It’s always fun to think back about “the good old days” when wargamers carved their own miniatures out of ivory tusks, from a freshly slain woollen mammoth, in the snow, and had to rely on the Gods to throw the dice. Nevertheless, some personal history and anecdotes are, in my humble opinion, always fun to read. So, I’ll take a shot at it, and hope that others will follow.
I first saw a wargame in action when I was 10 or 11. This was somewhere in the late seventies, when a local club had some demonstration tables set up in the walkways of a shopping mall. When I came back home, I wanted to do the same, of course, but only had some plastic toy soldiers available. (Some years ago ago, I learned that this was the club run by Rudi Geudens, renowned veteran Belgian wargamer).
Help came when one of my friends did get a board wargame for Christmas. If I remember correctly, the game was called Tank Commander. It had little plastic tanks, trucks, bridges, and a big square-gridded board. You could only move two tanks a turn, and a tank was destroyed when you had an enemy tank in the direct line of fire of two friendly tanks. Very simple, but fun.
This game inspired us to make our own versions, culminating in the grandiose “Who Conquers Europe?”. We produced a hand-drawn map of Europe, gridded with squares, and measuring someting like 120x150cm. I drew this map on the back of computer prit paper (when these were still chained together), conveniently borrowed from my dad’s computer facilities at the university. The game used plastic soldiers, plastic tanks, plastic ships (from Submarine Hunt, an MB game), and later we even added things such as oil pipelines, oil ships, mountain troops, etc. The first player to conquer 5 countries had won.
This phase of designing our own games continued for a little while, always using the same ‘engine’. I remember a D-Day game (using LEGO bricks for buildings), a Battlestar Galactica game, a Flash Gordon game (don’t ask!). This whole phase sort of ended when we discovered our first Avalon Hill game, Afrika Korps when we were 14. This must have been in 1981 or 1982.
To be continued …