Prev: Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes Next: Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes

Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes

From: Allan Goodall <agoodall@h...>
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2010 16:08:28 -0500
Subject: Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes

Gzg-l mailing list Tue, Aug 31,
2010 at 11:10 PM, Tom B <> wrote:

> My first experiences in this line were with some games I'd have to go
> 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.

Nope. Air War was SPI.

> I had fun with some of those games, back int he day when all you could
> in the local hobby store was some early Grenadier D&D minis (like the
> 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
> games.

3rd Reich was AH. I had a copy. Tried to play it solitaire a few times,
never completed a game. They came out with an advanced version in the

My first AH game I received when I turned 13. It was *Panzer Leader*. I
still have it, along with the 1940 add-on that I mail ordered for. I
up a used copy of *Panerblitz* about 8 years later (even though it
PL by about 3 years).

I still haul *PL *out every now and again, usually as a nostalgia thing.
There are no command and control rules to speak of, but it still plays
reasonably well. There's a Canadian scenario that's a bitch to win as

> Contrast this with the chit-pusher zones. Each table was two
> older men) battling it out in one-on-one style combat over a board
> chits. Their focus was intense, like chess masters. They also radiated
> casual antipathy for anyone that might distract them from their focus,
> quiet spectators. The whole place had a combative, bitter feel to it.
It was
> quiet, but just radiated a vastly anti-social vibe.
At GenCon, I didn't see many miniatures events being played. I remember
decade ago we had something like 24 GZG events with games running in the
evening. Not so these days. Most of the miniatures games seemed to be
like *Dust Tactics*, with pretty figures and introductory rules. (Not
there's anything wrong with that, if that's what you're into.)

On the board game side, I didn't see very many wargames. In fact, I
recall seeing any "chit" wargames at GenCon at all. I saw *Diplomacy*,
of Iron*, *Memoir '44 *and *Battlelore* (the last three could almost be
miniatures games) but no hardcore wargames. The rest were generally
Eurogames (*Settlers* and the like) or Fantasy Flight (*Death Angel,
Twilight Imperium*).

Interestingly, the gamers were all pretty positive about their games and
happy when someone stopped by to ask questions. The ones who looked like
they were having the most fun, though, were the folks playing on the
dozen or so Crokinole boards that were available in the "board game

> Chit-games tended to have more rigid rules with stodgy layout and
> 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!
Worse, go back and read some of the SPI rules. *shudder*

AH's rules started off not bad. Read *Panzer Leader*, *Richthofen's War*
*Luftwaffe*. They aren't hard to read. By the late 70s that had changed.
rule book for *Magic Realm* was so bad they ended up releasing a redone
rulebook. I still shake a little at the prospect of reading the first
sections of *Gunslinger* or *Up Front*, and neither are particularly
difficult games.

Last weekend we played our first game of the *Great Campaigns of the
American Civil War *series (these were AH games prior to the Hasbro
now Multi-Man Publishing). 24 pages of rules, which is huge for me these
days. However, they didn't seem all that bad. Certainly not what I

Now, compare that to the game I'm learning right now, *Combat Commander*
GMT. Full colour rule book with plenty of examples and lots of pictures
break up the text. It looks more like a Eurogame rule book than a

One thing I hated about the GCACW Standard Rules was a lack of an index.
WTF??? Luckily, you can download them for free. I resorted to doing a
of the PDF.

Free downloadable rules are a huge benefit. Both of us were able to
the rules simultaneously, and I had a copy printed off so both of us had
rule book during play.

> There is no one on your team. Win or lose, you are the only one to
> And there isn't a lot to look at, so there isn't even an aesthete's
joy of
> miniatures gaming.

While true of most chit games, not true of all of them. One of the
that makes the old *Gunslinger* game a classic is that it's multi-player
most scenarios are over in 45 minutes (or less).

And some of the more recent games are very pretty. The GCACW maps are
of the best ever produced or a wargame. The chits in *Combat Commander*
very attractive, coupled to good looking maps. *CC *is a card game,
primarily, and the cards are full colour and appealing.

> 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
AH had a number of non-wargames, though, that are classics. One of the
reasons Hasbro bought AH was to get *Acquire*, the AH "business" game.
of course, there's *Civilization* and *Advanced Civilization* that
Sid Meir and a whole computer game series.

I don't recall the AH games being altogether clunky, at least not the
that I still have. The pre-mid 70s games were pretty lean, rules wise.
two favourites (the aforementioned *Gunslinger* and *Up Front)* played
better than they read.

By around 1982, AH was starting to experiment with better rules
presentations. *FirePower*'s basic mechanics are taught on 4 pages. The
advanced rules are in a bigger book, but you could cherry pick the
They used the same approach in several games in that era.

SPI, on the other hand, oh boy...

> Q: Anyone know where the name Avalon Hill came from? I admit to being
> curious.
One of Indy's links explains it.


Allan Goodall

Prev: Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes Next: Re: [GZG] Game designer Charles S Roberts passes