I was trying to enjoy a long weekend vacation in San Diego, CA despite being under the weather, but one hobby-related thought entered my mind while cruising along and taking in San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, etc....

James Murphy

He was the man behind Command Perspectives which published Sharpsburg and Road to Washington, part of the "War of the Rebellion" series. The games made quite a splash given its detailed treatment of the American Civil War. I recall that the untimely passing of this fledgling publisher was brought about by the accidental death of James Murphy...the story is he lived in San Diego and was, tragically, hit head-on by a drunk driver heading the wrong way on a freeway exit/off-ramp.

Not sure why again thoughts of James and his games crossed my mind. Maybe the nostalgia I experience in thinking about older games and the personalities behind them. I never met James, but having both these games (albeit never having played them), I admire the attention for detail he delivered in his designs.

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Comment by Thomas Beach on August 23, 2014 at 11:28pm

And thanks, Adrien for the insights into who Jim Murphy was.  It is very much appreciated.

Comment by Thomas Beach on August 23, 2014 at 11:27pm
I just spent the greater part of today re-sorting and reorganizing counters from my Sharpsburg. I discovered they have seeped out of the old AH counter trays due to the vertical storage of the games ziplock bag. So I decided to make a day of it verifying completeness and transferring them into new, safer GMT counter trays. After getting done I decided to search for James Murphy and came across John's very nice remembrance. Thanks, John.

As one might expect, I started reading the rules from Road To Washington after completing my aforementioned task. Wow. It all came rushing back to me over the course of just a few pages and review of the charts and tables, what a really great game system this was and still remains. And while there are obviously newer tactical Civil War systems which are quite laudable, I am struck, even today by the uniqueness of Jim's War of The Rebellion game system.

I believe I'm going to get either Sharpsburg or Road To Washington on my table very soon.
Comment by Adrien Lamothe on May 28, 2012 at 2:53pm

I had the pleasure of knowing Jim (James Murphy) for several years and we actually shared an apartment for several months in 1979. We first met in 1975, at the San Diego State University Conflict Simulation Society, when I was playing around with Avalon Hill's new Tobruk game; we both had the same opinion of the game (excellent) and we hit it off from the start and spent a number of hours playing Tobruk and other games. Jim had an outstanding academic background, first as a Presidential Scholar in high school (in either Montana or Wyoming, I can't remember which,) which led to a scholarship at UC San Diego where he studied math and chemistry (I believe he had a BS and MS in those areas) followed by a PhD in Philosophy at Boston University.

I didn't get too involved in Road to Washington, except for a little play testing. But as Jim's roommate, he would show me his detailed notes for the game system and explain his rationale, including explaining the mathematical formulas he developed. I don't think people realize how much thought and logic went into the War of Rebellion game system. Jim was a master mathematical modeller, who also painstakingly studied historical accounts of civil war battles and skirmishes to understand battlefield dynamics. He put much thought into understanding how unit morale would break down and how leaders could rally units, based on historical accounts. Jim's special gift was the ability to blend elements of continuous time and discreet event simulation (something the aforementioned Tobruk game did a decent job of, along with incremental casualties of infantry units, which is why he liked it.)

Jim was a very fair minded individual, who overlooked people's foibles. It was unfortunate that he had to work jobs far below his intellectual stature and talent, but at least he left a legacy in his game system. He was a great guy and sorely missed by his friends after the unfortunate accident which ended his life too soon.

Comment by Bill Wood on September 18, 2008 at 6:02am
You have encouraged me to add a review of RtW on BGG.
Comment by Bill Wood on September 17, 2008 at 3:02pm
Here is the user at BGG that was his partner.

Art Mitchell
Comment by Bill Wood on September 17, 2008 at 2:58pm
Wilhammer's BGG Collection

Scroll down to Road to Washington.
Comment by Bill Wood on September 17, 2008 at 2:56pm
An other title they did that is great for the Age of Sail grog was Beat to Quarters. Very rich - excellent background for those wanting to know more detail of ship handling and what not.

The focus is on detailed individual ship handling, so the battles tend to be small, but you get a view not unlike Horatio Hornblower's.

I've a spare copy if anyone is interested. The pics on BGG are mine.
Comment by Bill Wood on September 17, 2008 at 2:51pm
I have Road to Washington - excellent stuff. Even played it way back when - I wanted it to continue to compete with TSS/BA and GBACW, its direct competition.

See my write up on it my collection on BGG. User - well, you know that bit already.

I have had some email conversations with his partner, and if anyone is looking for this piece of game history, he still has copies for sale.

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