The Year was 1969…..
- Richard M. Nixon began his first term as the President of the United States.
- Soviet and Chinese forces were fighting on the Manchurian border over some disputed island.
- A total of 25,000 U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, leaving 474,000 remaining.
- Formal truce negotiations began in Paris to end the Vietnam War.
- Charles de Gaulle resigned as President of France.
- American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr were the first men to walk on the moon.
- Radio Hanoi announced the death of Ho Chi Minh.
- John Wayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor in True Grit.
- The New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.
- The New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series
In the Wargaming World, the following happened that same year…..
- New York’s Strategy & Tactics beat Baltimore’s Avalon Hill to the punch in designing the first true tactical wargame.
- Avalon Hill released Anzio: A Realistic Game of Forces in Italy, 1944. The ad copy read “Why Not Visit Rome this Year…..and bring along the 5th Army.” Many today consider Anzi to be a classic.
- James Dunnigan formed Poulton Press and purchased the gaming magazine Strategy & Tactics.
- Dunnigan released Strategy & Tactics issue #18 which revolutionized the wargaming industry by adopting the “game-in-the-magazine” format. In that particular issue, Poulton Press ran a full-page ad announcing ten new games which was an unheard format back then.
Some of the game titles listed in the ten new games ad were Barbarossa, Normandy, Leipzig and another game which was simply titled Tactical Games 3. The ad copy of that issue of Strategy & Tactics described Tactical Games 3 as:
“A new departure in games. A platoon/company level game whose main objective was to compare different weapons/tactical systems. This version deals with the situation on the Russian front in 1944. Counters include T34c, T34/85, JSII, Su85, PzIV, PzV, PzVIb, and many other armored fighting vehicles as well as infantry, mortar, artillery and other types of weapons. A radical new approach to historical gaming. The first to be published of a series of similar games… $5.00.”
Tactical Games 3 was reported as being a “new departure” due to the fact it touched on areas that had never been attempted before. The games prior to Tactical Games 3, designed by James Dunnigan, were based on a strategic/operational level. Tactical Games 3 opened the doors to a new genre of games as well as a new methodology for playing and designing wargames. These new methodologies included realistic terrain considerations, line-of-sight and proper tactics, and a type of “plug-in” multiple scenario format.
In 1976, Fire & Movement Magazine was founded. James Dunnigan was interviewed for the July 1976 issue of Fire & Movement. Dunnigan was asked about any recent rumors regarding the wargame hobby industry and he said John Hill had been approached by Avalon Hill to design a wargame like Tank!, but instead a squad level game. My father, John Hill, was the most respected admired independent game designer. John Hill had a reputation of being the head designer of Conflict magazine and was also the president and founder of Conflict Games Company. My father was until the day he passed away an important figure in the game’s public eye. During the interview with Dunnigan, it was noted that one of John Hill’s earlier games, The Battle of Hue, a tactical game, was very popular and showed promise of paving the way to designing a squad level game similar to Tank!
One year later in 1977, John Hill’s design for Avalon Hill was released as Squad Leader: The Game of Infantry Combat in WWII. In November 1977, Fire & Movement Magazine featured Squad Leader detailing a full report. The rest, as they say, is warame history.
SOURCE: Fire & Movement Special Report History of Tactical Games by Rodger B. MacGowan
Thank you for reading this article on the history of tactical games and the evolution of Squad Leader.