About Fine Games

 

Fine Games has an interesting history for those who care about such things. What started as a really bad speculative investment is now a hobby way, way out of control! Read on for more about us.

 

 

Our Mission: to be Your Single Best Source of Strategy Games

Fine Games' goal from inception has been to provide discerning historical strategy board gamers throughout the world with the best overall selection and value in games, magazines, gaming supplies and selected historical books together with outstanding, quick and knowledgeable service.

 

We know we have our off-days, but we hope that you'll agree that overall, we do a pretty damn good job of making about 30% of the wargames ever produced available from one source, of letting you know what's available in what condition, and in fulfilling your orders with remarkable speed and accuracy, all at competitive prices.

Just Who Is Fine Games ?

Finishing Another Cycle Oregon Fine Games is, and for the foreseeable future will be, Michael Dean, our senior salesperson, manager, data base administrator, webmaster, and manic-depressive troubleshooter.

 

Michael is a lifelong wargamer. He played his first game of Uncle Wiggly at 4, then his first wargame at 6 when his older brother taught him AH's U-Boat; Michael won. Then it was Jutland at age 10. Then the big mistake was made when his parents gave him Afrika Korps for his 12th birthday; it was downhill in a big way from there.

 

Michael soon started snatching up everything published from 1970 onwards. His nature as a packrat collector, and the good fortune to learn about SPI during its formative, Poultron Press days, made him an early and long-time game buyer.

 

Fine Games is more than its human resource, however. Its one of the most extensive libraries of strategy games available for sale anywhere. It offers THE most detailed and accurate cataloging of game data by subject matter. And it is the systems that get information out to you that allow to make more informed game purchasing decisions.

 

Since people occasionally ask, all this data is housed in a large database that evolved over years. Printed catalogs are created with a reporting program called Crystal Reports.

 

Fine Games shares space with us in what is nominally our home. That is why we insist that calls be restricted to working -- and waking -- hours. Were you to visit, you'd see an office, a large desk devoted to checking in games prior to their being listed, and a warehouse stuffed to the ceiling with games, games & more games. Enough games to make your significant other realize that your collection isn't really that bad after all...

 

A Brief History of Fine Games

In the Beginning... Late in 1990, World Wide Wargamer published S&T #139, with its Arabian Nightmare game, at the outbreak of the Kuwaiti War. It looked to be a surefire collectors items at the time. I picked up a dozen copies at the list price of $18 apiece. Out of that distant mistake, Fine Games was born. Our first catalog, a big 8-pager, was mailed April Fools Day, 1992.Your Purchase Buys This Moment of Freedom. THANK YOU!

 

Selling games professionally requires a lot of skills. As it happened, our prior careers provided plenty of experience with inventory management, marketing and database management. Michael earned an MBA and always shows his definite desire to be a generalist. Throw in web design skills, a layoff in the early '90s, and you have the stew that spontaneously generated Fine Games.

 

And Today... Fine Games earns your business and our livelihood by providing the best service, selection and prices to strategy gamers around the world. Our inventory has grown from a few hundred items to well over 10,000 items. Our inventory covers the full spectrum of strategy-oriented board and war games, new & used, in & out of print. We serve roughly 3,000 active gamers in 45 nations around the world.

The Tumultuous Past & Future of Fine Games

Not to say this has been easy. Events of recent years have underscored what James Dunnigan concluded twenty years ago, that wargaming's days are numbered. We just arrive at a much different number than him.

 

Several key publishers have given up on the hobby distribution system of distributors and retailers, limiting to varying degrees our access to their products. And Avalon Hill, the cornerstone of the industry, sold its assets in 1998, changing the complexion of the wargame industry overnight. Each disturbance has forced us to roll with the punches as best we can to remain competitive and viable in the marketplace. 

 

So why do we do this; it can't be for the money. No, its for the freedom and flexibility to live a fairly simple life, to wear comfortable cloths, to never have to pee in a bottle nor work for a jerk. The 6-some weeks of vacation a year. And for the simple joy that comes from understanding the dynamics of history thru the medium of board games with little cardboard counters & tons of rules. Just for these reasons.

 

Our Personal Picks & Pans in Games

We strive to remain largely objective when we evaluate and recommend games. You may hear us say that we don't play ASL as we don't prefer tactical level games. But you'll also hear us recommend it as a mature, low level tactical, WW2 game series. You'll also hear us plainly describe the faults of such joys as Kriegspiel and other failed non-starters.

