Friday 22 March 2024

Putting the Top in Flat Top!

The box may be faded but the contents are complete and in great condition for a game getting on for nearly 50 years old!

At long last I have managed to track down a modestly priced copy of the original version of Flat Top - the game of carrier battles in the South Pacific during 1942 (excluding Midway) by S Craig Taylor and published by Battleline way back in the 70s. I can remember playing this to death ‘back in the day’ and whilst I also own the later Avalon Hill version (still unpunched) the earlier version has a special place in my gaming heart!

Why get this when I have the Avalon Hill version which is superior in just about every way? Well, that is an easy one to answer. It was challenging but fun, as long as you had an opponent that was prepared to play. At the time I was lucky in that my usual gaming partner enjoyed board games rather more than using models and so we played this, Avalon Hill’s Jutland and the Air Force trilogy to death. 

The Battleline version of Flat Top came in at 800 counters whilst the Avalon Hill edition has 1,500, together with mounted mapboards and a plot map in two halves. the rules have also been updated slightly. Crucially it also includes the ships for the Midway operation which the earlier version did not. The Battleline counters are chunkier than the Avalon hill version.

In a sense the Battleline version is rather more specific in its approach which is an advantage - especially as it is punched and ready to go! 

The rest of the South Pacific collection. 

In addition to this version of Flat Top I also have S Craig Taylor’s two Smithsonian series games - Midway and Guadalcanal - which cover much of the same topic but crucially in a simpler fashion. 

The one game that I am missing from this sequence was produced by the same designer when he moved across to Yaquinto Games. This was called CV and covered the Midway operation. Like many boardgames I have owned this ‘back in the day’ but no longer have a copy.

I suspect that will be next….


Jonathan Freitag said...

The Hunt is always enjoyable. Good hunting!

Steve J. said...

I never played the game but instantly recognised the box as I used to see it advertised in wargaming magazines back then!

David Crook said...

Hi Jonathan,

This acquisition came about purely by chance and at a price that was hard to resist! I will try and get a copy of CV for completeness but to be honest it is not really urgent as I have the later Smithsonian game and the Avalon Hill version of Flat Top includes the ships you would need.

Looking forward to some South Pacific action in due course.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Steve J,

It certainly is a striking box cover although the version I have is faded slightly on the lid and very badly ‘sunned’ around the sides.

Still delighted to have to have it though - it is slightly less daunting than the Avalon Hill version!

All the best,


Norm said...

We played the Avalon Hill version several times in our (much) younger days - great fun. I also had the two Smithsonian titles (and the Bulge). HAD is the operative word …. too many good games have slipped through my hands over the years.

David Crook said...

Hi Norm,

The funny thing is that I played the Battleline version to death, along with CV by Yaquinto, but have yet to play the AH version - in fact I have not even punched the counters out yet!

I have both of the Smithsonian titles which are probably better suited to me these days - they certainly take up a lot less room!

I can certainly echo your sentiment about games slipping through hands over the years! I reckon I am a leading authority on the subject!

All the best,