Okay, in a world of mobile phone games, virtual consoles and high end PC games, maybe not?
I’m an old wargamer and tabletop roleplayer from way back. I promise this isn’t just another Old Grognard thing where games were better back in the olden days. (I mean, some of them kinda were, but…) Since I’ve seen some real classics come back on Kickstarter recently, I’m wondering why some of the classics I love haven’t made a comeback yet.
(*Editor’s note: Please correct me, oh ye Interwebs, if I have erred in my thinking and some of these are available in newer editions and I missed the boat.)
Advanced Squad Leader: Okay, I suspect I know what happened to this one. Since corporate mega-giant Hasbro, the Disney of the gaming world, owns ASL’s parent company Avalon Hill. They cherry-picked the titles they deemed marketable and just slap the name “Avalon Hill” on any old board game they like now. As far as ASL goes, the game’s just dead and not coming back any time soon.
Avalon Hill made some really awesome cardboard chit and hex paper board wargames back in the day. ASL was one that most of us old guys remember fondly. With all the 3D printed minis and printable pdfs available now, I think Hasbro is missing out. (*Warning* Incoming cheap jab at my pal Matt Mercer.) I suspect the marketing Wizards at Hasbro are aiming at a much younger audience and could not get their poster child for popular gaming, Matt Mercer, to make it cool for the kids.
There was a Squad Leader PC game many years ago that was above par. Tactical elements aside, it had logistical and psychology elements. The guys would sometimes get Dear John letters and desert randomly mid-battle. Ammo was counted rigorously and you had a random chance of not getting replacements or reinforcements if characters died. Unfortunately time and trademark got the best of it and no one has picked it up since. <sniff.>
Starfire/Imperial Starfire: Task Force games made this really epic starship combat game that played on paper maps with cardboard chips. (Okay, I’m an Old Grognard, sorry. There’s a theme here.) The game featured starships that were coded by letters so once you crossed off the last box, the ship went kablooey. An entire fleet could fit on one 8″ x 11″ piece of paper.
A sample small fighter would look like Sh, Sh, Hu, Hu, LG, En, Co. So, Shield x2, Hull x2, Laser Guns, Engine, Cockpit. And then kablooey. It was a fast moving, easy space wargame that took maybe ten minutes to learn. I loved it.
Imperial Starfire was fleets battling over planets. You had an overall campaign map, resources to manage and then the fleet battles were carried out using Starfire. I remember people doing this game in Play By Mail (PbM) games. Do people still do that any more? These days, one could probably do the whole thing as a mobile app or computer game and still make it pretty cool. Or even as a board game with plastic minis. Or possibly as a printable pdf file. Easy, really.
Centurion: Dear gaming godz. Please hear me out on this one. You’ve brought back Interceptor. Now please bring back the grav tank game? Please?!?
FASA, back in it’s glory days, made this really slick game that involved tanks and infantry. Ironically, the boxed set came with the basic Battletech maps which was FASA’s mega-hit back then. The original Centurion came with cardboard box minis you had to assemble yourself. The newer edition came with plastic grav tanks. I raided my Axis & Allies sets for infantry, wheeled, and tracked tanks.
This game had the potential to change Battletech by way of rules, featuring a unique armor system and cool damage templates. Once you determined what part of the tank you hit, you used the template to shade the outline of the damage on the vehicle’s data sheet. Obviously rounds that penetrated vital components caused a kablooey.
Again, pdf files of do-it-yourself tank minis or stl files for 3d printing and some maps along with the tank sheets, templates, and rules. You remade Interceptor! Why not Centurion?
A-10: by Mayfair Games. I still have my copy of this thing. Yes, it was complicated. Yes, cardboard chits on a paper map. (Achoo! aww jeez all that setup…) I thought this game was brilliant, but it had a lot of moving parts to keep track of.
I think a simplified version of the game would go over well as a board game. The A-10 aircraft itself is just now finally being decommissioned, but with things going bonkers in the Ukraine, it may not be gone for good. The aircraft itself has seen active use for decades and is one of the best military planes ever built according to many pilots.
Mutant Chronicles: Fury of the Clansmen: I Siege of the Citadel, the runaway Mutant Chronicles hit was originally from Pressman Games. It had really nice plastic minis for its time. There were multiple scenarios included and even two spinoff games- Blood Berets and Fury of the Clansmen, made by Target games, but used the same minis.
The tactical combat and unique dice along with sharp looking plastic minis could have easily given Games Workshop a run for its money had these two games survived and expanded. I see Modiphius and Fantasy Flight are doing a remake of Siege, now if I could just convince them to bring back Fury or Blood Berets.
Picture Heroscape with square maps instead of hexes. Fury had all of the tactical ingenuity of Necromunda or Warhammer 40K only set in the Mutant Chronicles Universe. The only game I think ever rivaled it to me was Living Steel.
Yes, they need to change the name of Fury of the Clansmen to something a bit more friendly in the American market. Great game, kinda weak title. It actually has nothing to do with anything racist. But I think with some fresh marketing, it has the potential to be a great tactics game.
Back to RPGs tomorrow. This little stroll down memory lane was fun. I also just remembered four or five more games that would be spectacular if they came back. I hope someone higher up in the gaming community hears my pleas. LOL! Feel free to steal my ideas, just send me a copy when you’re done?
As always, thanks for being here. Take care. Have a great week. More RPG stuff on the way tomorrow.