Monday, October 16, 2023

Games From My Past

I admit that I was a weird kid.  In senior high school I was poor, had no car, and was thus severely handicapped in the dating game.  What I had was a love of military history, a small income from summer jobs, and an older friend, David, son of my parents’ friends, who introduced me to paper war-games.    Thus I had a subscription to SPI’s house organ, Strategy and Tactics, and an opponent who was happy to beat up on me on evenings when I should have been learning calculus (I never did).   To this day, old hex and counter war-games, especially SPI titles and their distinct, slightly musty smell, are a Proustian gateway to the late 1970s.

Thus it was with great happiness that I discovered via Twitter a fellow who was selling off a considerable stock of old paper war-games.   I took a bit of a risk in sending him money (I won’t disclose the sum but, while considerable, it was very fair) and then waited while the promised games were boxed.  Once I got a legit tracking number, I figured he was a decent chap, and sure enough a box arrived last week, a sort of time capsule of SPI at the height of its powers in the late 1970s.

Two of these games are well known to me.  I played Empires of the Middle Ages a lot in undergraduate days, and it probably cemented my desire to do graduate work in medieval studies.   SPI’s Middle Earth trilogy was likewise something that I played, a LOT, though sadly I sold both titles during a period of youthful poverty.

The other two titles are ones I’ve wanted for a long time.  Art of Siege features four famous sieges from Alexander’s siege to Tyre to Lille and Sevastapol in the gunpowder era.   Never played, long wanted.  Likewise, Campaign for North Africa is the Mount Everest of paper monster games.    It has a legendary aura, as a ludicrously complex, unplayable white elephant, but as someone who once played Avalon Hill’s Africa Corps, it represents the extreme other end of the complexity scale from that legendary AH game.  Will I play CNA?  Maybe.   Maybe I’ll die with it on the shelf. But I had to have it.

Did I say that these four games were unpunched?

Blessings to your die rolls.


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