Confessions of a Lapsed Game; The Cardboard Battlefield and the 1970s

Most of the things I have written about so far have been about miniature gaming.  Don’t get me wrong, the 1200+ painted minis on the shelf and God knows how many in the boxes waiting to be painted.  That is not what is on my mind today.  No, today I want to talk about the Cardboard battlefields that I have seen.

In the mid to late 60s to the later 80’s the ‘hobby’ was dominated by ‘beer and pretzel’ games.  Operational/Strategic games of Corps and Divisions fighting it out on a large area battlefield.  In 1970, James (Jimmy) Dunnigan worked for AH and HE wanted a more tactical game that dealt with platoons and squadrons (tank and/or cavalry).  So Tactical Game 3 was developed and would become ‘Panzerblitz’.  Avalon Hill (the original, not the HASBRO imprint) took that and published it in a ‘bookshelf’ format with a number of counter sheets (covering the Russian and German orders of battle) and three mapboards.  It would go on to spawn Panzer Leader (William Richardson and I played it a lot) and Arab Israeli Wars (I bought two copies over the years).  Look at the wiki entry for more data on the history these games if you want.

The next step was John Hill’s “Squad Leader”, also printed by Avalon Hill, still in print as ‘Advanced Squad Leader’ by MMP, which took an even more ‘micro’ look at tactical simulations.  Where the ‘Tactical Game 3’ was about platoons and batteries, SL is about the squads as the largest unit.  It is, to me, the best simulation of tactical warfare for the understanding of J.W. Thomason described as ‘the point of contact, where war is girt with horrors. And common men endure these horrors and overcome them, along with the insistent yearnings of the belly and the reasonable promptings of fear; and in this, I think, is glory.’

The rules are pretty straight forward, you base your attacks on the inherent firepower of the given units, consider the defense of the target as well as terrain and, in the ‘advanced’ game, weather affects and so on.  The game is a turn based “I go, you go” system but the non-turn player gets to do some things during his opponent’s turn.  Consult the combat results table and take casualties.  There are a number of pre-generated scenarios included and rules and commentary to create your own.  Yes, you do learn about the armies that fought in WWII in Europe and to a lesser extent the PTO.

Jump to now.  I am in a sort of obsession about getting these games back on the table in front of me.  The original rules are available online as well as the old commentaries and amendments in ‘The General’ magazine that AH put out for about 30 years.  There are also sites, like The Imaginative Gamer, that have updated counter mixes and map sheets.  Got access to a good printer, some heavy card stock and some time?  Make your own counters!

So, what’s the ‘so what’?  This series of games can take you from the early war years of ‘39/’40 to modern times as there are places that you can get counter sheets for Cold War Soviet, American military and other forces into the 90’s.  Looking at the counters you can see the increase in combat power and effectiveness.  Yep, they’re darn entertaining…



Confessions of a Lapsed Game; The Cardboard Battlefield and the 1970s

Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Iwo, Ohio and a few Marines

The 19th of February marks the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.  I’ve been researching Pacific battles for some scenarios I am working on for a Panzer Leader game.  I have become reacquainted with the little dot of volcanic hell that is IWO.  V Amphibious Corps (3rd, 4th, and 5th MarDivs and the 147th Inf Regt (sep.)) were to  take the Isle and secure the airfields there for the Army Air Forces.  The need was one that B-29s crippled in bombing the Home Islands were landing there before the battle was over.

Marines that went ashore were, arguably, the toughest infantry in the world.  Heavily armed and trained for amphibious assault against some of the formidably defended places on Earth with little more then what they brought with them to the fight.  Rifle Companies within the Divisions were configured to the Type “G” T/O with what we modern Marines would recognize in the FMFM 6-5. Thirteen man rifle squads with three fire teams, based around the BAR.  Ahhhh….  The Marine comes out while researching war game scenarios…

So, let me tell you another story.  One that Marines should know and share with their Army brethren.  The 147th Infantry Regiment (Separate) was an Army unit that was assigned to V Amphibious3 Corps as a sort of ‘garrison’ unit to secure an area.  Truth is they fought alongside a number of Marine units from Guadalcanal to Okinawa.  Their history is one of being an old Regiment that was ‘orphaned’ and ‘lost’ in the 1942 Army reorganization, but was always there for the fight.

Mustered into Federal service in May of 1861 as the 6th Ohio, the Regiment fought in the Civil War, Cuba, Mexico and WWI.  They also, “Dog Company” of the 1/147th, guarded and transported ‘Little Boy’ to his date with the Enola Gay, but that is another story.  The Regiment was on Iwo and in the same bitter struggle as the Marines.  They fought for 31 consecutive days and emerged battered and proud of their service, and they damned well should have been.  The I47th Infantry still is active as an Ohio National Guard unit based in Columbus.

In my attempt to put together some Iwo scenarios, I will be putting some Army units in the mix.  Should make for an interesting situation…

Now, my fellow Marines, when drinking a beer this Presidents Day, think of Iwo and those hard chargers.  Watch the Sands of Iwo Jima.  And hoist one to the Soldiers of the 147th Infantry.  They also served their time in Hell…

Confessions of a Lapsed Gamer; Iwo, Ohio and a few Marines

Marriage and Real Estate

Realtors are, as a rule, quite aware of the requirements, from a legal standpoint, of working with married couples.  Particularly when selling a property.  ‘One can buy, but two must sell’ is the motto, but that is just a part of it.  Often it is an easy thing to sell a home, even with a divorce and subsequent remarriage to others.  There is though, another side of the equation; that of the Seller and their understanding of the ‘rules’ and requirements of selling.

I recently had a sale that, a couple days from closing, the attorney called and asked about the wife of my Seller.  ‘He was not married.’ was my answer.  ‘Yes he is.’ the Attorney told me.  So, I called my Seller and asked.  ‘Yes, I am.’ was his answer.  I pointed out to him that I had asked that question when doing the listing agreement.  ‘Oh,’ he says, ‘I thought you meant when I bought the house.” At that point I was more a bit perturbed over the closing and a successful sale.  We did have enough time to resolve the situation and the sale happened.

So, here’s what I learned from this; always, always make sure that the Client understands the question, its context and why it is important.  Even the most experienced home seller needs to be reminded that there are a number of things that a Seller needs to know and that this is not a negotiable point.  Always better to know and resolve before closing.

Marriage and Real Estate