The American Civil War Centennial and it's effects on the gaming hobby
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
25 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
In 1961 an event happened that effected the gaming hobby in a way that perhaps no other has since. No, it wasn't Magic the Gathering but the Centennial of the American Civil War. Before the Centennial there really wasn't a wargaming hobby. Yes there had been a few wargames leading up to the Centennial but they were few and far between and they didn't exactly light up the cash registers of stores.

In the 1950s however there was in increasing interest in the Civil War as it's 100th anniversay approached and the last of the Civil War veterans died. A great number of books on the Civil War were also published in the late 50s as book companies set themselves up to take advantage of the increasing interest. The first book in Shelby Footes famous trilogy which he started in 1954 and was released in 1958 is an example of this. He was commissioned to write that series by a publisher who wanted to have a book out to take advantage of the event. The publisher got volume one in time but volume 3 in the series didn't see bookshelves until 1974, a full 20 years after he was commissioned for the project.

Book publishers weren't the only ones who saw the Centennial as a chance to cash in. So the games starting coming out in 1957-58 and by time the Centennial was over there were a good number of titles simulating the Civil War that had been produced. 1961 specifically saw a flood of Civil War games. In fact all most of the games listed here were released in 1961 to directly take advantage of the Centennial.

It was the publication of these games which for a large part jump started the wargaming hobby. Game companies found that wargames sold well and more soon followed. Avalon Hill emerged as a leader in this new wargaming hobby thanks to several Civil War games it published. Milton Bradly had such good success with their Civil War game that they launched a game series called The American Heritage series which included the classic game Dogfight. These children's games turned many a child into life long wargamers....children like me.

Since this event in our history has had such a profound effect on our hobby's creation, I think it is high time that a closer look be taken at these early civil war games that helped create the wargaming hobby.

What's funny is when you look at this list, while historical games, (especially children's games) came into fashion as a result of these games and the wargaming hobby was born, civil war games didn't continue to be in fashion for quite a while. Most of these games were published in 1961 and in fact after 1961 there simply weren't anymore civil war games published for another seven years. Through 1967 there are no other civil war games listed at all in the BGG database until 1968 when a game called "Cannonball" is released.
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: wargaming [+] [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: The Gray Ghost [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
This is one of the first Civil War games and is actually a tie in with a tv show of the same name. The TV show was created to take advantage of the increasing interest in the Civil War in the late 50s.

For the game you get to play one of Mosby's Raiders. The series itself was short lived. The game didn't fair much better from the looks of it.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Gettysburg [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:8717]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
While the previous game was likely more a tv tie in than a direct attempt to create a wargame, this one is the real McCoy. Created by the father of wargaming Charles Roberts, it put Avalon Hill on the map in many ways. While Avalon Hill published several games such as U-Boat along with Gettysburg, it was this game that truly took off and sold for them for many years. One can argue that it is the game that started it all and it definitely had a large impact on other wargames that came after it.

I have a friend who bought a copy of this game at the Gettysburg Visitors Center on his first visit to the battlefield when he was a kid in 1963. That kid is now a licenced Gettysburg battlefield guide and one of the most knowledgeable scholors I know. He still has the game!

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: Civil War [Average Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:8675]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
Charles Roberts was no dummy and knew a good thing when he saw it. He followed up Gettysburg with this title along with Chancellorsville in 1961. While never as successful as Gettysburg, this was one of the first wargames ever to try to simulate an entire war.

Another thing that makes Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and this game different is in the past games like Gray Ghost were just that. They were games. Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and this game however crossed the line over into simulation. They were attempts to simulate a real battle and a real war. They were a major step forward in moving board games from a fun thing you played with the kids into a serious hobby for history buffs.

Also like Gettysburg it was an innovative game featuring the now very familiar hex map!

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: Chancellorsville (first edition) [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:8362]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
I love the siege mortar on the cover of this game even though there were none of these at Chancellorsville.

Again like the games above, this one crosses the line over into simulation. All of these Avalon Hill Civil War games sold in the visitors centers at the major battlefields around the country and thus civil war buffs saw them and bought them. it was the perfect target audience for the games and many of the people who bought these Avalon Hill titles went onto be life long wargamers.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: Campaign!: The American Go Game [Average Rating:4.33 Unranked]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
Now you don't think Avalon Hill was the only one trying to make a buck off of making Civil War games now did you? This one published by Saalfield Publishing was also released in 1961 at the same time as Avalon Hill's Chancellorsville and Civil War games. This one was considerably more forgettable however.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Civil War Game 1863 [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:8382]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
This time it's game giant Parker Brothers coming out with it's game in 1961. It's game however is more old fashion game than a real attempt at a simulation. As you can see by the gameboard it's a long way from here before we get to things like VG's Civil War and For The People.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
7. Board Game: Battle of Atlanta: War Centennial Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
You can see the influence of Avalon Hill's game Gettysburg all over this one.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
8. Board Game: Battle-Cry [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:8568]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
Released in 1961 as well, it is the first game in Milton Bradly's American Heritage series. The series was so successful for Milton Bradly that they went onto publish many more historical themed games over the years. Many of the kids who bought those wargames grew up and became grognards. Combined with the Avalon Hill games, the American Heritage series games in the early 60s did a great deal to help jump start the wargaming hobby.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.