As we go through our storage and acquire items from auctions and personal sale we come across some thing that aren’t so easy to find. Or are simply a pleasant surprise to remind us of earlier days in gaming.
SPI – Strategic Publications Inc.
SPI Games (Strategic Publications Inc) was an early wargame company that published an incredible amount of games of all sorts of styles. SPI did historical wargames like you wouldn’t believe. They did some amazing games, they did innovative games, they did things that were most certainly simulations ahead of games (like Air War, a tactical jet combat game with 1 second turns), some games that were really logistics studies (Campaign for North Africa), games that were very intense (War in the Pacific) and then games based off TV series (Dallas), movies (Dragon Slayer), role playing board games (like Commando) and even fantasy (DragonQuest) and sci-fi role playing games (Universe).
They even did a historical magazine (Strategy & Tactics) which featured a game as well as articles, reviews, and other information and a fantasy magazine (Ares) which did the same in a fantasy/sci-fi vein.
SPI went big, but then in the 80’s it, well, went down in flames.
They had a whole lot of good ideas and sadly they just couldn’t make them work.
Curious about some of what they did and their history?
And here is a list of games they did. It’s big
DragonQuest from SPI
DragonQuest : a Fantasy RPG from a historical wargaming company.
One of the forays into roleplaying undertaken by SPI created the fantasy RPG Dragonquest.DQ underwent several different editions, came out with adventures, a world map, game master screen and was even supported by Judge’s Guild with adventures and supplements.
Dragonquest was very much a different take on roleplaying from D&D with use of percentile dice, charts to deal with the circumstances of birth, the number of points to be allocated to characteristics and even handedness. Combat and magic were both more detailed yet more interesting and forgiving than D&D as well.
Unfortunately, with that detail comes some things that can make your game a little more fussy. The Aspects (i.e. star signs you were born under) can effect the game. Having to deal with small modifiers and exact facing in combat might irk a few people as well. But the detail adds a new layer into the game that some folks enjoy.
SPI updated the rules once with a second edition and after SPI was acquired by TSR they also published a further revised version of the game trying to ensure magic and combat were more in balance.
For all it’s uniqueness, there are groups who still play Dragonquest and have further expanded upon the game. You can find a bit more here :
and you may well find resources to continue your own gaming too.
January 7th 2021
– Grenadier Miniatures –
It’s ‘From the Warehouse’ time!
Rich here. We’ve done a few lines, a few games, but this time I figured I’d do a miniatures company. Grenadier Miniatures. They were prolific. They had quality that varied wildly. They had some miniatures which rivaled the best out there today, even though they were done in the 80s. They had miniatures that looked like I sculpted them at the same time in a different line. I don’t pretend to be able to sculpt.
But that said : Grenadier Models.
Founded in 1975 Grenadier had a history of interesting ideas and and product lines. They did licensed miniatures for TSR early on and even had D&D, Gamma World and Boot Hill themed miniatures available before officially doing miniatures for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Early models were in stride quality wise with other manufacturers until Julie Guthrie and other sculptors upped the look of several of the different lines. Grenadier also did a Dragon of the Month and Giant Club series which introduced new models each month with a special 13th model that tied the grouping together. Grenadier produced Star Wars miniatures, Call of Cthuhlu and even Chill, Paranoia, Twilight 2000 and several other lines of themed miniatures before closing shop.
They were a wide reaching and neat miniature manufacturer. Sorry to see them go.
You can find out more here: (and there is a lot more to know)
And even look up a catalog of their figures here:
And other information here :
December 31 2020
New Years Eve edition
Rich here with this week’s picks. It’s a holiday – so I’m going to do two different ones.
The first is Runequest.
It’s not dead. Well, it’s current incarnation isn’t dead. If ever a game has undergone changes while remaining the same thing – it’s Runequest.
