Tractics is that you really felt like you were commanding individual tanks. All the details in the rules gave you a feeling of each type of tank and all the individual characteristics of each that you miss in larger scale games. I always enjoyed looking through all the charts to see how different tanks compared. The rules were mind-bending in complexity at first if you were used to Afrika Korps and other Avalon Hill games, but once you got a few games in, they made more sense.
- Mark Whitehead (started playing at age 14)
I was introduced to Tractics by a friend, Bill Owen, during my high school years way back in the 1970’s. I’ve been a fan of it ever since. The authors tried to capture as much “realism” as possible in a playable war game system. Nearly all common weapons were represented in the rules. Each armored vehicle was characterized by its own unique armor, firepower, and maneuverability measures. Individual infantry weapons were represented in similar detail. Artillery, both direct and indirect, was also included in the game. Some “non-hardware” aspects of WW II combat were included as well including troop morale and training levels.
These were complicated rules, but the use of a judge enabled games to proceed even if the players were unsure of all of the rules. All you needed to play our games was enthusiasm and a general knowledge of WW II military history. The judge could handle the details. Because of this, the games had a social aspect that I really appreciated. They became a way to spend time with friends while engaging in a favorite hobby. I’m sure many wargamers can remember playing boardgames, like Afrika Korps, alone because they couldn’t find friends willing to learn the games.
Finally, Tractics provided an outlet to the modeler in all of us. Tanks and infantry had to be bought, assembled, and painted in large quantities. Terrain had to be imagined and prepared. We were fortunate to have a very large sand table at our disposal. Terrain could be customized for each game. Subtle terrain features could have a surprising effect on the game. I always liked the visual appeal of the table full of tanks (with smoke for those knocked out), artillery, and infantry. We would often leave the terrains and vehicles on the table for some time after the games just so we could look at it and talk about how the game went.
Overall, Tractics allowed me to pursue the study of military history, use my rather poor modeling skills for some purpose, and socialize with friends. That meant a lot to me in those early days and still does. I’m looking forward to trying out the new version.
- Mark Williams (started at age 15)
We started with the Avalon Hill Games of 1960s around age 11. We really wanted to have battles with our HO scale minitanks but knew of no rulesets. So after trying Fast Rules, we felt that they were not quite in the zone with the Avalon Hill approach but might have been great a few years before. We wanted more realism. What a great experience Tractics was for dozens of new people that poured into our club that started with just two gamers. And now, can be that again.
- Bill Owen (started GRT at age 15)
I started play-testing and playing the Tractics rules back in the late 1960s. In fact, I seem to remember that they were originally called GRT rules, which stood for the three authors, Gary Gygax, Mike Reese, and Lee Tucker. We played almost every Saturday at Gary’s house in Lake Geneva, WI., where he had a nice sand table arrangement.
Gary had formed the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association [LGTSA] and there would usually be about a half a dozen players, including Gary, Mike, the Blume brothers, and myself. I really don’t recall any of the others.
The game initially had graph paper penetration charts and mostly “notes” for rules. We used Roco Mini-tanks and Airfix painted figures for models. I recall that Roco didn’t make a German halftrack model so we would buy the SwS Nebelwerfer model, cut out the top, and scratch build seats inside to create a plausible halftrack model.
When Gary jumped feet first into Dungeons & Dragons our group in Madison, WI carried on with WW2 games at our houses. We built sand tables in our basements and all purchased the Tractics rule set when it was released in 1971. We had a great time in those days with Tractics and had literally hundreds of games under our belts. In fact, to this day, I still remember many of the chart modifiers from the Tank & Anti-Tank section.
Unfortunately, Gary has passed on, I haven’t seen Lee in a very long time, but I’m still in touch with Mike. Great friends and great wargaming from a long time ago.
-Dale Bley (started GRT at age 16)