Donald Featherstone’s ‘Battles with Model Soldiers’

As a result of Donald Featherstone’s recent death have I spent some time looking through his BATTLES WITH MODEL SOLDIERS. It was originally published in 1970, and I currently own a copy of the 1984 edition. (I passed my copy of the 1970 edition on to another wargamer quite a few years ago.)

Re-reading the book I realised how much it was a development of Donald Featherstone’s WAR GAMES, and that the World War II rules are a mixture of elements of both Donald’s and Lionel Tarr’s rules.

I suspect that BATTLES WITH MODEL SOLDIERS is not as highly regarded by quite a few Featherstone fans as it could and should be. In support of this contention it is interesting to note that it is NOT included amongst the list of books that John Curry has reissued as part of his History of Wargaming project.


16 Comments on “Donald Featherstone’s ‘Battles with Model Soldiers’”

  1. Lee Hadley says:

    I've just picked up a 1972 edition of this book from Amazon having first encountered it in the early noughties. I was a lapsed SciFi/Fantasy wargamer at that point and Battles with Model Soldiers brought me back to the hobby, this time as a historical wargamer. So for me this is a pretty significant book even if some of its content is a bit dated now.

  2. Lee Hadley,

    It was actually reading your recent blog entry about buying this book that made me take it off my bookshelves and look at it … and realise that it was an unrecognised 'classic'. True, it is a bit dated nowadays, but still has the power to inspire.

    All the best,


  3. Sean says:

    Hmm, I had not realized it was not one of the reprinted books. I wonder what it would take to make that happen, or are there too many used copies lying around?

  4. brtrain says:

    Battles with Model Soldiers was the first proper wargaming book I ever owned – I had a copy of the old “Know The Game” pamphlet on Wargaming that I pored over, still have it, and had checked out Peter Young's Charge! from the local library.
    I found the Featherstone book on top of a heap of books in a decrepit old bookstore in the Chinatown/antique district in my town. Five dollars and it was mine!
    I think John Curry's intention is to reprint everything wargaming-related that Don Featherstone published; he will probably get around to it at some point.


  5. Sean,

    I suspect that it will be re-published in due course. I should imagine that it was just not a priority for John Curry when he began his History of Wargaming project.

    All the best,


  6. Brtrain (Brian),

    It would appear that you are not alone in having this book as your first wargaming book … although you seem to have paid less than I did for my copy.

    I suspect that you are correct about John Curry re-publishing it in the fullness of time. It would be odd if he did not as it is an important part of Donald Featherstone's earlier work.

    All the best,


  7. Trebian says:


    Not often I'm ahead of you but look at this post:

    I have mentioned this book to John Curry as I remember it being very important to me. I also think that the 1970 version (which had a red cover) was a superior edition too. But that's just the nostalgia talking.


  8. Trebian,

    You are spot on about being ahead of me on this one.

    I vaguely remembered your blog entry about this book, and enjoyed re-reading it.

    I am sure that John Curry will re-publish this book eventually, but I not think that it is very high on his 'to do' list.

    All the best,


  9. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who cut his teeth on BWMS
    (see blog post)

    I've been thinking though that BWMS with its survey of a variety of periods is partly responsible (along with the Funckens) for my desire to game all periods! If I had started with my 2nd book – Charge! maybe I would have concentrated on horse & musket.

  10. Our Featherstone Memorial Game (tonight) is inspired by the three example ACW games in this book.

    I think I have the 1972 edition – I will have to check.

  11. Ross Mac,

    As I wrote in an earlier comment, this book seems to be turning out to have been a bit of an unrecognised 'classic', and may well have been far more influential than had previously been realised.

    I am beginning to wonder if BWMS was the book that Donald Featherstone would have written as an introduction to wargaming had he not already written WAR GAMES. It is a far better structured book and – as you imply – more comprehensive in its historical coverage. It certainly compliments and supplements the content of WAR GAMES.

    All the best,


  12. Kaptain Kobold,

    Your Featherstone Memorial Game sounds interesting, and I look forward to reading about it in due course.

    I don't think that there is a lot of difference between to two editions of this book, but without having a copy of the 1972 edition I cannot be absolutely sure.

    All the best,


  13. He, He, still got my 1970 copy… quietly sneak out of smirk mode…

  14. Xaltotun of Python,

    I wish that I still had my copy,

    All the best,


  15. Gonsalvo says:

    This was my first book of Don's (the 1970 edition, new when I bought it, and inscribed to me by Don, as was his custom for books purchased directly from him. I shall have to dig out my copy!


  16. Gonsalvo (Peter),

    There are quite a few people who would envy you for both having the 1970 edition of this book AND having it signed by the great man himself!

    I am sure that it occupies a special place on your bookshelves.

    All the best,


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