Monday 8 April 2024

More on Flat Top - and a surprise!

Exactly how I remember it from first buying a copy way back in 1978. A simple but striking box cover.

My enduring obsession with the board game Flat Top has reached its climax - and in a very unexpected but welcome fashion!

I have two copies of the Battleline version of Flat Top - one consists solely of the contents as the box had disintegrated beyond the point of salvaging whilst the other is rather grubby around the edges - and three of the Avalon Hill version. One copy is in pretty good condition whilst the other two are box weary to lesser or greater degree. All five copies are complete and indeed, the Avalon Hill versions are unpunched.

I really wanted to get a decent copy of the Battleline version - the striking box cover is pretty faded on the one box I have - simply because on balance I prefer it to the later version. Now I was not seriously looking for a copy until a casual trawl through evil bay revealed a chap in the US that was selling a batch of Battleline Games that had belonged to his late father. These were found in an attic and for the most part the collection (there were thirteen games in all) was still in shrink wrap and with only minimal storage wear. A copy of Flat Top, along with Air Force and Dauntless were amongst the items on the listing so I dropped the seller a line to see if these three could be sold off separately. The answer was an emphatic yes and with each game costing a mere USD 30 a title I immediately ‘pulled the trigger’.

The package arrived this morning and whilst Air Force and Dauntless will feature in a later post (there is a good reason for this), my attention was focussed on Flat Top. It is absolutely pristine and even has that wonderful ‘new board game smell’ about it. For no obvious reason I turned the box over to see how the underside had fared over the 47 years since it was produced when I found the following.

After years of singing the praises of Flat Top and pretty much all of S. Craig Taylor’s games - including the Air Force trilogy, Wooden Ships and Iron Men (and Ship ‘O the Line), Wings and the Avalon Hill Smithsonian series - I now have a signed copy of one of my all time favourite games, by probably my all time favourite designer!

I am really pleased with this and you can rest assured that if I ever had to dispose of everything else in my collection this would be the one thing I would keep!

Now it could be thought to be a tad on the excessive side having essentially six copies of the same game, albeit in two sets of three - the Battleline and Avalon Hill versions. I would certainly agree with this but there is a kind of method in the madness. For more years than I can remember I have really wanted to play Flat Top on a Kriegspiel basis. In other words, each side has their own copy of the game with the third being held by the umpire. This would be the ultimate version of the game and to be honest trying to organise it would present some challenges in terms of organising players etc but boy oh boy, it would be a rollicking, rip-roaring and nerve-shredding experience!

I am dead chuffed.


david in suffolk said...

Great stuff - 6 copies of one game, and it's one of the more 'heavyweight' games too, I gather. This is the sort of wargames megalomania we like to see!
Rather a good idea to 'kreigspeil' it, I hope you can get that going and it will be interesting to see the results..

David Crook said...

Hello there David in Suffolk,

To be honest I never really planned this, it kind of just creeped up on me but realising a long held ambition to play Flat Top on a Kriegspiel type basis can now become a reality! In fairness one copy of the Battleline edition does not have a box and the other copy is a little weary looking. The signed version is definitely in the best condition of the three by quite some margin. All the Avalon Hill versions suffer from box problems - unsurprising given the amount of material crammed in - but the key thing is that they, and the Battleline versions are all complete in terms of contents.

I have a lot organising to do with the collection and expect that when I get to play it it will be a fusion of both editions but in any event, it is some way off for now.

All the best,