Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Look Back: Games Inside Books That Aren't Technically Game Books

THE BOOK: The Book of Medieval Wargames
THE GAME(S): The Joust, The Tourney, The Melee, The Battle

The title of this book by Nicholas Slope is a little misleading if your a gamer as a bit more than half the books is just a history of knights, chivalry, heraldry and medieval warfare done in a sort of "light" version of a Time/Life Books kind of way. But, per the title, the most interesting part of the book are the four "board games" (Harper Collins's words) and I think both Harper Collins and the author realized that; the book actually includes a full-color, three-dimensional "pop-up" medieval joust diorama, chance and hazard counters, stand-up player counters, and player stat cards. IMO, the coolest mechanic is from "The Melee" game, in which each player chooses to defend either high, middle or low, and attack either high, middle, low, or attempt to disarm, then roll for their attacks. It's a very nice mechanic for resolving sword and shield combat. For example, if you choose to disarm and your target attempts to parry, you automatically disarm them.

THE BOOK: The Complete Book of Wargames
THE GAME: Kassala

From the editors of Consumers Guide and Jon Freeman comes this tome (285 pages) featuring information and reviews for over 150 of the most popular wargames on the market in 1980, including data on publishers, prices, playing time, packaging, game scale, size, balance, key features, playability, rules, realism and degree of complexity. There is a chapter on RPGs (I'm planning a future post on this chapter) and a chapter titled "Computers ad the Future of Wargaming." The book includes Kassala, an introductory wargame portraying a battle between Christian Ethiopians and invading Moslems in 1541. Since these styles of wargame have a rather "limited", situational- and geographically-based ruleset, many enthusiasts will tell you this game still holds up. You just don't get actual cardboard counters or a color gameboard; you have to copy the black and white art for them out of the book.

THE BOOK: The Complete Guide to the World of Lone Wolf & Grey Star: The Magnamund Companion
THE GAME: Dawn of the Darklords

Okay, in all fairness, anybody who knows Lone Wolf should really have expected this (a game inside the book, I mean.) After all, this is the "world companion" book to a series of gamebooks that used a simple action resolution mechanic as part of a "choose your own adventure" combat format. The solo adventure in the book is just a stripped down version of what was inside all of the actual "novels." For tabletop miniatures enthusiasts, the book also includes instruction on modeling Magnamund and building your own "fantasy buildings," skyriders and fantasy fleet.

BTW, Lone Star author Joe Dever has offered to allow some of his books to be downloaded free on the internet, so give a visit to Project Aon. (Aon is the universe where Magnamund and the other planets in the setting are located.)

THE BOOK: Dicing with Dragons
THE GAME: Fantasy Quest solo adventure, FQ1: Eye of the Dragon
YEAR PUBLISHED: 1982, 1983, 1986

There are a bunch of different editions of the book (mine is the 1983 Plume paperback pictured at left), but I assume the game inside stayed the same. Check out The Fighting Fantasist's post for info on this one.

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