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 ?
Fine Games is, and for the foreseeable
future will be, Michael Dean, our senior salesperson, manager, data base administrator, webmaster, and
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
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.
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.
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
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 Dirty Dozen,
Worst of the Worst
Uncle Wiggly (WMI), our first game. Still available, and still an enchanting
young child's game.
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.
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.
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.
1914 (AH). Another early game with well crafted (but not well detailed)
rules. Teaches better living thru attrition.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
Pokemon (WOTC). Enough to make me scream.
Look at that Schmuck on the Camel (AH). Sorry, this takes family games to a
Golf Mania (FFG). A half-way decent card game on a hopeless subject. Golf???
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.
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.
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?