterns, but the 
one used in our game is that known in 


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England as the four -point -seven gun. 
It fires a wooden cylinder about an inch 
long, and has a screw adjustment for 
elevation and depression. It is an alto- 
gether elegant weapon. 

It was with one of these guns that the 
beginning of our war game was made. 
It was at Sandgate — in England. 

The present writer had been lunching 
with a friend — let me veil his identity 
under the initials J. K. J. — in a room 
littered with the irrepressible debris of 
a small boy's pleasures. On a table 
near our own stood four or five soldiers 
and one of these guns. Mr J. K. J., his 
more urgent needs satisfied and the 
coffee imminent, drew a chair to this 
little table, sat down, examined the gun 
discreetly, loaded it warily, aimed, and 
hit his man. Thereupon he boasted of 


the deed, and issued challenges that 
were accepted with avidity. . . . 

He fired that day a shot that still 
echoes round the world. An affair — 
let us parallel the Cannonade of Valmy 
and call it the Cannonade of Sandgate — 
occurred, a shooting between opposed 
ranks of soldiers, a shooting not very 
different in spirit — but how different in 
results ! — from the prehistoric warfare 
of catapult and garter. " But suppose," 
said his antagonists ; " suppose some- 
how one could move the men ! ' : and 
therewith opened a new world of 

The matter went no further with 
Mr J. K. J. The seed lay for a time 
gathering strength, and then began to 
germinate with another friend, Mr W. 
To Mr W. was broached the idea : " I 


believe that if one set up a few obstacles 
on the floor, volumes of the British 
Encyclopaedia and so forth, to make a 
Country, and moved these soldiers and 
guns about, one could have rather a 
good game, a kind of kriegspiel? \ . . 

Primitive attempts to realise the 
dream were interrupted by a great 
rustle and chattering of lady visitors. 
They regarded the objects upon the 
floor with the empty disdain of their 
sex for all imaginative things. 

But the writer had in those days a 
very dear friend, a man too ill for long 
excursions or vigorous sports [he has 
been dead now these six years], of a 
very sweet companionable disposition, 
a hearty jester and full of the spirit of 
play. To him the idea was broached 
more fruitfully. We got two forces of 


toy soldiers, set out a lumpish Encyclo- 
paedic land upon the carpet, and began 
to play. We arranged to move in 
alternate moves : first one moved all his 
force and then the other ; an infantry- 
man could move one foot at each move, 
a cavalry-man two, a gun two, and it 
might fire six shots ; and if a man was 
moved up to touch another man, then 
we tossed up and decided which man 
was dead. So we made a game, which 
was not a good game, but which was 
very amusing once or twice. The 
men were packed under the lee of fat 
volumes, while the guns, animated by 
a spirit of their own, banged away at 
any exposed head, or prowled about 
in search of a shot. Occasionally men 
came into contact, with remarkable 
results. Rash is the man who trusts 


his life to the spin of a coin. One 
impossible paladin slew in succession 
nine men and turned defeat to victory, 
to the extreme exasperation of the 
strategist who had led those victims to 
their doom. This inordinate factor of 
chance eliminated play ; the individual 
freedom of guns turned battles into y^Ei 
scandals of crouching concealment ; 
there was too much cover afforded by 
the books and vast intervals of waiting 
while the players took aim. And yet 
there was something about it. . . . 
It was a game crying aloud for im- 

Improvement came almost simul- 
taneously in several directions. First 
there was the development of the 
Country. The soldiers did not stand 
well on an ordinary carpet, the Encyclo- 



paedia made clumsy cliff-like " cover," 
and more particularly the room in 
which the game had its beginnings was 
subject to the invasion of callers, alien 
souls, trampling skirt-swishers, chatter- 
ers, creatures unfavourably impressed by 
the spectacle of two middle-aged men 
playing with " toy soldiers " on the 
floor, and very heated and excited about 
it. Overhead was the day nursery, 
with a wide extent of smooth cork 
carpet (the natural terrain of toy 
soldiers), a large box of bricks — such as 
I have described in Floor Games, — and 
certain large inch-thick boards. 

It was an easy task for the head of 
the household to evict his offspring, 
annex these advantages, and set about 
planning a more realistic country. (I 
forget what became of the children.) 


The thick boards were piled up one 
upon another to form hills ; holes were 
bored in them, into which twigs of 
various shrubs were stuck to represent 
trees ; houses and sheds (solid and 
compact piles of from three to six or 
seven inches high, and broad in propor- 
tion) and walls were made with the 
bricks ; ponds and swamps and rivers, 
with fords and so forth indicated, were 
chalked out on the floor, garden stones 
were brought in to represent great rocks, 
and the " Country " at least of our per- 
fected war game was in existence. We 
discovered it was easy to cut out and 
bend and gum together paper and card- 
board walls, into which our toy bricks 
could be packed, and on which we could 
paint doors and windows, creepers and 
rain-water pipes, and so forth, to repre- 



sent houses, castles, and churches in a 
more realistic manner, and, growing 
skilful, we made various bridges and so 
forth of card. Every boy who has ever 
put together model villages knows how 
to do these things, and the attentive 
reader will find them edifyingly repre- 
sented in our photographic illustrations. 
There has been little development 
since that time in the Country. Our 
illustrations show the methods of 
arrangement, and the reader will see 
how easily and readily the utmost 
variety of battlefields can be made. 
(It is merely to be remarked that a 
too crowded Country makes the guns 
ineffective and leads to a mere tree 
to tree and house to house scramble, 
and that large open spaces along the 
middle, or rivers, without frequent fords 

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and bridges, lead to ineffective cannon- 
ades, because of the danger of any 
advance. On the whole, too much cover 
is better than too little.) We decided 
that one player should plan and lay 
out the Country, and the other player 
choose from which side he would come. 
And to-day we play over such land- 
scapes in a cork-carpeted schoolroom, 
from which the proper occupants are 
no longer evicted but remain to take 
an increasingly responsible and less 
and less audible and distressing share 
in the operations. 

We found it necessary to make certain 
general rules. Houses and sheds must 
be made of solid lumps of bricks, and 
not hollow so that soldiers can be put 
inside them, because otherwise muddled 
situations arise. And it was clearly 


necessary to provide for the replace- 
ment of disturbed objects by chalking 
out the outlines of boards and houses 
upon the floor or boards upon which 
they stood. 

And while we thus perfected the 
Country, we were also eliminating all 
sorts of tediums, disputable possibilities, 
and deadlocks from the game. We 
decided that every man should be as 
brave and skilful as every other man, 
and that when two men of opposite 
sides came into contact they would 
inevitably kill each other. This re- 
stored strategy to its predominance 
over chance. 

We then began to humanise that 
wild and fearful fowl, the gun. We 
decided that a gun could not be fired if 
there were not six — afterwards we re- 


duced the number to four — men within 
six inches of it. And we ruled that a gun 
could not both fire and move in the 
same general move : it could either be 
fired or moved (or left alone). If there 
were less than six men within six inches 
of a gun, then we tried letting it fire as 
many shots as there were men, and we 
permitted a single man to move a gun, 
and move with it as far as he could go 
by the rules — a foot, that is, if he was an 
infantry-man, and two feet if he was a 
cavalry-man. We abolished altogether 
that magical freedom of an unassisted 
gun to move two feet. And on such 
rules as these we fought a number of 
battles. They were interesting, but 
not entirely satisfactory. We took no 
prisoners — a feature at once barbaric and 
unconvincing. The battles lingered on 



a long time, because we shot with ex- 
treme care and deliberation, and they 
were hard to bring to a decisive finish. 
The guns were altogether too predom- 
inant. They prevented attacks getting 
home, and they made it possible for a 
timid player to put all his soldiers out of 
sight behind hills and houses, and bang 
away if his opponent showed as much as 
the tip of a bayonet. Monsieur Bloch 
seemed vindicated, and Little War had 
become impossible. And there was 
something a little absurd, too, in the 
spectacle of a solitary drummer-boy, for 
example, marching off with a gun. 

But as there was nevertheless much 
that seemed to us extremely pretty and 
picturesque about the game, we set to 
work — and here a certain Mr M. with 
his brother, Captain M., hot from the 



Great War in South Africa, came in most 
helpfully — to quicken it. Manifestly 
the guns had to be reduced to manage- 
able terms. We cut down the number 
of shots per move to four, and we 
required that four men should be within 
six inches of a gun for it to be in action 
at all. Without four men it could 
neither lire nor move — it was out of 
action; and if it moved, the four men 
had to go with it. Moreover, to put an 
end to that little resistant body of men 
behind a house, we required that after 
a gun had been fired it should remain, 
without alteration of the elevation, point- 
ing in the direction of its last shot, and 
have two men placed one on either side 
of the end of its trail. This secured a 
certain exposure on the part of con- 
cealed and sheltered gunners. It was 



no longer possible to go on shooting 
out of a perfect security for ever. All 
this favoured the attack and led to a 
livelier game. 

