Here are photos of various 1:87th scale miniature wargames we played from 1970-1974 using the Tractics ruleset. The main period was while we were in high school 1970-1972 and during that the games were almost weekly. Most (perhaps 70!) were planned scenarios, situations, as opposed to sort of thrown-together games (which we derisively called “slop games” as in slopping the hogs).
Planned meant that we had made up unique sand table terrain, sprinkled “grass” (green sawdust from Lifelike RR Hobbies), lichen, HO scale trees and houses. Plus we drew a map of the sand table terrain, typed up orders and OBs with all the earnestness that a 15 year old can manage.
Perhaps because of “situations”, to this day many of the ICD club members really don’t understand the concept of bringing your own “army” then playing “ahistorical” games using “points”. Some of that comes from how just two of the club members painted up hundreds of tanks (including infamous Nick tanks (from Saladins and modern US personnel carriers’ tracks to stand in for Russian BT7s and T60s), halftracks (which had to be modified from Radar detecters), AT, guns, trucks and infantry. So we didn’t really have a distributed modeling effort—which is ideal.
Nearly all games utilized hidden movement for the defenders although some meeting engagements had both sides moving on a sketch map until nominated observation (each vehicle crew member got to search a 1 or 2″ square area unless if they unbuttoned and then (as I remember it) 4×4″.
And with our developing Hidden Movement System, the game required a neutral party which, for some reason, we called Judge rather than referee… and that was part of how we came to name Judges Guild in 1976. Since the basement of the Franklin Mall had two rooms, the attackers would be banished during the defenders’ whispering session with the Judge and hidden fire conducted by the terrifying TOAD balls.
Taking French in school, we also had to pronounce the word Situation in the French manner which just shows how wild and crazy we were high school wargaming! When asked what my high school achievements and “letters” were for the yearbook, the school pointedly left out my listing Presidency of the ICD Wargame Club. Sigh. That was the only thing good about by high school years—well, really my fellow club members actually.
By 1974 we got away from Tractics and into D&D. By 1978 my interest gravitated away from over-sized skirmish games to rulesets designed more for bigger battles… from the 1:1 figure:soldier ratio up to where a stand of two figures represented a platoon or company of soldiers.
Eventually I met Mike Reese (a co-author of Tractics) in about 1991 at a Gen Con in Milwaukee where he was judging a game of Command Decision. Then in January 2018 I ran into him again online. I asked and found that he no longer played his Tractics rules set. So my natural question was what he felt was the best miniature wargame rules: Arc of Fire is it. So that’s high praise for that rules set. He did mention that he plays a lot of Flames of War because that’s so popular now. When I try to follow FOW posts on Facebook, they always lose me as they talk about points!
I was looking at Decatur’s annual Heroicon game convention which may not have many historical wargames of my particular interest (Avalon Hill or miniatures). But Saturday May 5, 1 p.m. called Normandy 1944 – Tank Attack, there will be an Arc of Fire game. So “serious” skirmish miniature games return to Decatur after a forty year absence!
Before we get to the photos of the situations, here’s a word from our sponsor, Stevie Jay Travel:
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Ride the Tiger? Literally…
We just got word that the Militrack militaria fair our WargamerTour.com is visiting when we head to battlefields, museums and castles May 8-21, 2018 is negotiating with the French tank museum at Saumur to bring their operational Tiger II!
We already have admission tickets to the event (which they expect to sell out if the Tiger’s inclusion is announced) and have included the €50 “tank riding” fee for each tour member in their package price.
Militracks reports Regarding the picture: we can not confirm yet that this fantastic piece of armour will be at our show, as getting it here is quite a challenge. So, no guarantee. But yes, the people in Saumur and Overloon are working on it. And we have good hopes.
Please note that Militracks does NOT say that attendees will be allowed to ride the Tiger but there is at least a small chance that they might. And even if it doesn’t even show up and make the earth shake at Militracks, our tour members will see the Tiger at the Musée des Blindés earlier in the tour at Saumur.
Tour members will get to choose from a variety of vintage, restored German WWII vehicles to ride: other tanks (like a Hetzer), Sdkfz 251 halftracks and softskins (like 88mm gun tractor Sdkfz 7, Kettenrad or Schwimmwagen) that are at the event and can ride those at no extra charge. Tiger or not, this is your chance to be a 1:1 scale Tank Rider!
As we have only five seats left on the tour (as of March 13, latest word at WargamerTour.com) we can accommodate a combination of those wanting a single room, twin room for two or share a room with another illustrious wargamer. Don’t miss it. There are several games included at local clubs: Ghent, Arnhem and Amsterdam.
Enough commercial, back to regularly scheduled wargaming blogpost on line.
Tractics Situations Photos
CAPTIONS YET TO BE ADDED