Starting off with Chaosium, Runequest featured a skill based system with experience by experience – which is to say your skills progressed only if you used them. Characters (and monsters) had hit locations and hit points in an area as opposed to a general pool like most other games at the time. Instead of making you harder to hit, armor stopped damage and both your weapons and armor would wear over time as well. Magic was open to everyone so in this game everyone could do whatever they wanted to. But as time went on the game went to Avalon Hill, Mongoose Publishing and others. Each time the games mechanics evolved and the game setting changed. Fans had their favorites and the game waxed and waned in popularity. Finally in 2018 Runequest returned to Chaosium to be back to a version more like it’s original self. This includes a ‘classic’ version be published which was very much one of the earlier Chaosium editions in a new hardback format. Find out more about Runequest, the Avalon Hill edition earlier and later versions here
Margaret Weis Productions
So a while back Margaret Weis began her own company doing RPGs, mostly with licenses from media companies. A number of releases came out using the Cortex or Cortex Plus system and gave gamers a window into gaming some pop culture series/movies. A board game in association with Tom Wham (Dragon Lairds) even came out.
Many of the RPGs are out there, some done by other companies now, but sadly she has ceased to do the games and now focuses on her novels.
You can find out about all the releases here :
And even take a peek at her current works here :
Task Force Games
So when people say Task Force Games everyone thinks of Star Fleet Battles. It is the game that made Task Force Games a household name – as it were.
But they did far more. There were several historical titles (History of the Second World War and Operation Pegasus a Vietnam era wargame) as well as a number of smaller games ranging from Battlewagon (WW2 naval), Intruder (an ‘alien’ clone game) , War of the Worlds (based off the H.G. Wells book) and others. They even did miniatures for Star Fleet Battles and a computer game for War of the Worlds as well as a couple of magazines : Captain’s Log for SFB and Nexus for general Task Force Games.
Star Fleet Battles was certainly their flagship game and it soldiered until Task Force closed it’s doors and that particular part of the line was taken over by Amarillo Design Bureau. I’ve featured a few ADB items in the gallery to show the continuity from TFG to ADB. Well, that and I messed up.
Task Force even delved into Role Playing Games with titles like Heroes of Olypmus, Crime Fighter and Delta Force.
ADB took over Star Fleet Battles and Starfire Design Studio grabbed up Star Fire and continued on with that line. Some of the other games are still interesting to play games to this day.
If you are looking for more information you can find it here :
Starter Dungeons & Dragons
Rich here with our next installment of ‘From the Warehouse’
So do you remember the days of Elf, Dwarf and Hobbit as character Classes?
Basic D&D was a wonderful set of rules to introduce players into the game of Dungeons & Dragons and make the experience less about specific rules and more about playing.
Starting with the Holmes box set the rules were trimmed and simplified and a game to let players learn D&D and play from level 1 to 3 was created. Later the Moldvay set revised the rules again and subsequently added further boxes (Expert, Companion, Master and Immortal) which increased the player levels allowed and added more to the game. The Rules Cyclopedia brought all these rules together into a single tome to give DMs (and players) all the things they needed in a single book along with adding even more material to play beyond the boxes.
An interesting set of rules with a different flavor it saw the end of it’s life in 1994 with the last boxed starter set.So if you fondly recall the basic game, it’s races as classes, the fun adventures and a simpler time… enjoy those times again.
A more specific history can be found here among other sources :
So, you are asking yourself – what about that white box?Well, technically the white box is the -first- starter box set. So if you are curious about the very first set of rules (that was in a box) you can find out more about that here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_(1974)Expect a run down of the OD&D box and books a little bit down the road.
So this weeks little spotlight on a long gone company is – Avalon Hill.
Now I can hear the “But wait! They aren’t gone. They still do things through Wizards of the Coast.”
Well, not quite true. Avalon Hill started out back in the 50s, long before WOTC. They were pioneers in the historical board game field and branched out over time doing roleplaying (like Lords of Creation and Powers & Perils) and even published Runequest for a while. Their catalog of games covered simple games to titles that were large and complex, The Longest Day commonly being called ‘The Longest Game’ for example.
They made many a game indeed, gaming magazines and even some decent computer games. They originally published Squad Leader, then Advanced Squad leader – now published by MultiMan Publishing. Avalon Hill even formed a second company Victory Games to publish other titles with new ideas and outlooks.
Then in 1998 they were bought by Hasbro and the original staff laid off, the name simply being put on titles that really were not games that had much to do with the original company.
