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Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes

From: "Michael Brown" <mwsaber6@m...>
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2010 14:37:30 -0600
Subject: Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes

Gzg-l mailing list"Roberts named
the company after the town where he was living at that time: Avalon, in

Michael Brown

From: Tom B 
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 10:10 PM
Subject: Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes

My first experiences in this line were with some games I'd have to go
look in my closet at the folks place even to name now. I now Air War
figured into the mix and I think it was AH. I had fun with some of those
games, back int he day when all you could find in the local hobby store
was some early Grenadier D&D minis (like the fat knight in plate mail
and the peasant with padded armour and a pole arm - how useful for
dungeoneering....). I recall 3rd Reich as well, always wishing I had
secured a copy. AH and SPI did a lot of good work with these sorts of

On the other hand, I recently walked through the boardgame section at
Origins. It was an amazing contrast to the miniature games areas and
illustrated why I now prefer the latter and eschew the former. 

The miniatures games were hosted by people who were enthused to have
people see their games. They were enthused to have new people
participate or spectate and ask questions. They were welcoming and the
games all seemed to have a social atmosphere. 

Contrast this with the chit-pusher zones. Each table was two (generally
older men) battling it out in one-on-one style combat over a board with
chits. Their focus was intense, like chess masters. They also radiated a
casual antipathy for anyone that might distract them from their focus,
even quiet spectators. The whole place had a combative, bitter feel to
it. It was quiet, but just radiated a vastly anti-social vibe. 

At least that was my experience of it. I felt unwelcome and intrustive,
like some sort of pest, even without voicing a single question. The
complete ignoring of anyone not in their games short of an occasional
tense look convinced me this was not the sort of environment I'd enjoy
spending much time in. 

Miniatures games with teams on each side are inherently social - they
involve dice most of the time (fickle and treacherous) and have team
dynamics. They also have a visual element that everyone can appreciate,
even those receiving a brutal drubbbing at the hands of the other side. 

Chit-games tended to have more rigid rules with stodgy layout and formal
grammar. Have you went back and read any old AH game rules and compared
them to rules from a modern board-based wargame? No comparison!

And chit games are litterally a game of one-upmanship - two men, locked
in combat with rules that tend more towards chess for tactical
complexity than to the chaos of dice. There is no one on your team. Win
or lose, you are the only one to blame. And there isn't a lot to look
at, so there isn't even an aesthete's joy of miniatures gaming. 

Yes, I started back in "Basic D&D" or "Blackmoor" (the little book) and
in AH wargames. But that age is passed and I don't regret it. The few
times we do hall out the old games, we recall how clunky the mechanics
are (even for group games) and how far games design has come (or tastes
have evolved). 


Q: Anyone know where the name Avalon Hill came from? I admit to being

Thanks for the post Indy.



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