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Subject: A look at this family of games rss

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Eamon Bloomfield
Germany
23569 Lübeck
Schleswig Holstein
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Gibsons have been making this game for more years than they care to remember. In 1909 Harry Gibson published L'Attaque and it has been published ever since. I even have an Army & Navy catalogue from the thirties and, according to their advert, they not only made this game but they also made a deluxe version. If that exists, I have never seen it and the ad doesn't explain any differences there might be.

L'Attaque was the first to be published. It was a much earlier version of the successful Stratego game. Stratego might be thought of as the Rolls-Royce of the idea, L'Attague was the family car version. L'Attaque depicted army ranks to resolve combats. This was so successful that the company quickly followed with Dover Patrol (the navy) and Aviation (the airforce). The people loved it so Tri-Tactics was released, being a more complicated game and featurng army, navy and airforce units. This is easily the best game in my opinion. In Tri-Tactics there is a more interesting board which has sea and land squares. You can move any piece on to either terrain but if they are challenged and are in the wrong place, they are automatically beaten. But it is very satisfying to move your Field Artillery unit across the sea unchallenged and when it reaches land it can now be a major threat behind enemy lines.

In later years they changed Aviation's title to Battle of Britain. And they even tried a short-lived fantasy edition called Swords & Wizardry.

Early editions featured cards with nice graphics for the rank or equipment, and they fitted into metal holders. In my experience, these metal holders can be quite sharp if not handled correctly and they soon bend out of shape. The later plastic holders don't bend so are more practical for setting up the game.

As for gameplay, a higher ranking card beats a lower ranking card, with the twist that a very low ranked card can beat a powerful card. The pieces line up at the start with the graphics facing the player and the blank backs facing his opponent. When pieces come back-to-back, they are revealed and the highest ranked usually wins. The losing player takes his piece off the board, but, now, if he has good memory, he knows the rank of the victorious card and can hopefully maneouvre a larger ranked card to get his revenge. Early forays are exploratory and the memory plays a major part in the game. Each game in the series has unique rules but the basic procedure is the same. For example, L'Attaque has immobile Mines that kill any opponent who faces it, except the Sapper who can beat the Mine. Obviously a player could be cunning and not move a piece at all and his opponent will eventually think it must be a Mine, but when a Sapper confronts it, the Sapper is killed and the superior Officer can move now as his identity is known to the enemy.

Well worth adding to your collection and the graphics change over the years, so you might well want to own multiple copies of the same title.
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Jon
Canada
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Traditional games that have survived the test of time and ancient games that have not are a part of our heritage.
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m'n - the Egyptian hieroglyph for board game, also signifying "stability" and used phonetically as in the last syllable of "Tutankhamun"
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Thanks for this very interesting information about this family of games.

Anyone have any information about how the Chinese board game, Lu Zhan Jun Qi fits into this history? Did L'Attaque derive from it or did it derive from either L'Attaque or Stratego?

There is a discussion of the history of this family of games, especially its relationship to Chinese games, here: STRATEGO: Setting the HISTORY record STRAIGHT
 
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