Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Here's a big article from Stephen Agar giving lots of detail about Albion, the amateur wargames zine that I subscribed to in my teenage years - The Origins of Postal Diplomacy in the UK
The last ten issues of Albion are probably those most remembered by mainstream PBM Diplomacy, which was taking off in a big way as Albion was entering old age. By now Don's formula was clear - a 50 page issue every two months or so on a wide selection of wargames and boardgames, a kind of Sumo's Karaoke Club before its time.
I've been thinking some more about how I got sucked into the hobby, and I am still confused about the order things happened in. How did I ever get to know about "Albion" for example, or afford the sub? I remember starting a wargames club at Manchester Grammar School - I must have been aged about 12 - which started with miniatures but quickly moved on to cardboard and hexes, as well as Diplomacy and Kingmaker. From that time onwards I was known as "The General" by teachers as well as pupils, which later became "Strategos" when I moved into the classics stream. At one point I started work on a game about the Gallipoli campaign, producing a detailed map before (fatally for the project) I had decided on the rules. Another design project was a Diplomacy variant based on the idea of exploring the New World without foreknowledge of what the map looked like. This was more successful, and got played a few times at school. Two decades later - having long lost the original game - I produced this variant again from scratch as "Columbus", which was played postally in various Diplomacy zines quite a few times over the last decade. I must publish it on this website some time.....

When I went off to University I dropped the whole hobby for many years - marriage and childraising intervened - until in my mid-thirties I purchased a copy of Diplomacy and found a flier for the postal Diplomacy hobby inside. My teenage games collection was mostly handed to friends or taken to jumble sales by my mother, and I sometimes ruefully think of the classics that I lost that way: "Red Star White Star", "Triplanetary", "Conquistador" (S&T version), "Flying Circus", "Sniper".......sigh.

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