Our next step was to abolish the 
tedium due to the elaborate aiming of 
the guns, by fixing a time limit for every 
move. We made this an outside limit 
at first, ten minutes, but afterwards we 
discovered that it made the game much 
more warlike to cut the time down to a 
length that would barely permit a slow- 
moving player to fire all his guns and 
move all his men. This led to small 
bodies of men lagging and "getting 
left," to careless exposures, to rapid, less 
accurate shooting, and just that eventful- 
ness one would expect in the hurry and 
passion of real fighting. It also made 
the game brisker. We have since also 



made a limit, sometimes of four minutes, 
sometimes of five minutes, to the inter- 
val for adjustment and deliberation after 
one move is finished and before the next 
move begins. This further removes the 
game from the chess category, and ap- 
proximates it to the likeness of active 
service. Most of a general's decisions, 
once a fight has begun, must be made 
in such brief intervals of time. (But we 
leave unlimited time at the outset for 
the planning.) 

As to our time-keeping, we catch a 
visitor with a stop-watch if we can, and 
if we cannot, we use a fair-sized clock 
with a second-hand : the player not 
moving says "Go," and warns at the 
last two minutes, last minute, and last 
thirty seconds. But I think it would not 
be difficult to procure a cheap clock — 


because, of course, no one wants a very- 
accurate agreement with Greenwich as 
to the length of a second — that would 
have minutes instead of hours and 
seconds instead of minutes, and that 
would ping at the end of every minute 
and discharge an alarm note at the end 
of the move. That would abolish the 
rather boring strain of time-keeping. 
One could just watch the fighting. 

Moreover, in our desire to bring the 
game to a climax, we decided that instead 
of a fight to a finish we would fight to 
some determined point, and we found 
very good sport in supposing that the 
arrival of three men of one force upon 
the back line of the opponent's side of 
the country was of such strategic im- 
portance as to determine the battle. 
But this form of battle we have since 


largely abandoned in favour of the old 
fight to a finish again. We found it led 
to one type of battle only, a massed 
rush at the antagonist's line, and that 
our arrangements of time-limits and 
capture and so forth had eliminated 
most of the concluding drag upon 
the game. 

Our game was now very much in its 
present form. We considered at various 
times the possibility of introducing 
some complication due to the bringing 
up of ammunition or supplies generally, 
and we decided that it would add little 
to the interest or reality of the game. 
Our battles are little brisk fights in 
which one may suppose that all the 
ammunition and food needed are carried 
by the men themselves. 

But our latest development has been 


in the direction of killing hand to hand 
or taking prisoners. We found it 
necessary to distinguish between an 
isolated force and a force that was 
merely a projecting part of a larger 
force. We made a definition of isola- 
tion. After a considerable amount of 
trials we decided that a man or a 
detachment shall be considered to be 
isolated when there is less than half its 
number of its own side within a move 
of it. Now, in actual civilised warfare 
small detached bodies do not sell their 
lives dearly ; a considerably larger force 
is able to make them prisoners with- 
out difficulty. Accordingly we decided 
that if a blue force, for example, has 
one or more men isolated, and a red 
force of at least double the strength of 
this isolated detachment moves up to 


contact with it, the blue men will be 
considered to be prisoners. 

That seemed fair ; but so desperate is 
the courage and devotion of lead soldiers, 
that it came to this, that any small force 
that got or seemed likely to get isolated 
and caught by a superior force instead 
of waiting to be taken prisoners, dashed 
at its possible captors and slew them 
man for man. It was manifestly 
unreasonable to permit this. And in 
considering how best to prevent such 
inhuman heroisms, we were reminded of 
another frequent incident in our battles 
that also erred towards the incredible 
and vitiated our strategy. That was the 
charging of one or two isolated horse- 
men at a gun in order to disable it. 
Let me illustrate this by an incident. 
A force consisting of ten infantry and 




five cavalry with a gun are retreating 
across an exposed space, and a gun with 
thirty men, cavalry and infantry, in 
support comes out upon a crest into a 
position to fire within two feet of the 
retreating cavalry. The attacking player 
puts eight men within six inches of his 
gun and pushes the rest of his men a 
little forward to the right or left in 
pursuit of his enemy. In the real thing, 
the retreating horsemen would go off to 
cover with the gun, " hell for leather," 
while the infantry would open out and 
retreat, firing. But see what happened 
in our imperfect form of Little War ! 
The move of the retreating player began. 
Instead of retreating his whole force, 
he charged home with his mounted 
desperadoes, killed five of the eight 
men about the gun, and so by the rule 




silenced it, enabling the rest of his little 
body to get clean away to cover at the 
leisurely pace of one foot a move. 
This was not like any sort of warfare. 
In real life cavalry cannot pick out and 
kill its equivalent in cavalry while that 
equivalent is closely supported by 
other cavalry or infantry ; a handful of 
troopers cannot gallop past well and 
abundantly manned guns in action, cut 
down the gunners and interrupt the fire. 
And yet for a time we found it a little 
difficult to frame simple rules to meet 
these two bad cases and prevent such 
scandalous possibilities. We did at last 
contrive to do so ; we invented what 
we call the melee, and our revised rules 
in the event of a melee will be found 
set out upon a later page. They do 
really permit something like an actual 


result to hand-to-hand encounters. 
They abolish Horatius Cocles. 

We also found difficulties about the 
capturing of guns . At first we had merely 
provided that a gun was captured when 
it was out of action and four men of the 
opposite force were within six inches of 
it, but we found a number of cases for 
which this rule was too vague. A gun, 
for example, would be disabled and left 
with only three men within six inches ; 
the enemy would then come up eight 
or ten strong within six inches on 
the other side, but not really reaching 
the gun. At the next move the original 
possessor of the gun would bring up 
half a dozen men within six inches. 
To whom did the gun belong ? By 
the original wording of our rule, it 
might be supposed to belong to the 



attack which had never really touched 
the gun yet, and they could claim to 
turn it upon its original side. We had 
to meet a number of such cases. We 
met them by requiring the capturing 
force — or, to be precise, four men 
of it — actually to pass the axle of the 
gun before it could be taken. 

All sorts of odd little difficulties arose 
too, connected with the use of the guns 
as a shelter from fire, and very exact 
rules had to be made to avoid tilting 
the nose and raising the breech of a gun 
in order to use it as cover. . . . 

We still found it difficult to introduce 
any imitation into our game of either 
retreat or the surrender of men not 
actually taken prisoners in a melee. 
Both things were possible by the rules, 
but nobody did them because there was 




no inducement to do them. Games 
were apt to end obstinately with the 
death or capture of the last man. An 
inducement was needed. This we con- 
trived by playing not for the game but 
for points, scoring the result of each 
game and counting the points towards the 
decision of a campaign. Our campaign 
was to our single game what a rubber 
is to a game of whist. We made the 
end of a war 200, 300, or 400 or more 
points up, according to the number of 
games we wanted to play, and we 
scored a hundred for each battle won, 
and in addition 1 for each infantry-man, 
i£ for each cavalry-man, 10 for each 
gun, I for each man held prisoner by the 
enemy, and J for each prisoner held at 
the end of the game, subtracting what 
the antagonist scored by the same scale. 


Thus, when he felt the battle was hope- 
lessly lost, he had a direct inducement 
to retreat any guns he could still save 
and surrender any men who were under 
the fire of the victors' guns and likely 
to be slaughtered, in order to minimise 
the score against him. And an interest 
was given to a skilful retreat, in which 
the loser not only saved points for 
himself but inflicted losses upon the 
pursuing enemy. 

At first we played the game from the 
outset, with each player's force within 
sight of his antagonist ; then we found 
it possible to hang a double curtain of 
casement cloth from a string stretched 
across the middle of the field, and we 
drew this back only after both sides had 
set out their men. Without these cur- 
tains we found the first player was at a 


heavy disadvantage, because he displayed 
all his dispositions before his opponent 
set down his men. 

And at last our rules have reached 
stability, and we regard them now with 
the virtuous pride of men who have 
persisted in a great undertaking and 
arrived at precision after much tribula- 
tion. There is not a piece of con- 
structive legislation in the world, not a 
solitary attempt to meet a complicated 
problem, that we do not now regard 
the more charitably for our efforts to 
get a right result from this apparently 
easy and puerile business of fighting 
with tin soldiers on the floor. 

And so our laws all made, battles 
have been fought, the mere beginnings, 
we feel, of vast campaigns. The game 
has become in a dozen aspects extra- 


ordinarily like a small real battle. The 
plans are made, the Country hastily 
surveyed, and then the curtains are 
closed, and the antagonists make their 
opening dispositions. Then the curtains 
are drawn back and the hostile forces 
come within sight of each other ; the 
little companies and squadrons and bat- 
teries appear hurrying to their positions, 
the infantry deploying into long open 
lines, the cavalry sheltering in reserve, 
or galloping with the guns to favourable 
advance positions. 

