The War Game - Inventions


Below is a chronology of the amazing (and not-so-amazing) strategies, equipment, and innovations created by both armies during 100 years of playing the War Game.

1912 - The first War Game requires the Blue and Gray armies to “bring back detailed information as to the width and strength of bridges, the ability of the countryside to support troops and their horses, and plans for defending the towns.”  Actual combat happens the following year.

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1916 - War Game relocates exclusively to Mercer. White flag areas are in place. Red Flag Areas are soon added to roads, creating new zones of play.

1915 - Both armies learn to ply the pilot of Sandy River Ferry (aka “Davis Ferry”) with whisky to get preferential treatment for transporting their soldiers.

1955 - Tanks are invented by Bucky Scheiffelin, which conceal Gates so attackers cannot see whether they are plugged or weak.  Tanks are used by both armies in the years following, but are banned after 1958.

Late 1950s - Monte Ball purchases a field telephone set, only to discover it does not work.  The Gray Army pretends to use it anyway, emerging victorious over the demoralized Blues.

1959 - Stoney Cole invents “Callers,” senior campers assigned to irritate and harass Gateleaders.  He also dispenses compressed air horns to his Callers.  The next year Chick Albers (?) tries to recreate the effect, but the air canisters are the wrong size for the horns.

1961 - When the War Game moves to Fogg’s Forks, Breaches are added to the game.  These are breaks in the Town Line where attackers may gain scoring points, but not challenge points. 

1969 - Multigate Squadron systems are introduced.

Early 1970s - The great noisemakers are introduced.  S1 and S2 are hand-cranked air raid sirens use
d by the Grays; both succumb to mechanical problems in a few years. The subtle but psychosis-inducing rudder used by many Gray Callers emerges (ultimately destroyed in the fire of 1995).   Medusa, the great bell of the Blues, is still in use today.  

1976 - The King’s X, a signaling device attached to a large wood scaffolding, is built by the Blues at York’s Crossing. 

Early 1900s - A small camper hides in a baby carriage and pushed into a Gate by a counselor dressed as his mother.

1983 - Blue Gateleader Margaret Hungerford breaks the gender barrier.

1986 - The Ivory Towers of Power (giant megaphones requiring support racks) allow Blues to communicate between gates.

Late 1980s - “Jumping” players to score points one at a time is outlawed.

1989 or 1990 - The camp season is shortened to 6 weeks, and War Game practice is cut back to one day.

2000 - Bill Nagler creates perch box seats to replace the ‘pit and the pendulum’ system

2005 - Lindsay Clarke is the first female General.

1978 - The perch scaffolding at York’s Crossing breaks, hurling Gene Brown into the foul pit. 

1979 - Instead of a full day of attack and defense for each army, the alternating attack-defend quarter system is adopted.

Early 1980s - General’s Orderlies start using bikes for rapid transport, and the first permanent Red Flag Scouts are used.

2012 - Blue Flag areas are proposed for NW and SE Gates.

Early 1970s - SHIMOFU, a giant tactical battle map, is created by Mike Monahan for the Grays. 

1970 - Rex Bates prints thousands of pro-gray stickers.  “Smile, it’s a Gray Day” becomes semi-iconic.

1996-97 - Blue General Chris Comer gives declaration speech using actual roadkill (porcupine, opossum) to illustrate Gray Army character flaws.

1977 - Northwest and Southeast Breaches are converted to Gates, but with Red Flag areas only.