Tactics (game)

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Tactics (1954)
Tactics (1954)
Other name(s)Tactics
Manufacturer(s)Monarch Services
J.E. Smith & Co.[1]:175
Designer(s)Charles S. Roberts
Publisher(s)Avalon Hill Games
Publication date1954; 66 years ago (1954)
II: 1958; 62 years ago (1958)
Years active1954-1958
II: 1958-1972, 1973-1998
Playing time120 minutes

Tactics is a board wargame published in 1954, and the predecessor to Tactics II.[2] Primitive by modern standards, it was nonetheless the birth of modern wargaming for the commercial market, and generally credited as being the first commercially successful printed (ie. board) wargame.[3][4]


Tactics was designed by Charles S. Roberts[5] in 1953,[6][7] and self-published in 1954 under the company name of The Avalon Game Company.[8] Roberts sold the game on a mail order basis from his home in Catonsville (outside Baltimore) for the next six years, selling 2,000 copies and barely breaking even.[9][10] The design was similar to other wargames published in England and elsewhere over the previous half-century.[9] It was unique as a self-contained printed product for the commercial market not requiring miniatures or building a map.[9]

Tactics II is a revised version published by Avalon Hill in 1958, then reissued in 1961 and 1973. It uses hexagons instead of squares, after Roberts saw a picture of a RAND game Life magazine that used hexagons which he believed would provide more realistic movement.[9] In 1972, the game was discontinued due to rising costs, but was redesigned in 1973 with less costly components and used as a loss leader as it was an introductory wargame.[11] In 1983, Avalon Hill released a 25th anniversary edition of the original Tactics, which did (for the first time) include the second map.[clarification needed]


Tactics pioneered many game mechanics which became standard in the board wargame industry, including the odds-ratio combat results table and variable movement costs for entering squares (later hexes) containing different types of terrain. It also evolved the use of cardboard counters which had been previously introduced with the game War Tactics or Can Great Britain Be Invaded?.[12] Unlike later board wargames which used a hexagonal grid superimposed on the game map, Tactics used a square grid. Pieces include the armored units, headquarters units, regular infantry units, and specialized units consisting of mountaineers, paratroopers, and amphibious units.


  1. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702- 58-7.
  2. ^ Avalon Hill's General Magazine Index and Company History 1952-1980 Volume 1- Volume 16 page5
  3. ^ Christopher Lewin, War Games and their History, Chapter 8, Fonthill Media, Stroud (GB) 2012, ISBN 978-1-78155-042-7
  4. ^ James Dunnigan (1991). "Chapter 5". The Complete Wargames Handbook (2nd ed.). Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  5. ^ Avalon Hill's General Magazine Index and Company History 1952-1980 Volume 1- Volume 16 page5
  6. ^ Wired magazine, March 2013, p.70
  7. ^ David W. (May 22, 2017). "WARGAMES 101: OR, "HOW YOU CAN LEARN TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE CONSIMS"". The Daily Worker Placement. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  8. ^ Rienzi, Greg (May 2009). "Baltimore Observed: Encounter". The Urbanite Magazine. Urbanite Baltimore. p. 35. Archived from the original on June 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  9. ^ a b c d Matthew B. Caffrey Jr. (2019). On Wargaming: How Wargames Have Shaped History and how They May Shape the Future (PDF). Navel War College Press. pp. 77–78. Archived from the original on 2020-01-25.
  10. ^ Avalon Hill's General Magazine Index and Company History 1952-1980 Volume 1- Volume 16 page5
  11. ^ "The General Index and Company History". The General Magazine Index and Company History: 6. 1980. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  12. ^ War Tactics or Can Great Britain Be Invaded? at the Imperial War Museum

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