What Has the Great Battles of History Series Added to the Hobby?


What Has the Great Battles of History Series Added to the Hobby?

by Rodger B. MacGowan, Art Director of GMT Games

Alex, [Ashton] you kindly said that my “…six years of work…have produced the most visually beautiful series (you) have come
across in our hobby…” Thank you, for saying that, I deeply appreciate it. As Art Director at GMT Games, I have worked very hard
on the GBoH series. I had a feeling many years ago that this series would prove to be important. Over the years, on this series, I’ve
read many books, spent many hours in the dusty stacks of the UCLA Research Library, poured through all the visual sources I could
find (there are not many, I might add), and tried to create a look, a style that would be recognizable as the GBoH Series.

It seemed to me that over the roughly 50 years of this hobby, since Avalon Hill created “Tactics” and “Gettysburg” in the 1950’s, we have not seen much attention paid to the Classical time period. Ancient Greece and Rome had received very little coverage, and there was almost
nothing on 16th Century Japan or the 30 Years War. As a player in the 1960’s and 70’s most of us were playing WWII era games
and most of the games produced were on WWII. When I became a “professional” in the hobby in the mid-70’s, I founded and
created a professional hobby review magazine Fire and Movement and thus had an opportunity to get an even wider overview of the
hobby and what was being produced. There was no question about it, WWII era games dominated, from Midway to The Russian
Campaign to the Squad Leader Series and on and on. There were so few games on the ancient period, you could count them all on
one hand, and you would still have fingers left over.

I remember hearing often, over the years, when someone was considering designing or producing an ancients game–“No one will
buy it, you’ll go bust, and lose your shirt on it…” The risk factor of producing an ancient era game seemed very high. In fact, when
we at GMT Games first considered producing the Great Battles of Alexander in the early 90’s we heard the same refrain–“It’s a big
mistake, don’t do it, now will buy it, you’ll go broke producing it…” Well, needless to say, we did it, and the rest is wargame
history.

I think the most important thing our GBoH series of games has done is open the eyes of many gamers to periods of history they
were not aware of before. They have come to appreciate the tactics of the Greek Phalanx and the Roman Legion and so much
more. They have come to know some of the great Captains of history like Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio, Caesar, pyrrhus and Takeda Shingen–leaders they knew very little about or maybe never heard of before. They have come to see details of combat in that period.

I believe that of all the games in our GBoH series, the one that “sold out” the fastest was “Samurai”–that was the most pleasant
surprise.

So, we don’t hear anyone telling us today that games on the ancient period won’t sell. We have turned that conventional wisdom
upon its ear. They were wrong, we were correct. What we hear, most often now, is when is the next GBoH series game coming
out?

Most of the credit for this belongs to the game designers Mark Herman and Richard Berg, and to GMT President Gene
Billingsley for deciding to design and produce this series even in light of all the critics who said it couldn’t be done. As the Art
Director of the GBoH series, what I have tried to do is create the most visually interesting series of games I could. I hope I have
achieved this.Labels: ,

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