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Alternative Games:
There’s No There There

We know, yes we know, from careful data analysis and peeking through a few windows, that some of our customers own historical wargames made by other publishers. They enjoy playing Panzer Grenadier or Second World War at Sea in a room lined with shelves, those shelves lined in turn with games. Many of those other games are crap. You know it and I know it: the rules barely resemble any form of human language and the “research” came from a Wikipedia page written by my dog, Leopold. When it rains and he has to stay inside, he gets bored and I don’t have to clean up what he writes on Wikipedia.

“Your mistake is, you think wargamers actually care about things like rules and history,” a brilliant game auteur once explained to me. “All they really care about are the graphics. Throw a nice cover on a game and you’ll sell out before anyone even looks at your precious rules and history.”

Far be it from me to argue with greatness.

This is why Avalanche Press is launching its new line of Alternative Games. Sure, plenty of other publishers will sell you unplayable crap that’s nothing more than a pretty cover on a box full of yard waste. But who else will sell you a pretty cover on a box full of actual yard waste?

The boxes themselves will have a nice heft to them, and will rattle when you shake them just like a nice, heavy game box filled with map boards and playing pieces and dice. We’re going to fill them with wood chips. Sweet, biodegradable, one hundred percent made in Alabama wood chips.

And the wood chips actually smell pretty nice.

So here’s what you get for your $10: a standard Avalanche Press game box filled with sweet-smelling Alabama wood chips and a beautiful box wrap showing a scene from some battle or something. That’s all. But it’s a sweet deal, I mean, just ten bucks to fill a slot on your game shelf against seventy-five bucks to fill the same spot with something you’ll also never play and was also never meant to be played.

For fifty bucks ($50, that’s five-oh U.S. dollars) we’ll go one better: we’ll put YOUR name on the box. Yes, the game can be “designed” by you. Anyone who’s worked in this industry knows that “developed” just as often means “ghost-written” – how the hell else do you think someone can “design” 200 wargames a year and still have time to spew daily 4,000-word angry rants on Facebook? But since no one’s ever going to open the damned box, why not put your own name on it?

And you’ll get your “games” fast. You won’t even have to download and print a .pdf of the “living rules” six months later, since you’re never going to play these games. Face it; you weren’t going to play that other game either. So why not fill your shelf with Alternative Games?  

So today we present our first selection of Alternative Games. On to the games!


Battles of 1859: Solferino
It’s a battle in Italy between the Austrians, the French and the Piedmontese, which is what Italians were called before they discovered spaghetti. Didn’t know that, did you, smart guy? That’s why I have a Ph.D., because I know more than you.

You can order Solferino right here.


Age of Chivalry: Tannenberg 1410
The Poles and the Lithuanians put on bearskins and pick up clubs to beat the snot out of a German skinhead gang called the Teutonic Knights. Look at the cover closely, it’s true.

You can order Tannenberg 1410 right here.


Age of Sail: Sweden Rules the Waves
Sailing ships battle it out on the Baltic Sea, Swedes and Russians because no one outside the White House can read Russian so we can make it all up.

You can order Sweden Rules the Waves right here.


Battles for India: Buxar 1764
Wikipedia has a map of the battle of Buxar, drawn by Leopold, so all the research is done. If we were doing any. Which we’re not.

You can order Buxar 1764 right here.


Them Rails Done Blowed Up
Ride around the Confederacy blowing up the railroads before the Yankees can do it for you. Roll Tide!

You can order Them Rails right here.

Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects. This is all actually true, which is kind of sad. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold. Leopold has all the best ideas.