Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tactics, 25th anniversary edition 25 years later

There are few games published that are never meant to be played. Quite a few are published that end up not getting played much, for various reasons, but generally the publisher's hope is that the game will be played some.
One notable exception, however, was the 1983 edition of Tactics, which was published as a commerative by The old Avalon Hill Game Company. It was a reprent of the very first published Chareles Roberts Wargame, Tactics, although with a different board. The board in the 25th anniverasry editon was an unpublished prototype of the orginal Tactics game board. I believe that the board seen in Tactics II was the same board as used in the original Tactics.
The most notable aspect of the game was the 25th Anniversary booklet, which was a company history for Avalon Hill. Unfortunately the company never saw its 50th anniverasry, being long since swallowed up by Hasbro and now just a brand name.
Still, for those of us who started with AH, it's nice to look at how it all started.
Like looking at a stone axe, or perhaps a Model T Ford, it's hard to imagine that people even managed to use the thing, when you look at it now.
Key concepts are completely unexplained. For example, the game end when you occupy all the enemy cities, but it doesn't explain exactly what that means. The players will have to figure that out for themselves.
The game pieces are extremely plain, just numbers and abbreviations. No graphic element at all. Not even the NATO symbols we associate with AH/SPI wargames.
There are no movement factors, Instead, each army has a Basic Turn Allowance of 30 to split between all its units. One unit could move 30, or 30 units move one square or anything in-between. Oh yes, squares. It will not surprise grognards, but slightly younger wargamers may not know that the first wargames used squares rather than hexes.
There's an army organization provided, and players are urged to keep their corps organized in some fashion, but exactly how all that is supposed to work is also left to the players.
The classic AH 3-1 CRT makes its first appearance, albeit in a primitive form. The famous D-Elim appears only in the 1-1 column. Otherwise it's just "1 Elim."
All in all, the game is simply unplayable by current standards. But it is interesting as an artifact.

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