I was very pleasantly surprised to run across an interesting item last week while popping around on Amazon.com. On a lark, I searched for Fletcher Pratt as it turns out that I now longer have my copy of the 1973 edition of the naval wargame rules. Or as they were called back in the day, war game rules. It’s possible the rulebook is still back in my dad’s basement (outside of Chicago) but I highly doubt if I’d be able to get him to look for them so, for all intents and purposes, they’re lost. I thought maybe I’d run across the rules available used on Amazon and order them, if they weren’t outrageously expensive. What my search turned up on the other hand was pretty exciting. Or at least pretty exciting for someone who fondly remembers a good fifteen years of battling it out across the oceans of the world – as the many floors we played upon became in our imagination.
As of August 9th, 2011 author John Curry has put together 170 pages of naval gaming goodness which features not only the original rules Fletcher Pratt put together back in the 1930s but also unpublished amendments Pratt created for the game. There are also optional rules Pratt had agreed with, an unpublished strategic game, solo rules, updates as recommended by legendary wargamer Donald Featherstone, and loads more.
The Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame was one of the most successful naval wargames of the 20th century. The straightforward rules, based on the innovation of estimating the range in order to hit, have an enduring fascination as a simulation of the ‘big gun era’ 1900-1945. As a result of extensive research, this book brings together previously unpublished material into a comprehensive guide to these classic rules, including: The full rules, with previously unpublished amendments by Fletcher Pratt. Optional rules as agreed by Fletcher Pratt. The previously unpublished strategic game. Solo wargaming rules. Guidance on how to play the game. Updates for the rules as suggested by Donald Featherstone. A sample scenario by Fletcher Pratt, The Action off Murmansk. An in-depth evaluation of the rules versus naval reality featuring contributions from experts such as James Dunnigan, Commander Bothwell, Fletcher Pratt and Phil Barker.
I was so thrilled to see that this was available, I think it took me all three minutes to run and grab my credit card to place the order!
I just received the book in yesterday’s mail so you can expect a full blown review shortly. For those who have fond memories of playing Fletcher’s (as we called it) or looking to find out what all the fuss was about prior to WWII – keep in mind there were clubs all throughout the U.S. in which up to 60 people on a side spent evenings fighting it out across ballrooms while spectators cheered on the combatants and players could take breaks with refreshments at the bar – this is definitely something deserving of a peek.