Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means


I am a rapidly approaching middle aged computer tech who lives in the Portland Metro area in Oregon.

Since around the 4th or 5th grade, I became more and more interested in the subject of World War II. I ran across it randomly in our World Book Encyclopedia, and was amazed at the pictures and the sheer immensity of the war. This was back in, what, 1976? The war had been over barely 30 years. My grandparents remembered it, and my parents were born during it.

When I was in high school, a friend of mine turned me on to Western Desert from Game Designer’s Workshop. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, so he let me borrow it and play around with it.

We soon graduated to Fire in the East, which took up most of his bedroom floor.

We loved to play that game, and it is probably still my favorite, but it is difficult to play that thing solitaire. I’ve tried.

I got all of the games, and graduated on to modern wars and the American Civil War. I bought Scorched Earth, the sequel to Fire in the East, but my friends started to move away as we went off to college or the military. After that, I just never had any space to set them up. Games like Case White or Narvik don’t take up much space, but the war in the desert and the war in Russia does, and those were the ones I wanted to play.

At the time, I had no idea that the Europa Association even existed. I didn’t discover it for several years.

I waited patiently for Second Front to be released. I would visit my local gaming store looking for it every now and again, and they would tell me they never heard of it, and they had no listings for GDW Second Front.

It was getting towards the mid-90’s when I went to this same store, and was informed that Second Front would never be coming out, because GDW folded. I was so bummed, but I saw a copy of Europa magazine, #75, I think it was, and found out about the Europa Association and that Second Front had indeed been released, but from GR/D.

I joined the association, and joined the yahoo group.

I feel I have a lot of general knowledge on the subject of the war. When I read the posts from the members on the group, I get a little intimidated, because there is so much specific knowledge out there. People who can rattle off the technical specifications of a Russian KV-85 tank, or every unit that participated in a certain battle.

I could never be able to commit that much knowledge to my brain. That’s why I have books. I have atlases, a couple of books from William Shirer, some from John Toland, Patton’s posthumous book, Heinz Guderian’s book on armored warfare, and so on.

But the years went by, and I finally got some space to play them. Not a lot, but enough. For now. I still can’t set up Fire in the East, or War in the Desert, but I can split the two games and play each independently.

I like to play these games. Playing against someone else would be better, but we all do what we have to do. =)


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