Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Public Domain Wargames: Princes, Polearms and (tri)Pods

Wargames. It could easily have been the 'W' entry for this month, but it's not just any old wargames that We're interested in right now. We're interested in Public Domain Wargames. Yep. Free games out on the net that you can download, mix-and-match and rebuild, mod or mash-up to your heart's content.

There are a ton of them.

Just go to the Web Grognard's links page and scroll down until you find the section for Wargame Files: Complete Public Domain / Shareware Wargames.

 Under the Board Sub-Category there is a game available titled : Princes of the East.
From their site:
Princes of the East is a political/military game of the period immediately after the first crusade. Each nation strives for supremacy. Only the strongest, most cunning, will leave a legacy of stability and survival for his people. 
This game can be played face-to-face or by e-mail. Included are the rules, counters, sheets which allow control of a state, individual named leaders for use as councillors or as generals, tables, expenditure charts and a map of Southern Asia Minor and Northern Syria. 
Choose the Principality you wish to rule!
There you go: a free Domain Level Wargame, complete with rules, counters, expenditure charts and more. This might come in handy to a few of our readers.

There is another game there, Plantagenet, that we've downloaded and are looking at as a model for handling dynasties of squabbling nobles. It's a card game, but any card game that includes rules for political shenanigans including assassination is worth a look-see in our books.

If you keep scrolling down past all the other wonderful bits of free wargame-boardgame goodness, you'll come to the Miniatures Section. Ah. Now here are a few intriguing things to lose a few hours in ... uh research, yeah. It's research.


Seeing as there are no entries starting with 'P,' how about we look at 5 randomly selected entries? No, we will not roll dice to pick them. What a bunch of geeks...no, instead we'll look for some stuff that just might be pertinent to the work we've been doing on our Seacrawl for the Sea of Os'r. Maybe we can find some fun stuff to supplement Labyrinth Lord for conducting some adventures and battles out on the High Seas...and we're still hammering away at our Airlord Supplement for Labyrinth Lord as well, so maybe we'll toss in a few air warfare games while we're at it...oooh tanks...

A Few Free Miniatures Wargame Rules at Web Grognard
  • Battlefleet is a wargame for Pre-Dreadnought sea battles around the 1890-1905 era. A little late in the game, era-wise for us at present, but it is an interesting site and as things develop, this will become more useful no doubt. Gunpowder and technology have a very different line of development in several of our settings, so the notion of running a Pre-Dreadnought naval battle with electrical-steamships and bomber-zeppelins could very well be in our immediate future, so this might be a handy reference/resource for us to develop that sort of thing...
  • Blue Max/Canvas Eagles looks impressive--but then WWI vintage aircraft have a certain flair and aesthetic appeal to them that is unique and wonderful. The earliest days of the very first combat aircraft are truly strange. They used to toss bricks at one another. Most of the first planes used in warfare didn't even carry guns because no one knew how that'd work out. Then they figured it out. The whole process of trial, error, pilot fatality, new pilot in a new plane, repeat was quite bizarre at times--and very inspirational for gaming purposes.
  • Combat Wings 12 o'clock takes things a bit farther with the aerial combat that starts in WWI, takes it into the Spanish Civil War and opens the door to all the other cool things that Capitan Games is doing. Interesting stuff. Available in Spanish as well as English.
  • Grognards & Grenadiers, a card-game/miniatures rules-set for Napoleonics that has one of the best names for an old school miniatures wargame that we've ever seen...
  • Or how about a happy-go-lucky 2-player game of cards & dice based on the Hundred Year's War?
  • John Bull, a miniatures game based on the War of 1812. This looks like fun, and it's closer to the sort of gunpowder warfare that we're interested in exploring a bit more in-depth.
  • Dwarfstar Games -- okay, this one is a bit of a departure, but if you read down this far, you deserve a nice prize--and this site is a very nice prize indeed. These folks are making the old small-box games put out in the very early Eighties by Heritage USA. These games were frikkin cool! You can learn more about them at the DwarfstarFAQ, or just go and download the games and see what you think. Let's see someone bring out something more along these lines as part of the whole OSR-thing. Maybe Raggi will notice this and get inspired. It seems like it would appeal to him...and that would be very, very cool. Just think what he'd do with this concept...
  • There's Eric Springelkamp's free Naval wargame that covers the 16th to the 19th Centuries in one minimalist set of rules. It looks spartan, at first, but there's a lot of detail packed into this document, and it'd be cool to see what the author might do in terms of expanding the rules back into the 10th-15th Centuries. A great deal of this could get ported over to just about any RPG as the tactical naval warfare sub-system...
  • Spanish Fury: Sail This looks very promising indeed. 16th Century sailing ships. There appear to be some other expansions/supplements such as This and This, and they are all free, so why not check it out--we certainly intend to do just that! Spanish Fury looks to be a complete set of rules for all forms of warfare in the 16th Century, so it might really be just what we are looking for to expand upon the Archipelago of Alavan and the like.
  • The there's Trench Storm, a set of 20mm WWI miniatures rules that handles a lot of the trench warfare sort of stuff that we want to expand upon in at least one of our settings--sorcery, psychic powers, gunpowder and weird beasts all make trenches a better defensive effort than abatis or flimsy walls...so they get a lot more developed during what amounts to the early days of gunpowder.
Those are all fun and interesting, and we may have found some stuff to help us further develop some of our current projects, but there's one Public Domain Wargame that really has made an impression on us--H. G. Wells' Little Wars.