In two or three moves the guns are 
flickering into action, a cavalry milee 
may be in progress, the plans of the 
attack are more or less apparent, here 
are men pouring out from the shelter of 
a wood to secure some point of van- 
tage, and here are troops massing among 



farm buildings for a vigorous attack. 
The combat grows hot round some vital 
point. Move follows move in swift suc- 
cession. One realises with a sickening 
sense of error that one is outnumbered 
and hard pressed here and uselessly cut 
off there, that one's guns are ill-placed, 
that one's wings are spread too widely, 
and that help can come only over some 
deadly zone of fire. 

So the fight wears on. Guns are lost 
or won, hills or villages stormed or held ; 
suddenly it grows clear that the scales 
are tilting beyond recovery, and the loser 
has nothing left but to contrive how he 
may get to the back line and safety with 
the vestiges of his command. . . . 

But let me, before I go on to tell 
of actual battles and campaigns, give 
here a summary of our essential rules. 



Here, then, are the rules of the perfect 
battle-game as we play it in an ordinary 

The Country 

(i) The Country must be arranged 
by one player, who, failing any other 
agreement, shall be selected by the toss 
of a coin. 

(2) The other player shall then 
choose which side of the field he will 
fight from. 

(3) The Country must be disturbed 
as little as possible in each move. 
Nothing in the Country shall be moved 
or set aside deliberately to facilitate the 

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firing of guns. A player must not lie 
across the Country so as to crush or 
disturb the Country if his opponent 
objects. Whatever is moved by accident 
shall be replaced after the end of the 

The Move 

(i) After the Country is made and 
the sides chosen, then (and not until 
then) the players shall toss for the first 

(2) If there is no curtain, the player 
winning the toss, hereafter called the 
First Player, shall next arrange his men 
along his back line, as he chooses. Any 
men he may place behind or in front of 
his back line shall count in the subse- 
quent move as if they touched the back 
line at its nearest point. The Second 




Player shall then do the same. But if 
a curtain is available both first and 
second player may put down their men 
at the same time. Both players may 
take unlimited time for the putting 
down of their men ; if there is a cur- 
tain it is drawn back when they are 
ready, and the game then begins. 

(3) The subsequent moves after the 
putting down are timed. The length of 
time given for each move is determined 
by the size of the forces engaged. 
About a minute should be allowed for 
moving 30 men and a minute for each 
gun. Thus for a force of no men 
and 3 guns, moved by one player, 
seven minutes is an ample allowance. 
As the battle progresses and the men 
are killed off, the allowance is reduced 
as the players may agree. The player 


about to move stands at attention a 
yard behind his back line until the 
timekeeper says " Go." He then pro- 
ceeds to make his move until time is 
up. He must instantly stop at the cry 
of " Time." Warning should be given 
by the timekeeper two minutes, one 
minute, and thirty seconds before time 
is up. There will be an interval be- 
fore the next move, during which any 
disturbance of the Country can be 
rearranged and men accidentally over- 
turned replaced in a proper attitude. 
This interval must not exceed five or 
four minutes, as may be agreed upon. 

(4) Guns must not be fired before 
the second move of the first player — 
not counting the "putting down" as a 
move. Thus the first player puts 
down, then the second player, the 



first player moves, then the second 
player, and the two forces are then 
supposed to come into effective range 
of each other and the first player may 
open fire if he wishes to do so. 

(5) In making his move a player 
must move or fire his guns if he wants 
to do so, before moving his men. 
To this rule of " Guns First " there 
is to be no exception. 

(6) Every soldier may be moved 
and every gun moved or fired at each 
move, subject to the following rules : 

Mobility of the Various Arms 

(Each player must be provided with 
two pieces of string, one two feet in 
length and the other six inches.) 

(1) An infantry-man may be moved a 
foot or any less distance at each move. 


(2) A cavalry-man may be moved two 
feet or any less distance at each move. 

(3) A gun is in action if there are at 
least four men of its own side within 
six inches of it. If there are not at 
least four men within that distance, it 
can neither be moved nor fired. 

(4) If a gun is in action it can either 
be moved or fired at each move, but 
not both. If it is fired, it may fire as 
many as four shots in each move. It 
may be swung round on its axis (the 
middle point of its wheel axle) to take 
aim, provided the Country about it 
permits ; it may be elevated or de- 
pressed, and the soldiers about it may, 
at the discretion of the firer, be made 
to lie down in their places to facilitate 
its handling. (Moreover, soldiers who 
have got in front of the fire of their 


own guns may lie down while the 
guns fire over them. At the end of 
the move the gun must be left without 
altering its elevation and pointing in 
the direction of the last shot. And 
after firing, two men must be placed 
exactly at the end of the trail of the 
gun, one on either side in a line 
directly behind the wheels. So much 
for firing. If the gun is moved and 
not fired, then at least four men who 
are with the gun must move up with 
it to its new position, and be placed 
within six inches of it in its new posi- 
tion. The gun itself must be placed 
trail forward and the muzzle pointing 
back in the direction from which it 
came, and so it must remain until it 
is swung round on its axis to fire. 
Obviously the distance w T hich a gun 

4 6 


can move will be determined by the 
men it is with ; if there are at least 
four cavalry-men with it, they can take 
ft* the gun two feet, but if there are fewer 
cavalry -men than four and the rest 
infantry, or no cavalry and all infantry, 
the gun will be movable only one foot. 

(5) Every man must be placed fairly 
clear of hills, buildings, trees, guns, etc. 
He must not be jammed into interstices, 
and either player may insist upon a 
clear distance between any man and 
any gun or other object of at least one- 
sixteenth of an inch. Nor must men 
be packed in contact with men. A 
space of one-sixteenth of an inch should 
be kept between them. 

(6) When men are knocked over by 
a shot they are dead, and as many men 
are dead as a shot knocks over or causes 



to fall or to lean so that they would 
fall if unsupported. But if a shot 
strikes a man but does not knock him 
over, he is dead, provided the shot has 
not already killed a man. But a shot 
cannot kill more than one man without 
knocking him over, and if it touches 
several without oversetting them, only 
the first touched is dead and the others 
are not incapacitated. A shot that re- 
bounds from or glances off any object 
and touches a man, kills him ; it kills 
him even if it simply rolls to his feet, 
subject to what has been said in the 
previous sentence. 

Hand-to-Hand Fighting and 

(i) A man or a body of men which 
has less than half its own number of 

4 8 


men on its own side within a move of 
it, is said to be isolated. But if there 
is at least half its number of men of 
its own side within a move of it, it is 
not isolated ; it is supported. 

(2) Men may be moved up into 
virtual contact (one-eighth of an inch 
or closer) with men of the opposite side. 
They must then be left until the end 
of the move. 

(3) At the end of the move, if there 
are men of the side that has just moved 
in contact with any men of the other 
side, they constitute a melee. All the 
men in contact, and any other men 
within six inches of the men in con- 
tact, measuring from any point of their 
persons, weapons, or horses, are sup- 
posed to take part in the melee. At 
the end of the move the two players 



examine the melee and dispose of the 
men concerned according to the fol- 
lowing rules : — 

Either the numbers taking part in 
the milee on each side are equal or 

(a) If they are equal, all the men on 
both sides are killed. 

(6) If they are unequal, then the 
inferior force is either isolated or 
{measuring from the points of contact) 
not isolated. 

(b\) If it is isolated (see i above), 
then as many men become prisoners as 
the inferior force is less in numbers 
than the superior force, and the rest kill 
each a man and are killed. Thus nine 
against eleven have two taken prisoners, 
and each side seven men dead. Four 
of the eleven remain with two prisoners. 



One may put this in another way by 
saying that the two forces kill each 
other off, man for man, until one force 
is double the other, which is then taken 
prisoner. Seven men kill seven men, 
and then four are left with two. 

(bz) But if the inferior force is not 
isolated (see i above), then each man 
of the inferior force kills a man of the 
superior force and is himself killed. 

And the player who has just com- 
pleted the move, the one who has 
charged, decides, when there is any 
choice, which men in the melee, both 
of his own and of his antagonist, shall 
die and which shall be prisoners or 

All these arrangements are made 
after the move is over, in the interval 
between the moves, and the time taken 


for the adjustment does not count as 
part of the usual interval for considera- 
tion. It is extra time. 

The player next moving may, if he has 
taken prisoners, move these prisoners. 
Prisoners may be sent under escort to 
the rear or wherever the capturer 
directs, and one man within six inches 
of any number of prisoners up to seven 
can escort these prisoners and go with 
them. Prisoners are liberated by the 
death of any escort there may be within 
six inches of them, but they may not 
be moved by the player of their own 
side until the move following that in 
which the escort is killed. Directly 
prisoners are taken they are supposed 
to be disarmed, and if they are liberated 
they cannot fight until they are rearmed. 
In order to be rearmed they must re- 



turn to the back line of their own side. 
An escort having conducted prisoners 
to the back line, and so beyond the 
reach of liberation, may then return 
into the fighting line. 

