Steven’s Rules 1971 – Wargaming Rules for a Seven Year Old

Last year my (then) seven year old daughter asked me to explain wargaming to her. This made me recall “Steven’s Rules” – a set of wargaming rules that my father published in Slingshot back in 1971. This is a very simple set of rules that a seven year old boy (me) could play with his Airfix plastic Ancient Britons and Romans. If you’ve got a seven year old boy around the house you might find these useful.

Airfix Ancient Britons - David Pickering
Airfix Ancient Britons
Source: David Pickering

I was born with wargaming in my blood. My father, Gary Thomas, was a founding member of the wargaming community in New Zealand, sculpted and cast his own figures, and subscribed to “Slingshot – Official Journal of the Society of Ancients” from day one. So I couldn’t avoid being a wargamer.

To encourage me, or perhaps corrupt me permanently, Gary wrote the following set of rules.


by Gary Thomas (N.Z.)

My seven year old son has been pestering me for a set of rules which he can read and understand himself. Eventually I succumbed and wrote some. They are reproduced below for other people I suppose might have the same problem. Battles fought under the rules (which could fit any period) tend to be fire fights rather than close combats.

Here are the rules:

For moving

  • You move one after the other, and after you move you can fire each man before the other side moves.
  • For footmen use the short stick (six inches long).
  • For horsemen use the medium stick (twelve inches long).

For shooting

  • If the man you want to shoot is closer than the length of the long stick (eighteen inches) you can shoot at him. Throw a dice. If it is a six he is killed. Each man can only shoot once each turn. When a footman is behind something you can’t shoot at him.

For fighting

  • If a man is close up to an enemy, they can have a fight. If they are both footmen or both horsemen, they throw one dice each and the man with the smallest number on his dice is killed. If it is a draw (with the same number each) nobody is killed that time.
  • Sometimes it might be two onto one. Then the two men throw two dice and the one man throws one dice. If the one man has the highest score, one of the two men is killed. If either of the two men has the highest score the single man is killed. If the single man has the same score as the highest of the two men, nobody is killed.
  • If a footman fights a horseman, the footman throws one dice and the horseman two. The horseman then takes away his smallest dice, the one who has the smallest score left is killed. If they are equal nobody is killed.
  • If two footmen fight one horseman, pretend that the two footmen are really one horseman, and use the one onto one rules. If the two footmen lose, they are killed.
  • If one footman fights two horsemen, the footman is always killed.
  • If there are more than two onto one, the others do not count.

Footnote: The original had die as the singular of dice, but this tended to raise difficult philosophical problems in explanation


Thomas, G. (1971, September). Steven’s Rules. Slingshot – Official Journal of the Society of Ancients, 37, p. 30-31.

3 thoughts on “Steven’s Rules 1971 – Wargaming Rules for a Seven Year Old”

  1. Thanks a lot Steven,

    It happens that I have two kids here, one is just ten year old and the second is seven. And they do play wargames with our miniatures. They have begun to paint their own armies (Normans to replay your TSK scenario and Caesarian Romans “because they win”.

    Regards from Paris

    Jean-Michel Vray

  2. I did the same for my then 5 year old Grandson using his 54mm plastic ACW figures. If target in open a 5,6 was a “kill”, if in cover it took a 6. The movement was marked on a yardstick with a drawing of the unit for ea. length on one side the ranges similarly on the other side of the yardstick. He attended his first Historicon at age 7 and now has his own blog at age 24(Though new Girl friend has slowed down the blogging!!) at


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