The Wargaming Urge

Wargames were my doorway into gaming. Not this Warhammer crap that passes as such these days, or even the historcal minis, but the old school, counter-and-hexgrid wagames in the style of SPI and Avalon Hill.

This kind of wargame has seen better days. SPI got itself seized by TSR, Avalon Hill sold out to Hasbro, and waves of RPGs, CCGs, EuroGames and video games have all taken their toll. What’s left is a tiny nubbin of what used to be.

But what’s left is not nothing. There are still a few companies turning out cool and even remarkable games. Which maybe aren’t the same kind of games we would have seen ten or twenty years ago, but one could make an argument that the EuroGames trend in particular has had a big impact.

Thinking about this lately has encouraged me to go through my very small stock of remaining war (and related) games. I no longer own anything from SPI, thanks to many years of selloffs and the water damage that claimed my copy of the StarForce Trilogy. A lot of my Avalon Hill stuff is similarly gone. And my GDW titles, except for the science fiction ones that I still have as part of my Traveller collection. Truth be told, I’m not sure where half of this stuff went.

But from Avalon Hill I still own Titan, Advanced Civilization and Republic of Rome, a particular favorite. I still own World in Flames and a bunch of the addons (but I forget which ones, and everything is mixed together.) I still have the first several Panzer Grenadier items from Avalanche, and that’s a damn fine game. West End Games’ Imperium Romanum II will leave my collection only when pried from my cold, dead hands.

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And I have a stack of GMT titles, not all of which are even old; they were the one company that I still kept up with a bit as I’ve drifted out of wargaming for the last ten years or so. Those guys are doing some great things even today, especially in eras that have seldom been touched by wargame designers, like the (pictured) Onward Christian Soldiers, an operational-level game about the first three Crusades. Oddly enough I lack of interest in anything they do with World War II or the American Civil War, two of the three traditionally most fertile eras for wargaming, but the third is Napoleonic era, in which is set their impressive-looking (but unplayed by me) The Napoleonic Wars. They also did a couple of really nice and very out of print operational-level Roman Republic games which I have played and adore.

I’m in the middle of an itch to do some of this stuff again. I opened up Onward Christian Soldiers yesterday and finished punching, clipping and organizing it so that it’s finally ready to play. Which I may or may not get the chance to do soon. There’s a local club but I’ve lived here for four years and have yet to make it to a meeting. There’s also Origins in less than a month, a show I’ll be attending and maybe even blogging from. So maybe there’ll be a chance to push some cardboard counters around then.

2 responses to “The Wargaming Urge

  1. I have very fond memories of getting a new issue of Strategy & Tactics in the mail (or, on alternate months, Moves). I had nothing like a local game shop so it was all mail-order, which had its own (parental) challenges but I think on some level my mom understood I was learning some history so she was willing to facilitate turning my grass-cutting money into an S&T sub via her checkbook.

    I never had a living opponent so I’d make up elaborate rules to simulate one using die rolls. :-)

  2. I have fond memories of past summers sitting in my garage from sun up to sun down playing PnP rpg’s and various boardgames and wargames. I still own Panzer Leader and Panzer Blitz, they sit on my bookshelf in their awesome boxes.