Yeah. H. G. Wells. The Time Machine guy. He's going to be popping-up a bit more around here in the coming weeks, along with Machen, Bierce and Hodgson, amongst a few others. 

Little Wars is a literally the set of rules that H. G. Wells wrote back in 1913 for playing games with little toy-soldiers/army-men, ahem, Miniatures. This book grew out of Wells' previous effort along these lines called Floor Games. So, not only was Wells a visionary and a science fiction author, he was a wargamer. H. G. Wells was a miniatures enthusiast. A grognard by any other name--Wells was Old School more than sixty years before OD&D even got published.

But wait; it gets better.

Check out A Fistful of Tripods. Really. This is a set of rules for no less than Five different eras of Martian Invasion Miniatures Mayhem based on H. G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds, taking things from the original scenario to a rematch a couple of decades later, on through WWI-style, WWII-style and more Modern-style combat options. Fun stuff.

But there's more. The same folks have developed Tripods & Hussars. Yep. That's right. It's a quicker-playing version of the 1899 period Invasion from Mars pitting Nineteenth Century infantry, cavalry and artillery against the Tripods. 

If you want to build your own Tripod for miniatures gaming, check out this article. The guy uses an old computer mouse, some disposable razor-handles and a few other odds-and-end and makes a pretty spiffy-looking Tripod. (http://wargamerondeckca.blogspot.com/2006/09/martians-have-landed.html )

We've spotted a few more Tripods out there like This one and This one, but there don't seem to be too many other options available out there at the moment. But then we found this entry over at the Armchair General's blog for When the Navy Walked. We've been meaning to check that out ever since reading about it at Porky's Expanse. Well, now we have. You should take a look as well. When the Navy Walked is a 'Victorian & Edwardian Science Fiction Wargame in an Age of Steam.' And they are going to be doing Tripods. We like Tripods. Just watch out for the Red Weed...

Wonder how our Mucoids and their Tripods would fare against these newfangled ones? Or against John Christopher's Tripods?


  1. This is fantastic! Well done for finding them first of all, and thank you very much for putting them up here, and in full with links. More of that amazing OSH research. You do the work of a whole team of people, and who knows how.

  2. @Porky: Hope it comes in handy. We've been having fun examining some of these buried treasures of the internet. It's also good to not wake up in pain any more, that helps a great deal.

  3. Can't thank you enough for putting up all those links. Bookmarked!

  4. I have to say you've been knocking them out of the park this month (quite a recovery). Very useful set of links. Web Grognards was the first website that I really followed (back in the 90s).

    Perfect Captain is another longtime fave. The Spanish Fury series is wonderful, Seige plays out great in my experience.

  5. @scottsz: Thanks--there's bucket-loads more links at the Web Grognard's site, we just picked and chose stuff that seemed pertinent or useful to stuff we have going on right now.

    @ckutalik: Thank you. It's good to not wake up in pain any more. We have become a very big fan of Web Grognard's site and are going to make a graphical link to them over at the netherwerks hub-blog. Perfect Captain looks very interesting, especially after reading so many Richard Bolitho books. The Spanish Fury series looks like it might let us adapt it to some pretty gonzo high seas pulp adventure sieges and the like...


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