Wednesday, September 9, 2015

OMOG 19C - Toy Soldier Skirmish Game for the 19th Century (American Civil War, Colonial Wars, etc.)

For those of us of a certain age, 19th Century toy soldiering was a lot of fun. Around the one Hundredth Anniversary of the Civil War, there was great interest in the War Between the States. The toy makers responded by making Civil War soldiers and playsets. As for school, there was extra attention on the history of the war and its heroes. We learned about people such as General Grant, "Uncle Billy" Sherman, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Our lessons taught us about places like Bull Run, Vicksburg, Antietam and Gettysburg. Boys our age could play out the battles with bags of blue and grey soldiers. Fifty-plus years ago, we all had them.

Civil War toy soldiers could be an icebreaker. I remember when a family from North Carolina moved into our neighborhood. The boys were walking about the block when they came upon us playing with Civil War soldiers. "We have then too! If we get ours, can we play?" asked one of the boys. Soon our new friends were on the porch with us, setting up Civil War soldiers. The irony is that the same War that had our ancestors shooting at their ancestors was the thing that turned strangers to friends.

For boys in the early 1960s, all we knew of the Civil War was Blue and Gray. We did not have Zouaves or troops in Sharpshooter Green and Butternut. Most manufacturers had one set of poses that they would cast in two different colors. Lido, Tim Mee and MPC soldiers were like that. Most companies also made wagons and cannons with spoked wheels. Tim Mee merely took their green 20th Century type howitzer and fitted it with red spoked wheels., We were not all that concerned over such things. We just wanted to have fun.

Another genre we enjoyed was the Wild West. We had Cowboys, Indians and Cavalrymen. These were based more on television shows and movies about the West than the actual history of the West itself. Back when we were boys, the Wild West was very popular. Every little boy had a six-gun cap pistol and little cowboy hat.

Over the years, I had learned of other conflicts in that era from 1850 to 1900. The Crimean War pitted England, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia. The reality is that the war was a dark comedy of errors leading to combat casualties and even greater numbers of dead from diseases.

There were wars between Prussia and Austria, France and Austria, and Prussia versus Denmark in the years immediately following our Civil War. France and England were also involved in wars in their colonies and abroad. Among these were French adventures in North Africa and Indochina, British campaigns in Egypt, Sudan, South African and India, and joint forays into China. For boys in the United States, the one small part of all these conflicts was represented by toy Foreign Legionnaires ane Arabs. Lido and Marx made toy soldiers for the US Market, spurred on by a popular children’s television series about Captain Gallant of the French Foreign Legion.

For the US, the era ended with a war against Spain and combat in the Philippines. Britain had its Boer Wars and Germany clashed with its colonial subjects in its Sudwest Afrika territory (Today’s Namibia) Japan had its first modern war against China from 1894 to 1895. France faced troubles in its North African territories. Russia and Turkey continued to spar over the Balkans.

I took the basic OMOG combat system and tried to adapt it to the kind of warfare prevalent from 1850 to 1900. This was the era when rifles supplanted muskets. It was also a time of colonial-type conflict in Asia, Africa and the American West. Crude, early machine-guns were making their way into the battlefield as was better artillery. This is ideal for the skirmish gamer. He has a wide variety of armies from which to choose. OMOG can be used for many of them. It would work well for American, European, British, Egyptian and Indian forces. I hope to develop a more comprehensive Colonial Supplement one day to address such armies as the Zulu, Chinese Boxers, Sudanese dervishes, and so forth.

Right now, OMOG 19c Basic is ready to go. Give it a try. Tell me how you like it and what corrections you think need to be made. You can get your copies here:

For Civil War and most other soldiers of the era 1850 to 1900, click here for Toy Soldiers Depot

For Cowboys and Indians, a nice set for skirmish games can be found here: Victory Buy


  1. What about new technologies such as the Lyddite shell?

  2. For a basic game of squad-level action with very light artillery, it only adds complexity. Considerations like picric munitions would be more apporpriate in more complex games. Of course, if you and your friends want to add it when you play, go ahead. Your only change might be a wider blast circle for using those munitions. Keep in mind that too much firepower can adversely affect a squad-level game like OMOG. It is a game and must balance between historical reality and playability.

  3. I think this wonderful essayvshould be expanded and separated by conflict and genre. Three shorter blogs might be more engaging to the General Public!