Monday, May 21, 2012

Failed Business Plan #29,437

Back before you kids and your Age of Empires on the fancy computin' machines, wargames used to be played with paper maps and little cardboard counters. The trick was to have someplace where you could set up a decent-sized game for six or eight hours where Mittens the cat wouldn't wipe out Army Group Center or the 6th Fleet wouldn't get washed into the poker chip well by a beer tsunami.

I always thought it would be cool to have a place that rented out a table, in a concrete-walled room decorated in a sort of cross between Early Maginot and bunquere moderne. For added verisimilitude, you could have some subwoofers that would shake the ceiling and cause the light fixture to sway and some concrete dust to drift down every so often, like the Hun artillery had just scored a near miss or Harris's Lancasters were overhead for their nightly visit...

39 comments:

Nathan said...

Hmm, I'll pass that along to my buddy who owns a gaming store out in Oaklandon... :)

Woodman said...

Used to be one at 71st and Keystone. They even had games you could rent there. It was a pretty primitive set up with concrete walls and institutional paint, so it sort of looked like a bunker anyway.

It's that two story building behind the best evar Sushi joint.

I went there a few times while it was open, late 80's. Grognard heaven, but it didn't last too long.

Joe in PNG said...

Now if one could arrange something that would sway the room while my destroyers cover the retreat of my battlecruisers...

Joseph said...

Sounds like there needs to be a blogger/wargamer meetup sometime. I've got enough US GI & Wermacht along with Shermans and MkIVs for a nice skirmish. I think I still have a crapload of terrain maps, buildings and such too. Then again, the mice in my shed may have carried that off.

Anonymous said...

I believe it was a someones little brother that destroyed our epic game of Blitzkrieg!

Gerry

Woodman said...

That's why I still play Steel Panthers.

Ed Foster said...

Sissies! My kids and I would go off on camping trips in the late 70's and early 80's, bringing along a little plastic container, only a bit bigger than a pack of cigarettes, containing OGRE and GEV.

Four little taped stacks of pennies on the corners to keep the (waterproofed) paper map from blowing away, a Coleman lantern, some bugjuice to wet our whistles, and everybody was busy until the fire died down and it was tent time.

Sometimes we'd run both games side by side, with the GEV's able to attack the OGRE as it rolled up out of the lake, or the OGRE able to swing sideways and flank the GEVs.

A lot of fun for something that would fit in a tight pocket.

Noah D said...

Ah, OGRE/GEV. I still have a half-dozen copies of each.

And Shockwave.

And Battlefields.

And the OGRE book, both versions.

And the video game for, I think, Apple IIe. With the ID tag for OGRE AI programming division. And the little rad-detector stickers, now long since oranged out of usefulness.

And a broad collection of scavenged 1 mile/hex or otherwise suitable wargame maps.

Umm..yeah, I liked that game.

The recent Kickstarter program SJG did for a new version, I skipped. Too expensive, too big, not what I wanted.

Oh, yeah, I have a huge pile, still unpainted, of the miniatures. One of each Ogre (at least), Mk I through Mk VI. Lots of vehicles. Two copies of the Miniatures rules.

As for the current state of hex-and-counter wargames, it's a lot smaller market now, but still out there. Most work on pre-orders, with the games running $75+. Some of the recent hex-and-counter-and-card games that GMT (IIRC) has done were fantastic.

Tam, you've got all 4 TWW unpunched?! That's...amazing. That's one that needed a computer adaptation. All those friction counters...

Noah D said...

Nathan, would that bit Phil, of Saltire Games?

Bubblehead Les. said...

Back in the Neolithic Era of Gaming (where we had to had carve our dice out of Knuckle Bones using out Flint Shards, that is), on my first Ship, we set up a corner in the Lounge to play Nuclear Risk and Battleship, and had Tournaments. It was Funny to watch a Nam-era former Seal go all Wookie because we Conquered him off the Board with a few well placed ICBM Salvos, all the time swaying gently in the middle of the Atlantic.

Of course, nowadays, if you set up a Gaming Club that replicated the London War Rooms w/Special Effects, you'd probably have an FBI Informant reporting on the "Hidden HomeGrown Terrorist Cell" that was making Detailed Plans to Overthrow the Gooberment.

Ken said...

The wargame meetup sounds like a good idea. As another opportunity, I rise to note that one (or seven, to be precise) may play Diplomacy over the intarwebs these days (diplom dot org).

Noah D said...

Detailed Plans to Overthrow the Gooberment.

Well, there was the Jim Dunnigan classic, <a href="http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/12246/up-against-the-wall-motherer>Up Against The Wall, Motherfucker!</a>. But that's more 'Overthrow the University Administration', really.

Anybody else remember 'Canadian Civil War'? :)

Tam said...

