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Subject: Nostalgia Overdrive; All For The Love Of This Game rss

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Jeffery Hatmaker
United States
Kentucky
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Backdrop:

When I was in Navy band New Orleans, I used to travel with what I called my "medicine bag." It was a small, zippered, nylon Nike bag, what would nowadays be called a "man purse" I suppose, with all the essentials for sanity maintenance when we traveled and toured. It had within it, my walkman, cassettes, batteries a deck of cards, cigarettes, (I used to smoke then), extra lighter, puzzle books, and a paperback 'n' magazine, and, oh yeah... Melee. This game helped me take my mind to a better place when the tedium of interminable travel began to set in with it's sickening regularity. We played games in Navy Band NOLA like nobody's bidness. The biggest were Spades and Backgammon, but dearest to me will always be Melee. Now we've been down memory lane, let's look at the game itself.

Uh-Oh:

It's out of print, which means you're probably stuck playing a "cyber board" version, which robs it of some of it's three-dimensional appeal. Steve Jackson's "chainmail" miniatures rules likewise come highly recommended, but that's another story for another day...

Oh Yeah!

This game is fast and easy to play. It lends itself to solo play and there are several "programmed" adventures, (i.e., "if you choose (a), go here, if (b) go here," etc.) It's set up as an arena that's broken down into hexagons. It's easy to create characters, (no role playing is involved, unless you're an inveterate die-hard and just can't help yourself), and you simply pit two gladiators against each other. There is a fantasy supplement to the rules which allows for elves, dwarves, monsters, hobbits, etc., thus broadening the games possibilities even further. Equipment necessary to play is minimal, viz, pencil and paper, map, minis (you can use the cardboard 'minis' that come with it), and a six sided die. Everything you need could literally fit in your pockets, (unless you're in the military, hence the need for my "medicine bag.")

Oops:

As you may have guessed, in any battle scenario, there are optimum configurations of strength, dexterity, armor and weapons. If you go heavy on armor, you're slow, and have to use smaller weapons. If you go heavy on weapons, you've gotta be practically naked to keep up. Needless to say, there are some very common optimum character configurations, which time will invariably reveal. That said, there's still enough variation in play to keep you interested 'til the cows come home.

Et Tu Steve?

It's a sign of either (a) the apocalypse or (b) the decline of western civilization that these games have not been reprinted. What does all this mean?

Verdict:



It means that this is among the best games I've ever played, and will remain so for as long as I can still gather my wits and some paper and dice. If you like fantasy, are a grognard, or enjoy miniature combat, this elegant little game is an absolute must.
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Ronald Pehr
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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Despite its flaws - notably the "minimax" approach to figuring out a successful character, and the static everybody-moves-and-only-then-everybody-fights holdover from older wargames - this was truly the best. Everyone I know liked it, incorporated generous helpings of the rules (as well as those from the companion game, "Wizard") into on-going D&D campaigns, and GURPS has not replaced it as a perennial object of affection.
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Bruce Glassco
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Oh yeah, this was the best.

Also, let's not forget the RPG that it spawned, The Fantasy Trip. After the long desert of D&D and all its clones (Tunnels and Trolls, Tekumel, Traveler) this was the first true second-generation, design-your-own-character, every-fourth-level-dwarven-fighter-is-not-identical-to-every-other-fourth-level-dwarven-fighter roleplaying game.
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j b Goodwin

Lynchburg
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Yeah, this was the best. Still a great game, still played by those of us who were around and aware way back then.
 
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Ronald Estes
United States
La Vergne
Tennessee
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Ah, memories! Thanks for the enjoyable review.
 
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Christopher Brandon
United States
Lynnwood
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Actually it sort of IS reprinted...check out www.darkcitygames.com
The have a version called Legends of the Ancient World that is a hybrid Wizard/melee combo. Oh...AND it is FREE to download, along with a free module! Lots of other solo/ multi-player modules to buy. All come with a map, counters, rule set and adventure! As a melee/ wizard fan it's cool to see someone do something to revive this line!
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Ronald Estes
United States
La Vergne
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Fenway5 wrote:
Actually it sort of IS reprinted...check out www.darkcitygames.com
The have a version called Legends of the Ancient World that is a hybrid Wizard/melee combo. Oh...AND it is FREE to download, along with a free module! Lots of other solo/ multi-player modules to buy. All come with a map, counters, rule set and adventure! As a melee/ wizard fan it's cool to see someone do something to revive this line!


Very interesting. Thanks for the link.
 
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Kevin Heany

South Carolina
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Hey Jeff. I know your post is a year old but you talked like you no longer have the game. If you need me to zerox mine I can send it your way, just got to dig it out. Turned 43 Dec 12 then moved last month and I've been reminiscing about my teen years and gaming from the stuff I found in the attic.
 
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Jeffery Hatmaker
United States
Kentucky
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Chicken McFuggits wrote:
Hey Jeff. I know your post is a year old but you talked like you no longer have the game. If you need me to zerox mine I can send it your way, just got to dig it out. Turned 43 Dec 12 then moved last month and I've been reminiscing about my teen years and gaming from the stuff I found in the attic.


Ah, spoken like a true game geek! Thank you so much for being so thoughtful! Actually, I got lucky and scored Melee and Wizard off of BGG's Marketplace. I screwed around and found my "Death Test" in the attic, along with my HUGE rubber battle-mat, which pulls prodigious duty in games like X-treme Zombie Hunter. I thank you for your willingness to put another forty-something in touch with this remarkable game!


(That's me right after boot camp)

Regards,

Jeff.
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