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on December 13, 2011
I must place a disclaimer before I proceed: If you are not into the history of wargaming and fascinated by the challenge of designing wargames this book will be of absolutely no interest to you, unless you find amusement in the anachronism of Vicorian attitudes.
That being said, I have heard about this book ever since I was introduced to wargaming almost 35 years ago and I was always curious what it was like. Coming across it accidentally while in the kindle store was one of those epiphanous moments. I couldn't download it fast enough and once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. It is a rare glimpse into the creative process of simulation design, he starts out with a series of "back to the drawing board" games and then goes through the step by step developement of the game's design. I wish I could see the original illustrations, but ultimately they are superfluous to the key element of interest to me; the intellectual history of wargame design.
Would I like to play this game? Not really, wargame design has evolved way beyond this level, but it is utterly fascinating to read about.
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on September 8, 2014
Several reviews complained the free Kindle copy did not have the illustrations, so I bought the print copy. Still no illustrations. Disappointed, but otherwise it is fine.
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on August 16, 2014
ok
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on July 7, 2011
This is, as the subject suggests, a hard book to rate. It's a fun light read (5-stars) but it's short, topic is dated (you just need read the sub-title) and if you know nothing about war games, perhaps even hard to get into (1-star).

I liked it, I play war games (like this) and the old world view is just fun. I mean, I had one of those little spring worked cannons as a kid. Had I had these rules (this is both a book with story and a game with rules you can play) back then, I'd probably still have it and still be playing with these rules.

This is after all a book from another time on a subject not for the electronic generation. It's sunshine, cold tea (or hot tea on a snow swept day) and simpler past times. Like almost anything Victorian, you need to like things Victorian / British / or at least off the beaten trail.

Hay, in any case... it's free, it's on your Kindle, just enjoy it!
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on July 13, 2011
Little Wars is - of all things - one of the first tabletop miniature wargames, created by Mr. Wells and a couple of his bored friends. The gentlemen began by playing with some toy cannon left behind by the kids. Then, after an hour of lazily plinking at soldiers, their latent instinct for systemisation kicked in and they started creating the rules.

There's normally nothing particularly interesting about reading a gamebook, but in this case, Mr. Wells is completely transparent about the creation process. What results is the fairly joyous story of a middle-aged Victorian paragon crawling around in his garden with a bunch of toy soldiers purloined from his sons' playroom. Furthermore, the discussion of how he added more and more layers of complexity into the game makes for oddly fascinating reading. Who knew debates about measuring supply lines could be so fun?

Eventually, however, the details swamp the narrative. Mr. Wells goes into great depth with a play-by-play demonstration of one of his battles. Although the photographs are entertaining, as any gamer will tell you, there's only so much you enjoy someone else's playground war stories.

Although weirdly enjoyable as a book (in that, "something for reading"), I'm not sure I can weigh on whether or not the game itself seems particularly fun. Or whether or not it can even be played (although these people have tried). There are weird gaps in the rules that mostly stem from the core materials (the cannons, especially) being so dated. And, in a similar vein, Mr. Wells' casual (and frequently-repeated) dismissal of female players places Little Wars as an artifact of a bygone era.
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on July 12, 2014
Interesting game description & rules by a master writer.
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HALL OF FAMEon February 7, 2013
This utterly straight-faced presentation features an intelligent grown man (Wells) laying out incredibly detailed rules for playing with tin (or lead) soldiers. Against another grown man. With a blow-by-blow account of one particularly thrilling episode of tin soldier vs. tin soldier - it goes on for pages.

I would dismiss this as mental aberration, except that
A) Wells really was intelligent and insightful, so it can't be brushed off as easily as I'd like, and
B) I've seen model railroaders make far greater investments of time and wealth in their little make-believe worlds, and
C) However elaborate Wells's rules might be, they're bare shadows of multi-hundred-page rulebooks of so many current fantasy games.

Like it or not, understand it or not, imagine any earthly purpose or not, you have to admit that "Little Wars" has a prescience at least as creepy as some of Wells's better-known predictions.

--wiredweird, reviewing a version available at no cost on the web, and worth every penny
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on April 23, 2010
This is a charming introduction to the "Little Wars" miniature wargame invented by H.G. Wells. A must for anyone who plays wargames.

On a psychological level, it is interesting that Wells champions "Little Wars" as a replacement for the real thing. It appears never to have occurred to him that playing miniature wargames may have something to do with perpetuating and validating the use of force to resolve conflicts.

A few minuses:

the text contains references to the illustrations in the original book. They are not in the Kindle edition, which is an unfortunate gap, as they are no doubt enjoyable.

there is no active TOC.

only the first two chapters and the last chapter are of general interest; the remainder is made up of the rules for Little Wars, which have been superseded by far more elaborate rules for modern wargamers.
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on September 27, 2014
It's a great source of miniature gaming and a great source of the history of war gaming
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on October 29, 2014
If you want to read up on how people played Warhammer 40K-before GDW came along to 'borrow' from Alien, Tolkien and Moorcock-, as a painfully dry instruction book, this is the one for you. It's not his fiction work.
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