Nova Game Designs came to be in 1981 after a name change of the original named company, 'Gameshop', which James Rosinus started. All reprints and new games published after this had the 'NOVA' logo. Later in 1981, Al introduced the group to Larry Harris, who was living in the New London area of CT at the time. He had been trying to get someone interested in his WW2 game he had named '1942', but had had no takers. After playing it, Nova decided to take on the project. The name had to change, however, and we barnstormed names in Joe Angiolillo's basement until we settled on 'Axis and Allies'. After initially investigating doing the game with plastic pieces (what we all felt was the right way to do this), we discovered that this approach was cost prohibitive for us and we planned it out with cardboard pieces. You should be able to find a picture of the original version somewhere on this site. Initial print run was about 5000 copies. Nova debuted this at Origins '82 in San Francisco, along with 'Ace of Aces; Powerhouse Series', the second 'Ace of Aces' game. Nova did well and in the rest of '82 and into '83 we had sold over 3000 of the copies. It was after that that Larry had landed a job at Milton Bradley as a designer and convinced 'Uncle Miltie' to not only hire him, but start up a new 'Adventure Game' line, featuring 'Axis and Allies'. An agreement was made to purchase the publishing rights from Nova, and new version of 'Axis and Allies' was published about a year later. Nova 'remaindered' the approximately 1500 copies it had left to John Edwards' JEDCO Games in Australia, and it was released there with its own box, using the purchased Nova components.
The next year, Nova published Vitale's 'Bounty Hunter: Shootout at the Saloon'. Although it sold fairly well at first, it's main contribution to Nova was to inspire the 'Lost Worlds' sword and sorcery line, using the same design idea. The 'Lost Worlds' books and system worked very well and allowed a multi-varied character-based game that could be and was managed to do a number of lines, e.g. 'Battletech'. Nova was working on a super-hero application for many a year after but could never get a license for known characters (I still have some of the playtest versions we worked up).
Later, Nova worked with Dana Lombardy to republish his design 'Streets of Stalingrad' as two (planned as two and a supplement - supplement never published, although the unit counters existed) separate games, 'Fire on the Volga' and 'Battle for the Factories'. This was done, but absorbed a lot of resources that in retrospect might better have been spent on more Lost Worlds or Ace of Aces games, as this boardgame pair sold at a disappointing rate.
After several years, Nova reorganized to bring in an outside investor and more capital, but the reorganized company never really clicked. Somewhere around 1991-1993 Nova as an entity ceased publication, but not before getting 'Ace of Aces: Wingleader' (WW2 aircraft) and 'Ace of Aces: Jet Eagles' (Jet fighter combat) published.
Old and new 'Lost Worlds' games continued to be published by Flying Buffalo.
- Nova Game Designs was formally known as Gameshop.
- 1991-1993, Nova Game Designs shut down.