Tactics (game)

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Tactics (1954)
Tactics (1954)
Other namesTactics
ManufacturersMonarch Services
J.E. Smith & Co.[1]: 175 
DesignersCharles S. Roberts
PublishersAvalon Hill Games
Publication1954; 68 years ago (1954)
II: 1958; 64 years ago (1958)
Years active1954-1958
II: 1958-1972, 1973-1998
Playing time120 minutes
Age range12 and up

Tactics is a board wargame published in 1954.[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 is nearly identical in all respects, albeit with a slightly revised map and more detailed unit counters. 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, although with a different (new) map.


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 1911 "invasion literature" genre game War Tactics or Can Great Britain Be Invaded?.[12] Pieces include the armored units, headquarters units, regular infantry units, and specialized units consisting of mountaineers, paratroopers, and amphibious units.


In his 1977 book The Comprehensive Guide to Board Wargaming, Nicholas Palmer called Tactics II a "Respectable but dull abstract introductory game [...] readers of this book looking for an easy starting game would probably enjoy a simulation of an actual battle more."[13]


  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 Matthew B. Caffrey Jr. (2019). On Wargaming: How Wargames Have Shaped History and how They May Shape the Future (PDF). Naval 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
  13. ^ Palmer, Nicholas (1977). The Comprehensive Guide to Board Wargaming. London: Sphere Books. p. 178.

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