Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

6 Comments

  1. What sort of Gamer are you? A Tabletop General? Historical Battles? Roleplaying? 40k? Are you old school and play D&D or Traveller?
    Since you’ve been going for some time the industry has changed quite a bit. What has changed the most since you started. Has the card game craze of 15 years ago finally past?

  2. 1. Historical board gamer. I play mostly computer grand strategic games these days, but I still like to buy boardgames and admire the components.
    2. My wife likes to play roleplaying games and taught our kids how to play them when they were young.
    3. The biggest change has been caused by the advent of computers and the use of them and other electronic systems as gaming platforms. I date back to the early seventies as a gamer when long distance gaming involved mailing your opponent in a game your move. Remarkably however, far more historical boardgames are being published now than in the sixties and seventies of the last century.
    4. Cards aren’t as big as they used to be, but still pretty big. Lately I have gotten into the science fiction card game Race for the Galaxy in its computer incarnation,

  3. Are the new historical games “better” than Avalon Hill’s stuff, GDW or SPI?

    I played a lot of games with stacks of counters back in the 70s and 80s. I also played for a very short time a mail in game. It was advertised in the first issues of Issac Asimov’s Sci-fi magazine. The game wasn’t much fun. I prefer to see the people I beat. It is also more fun to bluff and use skills as a player differently from the “troops” you have or history. You can play the other players too.

    We, as most gamers back then, started played variations of D and D. Then Star Fleet Battles, Traveller, Battletech, Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer Fantasy Battles and 40K, etc.

    Never made it to GenCon. Good to know it is still going on.

  4. I have a fondness for the classics, but the graphics have vastly improved, the historical research is normally better and the game rules are usually better written and better in substance. Of course the game pioneers deserve credit for coming up with basics, like zones of control and combat result tables, that provided the essential framework for the game designers who followed in their footsteps.

  5. Really need a list of good history teaching gaming things I can throw at my cousin’s home school group, Donald…. hint hint hint…. by which I mean openly ask for….

    We’re doing classic history this term…
    …of Azeroth….

    Yeah, a vanillia WoW game. But the girls are excited.

  6. (from Don’s wife Cathy) Avalanche Press had a couple of D&D 3.0/3.5 adventure modules which were historically-based; we played through one on the fall of Constantinople and partway through another on the fate of the Viking-era Greenland colony, with the PCs as “papal secret agents.” (Other Avalanche Press RPG products either have minimal historical content or too many ahistorical “chicks in chainmail” to be kid-friendly.) Darklands is an older CRPG (available from GOG.com now, I think) set in 15th-century Germany, which taught a lot about the saints (including the “12 Holy Helpers”). Hammer of the Gods was an older PC strategy game which taught a fair amount about Norse mythology when the kids were little. (I can still remember them as preschoolers repeating, “Ratatosk . . . the squirrel tale-bearer!”) Sid Meier’s Civilization series has been a perennial favorite, and the older versions have had a LOT of historical scenarios & mods made for them. (Don’s played Civ 6 more than I have, but Civ 2 through Civ 5 are all good; Civ 3, 4 and 5 are all available on Steam, and Civ 4 has an especially nice soundtrack, in general drawn from period-appropriate music.) As to boardgames, Aristoplay has long been a favorite publisher among homeschoolers (the kids and I have played Made for Trade, By Jove!, and one about the pyramids). Academy Games is a publisher which Don has recently discovered, which does historical board wargames with strong educational content. They have an active website, and go here to view it. They have cheap versions of their 1812 and 1775 games on both Steam and for the iPad, and they are planning to do more conversions of their games to both PC and iPad, based on Don’s discussion with the head of the company at GenCon. A good source of free historical games to be played over the internet is Yucata Games; go here to view their website. The game rules are automatically enforced by AI, and Don heartily recommends the French and Indian War cardgame, A Few Acres of Snow.
    Now that Don’s stopped dictating the comment to me, one last resource I’d suggest is the GAMA (Game Manufacturers Association of America) website. For years, they would have brochures at GenCon geared towards teachers on recommended non-“educational” games for teaching various subjects.

Comments are closed.