So we look back at Avalon Hill, the gaming giant who still survives in other companies game catalogs elsewhere and on the shelves of die hard gamers everywhere.
A little bit of the history can be found here :
And for those trying to track down some items – well, we have a few. And we’d be happy to work on your behalf to find ones we don’t. So if you have a game you want to play again, a title you’ve heard of you can’t live without or a gift you want to give… drop us a line.
November 11th –
A science fiction roleplaying game that’s been around for almost as long as there has been roleplaying. Originally published in 1977 it’s been around in a number of guises since then from several different companies, including a 5th edition written by one of the original authors Marc Miller himself. Science fiction but not science fantasy the game is human-centric but highly adaptable to whatever setting you’d want. It was also known for the fact that character generation could be deadly. Yes, with some bad luck you might end up in a dead before you even get to the tabletop. There was a lot of third party support for the game and a fandom that still loves the game to this very day.
At the moment we do have some of this classic game.
MegaTraveller, Traveller 2300AD, Mongoose Publishing Traveller (1st edition), Third Imperium, T5 and other versions are in the stacks as well.
Want to know more about the history of the game?
As far as original GDW Traveller – we have :
Three book set. 2nd edition printing, very good condition – $25
Striker – Traveller Miniature mass miniature combat
-complete set of books & tables, but without the box – $25
Journal the the Traveller’s Aid Society #24 (good $5)
Book 0 – An Introduction to Traveller (very good $15)
Book 4 – Mercenary [expanded army characters] (Good $16)
Book 5 – High Guard [expanded naval characters] (fair $8)
Adventure 6 – Expedition to Zhodane (good $15)
Double Adventure 2 – Across the Bright Face & Mission on Mithril (very good $25)
Supplement 1 – 1001 Characters (Igood $18)
Supplement 2 – Animal Encounters (very good $20)
Supplement 4 – Citizens of the Imperium (very good $20)
Supplement 8 – Library Data A-M (excellent $20)
Supplement 9 – Fighting Ships (good $15)
Supplement 13 – Veterans (good $20)
FASA – Far Traveller Magazine #1 (excellent $30)
GameLords Ltd – The Mountain Environment (Good $16)
Group One Games – Nithus (excellent $40)
Group One Games – Nystalux (excellent $40)
Independent Publishing Company – A Traveller’s Guide to the Marischal Subsector (Near Mint $15)
Paranoia Press – Merchants & Merchandise (very good $25)
If some of the other flavors of Traveller tickle your fancy – let us know. WE can let you know what we’ve got if your looking about for a particular item.
November 5th –
Middle Earth Roleplaying
Middle Earth Role Playing Game
Also known as MERP for short was a simplified version of the Rolemaster system designed to provide a framework to adventure in Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
Character generation is straightforward, combat and magic designed to move quickly without over complication. The core game had everything required and there were adventure books based in certain areas of Middle Earth, Area Modules that showed a given area, it’s ecologies, locations of note, flora and fauna and sourcebooks that helped provide rules, background and other information.
Angus McBride did a great deal of the cover art which showcased his style and lent an air of realism to the fantasy world.
Iron Crown Enterprises did a collectible card game which showcased Angus McBride artwork as well.
So if you are a Tolkien fan and are curious about Middle Earth or always wanted to play Rolemaster but were befuddled by all the charts and tables – track down the books. And for a more detailed bit of history :
And for those of you who might be curious – we have :
Minas Ithil (with map) – (good $25)
The Necromancer’s Lieutenant adventure – (good $25)
Adventure Guidebook II (no map, Very good, $10)
Creatures of Middle Earth – (good $35)
Court of Ardor (with map) – (very good $60)
Riders of Rohan – (good $40)
Pirates of Pelargirn – (very good $28)
Woses of the Black Wood – (very good $40)
Brigands of Mirkwood – (fair $20)
Bree and the Barrowdowns – (good $30, Very Good $48)
Combat Screen – (good $35)
Nazgul’s Citadel – (very good $50)
Citadels of Middle Earth : Minas Tirith (with map excellent $58)
MERP boxed set (good shape – $45)
-missing the counters and dice. The 16 page extra book is separated and colored.