Simulations Publications, Inc.
 

Simulations Publications, Inc., (SPI) was formed in 1969 by James F. Dunnigan, as an entity to oversee the publication of Strategy & Tactics, which Dunnigan purchased from Chris Wagner for the price of one dollar. Dunnigan and SPI quickly became established as more than just a magazine, however, and began producing wargames for both separate sale as well as the revolutionary step of including them in the magazine for subscribers. SPI aggressively entered a market dominated to that point in time by The Avalon Hill Game Company and adopted many other business concepts and practices in addition to its ambitious production schedule. SPI embarked on expensive advertising campaigns, for example purchasing full-page ads in Scientific American, and producing give-away copies of wargames for subscribers and visitors to trade shows (Napoleon at Waterloo went out to subscribers to S&T, while Strike Force One was produced specifically as an introductory game). S&T quickly acquired a much larger subscriber base than The General, though it was admitted that the magazine ran at a financial loss, though it was able to claim the cost of the wargames it produced as advertising costs.

Founded: 1969
Produced: ►Tactical Wargames
►Role Playing Game
Demise: 1982

 

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 Games

 

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 today.

 

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.

Tactical Games Published by SPI
(envelope/boxed titles - for magazine titles, see S&T)

Year Title Type
1969 Tactical Game 3 Board
1971 Grunt Board
1972 Combat Command Board
1972 Red Star/White Star Board
1972 Soldiers: Tactical Combat in 1914-15 Board
1973 Desert War Board
1973 KampfPanzer Board
1973 Sniper! Board
1974 Panzer'44 Board
1974 Tank! Board
1974 Search & Destroy Board
1974 Patrol! Board
1974 Tank! Expansion Game Rules Board
1975 MechWar '77 Board
1975 Strike Force 1 Board
1976 Firefight Board
1977 Raid! Board
1977 October War Board
1979 Commando Role Playing Game
1979 Mech War 2 Board
1979 Paratroop Board
1979 City Fight Board
1979 Panzer Battles Board

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