Sunday, August 29, 2010

RIP Charles S. Roberts (1930-2010)

Via Greyhawk Grognard, I've learned that legendary wargame designer and founder of The Avalon Hill Game Company, Charles S. Roberts, died on August 20 at the age of 80.

As I've made quite clear on numerous occasions, I'm not a wargamer. I've played a few over the years and even enjoyed several of them, but I lack the particular virtues needed of a good wargamer, whether miniature or hex-and-chit. Still, I have a lot of fondness and respect for true grognards, some of whom were among my earliest mentors in the hobby. And of course, growing up in Baltimore, I likewise retain a strong connection to Avalon Hill.

So, word of Roberts's death brings with it more than a little sadness.


  1. He lived a long life, though, and contributed to a lot of people's happiness, so, at the end, one can say it was a life well-lived.

    Before I got into RPGs, I played wargames, and Avalon Hill's were my favorites. Friends and I especially played a lot of Luftwaffe and Wooden Ships and Iron Men. I have over a score in my collection, many of of which I spent hours over, happily planning strategies and conquests.

    Rest well, Mr. Roberts.

  2. Panzer Leader, Titan, Civilization (yes AH had the game long before the computer game of the same name), Acquire, Circus Maximus, Republic of Rome, Wizards, and on and on. AH ran through my blood as every bit as thickly as TSR's did. I wouldn't trade my memories of those formative years for anything. Thank you Charles Roberts.

  3. Is there a list of what games he actually designed? I assume he did the oldest AH titles like Tactics or Stalingrad, but I never really followed who did what back in my wargaming youth.

  4. There are wargaming awards named for him; he was the first entry in the Hall of Fame, appropriately.

    There's other info on that site too.

  5. Being a ASL nut, we lost a god.R.I.P.

  6. "Rest well, Mr. Roberts." I like that, with Dittos.

    I too play AH wargames (note tense). I rekindled my love for Panzer Leader a year ago, building out a complete set by hand using the digital iconography of the Imaginative Strategist. I picked up a shelf copy too from a player at my FLGS. Love that game. MultiMan Publishing just released a refreshed version of PanzerBlitz in an expansion ready format.

    While on the topic of AH founders and significant others: James Dunnigan is alive and well (he ran/ownd SPI and contributed to AH wargames for years, including the game that became PanzerBlitz). Check out James on his podcast at Strategy Talk ( It's not so much about games as it is about present day world affairs from a military historian's perspective. He touches on wargames... sometimes.

    Rest well indeed. Mr. Roberts, your work has given me years of enjoyment!

  7. It is hard for me to describe how much AH games affected me when I was in junior high. I played wargames before I ever played RPGs and have played them more recently (I have a game set up downstairs and need to start a PBEM game). It is strange how a confluence of factors seemed to produce the cardboard wargame, which even though it is still around in essentially rump form (is OSR a similar rump?), is unlikely ever to achieve its popularity of 30 or so years ago.

    O quam cito transit gloria mundi.

    Another one bites the dust.

    Rest in peace.

  8. Not previously familiar with Robert's name, but it was interesting to read the article about his life and involvement with starting Avalon Hill. RIP.

    I used to live in the Catonsville area outside Baltimore and ride my bike up the hill on Gun Road from the Avalon area of Patapsco State Park. I had no idea that was where Avalon Hill took it's name from! It's certainly a scenic, inspirational area of the park...I can see why he used that for the name. In fact the first time I biked to the Avalon area I saw a white deer.