Large-Scale Wargaming – An Intro

Welcome to the Harold’s Rangers blog. I’m Jamie Delson, a life-long toy soldier collector and wargamer. My brother, Eric, introduced me to Avalon Hill board games, such as “Tactics II” and “Gettysburg”, when I was in grade school back in the 1950s. Up to that time I had been satisfied with setting up huge battles with 54mm toy soldiers on my floor. But playing the board games with Eric influenced me to stop throwing golf balls, darts and pencils at my soldiers in favor of trying to find a set of rules which would allow me to use soldiers, instead of cardboard counters, to play out games with my toys.

Over the next two decades I tried out rule sets by H.G. Wells, Donald Featherstone, Joseph Morschauser and the team of Brigadier Peter Young and Lt. Col. J.P. Lawford. Influenced by their works, I wrote my own set of rules for 54mm figures, which continued to be developed as they were played and replayed through high school, college and adulthood. But it wasn’t until the 1980s, when I met Armand van Ingen and John Monteith, that the  full rules of “Harold’s Rangers” were developed.

Since then, I, along with Monteith, van Ingen and David Dougherty, plus scores of fellow hobbyists,  have been playing an ongoing series of games. I titled the game “Harold’s Rangers” after the ill-fated English King, Harold Godwinson, who is the leader of my own forces. He, and many other characters in the game, such as John Nicholson, are real historical figures, but our armies also include fictional characters such as Richard Sharpe, Sergeant Harper and Suzie the Samurai.

This blog offers me a chance to share the saga of our 30-year gaming history. “Harold’s Rangers” is as much a series of stories, or movies, as a game. Each time we play we add a new chapter which can be viewed and re-viewed in the many photos we have taken of every game, and I and my friends hope to recount our adventures for your enjoyment. By wandering the site, you will also find articles I have written about the hobby, practical advice and how-to documents on painting, animating and collecting, and much more.

My day job is running The Toy Soldier Company with my wife, Jenny. We sell plastic and metal toy soldiers, in scales from HO to 70mm, through our website and print catalogs. My aim is keep the focus of this blog on fun, not work, but as the two are inextricably linked in my life I will apologize if commerce rears its ugly head from time to time.

I have been a professional writer, of screenplays and newspaper and magazine articles, for 40 years. But this format is new to me,  so please bear with me as I feel my way through this new adventure. I welcome your comments and look forward to sharing my passion for this hobby with you.

11 responses to “Large-Scale Wargaming – An Intro

  1. Jacques Buffault

    tears fill my eyes trying to relive those moments of near death ( and actual death) of the exilarating fights with them bad guys over and over again. There is no way to describe the feelings of going into combat with your fellow adventurers unless you had been there.
    more more o teller of tales of Harold Rangers!
    please do not hesitate or falter, but recount those epic stories of Heroes we all cherish


  2. Loved reading this, Jamie. Looking forward to see/read more!


  3. Brian Boru High King Of Ireland

    Me Heart swells when I think of all the times I rode into battle at Harold’s side with me Kin and Clan. Tis the Stuff of Poems, Legends, and Major High Bugeted Epic Films!
    Éirinn go Brách!


  4. Brian Kniskern

    I started just about the same way you did but turned into a die hard board gamer. About seven years ago I found my “roots” and began holding battles with toy soldiers. There is no turning back now!! Love your company and your blog!!


  5. Roland Joseph Bonham Long

    This is fantastic. Been hoping something like this would pop up sooner or later and, well, now it has. Can’t wait to read/see more!


  6. Brian Lee Hardy

    I have hundreds of friends, but they are all 54mm tall and plastic. I am really looking forward to following and learning from this blog. Keep up the good work.


  7. Great to see you up and running. I look forward to all of your reports.
    How long has it been? It must be 30 years since I first showed up at you Riverside Apt door. Best of luck,,,,Bill


  8. Field Marshall Randyheim

    Ive tried other hobbies-rc stuff, ho trains, etc. I must say that 54mm toy soldiers keep pulling me back….Keep up the great work jamie et al. I look forward to following this blog


  9. Jamie, I loved the photos. Your conversions are very interesting and the scen with the massed soldiers and ladders is awesome – reminds me of the Indian Mutiny.


  10. Thanks for starting this blog. The color pictures are very nice, especially the top two. You might consider putting those, and similar pix, on your Toy Soldier Co. website. The latter is one of the better toy soldier commercial sites out there, and I especially appreciate the color pix of the various sets, but a few pix like the ones above sprinkled around the home page, would visually communicate better than the current pic (tiny figures, trees, etc.)


  11. I’m a novice to this hobby and look forward to any tips you share. I too
    loved toy soldiers as a boy and also played avalon hill board war games.
    I seem to remember always hearing about gaming with toy soldiers and was always interested in trying it but could never find any hard information on
    how it was done. I’d love any tips you could share on painting etc.
    Thanks… and keep up the good work.


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