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Boardgame Legend Charles S. Roberts Passes at Age 80

From The Baltimore Sun August 28, 2010:

Charles Swann Roberts died Aug. 20 from complications of emphysema and pneumonia at St. Agnes Hospital.

In 1958, he founded Avalon Hill Co., a Baltimore game publishing company that specialized in war and other mental combat games such as D-Day, Stalingrad, Battle of the Bulge, Gettysburg and Victory in the Pacific.

He later expanded the line of board games to include such rail-related board games Rail Baron, Dispatcher, and B&O/C&O.

The company, which he sold to Parker Brothers in the early 1960s, took its name from Mr. Roberts’ home in an old Avalon iron mill on Gun Hill Road, overlooking the B&O’s historic Old Main Line.

Renowned as “The Father of Board Wargaming”, Roberts created the first board wargame – Tactics, in an apartment in Catonsville, Maryland – in 1952. In 1954, out of a garage in Avalon, Maryland, he began selling it via mail-order as The Avalon Game Company, which later become Avalon Hill in 1958. His Tactics II (1958) improved on the basic game design of his earlier effort, and formed the genesis for the concept of the combat results table. In 1958 he published Gettysburg, considered to be the first board wargame based upon an actual historical battle, with subsequent versions in 1961 and 1964.

Hard hit by a recession, Roberts turned over Avalon Hill to one of his creditors, Eric Dott of Monarch Services, in December 1963.

Starting in 1974, Roberts’ name was given to the Charles S. Roberts Awards, awarded for excellence in the historical wargaming hobby.

In 1999 Pyramid magazine named Charles S. Roberts as one of The Millennium’s Most Influential Persons “at least in the realm of adventure gaming.”

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Jeff McAleer

Founder, editor-in-chief, and host of The Daily Dope and other TGG media. Jeff tackles any and all topics but his main gaming focus is war and strategy, RPGs, and miniatures. He's also a fan of independent and small press comics. Plus, Jeff is certainly never at a loss for an opinion...

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