Gamemaster (board game series)
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The Gamemaster Series of board games consists of five war simulation games created by the game company Milton Bradley, beginning in 1984 with the introduction of the popular Axis & Allies board game. Of note is that none of the five games were developed "in-house"; all five games were published under smaller game publishers in the early 1980s in limited runs before their rights were acquired by Milton Bradley. Nevertheless, the games as released by Milton Bradley are considered to be the "first edition" of the games in this series.
The original Milton Bradley Gamemaster Series included:
- Axis & Allies (1984)
- Conquest of the Empire (1984)
- Broadsides and Boarding Parties (1984)
- Fortress America (1986)
- Shogun (1986)
The first three games were designed by Larry Harris, while the last two were designed by Mike Gray, though neither were credited for their creations until their subsequent re-releases. Of these five, Axis & Allies was the most successful, spawning several revised versions, spinoffs, and a related miniature game series, though Conquest of the Empire and Shogun also saw some success.
Though all five games were originally released under the Milton Bradley umbrella, by the 1990s Axis & Allies was the only game being continually updated. Hasbro (parent company to Milton Bradley) moved Axis & Allies to its Avalon Hill imprint (specializing in board wargames) in 1999, and Avalon Hill itself was made into a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast, another Hasbro imprint (specializing in board games for a more dedicated "gamer" audience), in 2004. Axis & Allies was chosen as one of the three board games re-released to represent the 50th anniversary of Avalon Hill in 2008.
The rights to Axis & Allies, as well as three of the other four games in the series, is currently held by Avalon Hill; Conquest of the Empire was re-released by Eagle Games in 2005 with updated rules. Another game in the series to have seen re-release is Shogun, renamed to Samurai Swords in 1986 and Ikuza in 2011 to avoid naming conflicts with a myriad other board games with the same name, under the Avalon Hill branding. Fantasy Flight Games re-released Fortress America in the summer of 2012, also with new and updated rules.