One of the frustrating things about living in China was that it was almost impossible to get things from outside of China. Imports are painfully expensive, and companies tend not to want the hassles of licensing local production.

(China's sometimes-deserved reputation for theft of IP doesn't help.)

This was (and often still is) especially felt in the realm of games. SO fell in love with wargames, for example, when he studied in Canada. How could he introduce these to China?


The issue is that import were expensive to the scale of "a significant chunk of an average person's monthly salary". Imports aren't the answer.

There was, however, a complete intransigence on the part of wargames makers (especially American ones) when it came to licensing local companies for translated production.

The answer was so-called "DIY" games. The picture in the previous toot is a DIY publishing of Paul Koenig's D-Day line. This one is
Taiwan: Assassin's Mace, Scorpion Sting



DIY games are amateur republications of purchased wargames. Like this republication of Ancient Battles Deluxe. All of it (including all 5ยฝ supplements).

Playing boards are ink-jet printed on what amounts to plastic tablecloth fabric. Playing pieces are laser-cut from thin foam or replaced with generic wooden tokens. They're not pretty, but they're functional.

There's hundreds of these DIY productions spread across dozens of Taobao shops. Or, rather, there WERE. The scene is dying.


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The scene is dying because it was planned to always die. The ethic of the DIY games crowd is "publish the DIY until the real game is available, then destroy the DIY stock". (It was generally sold POD, so this wasn't a huge loss.)

And before you judge this as theft, keep in mind that this is *EXACTLY* how japanimation spread into North America: fan-copies and fan-subs circulated at low cost until publishers caught on there was an actual market. Then the fan productions were removed.


As more wargames get published in China, there's fewer DIY wargames left to find. What's left are obscure ones, long out-of-print ones, and nicely-printed "print-and-play" games available for free on the web like these ones.


If wargames publishers had been as smart in the '00s like the japanimation producers had been in the '80s, board wargaming wouldn't be an almost dead fringe hobby like it is today.

Having helped try to get local publishers into co-publishing deals with North American producers, however, I was faced with their utter, contemptuous dismissal many times. The result of this is something left for future infodumps. (Hint: Eurogames have taken off in China. Wargames... Stay tuned!)


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