 

So you can better evaluate our tastes, and thus the perspective we begin with, here are two lists. First, our Favorite Games. Second, our Dirty Dozen -- games that should never have seen print.

 

Our  Favorites

Our Dirty Dozen,
Worst of the Worst

  1. Uncle Wiggly (WMI), our first game. Still available, and still an enchanting young child's game.

  2. Civilization PC (Microprose) (and most of its later versions). If ever there was a game that was better than sex, this was it. More than once, I sat down to play "just one turn" and the next thing I knew, its dawn and the wife is standing in the door giving me the most evil look.

  3. USN (SPI S&T). An early game, reasonably well designed, that offered infinite potential for figuring out the perfect Japanese attack. And then a sparring battle where neither side could be strong everywhere.

  4. Anzio 1st - 4th (AH). The 1st edition took a month to figure out the Order of Battle. But then, what an elegant game. It richly rewards tenacity, daring and focus, while severely punishing inept play. Each addition clarified the rules to the point of a finely crafted masterpiece. Plus, there are so very many strategic options each has available.

  5. 1914 (AH). Another early game with well crafted (but not well detailed) rules. Teaches better living thru attrition.

  6. World in Flames (ADG). There is no better strategic level WW2 game. So rich in detail and interactivity, and so many options. Too bad, life is so short.

  7. War in Europe (SPI). A BIG but very simple game suitable for team play. Individual theatres can be played, and the eastern front was fascinating despite the cookie cutter units.

  8. After the Holocaust (SPI). A tough game to master, but the only game I'm aware of that teaches cooperation rather than competition as the road to success in a multi-player setting. Live or die together.

  9. A Mighty Fortress(SPI). A great 6-player game of the reformation. Variable victory conditions and the overlay of military and religious conflicts, together with simple economics & diplomacy, make for a great ebb-and-flow game. Too bad it requires 6 players and all of 2 long nights to play.

  10. Decision at Kasserine (WWW Mag). A finely tuned nail biter of a game. Exciting from the first moment, made worse with wildly variable German victory conditions.

  11. Hiway to the Reich 2nd (SPI). A lush, grand tactical game of Market-Garden that is ideally suited for team play. A modestly detailed and workable game system makes for both tense moments and gratifying offensives. The 2nd edition rules a a must, however.

  12. Source of the Nile (Discovery/AH). A very original game that has enticed more than one significant other into gaming. The game appeals to the explorer in us, and there is little direct competition. However, both editions had rules that were guaranteed to put non-gamers in a catatonic trance.

  13. Caesar, Epic Battle of Alesia (AH). A big game with lots of fun & brutal battles for both sides, and very demanding too. The Gauls have a seemingly huge force, plus the benefit of hidden off-map movement, and the Romans can't be everywhere. But they can be where they need to be, in strength, if the Roman player stays alert. Can be a really great 3-player game, if home-made rules are created for activation of the Gauls in Alesia to limit coordination with the relieving force.

  1. Global Survival (AH). This 5# waste of trees has no reason for being. Despite its extensive information about countries of the world, none of it is used in the game. No, just move around the world collecting countries. Dumb, dumb, dumb. And boring!

  2. Kriegspiel (AH). This game took some good ideas from other winners such as geomorphic boards from Panzerblitz, card-based combat resolution from 1776, and combined them in a most unappetizing stew. A dog whose sole redeeming feature is that it is a viable beginner's game.

  3. General v29/#6 (AH General). The infamous mouse cover issue which lacked any real wargaming content and ranted about how computer games were to be path to riches for Avalon Hill. RIP.

  4. Pokemon (WOTC). Enough to make me scream.

  5. Look at that Schmuck on the Camel (AH). Sorry, this takes family games to a new low.

  6. Golf Mania (FFG). A half-way decent card game on a hopeless subject. Golf???

  7. Eagle and the Sun (FGA). Graphically lush, this was less a game than a design-your-own kit. Severely underdeveloped, with rules that tripped over themselves to mis-state their intent, it still had some good stuff hidden within. The 2nd edition kit helps but doesn't cure the problem.

  8. Dragonslayer (SPI). One of SPI's attempt at a game with mass-market appeal. It failed to attract mass-market response or to be a decent game.

  9. World Wide Wargames as a publisher. They put out so much crap in the later years, its hard to decide what was worst. Was it butchering Hitler's Last Gamble, a potential masterpiece? Or any of the blitz of underdeveloped games published in their final year?

 

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