Board wargaming was born at the very height of the Cold War, yet at its start, it was focused primarily on the last great conflict, the Second World War. There were many reasons for this: it was a popular fight with clear-cut good and bad guys; it was a well-researched struggle, so there was plenty of historical material through which to pore; and there is often an aversion to trivializing an ongoing conflict by making a game about it.[Read More]
This all changed in 1971, when SPI released Grunt, a tactical simulation of the then-current war in Vietnam. The game was ground-breaking in many ways. For one, killing the enemy wasn't necessarily the object. The American player, controlling a company of airmobile infantry, got more points for discovering and destroying caches of armaments and records than shooting V.C. snipers. Often, there weren't even any hostile units. The game was played "blind", with the Vietnamese player's units all inverted. In one of the scenarios, the Vietnamese had only peasants and decoys. The American player lost that scenario if the lack of combatants was not discovered soon enough. The game also introduced the concept of defensive strength based solely on the terrain occupied by a unit.
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.