Entries tagged with “gaming”.

AD&D 2nd Edition Preview

Touted as the “most eagerly awaited event in roleplaying history” (or at least of the spring of 1989), the release of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition was like paying $60 to have your car replaced with a hot air balloon. That is to say if the first edition was a high-performance machine with lots of features and options, 2nd edition was a wicker basket, a tarp and some fire, but the view was better and somehow you liked it. Knowing that such a abrupt change in rules could come as a shock to players, TSR released this free preview catalog that outlined all the majors changes several months in advance so people would have some time to accept and adjust to a new system they would ultimately have to adopt regardless, if they wished to continue playing the game at all. The 31 page explanation starts by buttering up the audience with the announcement of the removal a seldom understood and more seldom used ability of comeliness. I don’t believe there exists a gamer who could honestly admit with a straight face that they wish this ability had not been removed. Then, once they had you lulled into this state of appeasement, they hit you with the complete deletion of not one, but FIVE of your favorite character classes. Suddenly your lips began to quiver as you contemplated the fate of Fyngyn “Fingers” the Silentfooted, your 12th level dual-classed Monk Assassin, at the hands of these preposterous “new rules”, but upon further reading it was clear that everything would be just fine. Three pages worth of just fine. They then hit you with this new system called THAC0, which was the simplification of five different combat tables into one simple to understand system that could be used for all combat situations. Ironically, THAC0 itself would later be deemed too confusing to players and be revised again into an even simpler system in 2000, with the release of 3rd Edition. They also removed all demons and devils from their vast catalog of monsters so parents of troubled teens would no longer mistake their child’s constant desire to hang out with friends in the basement, eating pizza and drinking soda, pretending to be elves and gnomes and the like, until the wee hours of the morning, with Satan worship.

All that aside, the 2nd Edition rules preview is a scarce little gem representing the precursor of a great storm, like forgotten calm… in book form.

1981 Avalon Hill Games Catalog

This 20 page catalog is all that remains of an old copy of the game Feudal that my parents owned, and that I tried in vain to teach myself to play in a one-player fashion while still far too young for the real rules to make any sense. In some ways it is more interesting today than the game ever was. It is dated Nov. 1, 1981 and includes a complete listing of all games available at the time as well as prices for individual component of each game, should you need to replace them. Avalon Hill was one of the premier providers of wargames and strategy games for decades until it was absorbed into Hasbro in 1998. Today it exists as a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast where they continue to publish a handful of the most successful games from the over 300 titles it once owned.

The catalog is broken into sections by genre, including Fantasy/Science Fiction, Strategy/Wargames, Leisure Time/Family Games, Sports Games, and finally “Microcomputer Games”. This last section, something Avalon Hill had only started offering just the year before, features some very early computer games available on both 5 1/4″ disk or cassette tape, complete with system requirements table (anywhere from 16K to 48K of memory) and was reserved for “those elite owners of home computers”.

Avalon Hill Microcomputing Games Table

Beyond this there was also a Miscellaneous section where you could order hex paper, dice and other such requisite gaming paraphernalia, a Magazines section which really just included the one Magazine they published, called The General, and a Discontinued Parts list, a list of parts still available for games that were no longer in print.

I have provided the entire catalog in pdf format below. Try not to cry while reading it.

1981 Avalon Hill Games Catalog (pdf)