Noah D,

"Tam, you've got all 4 TWW unpunched?! That's...amazing. That's one that needed a computer adaptation. All those friction counters... "

I went through a little flurry of buying back my childhood on eBay back in '03-'04. Do you have any idea what an unpunched copy of Fifth Frontier War is bringing these days? :o

docjim505 said...

Quite aside from the fact that my wargaming skills would make the Earl of Cardigan sneer, I quickly grew tired of a game (Harpoon) that required a graduate degree in math to play...

Robin said...

We still play those games actually. And quite a few new ones are getting published. I have some friends who run a publishing company.

As for Ogre, the recent kickstarter project on that raised just a hair shy of a million dollars to republish Ogre with a bunch of addons and swag raised eyebrows.

Noah D said...

Tam,

an unpunched copy of Fifth Frontier War

I didn't know such beasts still roamed the wilds. My punched, heavily used copy got unloaded years ago.

Woodman said...

The Kickstarter also promises a PC version and Car Wars.

As much as I wanted to drop $100 on the game, I couldn't justify buying a shelf queen.

LCB said...

As a lad I asked for, and got, Kampfgruppe and Luftwaffe from Avalon Hill. But I had no one to show me how to play...or too figure it out with. I hung on to them for years and years hoping to run in to someone...

Sad to say...they're gone now.

global village idiot said...

I had "France 1940" from Avalon Hill. Wish I still did. I think my Lodge Brother has it - will have to inquire.

gvi

Ygolonac said...

I found a (punched, somewhat-used) copy of Fifth Frontier War back when I lived in Montana early '90s or so), held onto it for a while, then auctioned it off on rec.games.something-or-other - think it pulled $60-70, even with a dinged box and missing like 25 or so counters.

Not bad for a $1 investment. Think the near-new 1st edition Deities & Demigods got $45 or so, from seventy-five cents at Salvation Army.

This was back in the day of the old gaming club, too - originally we met in a large semi-gutted room in an ex-hospital. Bunker atmosphere, but with nice floors. It eventually moved to an even-larger semi-gutter restaraunt - huge, *seriously* bunker. Followed by a hole-in-the-wall that would be turned down by Noir Detective, a couple other places, and back to the original room.

It's just not the same, sitting around a nice table in a carpeted, painted room. (sigh)

Anonymous said...

I still have my old copies of Africa Corp and Wooden Ships and Iron Men. They probably need a better home if somebody promises to play them.

Gerry

montieth said...

Tam, are you looking into my dining room or something?
I say that because I just dragged a Friend of mine through a 1/300 scale Combined arms Sci-fi game just yesterday (Dirtside II).


Anyhow, I hadn't done some proper wargming in something like 10 year and it was VERY cool to get the lead out, the terrain, felt and other stuff and exercise the tactical mind. Makes me want to dig the basement area out and build a proper war room with a 20x20 foot table big enough for a PROPER battle front.

Hmm.

Atom Smasher said...

I have a basement full of all of it, still regularly play all sorts of strat & wargames, and occasionally miniatures. and paint them. BUt what I don't have yet is... well...

Anybody got a spare 15 large they could give me for one of these?
http://www.geekchichq.com/

Woodman said...

Yeah, the Penny Arcade guys have at least one of those in their office.

Anonymous said...

Bubblehead Les may have an idea how to fund your gaming.

Everyone in the club could apply as a confidential informant to a different LEO and you could use the funds to pay for refreshements and new games. You mught also need to put a lawyer on retainer though.

And when everyone is arrested, you could go around the room and identify yourselves; FBI, BATF, FBI, DHS, FBI, DEA, FBI, County, State, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, DHS, FCC, Customs, etc.

Woodman said...

Actually, that makes a great idea for a game!

Oh, wait, Paranoia.

Anonymous said...

...mMmmm...beer tsunami...
[/Homer]

GrinfilledCelt

Stretch said...

The Complete Strategist in Falls Church, VA & Game Parlor in Sterling, VA still offer tables for players. The Richmond Wargamers back in the '70s had access to the upper floors of an old row house. Attic level with beams, brick walls and wire & knob lighting gave great atmosphere. We had SPI's entire ETO mapset laid out on plywood. Covered Iceland to the Urals; Spitsbergen to Qattara Depression. Yup, geek heaven.

Squad Leader
Red Star; White Star
Sinai
PanzerBlitz (Steel Panthers is the digital clone)
Good times spent while rotting teeth with Cheetos and 2 liter jugs of soda.

Nathan said...

Noah D.,

You got it first try :)

Scott said...

Evolution Games on West Saginaw in Lansing, MI is the place you're describing. If you're ever in Michigan I'd be glad to show you around.

Rob Reed said...

I still play map 'n counter wargames and especially table top mini wargames.

