Sunday 24 March 2024

Getting Reacquainted With an Old Friend

The rules and newly sorted counters. It looks untidy but there is a system. Each side has an around a dozen bags of units and these are in turn placed in a large grip top bag. The game markers (the blue counters) are kept separately in three smaller bags. Trust me, it all makes sense!

The plot map. The Avalon Hill version is split into two halves and covers a slightly larger area - in a later post I will ring the changes between the two versions

I spent a pleasant couple of hours going through the contents of the Battleline edition of Flat Top and sorting out the 795 counters into the various types. It took a lot of grip top polythene bags for sure! The game cane with the original plastic trays but I have never been a great fan of these - I prefer having counters bagged up and readily identifiable. I say 795 counters because there is actually 800 but of these five are blanks and they were missing so technically the game is incomplete but everything that counts is still there! Even the plotting pad is barely used although a lot smaller than the AH version which is in two parts and covers a wider area.

After I had sorted the counters I took some time to read the rulebook once again - the memories certainly came flooding back! The rules seemed to ‘pop’ out of the pages as game mechanic after game mechanic suddenly became comfortingly familiar, along with reminders of some cracking games in years gone by.

I reckon I picked up my copy in 1978 and at the time I was living at my late grandmothers in East Ham. Her flat was a twenty minute walk from Eric Knowles’s shop The New Model Army Ltd, home of the Newham Wargames club. My Saturday routine was invariably spending half a day at the shop gaming in the cellar, made suitably dramatic by the prospect of carbon monoxide poisoning as the air circulation was non existent! Invariably by Saturday evening meal prior to going out ‘on the town’ was a traditional East end speciality - pie and mash!

The East End breakfast of champions - no eels in sight though! Stewed eels I don't mind but I draw the line at the jellied variety!

Why am I mentioning this? Well, we had this for dinner last night, courtesy of my son, and whilst munching my way through the two pies, double mash and liquor (the green sauce you see) with the obligatory chilli infused vinegar I was suddenly transported back to pretty much any Saturday night in 1978 - probably reading the same set of rules over dinner or probably sorting out the same set of counters.

Cripes! That was 46 years ago….

In respect of Flat Top I am reminded of a well known quote that actually predated my acquisition of the game and in its own way has also had a profound impact on my gaming life.

“We meet again at last. The circle is now complete….”


The Good Soldier Svjek said...

Ummm , draw the line at that green liquor, you have to be careful when dining in parts of Lancashire as the will pour mushy peas liquor on your fish and chips automatically without asking, That boardgame is of a certain era.

David Crook said...

Hello there Good Soldier Svjek,

It adds to the experience! I must confess that I have very little experience of Lancashire but will be sure to watch out for mushy peas liquor when I am ‘oop north!

You are quite right about it being of a certain era - but for all that it certainly old up well.

All the best,


Jonathan Freitag said...

While I have the AH version of Flat top, I passed up many opportunities to get the Battleline version.

On your meal, I have NO idea what it is your eating. Is "liquor" what I would call gravy? And, what is in your "pie"? Puzzled...

David Crook said...

Hi there Jonathan,

I really enjoyed the Battleline version and after having reread the rules I can see why!

Check this out:

That should whet your appetite!

All the best,


nundanket said...

My mum always said, 'if you've got nothing nice to say, then say nothing'. So I will say nothing about pie, mash n liquor.


David Crook said...

Hello there nundanket,

It is a culinary delight old chap, like manna from heaven, the food of the Gods or the breakfast of champions!

I thank you for your culturally sensitive and diplomatic view!

All the best,