Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The summer of '69

It's hard to believe 40 years have gone by. It's sort of a Biblical-sounding length of time. Does that make me a Methuselah?

In March of that year I bought a copy of Midway, and my friend Andy R. and I played it at least 6 or 7 times that spring time. I got into wargaming in the first place due to my interest in naval gaming, but naval gamers are definitely the smaller part of the wargaming crowd and my friend was no exception. It wasn't until I got my second wargame -- Stalingrad -- that I can say that my hobby really took off, because we played that game constantly all summer long. I still have the turn record chart from that era and it reflects dozens of games, nearly all of which were from that summer and fall.

Shortly after that the wargame collection began to grow with titles such as Guadalcanal, Waterloo, Afrika Korps, Jutland and 1914 and the number of plays for any one title dropped off a bit. I started subscribing to Strategy & Tactics in 1970 and the collection really took off.

But the real foundation for the hobby was laid in those summer days and nights in 1969 as my friend and I (and eventually his older brother) self-taught ourselves about wargames. It was a grand summer.


  1. Seth, I always look forward to your posts. I always wish I had been able to enjoy these games as a youth. Funny thing was back then I never knew they existed.
    I started war gaming about 2 years ago, and press my self for time to play constantly haha.
    For the first time in my life I am looking forward to retirement, so I can play war games. I just hope Ill be able to see the chits

  2. Did the Germans ever win any games of Stalingrad with the original replacement rate?

  3. Charles, being able to eye the pieces better is one of the reasons I like some of the newer games with figures, blocks and big counters!

    As far as Germans winning, they did quite often, although I won't claim we were on the cutting edge of play. It was all self-taught, as we didn't meet any other wargamers until later when there was a wargame convention at the Battleship Massachusetts.

    Our first games were almost Napoleonic in style. The rules allowed stacks of 3 units so we stacked everything 3-high! This lead to some massive, Waterloo style set-piece battles and Cannae-like encirclements on the Steppes.

    That phase came to an end when I did a little reading and found out that the historical campaign involved a continuous line. When I introduced that tactic in our next game it was quite revolutionary and our games were never the same.

  4. I love nostalgia posts.

    My 40 will be in 1975, when I was 12 and had a friend who was also interested in wargaming. My brother had left a copy of Anzio (the original, pretty much impossible for anyone younger than 12 to figure out without assistance) and my friend's dad had a copy of the original D-Day. That Christmas I got a copy of Panzer Leader and the family got it's first component stereo system, and I never looked back in either hobby (wargamer and musician). I still remember waiting patiently by the stereo for "Rock and Roll All Night" or "Convoy" to come on so I could tape them off the radio. That, and being utterly at sea with Panzer Leader. By the following year I had 15 wargames.

    Did I mention I love nostalgia posts?

    And my eyes are quickly catching up with yours, Seth. Even with the progressive lenses.