Monday, October 5, 2020

Opponents Wanted II

Several weeks ago, I posted about Gary Gygax's advertisement at the back of the November-December 1966 issue of Avalon Hill's The General. As significant as that ad was, I jumped the gun in posting it first. I should have started instead with the "Opponents Wanted" advertisement below, which appeared a little more than a year earlier, in the September 1965 issue of the same periodical.

A small bit of context. At the time this appeared, Dave Arneson was seventeen years-old. "Specter" – more properly SPECTRE, as in the criminal organization from Ian Fleming's James Bond novels – is the name of a collection of affiliated wargames clubs that laid claim to "command" states within the USA based on the results of wargames competitions. That's why Arneson challenges any SPECTRE-associated club to beat his own, the Centurions, at a game of "Bulge" (presumably Avalon Hill's 1965 The Battle of the Bulge). 
Reading through the "Opponents Wanted" section of The General in the mid to late 1960s is fascinating stuff, not so much for the names listed in the ads – though there are some noteworthy ones – but for all the humorous machismo and chest-thumping: "I challenge any German madman in a game of D-Day."; "I, Purple Baron of Richmond proclaim the East Bay of San Francisco to be the New Switzerland of California!"; "Georgians: There are only two main clubs in Georgia: World Conquest Inc. and cheap clubs."; and so on. I'm also struck by how many ads there are and how many different clubs existed at the time. It's very clear that hex-and-chit wargaming was undergoing a surge in popularity and The General's articles and advertisements testify to this. I wish I had the time and resources to delve into these matters in a more systematic way, because there's undoubtedly a lot that could be learned here.


  1. Indeed, amusing reads. Although I would probably not read all mentions of clubs as actual clubs. I guess most clubs mentioned in these ads were informal gaming groups of a few teenagers living in the same neighborhoud. Hence all the chest-thumping ;-)

  2. I lived in St Paul for a couple of years in the early 2000s, only about half an hour's walk from Dave Arneson's childhood address!

    At the time I had fallen out of gaming and I had no idea that there was such a strong community in the area. Arneson still lived very close, as I recall, although at a different address by then. It's ironic that I had moved away from one of my hobbies at a time when I was literally surrounded by it.

    I suppose I should have realised there were gamers nearby, given the huge rpg section at the Half Price Books five minutes from my house! ;)