S&T evolved into a military
history magazine, and in 1972 a second magazine was started.
Moves became a
house organ for the SPI line of
games, with an emphasis on variants, game design and analysis.
Advertisement from Strategy & Tactics
#18, the first issue printed under James F. Dunnigan. "Poultron
Press" later became SPI.
Tactical Games and Test
SPI pioneered tactical
games, producing Tac Game 3, the very first commercially produced
tactical level board wargame, and followed it with several other
titles. They printed a set of miniatures rules in S&T, T-34,
and were the first to introduce a squad-based tactical wargame in
Grunt, which was also the first of the SPI magazine games to
include die-cut counters. Early games were low in physical quality,
particularly in comparison to Avalon Hill titles. Tac Game 3, for
example, featured hand-drawn counters and a monochrome map. Rules
for many early titles came printed on large fold-out sheets, and a
variety of (often unwieldy) containers were pressed into service in
the early years of SPI's existence, the most enduring being the flat
counter trays with clear tops that are most familiar to collectors
Two series of games ran
concurrently early in SPI's history. Test Series Games were an early
form of what we call "beta-testing" today. In exchange for the
promise of a steady flow of new games to play, SPI offered - for
sale - low-quality test games in order to receive feedback prior to
revising and offering them for mass distribution.
At the same time, a series
of "Tactical Games" was planned. Tac Game 3 became PanzerBlitz,
the rights for which were sold to Avalon Hill. Most were set outside
the 20th Century era. Tac Game 1 became Combat Command.
Innovations and Demise
SPI pioneered the use of
user feedback in their magazines, and the use of market research,
collated by computer, permitted them access to information that in
theory gave them great power to make sage business decisions. The
wargaming market grew rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, but increasing
financial difficulties led SPI to bankruptcy in 1982, and its assets
were purchased by TSR. A large number of SPI staff went on to form
Victory Games under the auspices of Avalon Hill, but only a few
titles were published by either TSR and VG in the 1980s as the board
game market declined.
Games Published by SPI
(envelope/boxed titles - for
magazine titles, see S&T)