Timeline of Significant Milestones in Commercial Tactical Wargaming

Year Event Significance


Tactics II published, The Avalon Hill Game Company founded

The first commercial board wargaming company kicks off the modern era. Despite the name, Tactics II is not a tactical game but an operational level one.

1964 The General founded by Avalon Hill The first house organ of the industry established.
1967 Strategy &Tactics founded by Chris Wagner Would become a major player in the commercial wargaming industry.
1969 Strategy &Tactics purchased by Jim Dunnigan, Simulations Publications, Inc. founded.

Beginning with Issue No. 18, a new wargame was released to the community every 8 weeks; a huge change from Avalon Hill's previous schedule of two wargame titles every three years.

1969 Tac Game 3 published The first commercial board wargame to feature modern ground tactical combat.
1970 PanzerBlitz published by Avalon Hill Isomorphic map boards introduced in this open-ended wargame, originally conceived as Tac Game 3.
1971 Grunt published in Strategy &Tactics First squad-based tactical wargame ever published.
1972 Combat Command and Red Star/White Star published by SPI. The first "series" of tactical wargames, both later developments of PanzerBlitz, though with a change in scale. Was not successful, and ultimately replaced. Avalon Hill also later developed a more successful series of games based on PB with Panzer Leader and Arab-Israeli Wars.
1973 Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) founded An early company devoted to miniatures, and later a force in wargaming and RPGs.
1974 Dungeons & Dragons first published by TSR The start of the role playing game phenomenon.
1976 Tobruk debuts, published by Avalon Hill Hal Hock's game of tank battles would be overshadowed the next year by Squad Leader, but become a serious competitor when reshaped into the Advanced Tobruk System much later.
1977 Squad Leader debuts, published by Avalon Hill Squad Leader/ASL went on to become the best selling tactical wargame series ever. Despite the name, Squad Leader is not a man-to-man game, but a squad-based company-level game.
1977 Cross of Iron debuts, published by Avalon Hill Described at the time as "one of the best combined arms representations available from either a boardgame or miniatures approach", COI also introduced the concept of multiple-module games previously proven successful in such fare as Dungeons & Dragons to tactical wargaming.
1982 SPI folds, Victory Games created TSR Hobbies, Inc. picked up some of the SPI properties while some staffers formed Victory Games, a subsidiary of Avalon Hill. Innovative tactical games such as the Ambush! series resulted.
1983 TSR Hobbies, Inc. splits Four successors result, the main being TSR, Inc. Changes in fortune lead to decline and sale in 1997.
1985 Advanced Squad Leader debuts A reboot of the basic Squad Leader system into a module series, issued with a unique loose-leaf rulebook format.
1989 Bloody 110 debuts The first of an eventual series by The Gamers of platoon-based games in its Tactical Combat Series.
1989 M-1 Tank Platoon debuts for the PC Microprose offers a glimpse of the future with a hybrid 2-D tactical game and 3-D vehicle simulation.
1991 Decision Games acquires Strategy & Tactics Major realignment of ownership of the leading wargaming magazines, putting S&T, F&M and Moves under the same publisher. S&T and SPI had pioneered tactical level games; not one tactical title in either boxed or magazine form would be released by Decision Games.
1995 Steel Panthers debuts for the PC The first of a series of successful turn-based tactical games on the computer.
1996 Close Combat debuts for the PC Real Time infantry simulations take a step forward and the first title of a successful series; original plans to be an official ASL translation fall through however.
1997 TSR sold to Wizards of the Coast TSR had produced a handful of tactical wargames during its decline.
1997 Critical Hit/Avalon Hill lawsuit settled The legal question of whether you can use someone else's artwork verbatim in your own products received a definitive answer (you can't) but the rights of Third Party Publishers (TPP) were also established.
1998 Avalon Hill folds The General stopped publication; Hasbro bought the rights to the line of games. Multi-Man Publishing obtained a license to produce ASL products.
2000 Boardgamegeek debuts In 2010, the site received a Diana Jones award for being "a resource without peer for board and card gamers." The site has also spawned sister sites for gamers to catalog and discuss RPG and video games.
2000 Combat Mission debuts Combat Mission became a contender for the best selling PC tactical wargame series, original plans to be an official ASL translation fall through however.
2000 Steel Beasts released Set the bar for military ground hardware simulations
2000 Avalon Hill's Squad Leader debuts for the PC Perhaps the most cynical and egregious abuse of a brand name ever.
2007 Release of Combat Mission: Shock Force Debut of the second generation Combat Mission game engine ("CMX2").
2009 Fire & Movement ceases publication One of the oldest wargaming magazines to survive into the 21st Century folds.

tacticalwargamer.com 2008-present    email: The Tactical Wargamer