June 14, 2024

#UnboxingDay ~ Tractics by Tactical Studies Rules

RockyMountainNavy, 19 January 2023 ~ #UnboxingDay

I am always on the lookout for older wargames I played or outright missed back when I was a young aspiring Grognard. In late 2022 a fellow gamer in a local BoardGameGeek flea market offered up TRACTICS: Rules for WWII Miniatures by Mike Resse, Leon Tucker, and GARY GYGAX with illustrations by Don Lowry. This is the Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) tan box edition from 1975. 


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TRACTICS, TSR 1975 tan box…not bad condition for almost 50 years…(click images to enlarge)

click images to enlarge

TRACTICS is not a board wargame (Charlies take note) but a set of miniatures rules that come in a digest-sized box very much like the original Little Black Books for the Traveller roleplaying game of the same era.

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TRACTICS Little Tan Box…


For a whole $10 (not so cheap in 1975) one got three digest-sized books (each 52-56 pages of text plus some blank pages at the end) and a set of folded charts.

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TRACTICS…all paper


Hey, note the order of the books; armor before infantry. The reverse approach was taken by John Hill for his game Squad Leader two years later…

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TRACTICS books in “natural” order


OH MY GAWD! It’s blue mimeograph! [Comment below if you even know what that is. Brant will award you bonus Groggie points if you used one in school to make copies of your game charts/tables or RPG character sheets.] I also grin at the reference to the authors other rules set (FAST RULES) if players find this set “more complex than necessary.”

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The layout is definitely from the old-school desktop publishing mode. Think about how many GMT Games customers like Harold Buchanan would lose their sh** if this was delivered to them today?

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Somehow we played with these rules…and ENJOYED it!


Yeah, TRACTICS is marketed as World War II miniatures rules, but Volume Three covers “modern” rules and what is more modern than a nuclear-tipped ICBM for the tabletop?

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The original NATO, nukes, and Nazis?


You can’t have a miniatures wargame without lots of charts and tables. TRACTICS has 19 on multiple colorful sheets. I’m sure this is a major reason why the price point was set as high as it was…

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TRACTICS charts and tables on colorful paper


Look at this price list found in the back of the books. Look in particular at that entry for “DUNGEONS  & DRAGONS – Sword & Sorcery Wargaming with Paper and Pencil and Miniatures.” Remember that Gary Gygax’s name is on the cover of TRACTICS and therefore we must assume he approved this wording. Proof that DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is a WARGAME!

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Proof that D&D is a WARGAME!


Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed a look under our hoods!  You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
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2 thoughts on “#UnboxingDay ~ Tractics by Tactical Studies Rules

  1. I played Tractics in 1972. It was a blast. The old Roco model tanks. BTW, I believe the print in blue was to keep people from photocopying them. Back then, the copiers didn’t see blue. If you run into the old blue editing pencils that’s why.

    1. Hmm. I hadn’t thought about the blue ink that way but it makes sense! Really makes sense if one recalls, like I do, just how often we tried to copy on school mimeograph machines. Thank goodness for Xerox!

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