A Guest Post by Bob Goddard
Back in January of this year, I announced that, among other changes to the future content of “Map and Counters”, I planned to begin adding an occasional “guest post” to accompany my own regular stream of game-related ramblings. Unfortunately, prospective contributors have been slow to come forward with their projects; something, by the way, that I understand completely: writing, after all, is hard work. This, I suppose, also explains why most of the early independent wargaming magazines had so much trouble coming up with new content, issue after issue. In any case, after a few months, I put this idea aside in the hope that it could be revisited later.
Enter Bob Goddard. Several days ago, Bob contacted me to see if I would be interested in publishing a “reminiscence” piece that he was writing about his very first wargame, AFRIKA KORPS. After a couple of email exchanges and a review of his finished essay, I happily took him up on his offer. Bob’s post is a brief and nostalgic tribute to a venerable old game that, in its day, was instrumental in first drawing many of us into the hobby of conflict simulations. There is, for those of us who have been in the hobby as long or longer than Bob, very little that is either new or unusual about his recollections. But that, I think, is actually the writer’s point: his memories are all familiar or at least evocative of similar episodes experienced by most of us in the course of our many years playing wargames. Also, Bob’s description of his interchange with a fellow gamer located halfway around the world is, I think, a perfect reminder of the special connection that exists, even to this day, among the hobby’s grognards wherever they are found. – JCB III
There have been periods of revival and rebirth. In the eighties, I played several AK PBM games, as evidenced by the penned-in grid mark on the map board and notations on the Time Record Chart. In the nineties, a friend created the entire order of battle for the war in North Africa 1940-43, complete with homemade AK style counters. We only used these pieces a couple of times, but I still have them. Along the way, I got a new set of counters, new rules and just recently, a new map board.
Each revival has been an experience thick with nostalgia. As I would open the box and examine the components, I would always rediscover some extra game related item I had forgotten about: an AFRIKA KORPS PBM pad, an old Avalon Hill General with an Afrika Korps Series Replay, the homemade map extension eastward to Cairo and westward to Tripoli and Tunis. It was always fun to just to look and reminisce.
|"Bob" and "Dad" permanently inscribed |
on the Time Record Sheet. Looks like I took Rommel.
The second thing I saw was a map board that was less than presentable. It was stained in a several areas and marred by the aforementioned grid markings. In addition, the eastern quarter had separated from the rest of the board. There was just not enough charm here to make up for its abysmal condition. I needed a new map board.
I posted on Consimworld.com that I was looking to purchase a new AFRIKA KORPS map board. While you can get a complete player’s copy of the game at Consim Marketplace or on eBay for $20-$25, I just wanted the board.
One person responded. Here is the email he sent me:
My name is Gary Vesper. I am an 'old grognard' and I have been playing wargames since the early '70's also. Man, those were the days - no job, played games all weekend every weekend - good old days, huh?
AH always had a special place with me - the games weren't the best historically-wise but then who cared? We had lots of fun.
I have a spare Afrika Korps Board. It’s in great shape. My son (who I converted to wargames from Xbox) has a complete copy with the third edition rules, etc. and somehow I have this spare board. I might be able to find some counters/rules if you want them. Alas, the box has departed this world.
Anyway, it’s yours, just let me know where to send it.
|West to Tunis, the homemade mapboard extension.|
With Gary’s board, I now have a presentable copy of AK for WBC. I’ve since changed my mind about entering the tourney, but I still plan on bringing the game with me to this year’s WBC Convention and will play it in the open gaming area. I promised Gary I would send photos of his board in action at WBC.
AFRIKA KORPS was first published fifty years ago and people are still playing it. I see no reason why it won’t be around for another fifty years. To be sure, the elder generation of wargamers – the original grognards – are aging and our numbers will eventually dwindle. Nevertheless, a good game is a good game however old it is, and as long as there are players like Gary Vesper who are willing to share their passion for the classics, a gem like AFRIKA KORPS will always have a following.