Prisoners once made cannot fight 
until they have returned to their back 
line. It follows, therefore, that if after 
the adjudication of a melee a player 
moves up more men into touch with 
the survivors of this first melee^ and so 
constitutes a second tn&lie^ any prisoners 
made in the first melee will not count 
as combatants in the second meke. 
Thus if A moves up nineteen men into 
a melee with thirteen of B's — B having 
only five in support, — A makes six 
prisoners, kills seven men, and has seven 
of his own killed. If, now, B can 
move up fourteen men into melee with 



A's victorious survivors, which he may 
be able to do by bringing the five 
into contact, and getting nine others 
within six inches of them, no count 
is made of the six of B's men who are 
prisoners in the hands of A. They 
are disarmed. B, therefore, has four- 
teen men in the second meke and A 
twelve, B makes two prisoners, kills 
ten of A's men, and has ten of his 
own killed. But now the six prisoners 
originally made by A are left without 
an escort, and are therefore recaptured 
by B. But they must go to B's back 
line and return before they can fight 
again. So, as the outcome of these two 
melees, there are six of B's men going 
as released prisoners to his back line 
whence they may return into the battle, 
two of A's men prisoners in the hands 



of B, one of B's staying with them as 
escort, and three of B's men still actively 
free for action. A, at a cost of nineteen 
men, has disposed of seventeen of B's men 
for good, and of six or seven, according 
to whether B keeps his prisoners in his 
fighting line or not, temporarily. 

(4) Any isolated body may hoist the 
white flag and surrender at any time. 

(5) A gun is captured when there is 
no man whatever of its original side 
within six inches of it, and when at 
least four men of the antagonist side 
have moved up to it and have passed 
its wheel axis going in the direction of 
their attack. This latter point is im- 
portant. An antagonist's gun may be 
out of action, and you may have a score 
of men coming up to it and within six 
inches of it, but it is not yet captured ; 


and you may have brought up a dozen 
men all round the hostile gun, but if 
there is still one enemy just out of their 
reach and within six inches of the end 
of the trail of the gun, that gun is not 
captured : it is still in dispute and out 
of action, and you may not fire it or 
move it at the next move. But once 
a gun is fully captured, it follows all 
the rules of your own guns. 

Varieties of the Battle-Game 

You may play various types of 

(1) One is the Fight to the Finish. 
You move in from any points you like 
on the back line and try to kill, capture, 
or drive over his back line the whole of 
the enemy's force. You play the game 


for points ; you score ioo for the 
victory, and 10 for every gun you hold 
or are in a position to take, 11 for 
every cavalry-man, i for every infantry- 
man still alive and uncaptured, i for 
every man of yours prisoner in the 
hands of the enemy, and i for every 
prisoner you have taken. If the battle 
is still undecided when both forces are 
reduced below fifteen men, the battle 
is drawn and the ioo points for victory 
are divided. 

Note. — This game can be fought 
with any sized force, but if it is fought 
with less than 50 a side, the minimum 
must be 10 a side. 

(2) The Blow at the Rear game is 
decided when at least three men of one 
force reach any point in the back line 
of their antagonist. He is then supposed 





to have suffered a strategic defeat, and 
he must retreat his entire force over the 
back line in six moves, i.e. six of his 
moves. Anything left on the field 
after six moves capitulates to the victor. 
Points count as in the preceding game, 
but this lasts a shorter time and is better 
adapted to a cramped country with a 
short back line. With a long rear line 
the game is simply a rush at some weak 
point in the first player's line by the 
entire cavalry brigade of the second 
player. Instead of making the whole 
back line available for the Blow at the 
Rear, the middle or either half may be 

(3) In the Defensive Game, a force, 
the defenders, two-thirds as strong as 
its antagonist, tries to prevent the latter 
arriving, while still a quarter of its ori- 



ginal strength, upon the defender's back 
line. The Country must be made by 
one or both of the players before it is 
determined which shall be defender. 
The players then toss for choice of 
sides, and the winner of the toss be- 
comes the defender. He puts out his 
force over the field on his own side, 
anywhere up to the distance of one 
move off the middle line — that is to 
say, he must not put any man within 
one move of the middle line, but he 
may do so anywhere on his own side 
of that limit, — and then the loser of 
the toss becomes first player, and sets 
out his men a move from his back line. 
The defender may open fire forthwith; 
he need not wait until after the second 
move of the first player, as the second 
player has to do. 



Composition of Forces 

Except in the above cases, or when 
otherwise agreed upon, the forces en- 
gaged shall be equal in number and 
similar in composition. The methods 
of handicapping are obvious. A slight 
inequality (chances of war) may be 
arranged between equal players by 
leaving out 12 men on each side and 
tossing with a pair of dice to see how 
many each player shall take of these. 
The best arrangement and proportion 
of the forces is in small bodies of about 
20 to 25 infantry-men and 12 to 15 
cavalry to a gun. Such a force can 
manoeuvre comfortably on a front of 
4 or 5 feet. Most of our games have 
been played with about 80 infantry, 


50 cavalry, 3 or 4 naval guns, and a 
field gun on either side, or with smaller 
proportional forces. We have played 
excellent games on an eighteen -foot 
battlefield with over two hundred men 
and six guns a side. A player may, of 
course, rearrange his forces to suit his 
own convenience ; brigade all or most 
of his cavalry into a powerful striking 
force, or what not. But more guns pro- 
portionally lead to their being put out 
of action too early for want of men ; a 
larger proportion of infantry makes the 
game sluggish, and more cavalry — be- 
cause of the difficulty of keeping large 
bodies of this force under cover — leads 
simply to early heavy losses by gun-fire 
and violent and disastrous charging. The 
composition of a force may, of course, 
be varied considerably. One good Fight 


to a Finish game we tried as follows : 
We made the Country, tossed for choice, 
and then drew curtains across the middle 
of the field. Each player then selected 
his force from the available soldiers in 
this way : he counted infantry as i each, 
cavalry as 11, and a gun as 10, and, 
taking whatever he liked in whatever 
position he liked, he made up a total 
of 150. He could, for instance, choose 
100 infantry and 5 guns, or 100 cavalry 
and no guns, or 60 infantry, 40 cavalry, 
and 3 guns. In the result, a Boer-like 
cavalry force of 80 with 3 guns suffered 
defeat at the hands of no infantry 
with 4. 

Size of the Soldiers 

The soldiers used should be all of 
one size. The best British makers 






have standardised sizes, and sell 
fantry and cavalry in exactly propor- 
tioned dimensions ; the infantry being 
nearly two inches tall. There is a 
lighter, cheaper make of perhaps an 
inch and a half high that is also 
available. Foreign -made soldiers are 
of variable sizes. 



T«^ VTm., 

; o».-- 

c i 

Sketch Plan of the Battle of Hook' Farm 



And now, having given all the exact 
science of our war game, having told 
something of the development of this war- 
fare, let me here set out the particulars 
of an exemplary game. And suddenly 
your author changes. He changes into 
what perhaps he might have been — 
under different circumstances. His 
inky ringers become large, manly 
hands, his drooping scholastic back 
stiffens, his elbows go out, his etiolated 
complexion corrugates and darkens, 
his moustaches increase and grow and 
spread, and curl up horribly ; a large, 


red scar, a sabre cut, grows lurid over 
one eye. He expands — all over he 
expands. He clears his throat start- 
lingly, lugs at the still growing ends 
of his moustache, and says, with just 
a faint and fading doubt in his voice 
as to whether he can do it, u Yas, Sir!" 

Now for a while you listen to General 
H. G. W., of the Blue Army. You 
hear tales of victory. The photographs 
of the battlefields are by a woman 
war-correspondent, A. C. W., a daring 
ornament of her sex. I vanish. I 
vanish, but I will return. Here, then, 
is the story of the battle of Hook's 

" The affair of Hook's Farm was 
one of those brisk little things that 
did so much to build up my early 
reputation. I did remarkably well, 


though perhaps it is not my function 
to say so. The enemy was slightly 
stronger, both in cavalry and infantry, 
than myself* ; he had the choice of 
position, and opened the ball. Never- 
theless I routed him. I had with me 
a compact little force of 3 guns, 48 
infantry, and 25 horse. My instruc- 
tions were to clear up the country to 
the east of Firely Church. 

" We came very speedily into touch. 
I discovered the enemy advancing upon 
Hook's Farm and Firely Church, evi- 
dently with the intention of holding 
those two positions and giving me a 
warm welcome. I have by me a 
photograph or so of the battlefield 

* A slight but pardonable error on the part of 
the gallant gentleman. The forces were exactly- 


and also a little sketch I used upon 
the field. They will give the intelligent 
reader a far better idea of the encounter 
than any so-called 'fine writing' can do. 
"The original advance of the enemy 
was through the open country behind 
Firely Church and Hook's Farm ; I 
sighted him between the points marked 
A A and B B, and his force was divided 
into two columns, with very little cover 
or possibility of communication between 
them if once the intervening ground 
was under fire. I reckoned about 22 
to his left and 50 or 60 to his right.* 
Evidently he meant to seize both Firely 
Church and Hook's Farm, get his guns 
into action, and pound my little force 
to pieces while it was still practically 

* Here again the gallant gentleman errs ; this 
time he magnifies. 


in the open. He could reach both 
these admirable positions before I could 
hope to get a man there. There was 
no effective cover whatever upon my 
right that would have permitted an 
advance up to the church, and so I 
decided to concentrate my whole force 
in a rush upon Hook's Farm, while I 
staved off his left with gun fire. I do 
not believe any strategist whatever could 
have bettered that scheme. My guns 
were at the points marked DCE, each 
with five horsemen, and I deployed my 
infantry in a line between D and E. 
The rest of my cavalry I ordered to 
advance on Hook's Farm from C. I 
have shown by arrows on the sketch 
the course I proposed for my guns. 
The gun E was to go straight for its 
assigned position, and get into action 


at once. C was not to risk capture 
or being put out of action ; its exact 
position was to be determined by Red's 
rapidity in getting up to the farm, and 
it was to halt and get to work directly 
it saw any chance of effective fire. 

