Avalon Hill

Avalon Hill

Infobox Company
name = Avalon Hill
type = Division
foundation = 1958
location_city = Renton, Washington
location_country = USA
location =
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key_people =
area_served =
industry =
products = Board Games
services =
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees =
parent = Hasbro
divisions =
subsid =
slogan =
homepage = http://www.avalonhill.com The official Avalon Hill web site
dissolved =
footnotes =
intl =

Avalon Hill was a game company that specialized in wargames and strategic board games. It also published the occasional miniature wargaming rules, role-playing game, and had a popular line of sports simulations. It is now a division of the game company Wizards of the Coast, which is itself a subsidiary of Hasbro.


Founder: Charles Roberts

The company was started in 1958 by Charles S. Roberts following the success of his wargame "Tactics". With "Tactics", Roberts created a new type of board game based on actual war-like scenarios and strategies. This sort of game had previously existed (H. G. Wells had written a set of rules called "Little Wars"), but they had mainly used miniature figures and modeled 3D terrain (like that found in model railroading).

Avalon Hill pioneered many of the concepts of modern recreational wargaming. These include elements such as the use of a hexagonal grid (aka hexgrid) overlaid on a flat folding board, zones of control (ZOC), stacking of multiple units at a location, an odds-based combat results table (CRT), terrain effects on movement, troop strength, morale, and board games based upon historical events. Complex games could and did take days or even weeks, and AH set up a system for people to play games by mail.

Monarch Avalon Printing

Avalon Hill became a subsidiary of Monarch Avalon Printing in 1962 (as a way of repaying debts incurred by Roberts), which then ran it for the next 36 years.

Avalon Hill published "Panzerblitz" in 1970, designed for the company by a young Jim Dunnigan. The game was a departure from wargames to that point in time by being a tactical-level game with a multiple scenario format and isomorphic mapboards. Dunnigan went on to run what was to become their biggest competitor: Simulations Publications, Inc. Other well-regarded games published around this time were "Midway", "Afrika Korps", "The Battle of the Bulge", and "Blitzkrieg". This last game was more of an abstract training game featuring two sides, red and blue and some neutral countries. Many rule variants were created for "Blitzkrieg".

While wargames were always what Avalon Hill was best known for, Roberts had founded it as a company for "adult" (that is, thinking) games. His own favorite game that he designed during his time with the company was "Management". [ [http://www.alanemrich.com/CSR_pages/CSRfoundingfather.htm Charles S. Roberts: The Founding Father] from the CSR Awards site, retrieved 10/30/06.] Through much of its history, wargames were only about half of the Avalon Hill line. The non-wargame side of the line picked up several good titles such as "Acquire" and "Twixt" from the purchase of 3M's line of games in 1976. During the 1970s, Avalon Hill published a number of tabletop sports simulations, culminating in the popular "Statis Pro" line in 1978 which was based on the names and statistics of actual players. Updated sets of cards were made available every year until 1992, by which time sports computer and video games were drying up the market.

Beyond just the 3M games, Avalon Hill also purchased many games from smaller companies and republished them. Much of Battleline Publications line, including "Wooden Ships and Iron Men" was republished by Avalon Hill, as well as Jedko Games' "The Russian Campaign" and "War at Sea" and Hartland Trefoil's "Civilization". "1830" was developed by Avalon Hill, but based on Francis Tresham's "1829".

Additionally the company entered the role-playing game market by publishing "Lords of Creation" (1983) and "Powers and Perils". The license to "RuneQuest" was acquired in a complex agreement with Chaosium and Avalon Hill published the 3rd Edition in 1983. [ [http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/companies/alphabetical/A.html#avalonhill RPG Companies] ]

Avalon Hill was also an early publisher of computer games starting in 1980. Adapting some of its boardgame titles to various platforms (TRS-80, Vic-20, Commodore 64, Apple II, etc.) and formats (cassette tape and 5¼" disk). There were occasional successes, but nothing that was noticed by the computer game industry as a whole until relatively late in its life with such titles as "Achtung Spitfire!".


After some costly legal missteps in 1997 and 1998, Monarch ended its direct participation in the games industry, disbanding Avalon Hill in the summer of 1998. Hasbro Games purchased the rights to the Avalon Hill titles and back inventory and the name "Avalon Hill" for $6 million and published a select number of Avalon Hill games while several individual titles were licensed to interested publishers. The popular long time game series Advanced Squad Leader was licensed to Multi-Man Publishing.

Hasbro has also released new titles under the Avalon Hill name, also adding the Avalon Hill name to older games such as "Axis and Allies" that were not originally made by Avalon Hill. The games published under Hasbro ownership have been targeted for a wider general audience, and are less hobbyist oriented than had been published previously.

Victory Games

In 1982 Avalon Hill hired some of the design staff from Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI), which had just been bought by TSR, Inc and formed them into a subsidiary company, Victory Games. SPI had generally specialized in wargames that were more complex and attempted to be more exacting simulations than what Avalon Hill published. Victory Games released a line of SPI-style games to critical and commercial acclaim. However, the staff slowly left for other companies and was not replaced with new hires. The remnants disbanded in 1989, though existing Victory Games designs were published under that imprint in subsequent years. [ [http://www.hyw.com/Books/WargamesHandbook/5-3-80s.htm The Complete Wargames Handbook] Chapter 5: History of Wargames - Into the 1980s]

"The General" Magazine

Avalon Hill also had its own house organ which promoted sale and play of its games, "The General Magazine", which was published regularly between 1964 and 1998. The magazine offered a wide array of features, including strategy and tactics articles, historical analyses, semi-regular features devoted to specific games, columns on sports and computer games by AH, listings of vendors and opponents, question and answers for game rules, ratings for both games and players, discount coupons for mail orders, and insider information on future AH projects.


Avalon Hill moved its corporate offices to 4517 Harford Road in Baltimore in the 1960s, while maintaining a second address on Read Street where play-testing was conducted and inventory maintained.


ee also

* List of Avalon Hill games

External links

* [http://www.wizards.com/avalonhill/ The Avalon Hill Home Page at www.wizards.com]
* [http://www.grognard.com/info/ah.html Web-Grognard's list of AH games]
* [http://members.aol.com/wergames/ah.htm List of Avalon Hill titles (with pictures of most)]
* [http://www.gis.net/~pldr/fah.html The Fall of Avalon Hill ]

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