Beginner's Guide to Strategy Gaming

Beginner's Guide to Strategy Gaming was released in 1986 by Diverse Talents, Inc., the publishers of Fire & Movement. Subtitled as "Fire & Movement's Staff Study Nr. 1", this publication was really a special edition of the magazine, printed on the same newsprint style paper as the magazine at that time. However, the cover and the first and last inside pages were also in slick paper, and there was a sturdy cardstock insert containing an operational level mini-wargame.

Similar in concept to Jim Dunnigan's book The Complete Wargames Handbook, the publication was intended as an introduction for novices to the hobby. Chapters included a welcome to wargaming (called "strategy gaming" in this publication), a section on "the basics" explaining such things as charts, maps, and counters, a glossary of terminology, notes on solitaire play, guides to computer gaming, multi-player grand strategy games, principles of war, an article on naval games, a two part article on how play the included introductory wargame, "A Beginners' Wargame Library", and a final chapter on how to get started in the hobby.

The Beginner's Wargame Library makes suggestions on which games the novice should consider investing in, and the titles are broken down by period rather than genre, so tactical, operational, and strategic titles are all considered together, as are land, air and naval based titles.  With all those games taken in some, no tactical games were recommended for the First World War, while in the Second World War era, Storm Over Arnhem was the editor's choice as a good introductory wargame.

 

Play is exciting and slick. The rules allow players to move and fire during each other's turn, giving the feel of simultaneous movement without a lot of clumsy mechanics. The German tactic of setting fires to flush out hidden British troops is simulated by the use of fire counters which allow the blazes to spread if the British fail to extinguish them. Rules for ammunition shortages, British reformed units, and random events are also included. Storm Over Arnhem emphasizes action, but never at the expense of history. For those that believe historical simulations are hopelessly dense and endlessly tedious, here's a game to prove otherwise.

 

Also recommended was Beachhead by Yaquinto, "a small-scale, tactical level Pacific island invasion game that moves at a fast clip and places no small amount of strain on your decision making skills."

 

Unfortunately, both games are now long out of print. In the modern era, tactical games get more representation, with two of the three titles selected being tactical level titles: Avalon Hill's Firepower and West End Game's Air Cav.


Beginner's Guide to Strategy Gaming
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