Here is where you can post your reasons behind why some of your favorite games go into the fabled wargame closet or footlocker. My blog shows two examples where games I was such a fan of eventually got taken over by the state of the art and I bid them adieu. Share some of your stories and rationales....

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Comment by Eric Walters on May 27, 2008 at 7:48pm
Reposted from the "All Things SPI" Group:

Relegating HIGHWAY TO THE REICH to the closet. This is an emotional moment for me. But MMP's THE DEVIL'S CAULDRON showed up on my doorstep over the weekend. And I already preordered from MMP their game on Hell's Highway which covers the action south of Grave bridge. So I know...I'll never play HTTR ever again. In fact, I doubt I'll even get the new edition promised by Decision Games, which I never thought I'd say (I bought WAR BETWEEN THE STATES, WACHT AM RHEIN II, WAR IN EUROPE, PACIFIC WAR, etc).

So this posting is something as a requiem for a game and game system I fell in love with as soon as I was exposed to it back in the mid 1970s. And there's more than just a twinge of pain putting this old flatbox title away in the closet. I got the 2nd Edition; the clear plastic lids are yellowed and brittle with age, torn and ragged on the edges. The slip cover graphics are also mottled and yellowed in the 30 years since this game was first published. But the map, counters, and components still inspire, even after all these years. HTTR was possibly the most beautiful wargame ever made; it showed when it was set up. Others may rival that distinction now--notably L2's STREETS OF STALINGRAD and MMP's THE DEVIL'S CAULDRON...but it's taken how long for it to happen? Even when Phoenix Game first published STREETS OF STALINGRAD back in the day, it didn't look quite as good as HTTR when completely set up and in play.

The map detail in HTTR was incredible. Tons of differentiation in terrain. Tons of differentiation in the units and how they performed in the system. And what a system! There aren't many tactical/grandtactical wargames dealing with units at the company level--and this was a superlative one. Where a particular unit was in the stack determined what you could do. Changing position in a stack drew opportunity fire (I loved that idea). Stacking limits applied throughout the entire turn--which solved road traffic jam simulation in a very elegant way. You had leaders in the game. The sequence of play was very interactive for its time, but this was a hallmark of SPI monsters coming out back then. The detail was simply stunning. For a sixteen year old boy, this was wargame/simulation NIRVANA....

We now know and have long been aware of the problems with this game. Armor quality differentiation was minimal--gun versus armor effectiveness wasn't well modeled. The OOB is now thought to be highly suspect, as good as it was in its day. While the scenarios were excellent, the campaign game was seriously flawed and created a good bit of frustration. But still we played it.

Some of those who are collectors might try tempting me to part with this game, as heavily used as it is. I can't do it. While I'll never play it again, it will be a title I could never sell or give away. I'll drag it out from time to time, lay out all the maps, fondle the counters--maybe even set up a game just to look at it--purely out of nostalgia, much like I do the old original TSS or even PANZERBLITZ, PANZERLEADER, and FRANCE: 1940 games....
Comment by Eric Walters on May 25, 2008 at 8:32pm
Schettler games into the closet: WINTER STORM, THE LAST VICTORY, PRELUDE TO DISASTER, and EIDELWIESS. Why? I now have the OCS dream game, CASE BLUE, which covers all these campaigns in a standardized manner and to a sufficient degree of detail. Don't get me wrong. I'm consigning these games to the closet with sufficient pomp and circumstance. I loved these titles. While the systems were cumbersome, there were no other games that had this degree of detail. No other games had quite this coverage. It wasn't until The Gamers' OCS opus, ENEMY AT THE GATES that I finally put WINTER STORM into cold storage. OCS was more streamlined than the Schettler title, although that game was the state of the art for the Stalingrad counteroffensive for years. And while there have been many games on the Backhand Blow--just look at the scenario for it in PANZERKRIEG, to say nothing of People's Wargames DUEL FOR KHARKOV, GMT's games entitled LOST VICTORY and BACKHAND BLOW, and MMP's latest, A VICTORY LOST, but it took CASE BLUE to finally relegate THE LAST VICTORY to the closet. Regarding PRELUDE TO DISASTER, SPI's old KHARKOV wasn't enough, not was TURNING THE TABLES. No. It took the the 1942 Soviet Summer Offensive scenario in CASE BLUE to do it. EIDELWEISS? I never thought I'd take that game off the shelf. But I will now. Not only does CASE BLUE cover it, but GMT has a game on the Caucasus campaign that will cover this topic well.

What will I miss the most about these games? The optional command rules, where one could challenge Stalin's and Hitler's decisions, marshal commanders to back up your position, and possibly get a change in plan or--uncomfortably often--see commanders fired, neutralized/censured, or otherwise rendered ineffective in the field. Chain of command shuffles and the like. Wonderful.

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