" Red had now sighted us. Through- 
out the affair he showed a remarkably 
poor stomach for gun-fire, and this was 
his undoing. Moreover, he was tempted 
by the poorness of our cover on our 
right to attempt to outflank and enfilade 
us there. Accordingly, partly to get 
cover from our two central guns and 
partly to outflank us, he sent the whole 
of his left wing to the left of Firely 
Church, where, except for the gun, it 
became almost a negligible quantity. 
The gun came out between the church 
and the wood into a position from 



which it did a considerable amount of 
mischief to the infantry on our right, 
and nearly drove our rightmost gun in 
upon its supports. Meanwhile, Red's 
two guns on his right came forward 
to Hook's Farm, rather badly supported 
by his infantry. 

" Once they got into position there 
I perceived that we should be done for, 
and accordingly I rushed every available 
man forward in a vigorous counter attack, 
and my own two guns came lumbering 
up to the farmhouse corners, and got 
into the wedge of shelter close behind 
the house before his could open fire. 
His fire met my advance, littering the 
gentle grass slope with dead, and then, 
hot behind the storm of shell, and even 
as my cavalry gathered to charge his 
guns, he charged mine. I was amazed 




7 o 


beyond measure at that rush, knowing 
his sabres to be slightly outnumbered 
by mine. In another moment all the 
level space round the farmhouse was 
a whirling storm of slashing cavalry, 
and then we found ourselves still hold- 
ing on, with half a dozen prisoners, 
and the farmyard a perfect shambles of 
horses and men. The melee was over. 
His charge had failed, and, after a brief 
breathing-space for my shot -torn in- 
fantry to come up, I led on the counter 
attack. It was brilliantly successful ; 
a hard five minutes with bayonet and 
sabre, and his right gun was in our 
hands and his central one in jeopardy. 

" And now Red was seized with that 
most fatal disease of generals, indecision. 
He would neither abandon his lost gun 
nor adequately attack it. He sent 


forward a feeble little infantry attack, 
that we cut up with the utmost ease, 
taking several prisoners, made a dis- 
astrous demonstration from the church, 
and then fell back altogether from the 
gentle hill on which Hook Farm is 
situated to a position beside and behind 
an exposed cottage on the level. I at 
once opened out into a long crescent, 
with a gun at either horn, whose cross- 
fire completely destroyed his chances 
of retreat from this ill-chosen last stand, 
and there presently we disabled his 
second gun. I now turned my atten- 
tion to his still largely unbroken right, 
from which a gun had maintained a 
galling fire on us throughout the fight. 
I might still have had some stiff work 
getting an attack home to the church, 
but Red had had enough of it, and 

ft/ ff*'. 



now decided to relieve me of any 
further exertion by a precipitate retreat. 
My gun to the right of Hook's Farm 
killed three of his flying men, but my 
cavalry were too badly cut up for an 
effective pursuit, and he got away to 
the extreme left of his original positions 
with about 6 infantry-men, 4 cavalry, 
and 1 gun. He went none too soon. 
Had he stayed, it would have been only 
a question of time before we shot him 
to pieces and finished him altogether." 
So far, and a little vaingloriously, 
the general. Let me now shrug my 
shoulders and shake him off, and go 
over this battle he describes a little 
more exactly with the help of the 
photographs. The battle is a small, 
compact game of the Fight-to-a- Finish 
type, and it was arranged as simply 




as possible in order to permit of a 
full and exact explanation. 

Figure 1 shows the country of the 
battlefield put out; on the right is the 
church, on the left (near the centre of 
the plate) is the farm. In the hollow 
between the two is a small outbuilding. 
Directly behind the farm in the line of 
vision is another outbuilding. This is 
more distinctly seen in other photo- 
graphs. Behind, the chalk back line is 
clear. Red has won the toss, both for 
the choice of a side and, after making 
that choice, for first move, and his force 
is already put out upon the back line. 
For the sake of picturesqueness, the 
men are not put exactly on the line, 
but each will have his next move meas- 
ured from that line. Red has broken 
his force into two, a fatal error, as we 



shall see, in view of the wide space of 
open ground between the farm and 
the church. He has i gun, 5 cavalry, 
and 13 infantry on his left, who are 
evidently to take up a strong position 
by the church and enfilade Blue's 
position; Red's right, of 2 guns, 20 
cavalry, and 37 infantry aim at the 
seizure of the farm. 

Figure 2 is a near view of Blue's 
side, with his force put down. He 
has grasped the strategic mistake of 
Red, and is going to fling every man 
at the farm. His right, of 5 cavalry 
and 16 infantry, will get up as soon 
as possible to the woods near the centre 
of the field (whence the fire of their 
gun will be able to cut off the two por- 
tions of Red's force from each other), 
and then, leaving the gun there with 


sufficient men to serve it, the rest of 
this party will push on to co-operate 
with the main force of their comrades 
in the inevitable scrimmage for the 

Figure 3 shows the fight after Red 
and Blue have both made their first 
move. It is taken from Red's side. 
Red has not as yet realised the danger 
of his position. His left gun struggles 
into position to the left of the church, 
his centre and right push for the farm. 
Blue's five cavalry on his left have al- 
ready galloped forward into a favourable 
position to open fire at the next move — 
they are a little hidden in the picture by 
the church ; the sixteen infantry follow 
hard, and his main force makes straight 
for the farm. 

Figure 4 shows the affair developing 



rapidly. Red's cavalry on his right have 
taken his two guns well forward into a 
position to sweep either side of the farm, 
and his left gun is now well placed to 
pound Blue's infantry centre. His in- 
fantry continue to press forward, but 
Blue, for his second move, has already 
opened fire from the woods with his 
right gun, and killed three of Red's 
men. His infantry have now come up 
to serve this gun, and the cavalry who 
brought it into position at the first move 
have now left it to them in order to 
gallop over to join the force attacking 
the farm. Undismayed by Red's guns, 
Blue has brought his other two guns and 
his men as close to the farm as they can 
go. His leftmost gun stares Red's in 
the face, and prevents any effective fire, 
his middle gun faces Red's middle gun. 


Some of his cavalry are exposed to the 
right of the farm, but most are com- 
pletely covered now by the farm from 
Red's fire. Red has now to move. 
The nature of his position is becoming 
apparent to him. His right gun is in^ 
effective, his left and his centre guns 
cannot kill more than seven or eight 
men between them ; and at the next 
move, unless he can silence them, Blue's 
guns will be mowing his exposed cavalry 
down from the security of the farm. 
He is in a fix. How is he to get out 
of it ? His cavalry are slightly out- 
numbered, but he decides to do as 
much execution as he can with his own 
guns, charge the Blue guns before him, 
and then bring up his infantry to save 
the situation. 

Figure 5*2 shows the result of Red's 


move. His two effective guns have 
between them bowled over two cavalry 
and six infantry in the gap between the 
farm and Blue's right gun ; and then, 
following up the eifect of his gunfire, 
his cavalry charges home over the Blue 
guns. One oversight he makes, to which 
Blue at once calls his attention at the 
end of his move. Red has reckoned 
on twenty cavalry for his charge, for- 
getting that by the rules he must put 
two men at the tail of his middle gun. 
His infantry are just not able to come 
up for this duty, and consequently two 
cavalry-men have to be set there. The 
game then pauses while the players work 
out the cavalry melee. Red has brought 
up eighteen men to this; in touch or 
within six inches of touch there are 
twenty-one Blue cavalry. Red's force 


is isolated, for only two of his men are 
within a move, and to support eighteen 
he would have to have nine. By the 
rules this gives fifteen men dead on 
either side and three Red prisoners to 
Blue. By the rules also it rests with 
Red to indicate the survivors within the 
limits of the melee as he chooses. He 
takes very good care there are not four 
men within six inches of either Blue gun ? 
and both these are out of action there- 
fore for Blue's next move. Of course 
Red would have done far better to have 
charged home with thirteen men only, 
leaving seven in support, but he was 
flurried by his comparatively unsuccess- 
ful shooting — he had wanted to hit 
more cavalry — and by the gun-trail 
mistake. Moreover, he had counted 
his antagonist wrongly, and thought 



he could arrange a melee of twenty 
against twenty. 