Tam, you're near Indy, right? You should check out the Origins game con sometime. It's a mix of board games, table top warbames, D&D, and a bunch of other stuff.

The Origins War College is usually worth the admission alone.

Rob (Trebor)

Anonymous said...

Les:

Reminds me of the perpetual Monopoly game running in Missile Radar on the destroyer (Okay, we had no imagination).

Day or night, 24 hours, unless we had to clear away for Condition 1 (Battle Stations for you lubbers) the card table was set up and four players were deeply into it, breaking only for meals and watches, and always people waiting their turn.

Yeah, board games...

cap'n chumbucket

RL said...

I damn near had to resort to 12 step work to finally escape Age of Empires. Kicked it cold turkey. Thanks be to God for fracked-up hard drives and timely talking to's.

Swore off the whole real-time strategy and role-playing game - game...Though I did slip and kludge Sacred into a modern machine recently and let me tell you, it was as if the Blue Screen of Salvation had never happened. They say "one hour is too many and a thousand never enough" and it's all true! It was Silent Service and Great Naval Battles of the North Atlantic 'roled' into 24 sleepless hours of "damn my wrist friggin' hurts" unproductivity. Time? Gone. Lost. Never to be seen again.

Just say NO kids! That seemingly innocent teenage AD&D and Traveller gateway fun with your pressuring peers and thrice rolled faked character attributes may just turn out to be a pne-way ticket to a full-blown case of Computerized Universe Micromanagement Syndrome, an accounting/law career, or even participation in Society for Creative Anachronism group orgi...Activities, all of which will lead to your utter ruination.

Remember, every time you feel the siren call to micromanage imaginary people and worlds, just think of that Stargate Atlantis episode where Rodney and Colonel Sheppard find the Ancient gaming console and ask yourself; How'd that end up?

If THAT doesn't do it, bring it on home to this galaxy and picture yourself clicking and selecting away at scurrying 16bit peasants in abject fear; hoping against hope and praying futile prayers that your virtual neighbor doesn't attack your village until after you've trained up enough warriors, or imagine finding yourself speaking in strange archaic-ish sounding dialects on the weekends trying to pattern weld knife blades and eating giant grilled turkey bits - with your gauntlet covered hands!

Damn you TSR and GDW!
Occupy capitalism!

Tirno said...

You know, to update a old classic to an accessible medium, Battletech as a turn based hex map game is being reborn as a free-to-play, turn based, runs-in-browser game. (Sample movie here) How about that as something to do while the Squirrel Report is playing?

Ygolonac said...

Again, back in the mists of the 1990s, there was a conversion of Battletech to a hex-map, turn-based wargame - on the Commodore Amiga. (Known as "MechForce" or "BattleForce", depending on the version.)

(I really want to either get one of my Amigas back up just for that game, or, even better, find a decent PC version...)

As for our group, "wargaming" usually consisted of Yet Another Grand Campaign (Empires In Arms), or (for the younger crowd) various flavours of Warhammer - usually 40k (Epic, 4mm scale).

(loud cheering) "What's all that then?"

"Oh, Napoleon just got killed by Cossacks."

Ken said...

I have only a handful of boardgames these days, but I don't even know how much micro-armor I have (I traded all my 6mm Napoleonic and Seven Years War for micro-armor when I decided to do horse & musket in 10mm), or how many WWI/WWII ships in 1:2400 (well, I can do more than Dogger Bank and less than Jutland, and just about anything in the Solomons a body could want to do).

Sad part is I can't even say I could have bought more guns with the money instead, because my whole collection is the result of sharp horse trading and bargain hunting I had no idea I had in me. :-D

Drang said...

I don't even know how many board games I have in storage. Squad leader and sequels, not Advanced though, no one to play that with. Bunch of stuff.

There was a hobby/model/gaming shop in Tacoma, run by a National Guard captain and his wife, that had a large loft for gaming. It was rigged so at the end of a session, if the game wasn't over, the table could be hoisted to the ceiling. They were gone when I came back to Ft lewis the next time.

Matt G said...

Hell, I'd go play. But if you're going to do that, make the table a real sand table.

The Old Man said...

Major problem was finding an opponent. Luckily I had a single friend that was nuttier than I. We started with AH Africa Korps and worked our way up to "War In The Pacific" with all 20(?) or so maps laid out-on tables!- in the spare room of his upper-level apartment. The damn thing ran slower than the real war, I swear, but it ended in 1943 because he moved....
I'm fond of telling Churchy that I've faced off against him with everything from stone axes to phasers - and in our games we have.
He's the Patton-aggressive type while I'm the McAulife-defensive type.
Now he has teens and sub-teens and I have grandkids. His don't care about wargames (although his daughter and I did a couple of missions online) and mine are too young. But there is always hope that we can pass on the gaming tradition.....