Monday, 1 December 2014


Another blast from my wargaming past. These pictures were taken at 'Campaign' in Milton Keynes on May 23rd 2004. They are from The Staines Wargamers' 'Thunderball' paticipation game, which is based on the big fight at the end of the Bond film of the same name. The figures are plastic toy divers, with the sharks and octopus from the same source. The sleds and mini-sub were scratchbuilt, and the Vulcan bomber is a 1/72nd scale kit from Airfix.

SPECTRE ready for the off. Each side consisted of three groups, corresponding to up to three players. SPECTRE had two groups of divers, and one mini-sub, escorted by a couple of divers with sleds.

The Forces of Good - Navy divers on their start-line. The Navy had three groups of four divers. On both sides each diver was armed with a single-shot spear-gun, and a knife for close combat. The sleds each had two spear-guns, and the mini-sub had four. These could be fired individually, or as a volley.

SPECTRE Divers swimming past the stolen Vulcan bomber, hidden under its camouflage netting.

The two forces advance towards each other. The greenery is made from plastic aquarium plants.

SPECTRE advances. Their aim was to get the mini-sub, carrying two atomic bombs taken from the Vulcan, off the opposite board-edge.

Most games developed into a battle around the mini-sub. Divers could be killed, or just wounded. If wounded, they bled. And the blood attracted sharks. Sharks would home in on the nearest wounded figure, so there was always some tactical positional play designed to lure them in enemy divers.

In this picture two players advance the Navy divers according to a cunning plan. In the foreground can be seen the Bucket of Blood and some sharks waiting to be attracted by it.

A shark swims towards the Vulcan bomber whilst one of SPECTRE's younger members moved some divers. Behind him can be seen trade-stands, stretching away into the distance. We took this game to a few shows during the year, including Salute and Valhalla.

The shark is on the playing cards used to randomly determine the order in which the groups acted during the turn. Bottom right can see the fluffy white cat, which the person adjudicating the game was allowed to stroke in a suitably villainous manner. At Salute we were put in a room with a big black swivel chair as well, so most club members involved in thh game got to discover their inner Blofeld.

Here's the mini-sub under attack again. This time the fight has disturbed a giant octopus from its lair. The octopus was secretly positioned somewhere on the board, and emerged when a diver, sub or sled passed too close to where it lurked.

Whilst the spear-guns hit or missed according to a die-roll, hand-to-hand combat was adjudicated by a round of scissors-paper-stone.

There one thing you'll notice is missing from the game - James Bond. Although we had a figure for him, he was never used. Early on we realised that he would just attract too much attention from the opposition, shifting the focus of the game, and distracting people from the actual objective. So he was left out.

Whilst the divers and subs were limited in their application elsewhere, the board saw later use in 20mm WWII Western Desert games, whilst the shrubbery appeared as jungle from time to time.


  1. This looks like it was a lot of fun. I read that you used basic rules for the game, could you post what and how the rules were used. For example cards for movement, the shark movement, how far can one swim etc...

  2. Magnificent! Love the bucket of blood, great name for a bar. Thunderball was a favourite movie even though it didn't get good reviews. I had/have two jigsaws from the movie and one is the underwater fight.

    Thanks for posting.

  3. Very cool idea for a game, and very well executed! I would wager this drew considerable attention, and sounds like it would be a really fun beer and pretzels game!

  4. Fantastic, Kap'n! Always wanted to game that fight. Best Bond movie ever IMHO. One of the most evocative soundtracks of all time -- it sounds like you're under water.
    Thanks for sharing this. I second the request for any rules information still extant.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...