4 September 2013

Sad news for Wargamers: Don Featherstone Dies

Sad News for Wargamers

Donald Featherstone has died after a fall and a brief sick-bed. Was it not for him I would not be a gamer today.
One of the Godfathers of wargaming, he died at the age of 95.

If you play any wargame, you have been touched by this man's work, energy and passion - his "Skirmish Wargames" was one of the inspirations for Necromunda and he invented the saving throw.

He lived a full and productive life of considerable achievement. He went on the BBC TV in the 1960s & 70s to popularise wargaming as a hobby, at a time when it was virtually unknown.

His energy was such that he was still responding to letters from fans (always carefully typewritten and then signed) in 2013.

Today spare a thought for a pioneer of gaming and raise a glass in his honour.
To Donald Featherstone!


Donald F. Featherstone (born 20 March 1918) is a British author of more than forty books on wargaming and military history. He wrote classic texts on wargaming in the 1960s and 1970s.
Featherstone was born in London.

During the Second World War, Featherstone joined the Royal Armoured Corps; an account of his war experiences can be found in his book Lost Tales
Originally a physiotherapist,[Featherstone was first introduced to wargaming by reading HG Wells' Little Wars and his first opponent was Tony Bath in 1955. In 1960 the two of them began editing the UK version of the War Game Digest, a seminal wargaming newsletter started by Jack Scruby. Disapproving of a trend towards articles that were "attempting to spread an aura of pseudo-science over what is a pastime,"

Featherstone started his own periodical in 1962, the Wargamers' Newsletter. While in discussion late one night with Dr. Paddy Griffith (the well known military historian), Don had a Eureka moment when he came to realise that the hobby of wargaming could considerably aid understanding of military history .Featherstone appeared on the BBC to promote the hobby. In 1966 he organized the first UK wargames convention.

His extended bibliography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Featherstone_(wargamer)

I blogged on my own roots and introduction to wargames last year, using his rulesets, which are probably the basis of everything we use today, including FoW and WHFB:



  1. Sad news indeed, but he had had a wonderful innings! I wonder if he was struck down by that curse of the wargamer - he'd painted the last miniature in his lead pile! ;-)


  2. Apparently he was still wring letters to his fans up to June this year, carefully typed and signed. Not a bad innings at all! I have wondered what would become of my pile of shame if my number suddenly came up. All the ideas and dreams we carry in our heads for those piles of models we harbour!

  3. Oh, what a great shame.

    I have recently reread a couple of his books and purchased some more. Will have to raise a glass tonight.

    Farewell Don

  4. I counted the number of Featherstone publications on my bookshelves when I heard the news, 29 books. Then I realised the size of his contribution and of our loss. Well done DON, and thanks for the inspiration, we shall all miss you. STEVE