From the box cover: "The new, realistic land army war game! Designed and perfected by an infantry officer... A war game with the professional touch... Actual principles of war apply... A real mental exercise... An excellent gift for the 'Chess and Checkers' type"
Tactics is a landmark game in that it was the first cardboard-counter commercial board wargame that was intended (albeit with limited success) to accurately simulate warfare and command.
The game was self-published by infantryman Charles S. Roberts, who would go on to found of Avalon Hill Games. The original edition of Tactics was published by the Avalon Game company, with a print run of approximately 2000. Roberts sold Tactics by mail order out of a garage in Avalon, Maryland.
The game portrayed a modern day strategic conflict between the forces of two hypothetical countries. The opposing units included infantry, armor, and airborne forces. The game was played on a mapboard which used a square grid rather than the hex-based style map which would later became preferred in the board wargaming industry. However, many of the conventions and mechanics established in Tactics still live on, in one form or another, in many of the wargames published today.
Based on his success with Tactics, Roberts decided to expand his operation and in 1958 he formed Avalon Hill Games. The initial line-up of games from Avalon Hill included Tactics II, a revised version of Roberts' original wargame. Avalon Hill would go on to publish a 25th Anniversary edition of Tactics in 1983, which represented a modified version of the original game in that it used a prototype mapboard which had not previously been released.
Other than a few graphical changes there are some functional changes from the Tactics map to the Tactics II map:
Going over the 1954 Tactics and 1958 Tactics II boards square by square the only functional changes are:
- The squares around the edge of the map for 1958 now have numbers 1 to 43 from North to South and 1 to 55 West to East.
- Cities for 1958 had unique numbers added.
No numbers are present on the 1954 board in the cities or the grid.
- There is no map compass on the mapboard label like there is in Tactics II
- The mountain pass in the large mountain range on the board label edge is not present on the 1954 map. Also there is only one single clear square, same place as in Tactics II, 7 squares in from the Blue coastal city near the map label in that mountain range. There are none of those longer dead end corridors in the big mountain range like on the Tactics II map.