Thursday, 19 September 2013

In memoriam - Donald Featherstone

Like many others I decided to play a Featherstonian game to mark the passing of Don.

Many years ago as a young sprog I remember finding his book "War Games" in the local library and spent many hours/days/weeks reading and re-reading the text and imagining when I could have a collection to play the games described. Of course times moved on and rules with them and I have never actually played a game from the book. So the die was cast and a decision made, it would be the "Action in the Platville Valley". I found a willing volunteer (Ian) who also had a copy of the book.

What can I say, but the hobby has moved on enormously since 1962 when the book was written, now one might despair at the quality of rule writing and how it covers various situations that will crop up in a game. Here are a few omissions (from a very modern perspective and no disrespect intended as the players probably knew how to handle it, but never wrote it down) which caused us some problems:
  • Changing formation - how long does it take what's the mechanism?
  • If a unit losses 50% and all it's officers does it test morale once or twice (since there are no modifiers for more than one cause)
  • Describing all the terrain in a scenario, e.g what class of river was bull creek?

As for the battle itself, it produced a great deal of entertainment, especially when searching between the ancient and horse and musket rules for how to handle a situation (basically melee and morale were covered in the ancients section) Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so there are no pictures of what was a very messy battle.

It just shows that nostalgia is exactly that, we have built on the foundations that Don established and for that alone we should be thankful



Springinsfeld said...

It's interesting how many gamers remember borrowing the book from the library. I certainly did myself but I can't imagine that happening much now. Nice idea to have a memorial game.

Service Ration Distribution (Hobby) said...

My uncle saw me just knocking over my toy soldiers randomly. He went out and got me "Battles with Model Soldiers" by D. Featherstone. That was 40 years ago. My Mum still says I'll grow out of it.

Herman van Kradenburg said...

Great that you got his book out and gamed with it. As teenagers we borrowed one off a friend's father (for months on end) and got several others from the library on rotational basis, had them for most of a year! I recently (before his death) bought a couple of books off Trademe (Ebay equivalent in New Zealand) in a fit of nostalgia.

Raised a glass in his honour. Where would we be without saving throws and morale throws ? Rumour is he invented them!