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Showing posts from June, 2020

My First Wargame: Reviving 'Revolt on Antares'

If you don't count playing Risk as a kid of nine with a bunch of adults on a camping trip, then Revolt on Antares was my first proper wargame. And it was infatuation at first sight. I had already been playing D&D for two or three years when I first clamped eyes on this game. I immediately recognized Jeff Dee's style on the cover art from his illustrations in the D&D books, and the idea of such a little box containing an entire game from D&D's publisher, TSR--"The Game Wizards," don't you know--was too enticing to pass up.  It was spring of 1981, and my family was on vacation in the Boston area to visit some close family friends (the Dashes) who had left Dayton, Ohio a couple of years prior. They had one son a couple of years older than me (Adam) and another almost exactly my age (Benji). In retrospect they could both be kind of obnoxious at times, but when they weren't, we found ways to have fun together. Our parents were quite tight as friend

Lost Art of D&D No. 2: Games Workshop's Holmes Basic (1977)

After Games Workshop attained the license to print a co-branded edition of TSR's 1977 Dungeons & Dragons basic rules book, they set about putting their own stamp on it, designing a new cover and replacing a number of the illustrations they deemed too crudely drawn for their U.K. market.  The cover art was by John Blanche at the very start of his career as a fantasy illustrator. Blanche went on to be a mainstay at Games Workshop, producing countless illustrations for them. His fannish enthusiasm for the material--as an artist as well as a lifelong gamer--has deservedly made him a favorite over the decades. I first encountered Blanche's work in the David Day compendium, A Tolkien Bestiary (1978), to which he contributed five illustrations that sit comfortably alongside the book's chief illustrator, Ian Miller. I have a special fondness for this book, having coveted it as a child during my incipient Middle Earth fixation. My parent's procured an out-of-print copy of t

The Castle (Pandemic Painting Part II)

My desire for a miniature castle with which to stage battles and play out stories of derring-do goes back to childhood, like so many things wargaming related. I remember playing with some Marx Co. viking and knight toy soldiers my best pal Jerry Bell had when we were young kids in Ohio. But finding more toy soldiers from that historical period seemed nearly impossible in the 1970s, while WWII and Vietnam-era army men were ubiquitous and could be bought by the bagful literally at the local grocery store. It made sense that we switched instead to accumulating large armies of those plastic green army men, and they entertained us for years. My pal Jerry must have lost or never inherited the castle and other pieces that accompanied this set because all we had were the vikings and knights themselves and none of the scenery. Jump ahead about four decades, and while attending  my first Fall In convention I played a game in which I had to help defend a castle from besiegers. It was a great tim