Figure $b shows the game at the 
same stage as 5*2, immediately after the 
adjudication of the melee. The dead 
have been picked up, the three prisoners, 
by a slight deflection of the rules in the 
direction of the picturesque, turn their 
faces towards captivity, and the rest of 
the picture is exactly in the position 
of 50. 

It is now Blue's turn to move, and 
figure 6a shows the result of his move. 
He fires his rightmost gun (the nose 
of it is just visible to the right) and 
kills one infantry-man and one cavalry- 
man (at the tail of Red's central gun), 
brings up his surviving eight cavalry 
into convenient positions for the service 
of his temporarily silenced guns, and 



hurries his infantry forward to the farm, 
recklessly exposing them in the thin 
wood between the farm and his right 
gun. The attentive reader will be able 
to trace all this in figure 6a , and he 
will also note the three Red cavalry 
prisoners going to the rear under the 
escort of one Khaki infantry man. 

Figure 6i shows exactly the same 
stage as figure 6a, that is to say, the 
end of Blue's third move. A cavalry- 
man lies dead at the tail of Red's 
middle gun, an infantry-man a little 
behind it. His rightmost gun is 
abandoned and partly masked, but 
not hidden, from the observer, by a 
tree to the side of the farmhouse. 

And now, what is Red to do? 

The reader will probably have his 

own ideas, as I have mine. What Red 




did do in the actual game was to lose 
his head, and when at the end of four 
minutes' deliberation he had to move, 
he blundered desperately. He opened 
fire on Blue's exposed centre and killed 
eight men. (Their bodies litter the 
ground in figure 7, which gives a com- 
plete bird's-eye view of the battle.) 
He then sent forward and isolated six 
or seven men in a wild attempt to re- 
capture his lost gun, massed his other 
men behind the inadequate cover of his 
central gun, and sent the detachment 
of infantry that had hitherto lurked 
uselessly behind the church, in a frantic 
and hopeless rush across the open to 
join them. (The one surviving cavalry- 
man on his right wing will be seen tak- 
ing refuge behind the cottage.) There 
can be little question of the entire 


unsoundness of all these movements. 
Red was at a disadvantage, he had failed 
to capture the farm, and his business 
now was manifestly to save his men as 
much as possible, make a defensive fight 
of it, inflict as much damage as possible 
with his leftmost gun on Blue's advance, 
get the remnants of his right across to 
the church — the cottage in the centre 
and their own gun would have given 
them a certain amount of cover, — and 
build up a new position about that build- 
ing as a pivot. With two guns right and 
left of the church he might conceivably 
have saved the rest of the fight. 

That, however, is theory; let us re- 
turn to fact. Figure 8 gives the dis- 
astrous consequences of Red's last move. 
Blue has moved, his guns have slaugh- 
tered ten of Red's wretched foot, and a 


rush of nine Blue cavalry and infantry 
mingles with Red's six surviving infantry 
about the disputed gun. These infantry 
by the definition are isolated ; there 
are not three other Reds within a move 
of them. The view in this photograph 
also is an extensive one, and the reader 
will note, as a painful accessory, the sad 
spectacle of three Red prisoners reced- 
ing to the right. The mike about 
Red's lost gun works out, of course, 
at three dead on each side, and three 
more Red prisoners. 

Henceforth the battle moves swiftly to 
complete the disaster of Red. Shaken 
and demoralised, that unfortunate general 
is now only for retreat. His next move, 
of which I have no picture, is to retreat 
the infantry he has so wantonly exposed 
back to the shelter of the church, to 



withdraw the wreckage of his right into 
the cover of the cottage, and — one last 
gleam of enterprise — to throw forward 
his left gun into a position commanding 
Blue's right. 

Blue then pounds Red's right with 
his gun to the right of the farm and 
kills three men. He extends his other 
gun to the left of the farm, right out 
among the trees, so as to get an effec- 
tive fire next time upon the tail of Red's 
gun. He also moves up sufficient men 
to take possession of Red's lost gun. 
On the right Blue's gun engages Red's 
and kills one man. All this the reader 
will see clearly in figure 9, and he 
will also note a second batch of Red 
prisoners — this time they are infantry, 
going rearward. Figure 9 is the last 
picture that is needed to tell the story 


of the battle. Red's position is alto- 
gether hopeless. He has four men 
left alive by his rightmost gun, and 
their only chance is to attempt to 
save that by retreating with it. If they 
fire it, one or other will certainly be 
killed at its tail in Blue's subsequent 
move, and then the gun will be neither 
movable nor fireable. Red's left gun, 
with four men only, is also in extreme 
peril, and will be immovable and help- 
less if it loses another man. 

Very properly Red decided upon 
retreat. His second gun had to be 
abandoned after one move, but two of 
the men with it escaped over his back 
line. Five of the infantry behind the 
church escaped, and his third gun and 
its four cavalry got away on the extreme 
left - hand corner of Red's position. 


Blue remained on the field, completely 
victorious, with two captured guns and 
six prisoners. 

There you have a scientific record 
of the worthy general's little affair. 


Now that battle of Hook's Farm is, as 
I have explained, a simplification of the 
game, set out entirely to illustrate the 
method of playing ; there is scarcely 
a battle that will not prove more 
elaborate (and eventful) than this little 
encounter. If a number of players and 
a sufficiently large room can be got, 
there is no reason why armies of 
many hundreds of soldiers should not 
fight over many square yards of model 
country. So long as each player has 
about a hundred men and three guns 




there is no need to lengthen the dura- 
tion of a game on that account. But 
it is too laborious and confusing for a 
single player to handle more than that 
number of men. 

Moreover, on a big floor with an ex- 
tensive country it is possible to begin 
moving with moves double or treble the 
length here specified, and to come down 
to moves of the ordinary lengths when 
the troops are within fifteen or twelve 
or ten feet of each other. To players 
with the time and space available I 
would suggest using a quite large 
country, beginning with treble moves, 
and, with the exception of a select 
number of cavalry scouts, keeping the 
soldiers in their boxes with the lids on^ 
and moving the boxes as units. (This 
boxing idea is a new one, and affords a 



very good substitute for the curtain ; 
I have tried it twice for games in the 
open air where the curtain was not 
available.) Neither side would, of 
course, know what the other had in its 
boxes ; they might be packed regiments 
or a mere skeleton force. Each side 
would advance on the other by double 
or treble moves behind a screen of 
cavalry scouts, until a scout was within 
ten feet of a box on the opposite 
side. Then the contents of that par- 
ticular box would have to be disclosed 
and the men stood out. Troops with- 
out any enemy within twenty feet 
could be returned to their boxes for 
facility in moving. Playing on such a 
scale would admit also of the introduc- 
tion of the problem of provisions and 
supplies. Little toy Army Service 


9 1 

waggons can be bought, and it could be 
ruled that troops must have one such 
waggon for every fifty men within at 
least six moves. Moreover, ammunition 
carts may be got, and it may be ruled 
that one must be within two moves of a 
gun before the latter can be fired. All 
these are complications of the War 
Game, and so far I have not been able 
to get together sufficient experienced 
players to play on this larger, more 
elaborate scale. It is only after the 
smaller simpler war game here de- 
scribed has been played a number of 
times, and its little dodges mastered 
completely, that such more warlike 
devices become practicable. 

But obviously with a team of players 
and an extensive country, one could 
have a general controlling the whole 

9 2 


campaign, divisional commanders, bat- 
teries of guns, specialised brigades, and 
a quite military movement of the whole 
affair. I have (as several illustrations 
show) tried Little Wars in the open air. 
The toy soldiers stand quite well on 
closely mown grass, but the long-range 
gun-fire becomes a little uncertain if 
there is any breeze. It gives a greater 
freedom of movement and allows the 
players to lie down more comfortably 
when firing, to increase, and even 
double, the moves of the indoor game. 
One can mark out high roads and 
streams with an ordinary lawn-tennis 
marker, mountains and rocks of stones, 
and woods and forests of twigs are 
easily arranged. But if the game is to 
be left out all night and continued 
next day (a thing I have as yet had no 



time to try), the houses must be of some 
more solid material than paper. I 
would suggest painted blocks of wood. 
On a large lawn, a wide country-side 
may be easily represented. The players 
may begin with a game exactly like the 
ordinary Kriegspiel, with scouts and 
boxed soldiers, which will develop 
into such battles as are here described, 
as the troops come into contact. It 
would be easy to give the roads a real 
significance by permitting a move half 
as long again as in the open country 
for waggons or boxed troops along a 
road. There is a possibility of hav- 
ing a toy railway, with stations or 
rolling stock into which troops might 
be put, on such a giant war map. One 
would allow a move for entraining 
and another for detraining, requiring 



the troops to be massed alongside the 
train at the beginning and end of each 
journey, and the train might move at 
four or five times the cavalry rate. 
One would use open trucks and put in 
a specified number of men — say twelve 
infantry or five cavalry or half a 
gun per truck, — and permit an engine 
to draw seven or eight trucks, or 
move at a reduced speed with more. 
One could also rule that four men — 
the same four men — remaining on a line 
during two moves, could tear up a 
rail, and eight men in three moves 
replace it. 

