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Subject: A capsule overview of the game, with component manifest rss

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Escape From Altassar
Task Force Games
(1982, $4.95)
Designed by Daniel Campagna

Players: 2
Playing Time: 1 hour
Period: Science Fiction
Scale: Tactical
-- Turn: 1 hour
-- Map: not stated
-- Unit: individual soldier, POW, or vehicle

Box: 6x9" ziplock bag.

Components: 16 page rulebook, 17x22" unmounted mapsheet, 54 die-cut counters.

Counter Manifest: 35 yellow Spikus counters, 18 purple Confederation counters, 1 white game turn counter.

Task Force says: "The game recreates the escape of Confederation prisoners from the Spikus POW camp on Altassar, and the subsequent pursuit by Spikus soldiers. Various units, such as Trackers, Drystals, Recovery Wagons, and Trip Nets are used as players perform in this tense game of escape and pursuit."

The reviewer says: "This game has several things in its favor. First and foremost is its original premise . . . The rules . . . certainly seem to capture the flavor of a prison break . . . Unfortunately, the bad things about Escape From Altassar outweigh the good . . . I can't recommend [it]. Although it has some interesting chrome, there's nothing solid to hang it on. What begins as a nice premise degenerates into a turkey shoot. Task Force Games has done better in the past, and gamers have a right to expect something a bit more polished and refined." Tony Watson in The Space Gamer Number 61.

Comments: In 1979, Task Force Games came on the scene with a series of ziplock bagged "Pocket Games." Most of the games shared several common features: 6x9" rulebooks with cardstock covers, die-cut counters, and 17x22" mapsheets. Twenty-two Pocket Game titles were released before the line was dropped as unprofitable in 1983. Some of the Pocket Games went on to become enduring classics (namely Starfire and Star Fleet Battles), while others were rereleased as bookcase boxed games (Swordquest and Operation Pegasus). The Pocket Games were primarily based on science-fiction or fantasy themes, although there were three historical titles in the series (Operation Pegasus, Prochorovka, and Battlewagon).

Collector's Notes: While the early Pocket Games were released in ziplocks, some of the later games were shrinkwrapped with the ziplock storage bag folded inside the rulebook (anyone who has tried to get a game back into a snug fitting ziplock can probably hazard a guess as to why this change came about). Escape From Altassar is one of the Pocket Games that may be found in the shrinkwrapped format.

You may still have a reasonable chance of tracking down a brand new copy of Escape From Altassar for a reasonable price [as of the year 2000]. Stashes of old store stock Pocket Games seem to turn up for sale every so often. Don't get too excited about mint copies. There seem to have been quite a few of them out there the past few years, and those were selling for $5 or less. Boone's Internet Wargames Catalog (3rd edition) lists low/high/average auction prices of $1/$3/$2.20 and low/high/average sale listings of $5/$12/$7.

This article was originally published in issue 8 of Simulacrum, July 2000.

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