Little Wars

Little Wars was written by the famous author H. G. Wells in 1913 and is a set of rules for playing with toy soldiers. Its full title is Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books.

Little Wars is considered by some to be the first modern table top war game. It included fairly simple rules for infantry, cavalry, and artillery in the form of a toy 4.7 inch naval gun that launched projectiles, usually small wooden dowels to knock down enemy soldiers. In addition to it being a war game, the book hints at several philosophical aspects of war.

The development of the game is explained and Wells' thoughts on war, as he was known to be a pacifist, is revealed in his writing. According to Wells, the idea of the game developed from a visit by his friend Jerome K. Jerome. After dinner, Jerome began shooting down toy soldiers with a toy cannon that Wells joined in to compete. The two decided that with an addition of written rules, a good Kriegsspiel type game could be developed. The game revolved around the use of lead hollow cast soldiers made by W. Britain and battlefields made from whatever materials were on hand, usually blocks or other toys. Simple rules of movement, firing, and close combat were developed with a set amount of time for each player to move and fire. Wells also provides a chapter of "Extensions and Amplifications of Little War". In an appendix, Wells provides "Little Wars and Kriegspiel"; more complex rules to be played in a larger space involving Military logistics, military engineers, cavalry charges, and railway transport of troops.

The book is written in a whimsical style and illustrated with amusing drawings and photographs of a game being played that Wells describes in the book. Wells also gives a description of the game from the view of one of the Generals in the battle bombastically relating his memoirs.

Little Wars was first published in 1913 by Frank Palmer. There have been numerous reprints and it is now available online at Project Gutenberg, along with a previous game book by Wells called Floor Games (1911). The most recent edition of the book was published by Skirmisher Publishing LLC in 2004 and includes an introduction by game designer Michael J. Varhola and a foreword by Gary Gygax.

Modern Adaptation

In 2006, Skirmisher Publishing announced an upcoming product called 'H.G. Wells' Little Orc Wars'. The product was said to be due for release in "early 2007", but as of March 2008 only a 'quick-play' version has been released, with the full version said to be due for release "later this year".

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