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Posted on Oct 19, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Let the Games Begin

By Peter Suciu

Where games often are in some demand, albeit limited demand is at the annual summer war game convention known as Gen Con. What started as a small gathering of hardcore players in 1967 has blossomed into the largest gaming event in North America and the Milwaukee, WI event attracts more than 25,000 gamers from around the world. Although war gaming is still a big part of the convention, over the year’s tradable card games, along with role-playing games and even interactive entertainment have begun to take a larger center stage. It is still an outstanding venue to meet fellow war gamers and to try to track down rare titles.

For those who are unable to take the time to head to the summer heat of Milwaukee, searches can be done via mail order or even by inquiring at local gaming stores. The older titles are continuing to attract more and more attention.


The Avalon Hill titles have been especially popular since Hasbro acquired the game publisher, and as a result renewed interest in both the current catalog as well as the older titles. “Hasbro has redone many of the games, they’ve brought them back,” explains Michael Kilbert, co-owner of the Compleat Strategist, a mini-chain with stores in New York City, Boston, Falls Church, Va., and King of Prussia, Pa. “Some of the games are even better than the original.”

Some notable titles that have become especially hot sellers are for titles that until recently had been quite obtainable. Avalon Hill’s Midway, Stalingrad and D-Day were examples of excellent games that had been in print for decades and the availability of these titles in turn decreased demand. Paul Meyer adds that this is because so many of the company’s games had been in constant publication and were readily accessible until Avalon Hill was sold. “Today there are some games that are downright hard to find,” Meyer explains, “this is especially true of the earliest releases because when they came out they were the only games to play.”

Other titles like The Longest Day, a game that many have described as being a monster of a game, only had one print run. This and the original high cost of nearly $80 make it especially attractive to collectors today. Equally sought after is the Western Expansion Map for Avalon Hill’s Civilization, which Meyer explains was, “an expansion of an expansion. It had a limited print run and people want it to add more players to Civilization.”

The Compleat Strategist also continues to see interest in the older World War II titles including Third Reich and Advanced Third Reich. Even with the new versions of games like History of the World, Kilbert adds that with gamers, someone is always going to complain about something. “They want it the way it used to be and even if it is better they won’t be satisfied.”

History of the World Game Box

History of the World by Avalon Hill

Interaction remains the primary reason for the recent wave of interest in the older titles, while computer games can now be played over the Internet or even via e-mail the level of interaction with a fellow gamer still remains elusive. “I think the difference between a board game and a computer game is that people want interaction with another person, they’re tired of sitting in front of a computer and playing a game solo against the computer. Even against another person they’re sitting alone in front of a computer terminal,” argues Kilbert. “They’re not really interacting with another person. And no matter how complex a computer game can be it will never match a board game.”

While simulations for the PC have become impressively better in recent years there are many hardcore war games who enjoy the good old days of paper and cardboard but still use their computers to track down the traditional board games. The Internet has opened up numerous opportunities for locating original copies or at least replacement pieces. Some quick research on a popular Web directory like or a search engine like will certainly turn up numerous entries, depending on how specific the user tries to be; and obviously looking for a specific title helps immensely. Going to the direct sources that specialize in these games should also be a first spot for anyone on a hunt for that rare and hard-to-find title.

Auction sites like have also allowed owners of older games to post their games and set a reserve price that must be met to complete the sale. This helps protect them from letting a game go too cheaply, while the auction style method makes the possibility of getting a fair deal somewhat more likely. It should also provide a basis for the current going price for a particular title, but as expected some people will outspend everyone else if they can afford it and really want it.

When conducting business online it is recommended that the buyer obtain as much information from the seller as possible. Cash should of course never be sent and if possible merchandize should be bought COD. It is recommended that the seller provide digital images of the game and specify the condition of the contents.

Searches on the World Wide Web could very well come up empty, especially because specialty retailers cannot possibly list every single item in their inventories. An alternative for those with Internet experience should also consider using the recreational Usenet groups. There are non-moderated message based forums online where users have formed mini-communities devoted to specific areas of interest, including a debate board for the buying, selling and trading of board games. The most popular board game forum is, and those looking to use it will need an Internet Service Provider that offers Usenet Newsgroup forums as well as Newsgroup reader like Free Agent. Additionally the forum can normally be accessed via’s usenet discussion forum – although some users have experienced some delay in the posting of their messages.  

With Usenet it is even more important to get as much information as possible on the buyer and/or seller. Obtaining a phone number and making arrangements on price and who pays the shipping is extremely important. It is recommended that buyers should not worry about asking too many questions about the condition while the seller should be happy about supplying those answers. A transaction where everyone walks away happy is a good transaction.

Resources for finding out-of-print board games:

Gamers Alliance
PO Box 197
East Meadow, NY 11554

Crazy Egor’s
4 South Ave
Hilton, NY  14468

The Compleat Strategist
11 East 33rd Street
New York, NY  10016

The Sentry Box
1835 – 10th Ave. S.W.
Calgary, AB, T3C 0K2

Usenet Newsgroups:

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