I will confess I have never yet tried 
over these more elaborate developments 
of Little Wars, partly because of the 
limited time at my disposal, and partly 
because they all demand a number of 



players who are well acquainted with 
the game on each side if they are 
not to last interminably. The Battle 
of Hook's Farm (one player a side) 
took a whole afternoon, and most of 
my battles have lasted the better part 
of a day. 



I could go on now and tell of battles, 
copiously. In the memory of the one 
skirmish I have given I do but taste 
blood. I would like to go on, to a 
large, thick book. It would be an 
agreeable task. Since I am the chief 
inventor and practiser (so far) of Little 
Wars, there has fallen to me a dispro- 
portionate share of victories. But let 
me not boast. For the present, I have 
done all that I meant to do in this 
matter. It is for you, dear reader, now 
to get a floor, a friend, some soldiers 
and some guns, and show by a grovel- 


ling devotion your appreciation of this 
noble and beautiful gift of a limitless 
game that I have given you. 

And if I might for a moment trum- 
pet ! How much better is this amiable 
miniature than the Real Thing! Here 
is a homeopathic remedy for the ima- 
ginative strategist. Here is the pre- 
meditation, the thrill, the strain of 
accumulating victory or disaster — and 
no smashed nor sanguinary bodies, no 
shattered fine buildings nor devastated 
country sides, no petty cruelties, none 
of that awful universal boredom and 
embitterment, that tiresome delay or 
stoppage or embarrassment of every gra- 
cious, bold, sweet, and charming thing, 
that we who are old enough to remem- 
ber a real modern war know to be the 
reality of belligerence. This world is 





for ample living; we want security and 
freedom ; all of us in every country, ex- 
cept a few dull-witted, energetic bores, 
want to see the manhood of the world 
at something better than apeing the 
little lead toys our children buy in 
boxes. We want fine things made for 
mankind — splendid cities, open ways, 
more knowledge and power, and more 
and more and more, — and so I offer 
my game, for a particular as well as 
a general end ; and let us put this 
prancing monarch and that silly scare- 
monger, and these excitable " patriots," 
and those adventurers, and all the prac- 
titioners of Welt Politik, into one vast 
Temple of War, with cork carpets 
everywhere, and plenty of little trees 
and little houses to knock down, and 
cities and fortresses, and unlimited 


soldiers — tons, cellars -full, — and let 
them lead their own lives there away 
from us. 

My game is just as good as their game, 
and saner by reason of its size. Here 
is War, done down to rational pro- 
portions, and yet out of the way of 
mankind, even as our fathers turned 
human sacrifices into the eating of little 
images and symbolic mouthfuls. For 
my own part, I am prepared. I have 
nearly five hundred men, more than a 
score of guns, and I twirl my moustache 
and hurl defiance eastward from my 
home in Essex across the narrow seas. 
Not only eastward. I would conclude 
this little discourse with one other dis- 
concerting and exasperating sentence 
for the admirers and practitioners of 
Big War. I have never yet met in 




little battle any military gentleman, any 
captain, major, colonel, general, or 
eminent commander, who did not pres- 
ently get into difficulties and confusions 
among even the elementary rules of the 
Battle. You have only to play at Little 
Wars three or four times to realise just 
what a blundering thing Great War 
must be. 

Great War is at present, I am con- 
vinced, not only the most expensive 
game in the universe, but it is a game 
out of all proportion. Not only are the 
masses of men and material and suffering 
and inconvenience too monstrously big 
for reason, but — the available heads 
we have for it, are too small. That, I 
think, is the most pacific realisation con- 
ceivable, and Little War brings you to it 
as nothing else but Great War can do. 



This little book has, I hope, been perfectly frank about its 
intentions. It is not a book upon Kriegspiel. It gives merely 
a game that may be played by two or four or six amateurish 
persons in an afternoon and evening with toy soldiers. But it 
has a very distinct relation to Kriegspiel ; and since the main 
portion of it was written and published in a magazine, I have had 
quite a considerable correspondence with military people who have 
been interested by it, and who have shown a very friendly spirit 
towards it — in spite of the pacific outbreak in its concluding section. 
They tell me — what I already a little suspected — that Kriegspiel, as 
it is played by the British Army, is a very dull and unsatisfactory 
exercise, lacking in realism, in stir and the unexpected, obsessed by 
the umpire at every turn, and of very doubtful value in waking up 
the imagination, which should be its chief function. I am particu- 
larly indebted to Colonel Mark Sykes for advice and information in 
this matter. He has pointed out to me the possibility of developing 
Little Wars into a vivid and inspiring Kriegspiel, in which the element 
of the umpire would be reduced to a minimum j and it would be 
ungrateful to him, and a waste of an interesting opportunity, if I did 
not add this Appendix, pointing out how a Kriegspiel of real educa- 
tional value for junior officers may be developed out of the amusing 
methods of Little War. If Great War is to be played at all, the 
better it is played the more humanely it will be done. I see no 
inconsistency in deploring the practice while perfecting the method. 
But I am a civilian, and Kriegspiel is not my proper business. I 


am deeply preoccupied with a novel I am writing, and so I think the 
best thing I can do is just to set down here all the ideas that 
have cropped up in my mind, in the footsteps, so to speak, of 
Colonel Sykes, and leave it to the military expert, if he cares to take 
the matter up, to reduce my scattered suggestions to a system. 

Now, first, it is manifest that in Little Wars there is no 
equivalent for rifle-fire, and that the effect of the gun-fire has 
no resemblance to the effect of shell. That may be altered very 
simply. Let the rules as to gun-fire be as they are now, but 
let a different projectile be used — a projectile that will drop down 
and stay where it falls. I find that one can buy in ironmongers' 
shops small brass screws of various sizes and weights, but all 
capable of being put in the muzzle of the 4/7 guns without 
slipping down the barrel. If, with such a screw in the muzzle, 
the gun is loaded and fired, the wooden bolt remains in the gun 
and the screw flies and drops and stays near where it falls — its 
range being determined by the size and weight of screw selected 
by the gunner. Let us assume this is a shell, and it is quite 
easy to make a rule that will give the effect of its explosion. 
Half, or, in the case of an odd number, one more than half, of 
the men within three inches of this shell are dead, and if there 
is a gun completely within the circle of three inches radius from 
the shell, it is destroyed. If it is not completely within the circle, 
it is disabled for two moves. A supply waggon is completely 
destroyed if it falls wholly or partially within the radius. But 
if there is a wall, house, or entrenchment between any men and 
the shell, they are uninjured — they do not count in the reckoning 
of the effect of the shell. 

I think one can get a practical imitation of the effect of rifle- 
fire by deciding that for every five infantry-men who are roughly in 
a line, and who do not move in any particular move, there may be 
one (ordinary) shot taken with a 4-7 gun. It may be fired from 


any convenient position behind the row of five men, so long as the 
shot passes roughly over the head of the middle man of the five. 

Of course, while in Little Wars there are only three or four 
players, in any proper Kriegspiel the game will go on over a 
larger area — in a drill-hall or some such place, — and each arm 
and service will be entrusted to a particular player. This permits 
all sorts of complicated imitations of reality that are impossible to 
our parlour and playroom Little Wars. We can consider trans- 
port, supply, ammunition, and the moral effect of cavalry impact, 
and of uphill and downhill movements. We can also bring in the 
spade and entrenchment, and give scope to the Royal Engineers. 
But before I write anything of Colonel Sykes' suggestions about 
these, let me say a word or two about Kriegspiel " country." 

The country for Kriegspiel should be made up, I think, of 
heavy blocks or boxes of wood about 3X3XI feet, and curved 
pieces (with a rounded outline and a chord of three feet, or shaped 
like right-angled triangles with an incurved hypotenuse and two 
straight sides of 3 feet) can easily be contrived to round off 
corners and salient angles. These blocks can be bored to take 
trees, etc., exactly as the boards in Little Wars are bored, and 
with them a very passable model of any particular country can 
be built up from a contoured Ordnance map. Houses may be 
made very cheaply by shaping a long piece of wood into a house-like 
section and sawing it up. There will always be someone who will 
touch up and paint and stick windows on to and generally adorn and 
individualise such houses, which are, of course, the stabler the heavier 
the wood used. The rest of the country as in Little Wars. 

Upon such a country a Kriegspiel could be played with rules 
upon the lines of the following sketch rules, which are the result 
of a discussion between Colonel Sykes and myself, and in which 
most of the new ideas are to be ascribed to Colonel Sykes. We 
proffer them, not as a finished set of rules, but as material for 


anyone who chooses to work over them, in the elaboration of 
what we believe will be a far more exciting and edifying Kriegspiel 
than any that exists at the present time. The game may be 
played by any number of players, according to the forces engaged 
and the size of the country available. Each side will be under 
the supreme command of a General, who will be represented by 
a cavalry soldier. The player who is General must stand at or 
behind his representative image and within six feet of it. His 
signalling will be supposed to be perfect, and he will communicate 
with his subordinates by shout, whisper, or note, as he thinks fit. 
I suggest he should be considered invulnerable, but Colonel Sykes 
has proposed arrangements for his disablement. He would have it 
that if the General falls within the zone of destruction of a shell 
he must go out of the room for three moves (injured) ; and that 
if he is hit by rifle-fire or captured he shall quit the game, and 
be succeeded by his next subordinate. 

