Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is The Longest Day Play-AARP-able?

I recently hauled out my copy of The Longest Day, as I do from time-to-time. As a classic "monster game" from the 1970s/80s there's a pretty high entry bar for getting a game in due to the time and number of players involved.
But perusing it I realized that the entry bar may be even higher now, because I could no longer make out some of the tiny print bearing historical information on the counters with my bifocal-aided eyes. My first thought was "gee, if I get to play this again I'm going to need to have a magnifying glass on hand."
But reflecting on it further, I realized that a number of aspects of the game may soon render it ever realistically playable again for me.
It was, after all, designed by a young (at the time) man to be played by a group of other young men with a considerable amount of time on their hands, as well as the dexterity to handle masses of closely stacked cardboard counters, limber enough to reach across a large table and with sharp enough vision to read tiny print and symbols. Much of the fine print is purely historical information, but some of it does have game effect.
I wonder how much of this aging of the grognards may be affecting the presentation and design choices of recent games. Many newer hex-and-counter wargames have moved to bigger counters for example, Figure-based and block games also are generally easier to handle than stacks of half-inch counters.
Long ago I had clipped the counters of my copy of The Longest Day, something I rarely do, because even back then there were too many finger fumbles. While always a risk in a hex-and-counter wargame, a finger fumble that would be a minor annoyance in a regular sized game can turn into a disaster in a monster game where it's just not possible to remember where everything was.
So now I have to consider whether or not I'll ever get a chance to play out that Normandy invasion one more time. And if not, what does this imply for other, similar games in my collection?
Or yours, perhaps?


  1. Owen, my group has the same issue. Having just scored a copy of TLD, we realize we better play it soon!

    I am beginning to wonder if I don't finally need to go ahead and get Lasik surgery...

    Anyway, the most senior of our group has THREE different power sets of reading glasses, we have a table mounted mag lamp, and magnifiers!

  2. I may have to break down and get some of those reading glasses, too! Good idea.

  3. I think the glossy counters are to blame - we have that problem with The Russian Campaign also. The SPI matte counters are easier on the eyes. Thus, we rarely play our AH games anymore, and play more SPI games. It may be worth doing a counter re-design and reprinting them!