Now as to the Moves. 

It is suggested that : 

Infantry shall move one foot. 
Cavalry shall move three feet. -' 

The above moves are increased by one half for troops in 
twos or fours on a road. 
Royal Engineers shall move two feet. 
Royal Artillery shall move two feet. 
Transport and Supply shall move one foot on roads, half foot 

across country. 
The General shall move six feet (per motor), three feet 

across country. 
Boats shall move one foot. 
In moving uphill, one contour counts as one foot ; downhill, 


two contours count as one foot. Where there are four 
contours to one foot vertical the hill is impassable for 
wheels unless there is a road. 


To pass a fordable river = one move. 

To change from fours to two ranks = half a move. 

To change from two ranks to extension = half a move. 

To embark into boats = two moves for every twenty men 

embarked at any point. 
To disembark = one move for every twenty men. 


To pass a fordable river = one move. 

To change formation = half a move. To mount = one move. 
To dismount = one move. 


To unlimber guns = half a move. 
To limber up guns = half a move. 
Rivers are impassable to guns. 

Neither Infantry, Cavalry, nor Artillery 
can Fire and Move in One Move. 

Royal Engineers. 

No repairs can be commenced, no destructions can be begun, 

during a move in which R.E. have changed position. 
Rivers impassable. 

Transport and Supply. 

No supplies or stores can be delivered during a move if 

T. and S, have moved. 
Rivers impassable. 


Next as to Supply in the Field : 

All troops must be kept supplied with food, ammunition, 
and forage. The players must give up, every six 
moves, one packet of food per thirty men ; one packet 
of forage per six horses j one packet of ammunition per 
thirty infantry which fire for six consecutive moves. 

These supplies, at the time when they are given up, must 
be within six feet of the infantry they belong to and 
eighteen feet of the cavalry. 

Isolated bodies of less than thirty infantry require no supplies 
— a body is isolated if it is more than twelve feet off 
another body. In calculating supplies for infantry the 
fractions either count as thirty if fifteen or over, or as 
nothing if less than fifteen. Thus forty-six infantry 
require two packets of food or ammunition ; forty-four 
infantry require one packet of food. 

N.B. — Supplies are not effective if enemy is between supplies 
and troops they belong to. 

Men surrounded and besieged must be victualled at the 
following rate : — 

One packet food for every thirty men for every six moves. 

One packet forage every six horses for every six moves. 

In the event of supplies failing, horses may take the place of 
food, but not of course of forage ; one horse to equal 
one packet. 

In the event of supplies failing, the following consequences 
ensue : — 

Infantry without ammunition cannot fire (guns are supposed 
to have unlimited ammunition with them). 

Infantry, cavalry, R.A., and R.E. cannot move without 
supply — if supplies are not provided within six con- 
secutive moves, they are out of action. 



A force surrounded must surrender four moves after eating 
its last horse. 

Now as to Destructions: 

To destroy a railway bridge R.E. take two moves ; to repair, 

R.E. take ten moves. 
To destroy a railway culvert R.E. take one move ; to repair 

R.E. take five moves. 
To destroy a river road bridge R.E. take one move ; to 

repair, R.E. take five moves. 
A supply depot can be destroyed by one man in two moves, 

no matter how large (by fire). 
Four men can destroy the contents of six waggons in one move. 
A contact mine can be placed on a road or in any place by 

two men in six moves ; it will be exploded by the first 

pieces passing over it, and will destroy everything within 

six inches radius.* 

Next as to Constructions : 

Entrenchments can be made by infantry in four moves.* 

They are to be strips of wood two inches high tacked 

to the country, or wooden bricks two inches high. 

Two men may make an inch of entrenchment. 
Epaulements for guns may be constructed at the rate of six 

men to one epaulement in four moves.* 

Rules as to Cavalry Charging : 

No body of less than eight cavalry may charge, and they 
must charge in proper formation. 

* Notice to be given to umpire of commencement of any work or the placing 
of a mine. In event of no umpire being available, a folded note must be put on 
the mantelpiece when entrenchment is commenced, and opponent asked to open it 
when the trench is completed or the mine exploded. 


If cavalry charges infantry in extended order — 

If the charge starts at a distance of more than two feet, the 

cavalry loses one man for every five infantry-men 

charged, and the infantry loses one man for each sabre 

At less than two feet and more than one foot, the cavalry 

loses one man for every ten charged, and the infantry 

two men for each sabre charging. 
At less than one foot, the cavalry loses one man for every 

fifteen charged, and the infantry three men for each 

sabre charging. 
If cavalry charges infantry in close order, the result is 

Thus at more than two feet one infantry-man kills three 

cavalry-men, and fifteen cavalry-men one infantry-man. 
At more than one foot one infantry-man kills two cavalry, 

and ten cavalry one infantry. 
At less than one foot one infantry-man kills one cavalry, 

and five cavalry one infantry. 
However, infantry that have been charged in close order are 

immobile for the subsequent move. 
Infantry charged in extended order must on the next move 

retire one foot ; they can be charged again. 
If cavalry charges cavalry : — 
If cavalry is within charging distance of the enemy's cavalry 

at the end of the enemy's move, it must do one of 

three things — dismount, charge, or retire. If it remains 

stationary and mounted and the enemy charges, one 

charging sabre will kill five stationary sabres and put 

fifteen others three feet to the rear. 
Dismounted cavalry charged is equivalent to infantry in 

extended order. 


If cavalry charges cavalry and the numbers are equal and 
the ground level, the result must be decided by the 
toss of a coin ; the loser losing three-quarters of his 
men and obliged to retire, the winner losing one-quarter 
of his men. 

If the numbers are unequal, the meUe rules for Little Wars 
obtain if the ground is level. 

If the ground slopes, the cavalry charging downhill will be 
multiplied according to the number of contours crossed. 
If it is one contour, it must be multiplied by two ; 
two contours, multiplied by three ; three contours, 
multiplied by four. 

If cavalry retires before cavalry instead of accepting a charge, 
it must continue to retire so long as it is pursued — the 
pursuers can only be arrested by fresh cavalry or by 
infantry or artillery fire. 

If driven off the field or into an unfordable river, the retreat- 
ing body is destroyed. 

If infantry find hostile cavalry within charging distance at 
the end of the enemy's move, and this infantry retires 
and yet is still within charging distance, it will receive 
double losses if in extended order if charged ; and if in 
two ranks or in fours, will lose at three feet two men 
for each charging sabre ; at two feet, three men for 
each charging sabre. The cavalry in these circum- 
stances will lose nothing. The infantry will have to 
continue to retire until their tormentors have extermin- 
ated them or been driven off by someone else. 

If cavalry charges artillery and is not dealt with by other 
forces, one gun is captured with a loss to the cavalry of 
four men per gun for a charge at three feet, three men 
at two feet, and one man at one foot. 


If artillery retires before cavalry when cavalry is within 
charging distance, it must continue to retire so long as 
the cavalry pursues. 

The introduction of toy railway trains, moving, let us say, 
eight feet per move, upon toy rails, needs rules as to entraining 
and detraining and so forth, that will be quite easily worked out 
upon the model of boat embarkation here given. An engine or 
truck within the circle of destruction of a shell will be of course 

The toy soldiers used in this Kriegspiel should not be the large 
soldiers used in Little Wars. The British manufacturers who turn 
out these also make a smaller, cheaper type of man — the infantry 
about an inch high — which is better adapted to Kriegspiel purposes. 

We hope, if these suggestions " catch on," to induce them to 
manufacture a type of soldier more exactly suited to the needs of 
the game, including tray carriers for troops in formation and (what 
is at present not attainable) dismountable cavalry that will stand. 

We place this rough sketch of a Kriegspiel entirely at the 
disposal of any military men whose needs and opportunities enable 
them to work it out and make it into an exacter and more realistic 
game. In doing so, we think they will find it advisable to do 
their utmost to make the game work itself^ and to keep the need 
for umpire's decisions at a minimum. Whenever possible, death 
should be by actual gun- and rifle-fire and not by computation. 
Things should happen, and not be decided. We would also 
like to insist upon the absolute need of an official upon either 
side, simply to watch and measure the moves taken, and to collect 
and check the amounts of supply and ammunition given up. This 
is a game like real war, played against time, and played under 
circumstances of considerable excitement, and it is remarkable 


how elastic the measurements of quite honest and honourable 
men can become. 

We believe that the nearer that Kriegspiel approaches to an 
actual small model of war, not only in its appearance but in its 
emotional and intellectual tests, the better it will serve its purpose 
of trial and education. /