This is not enough, however, for the real fans. They want better components. Better looks. Printed rule books with historical notes. The very things they fell in love with when studying abroad and encountering wargames.
So they start to make their own, semi-professional grade games.
This is about the stage that I first stumbled over Chinese wargames and, on a whim, picked one up for SO. He loved it.
The game rules are, reportedly, a bit pedestrian and 1980s in style.
This particular designer/publisher's early works used standard industrial magnetic-clasp boxes which forces other components to get shoe-horned in. The playing pieces were sheet magnets with the tokens glued to them and then painstakingly laser-cut. The boards are sheet steel, making the pieces stick. (The large map in this toot is paper and the tokens don't stick, but the small map does.) The cards are a bit flimsy. But even here there's visible improvement from game to game.
Things are visibly improving more as this designer's first professional publication is put out: a supplement to a published history book about the Kiev encirclement.
In this same time frame a variety of other publishers are getting into the game, one of them a minigame about Yugoslavia in 1991, the other a full-on game of the Han-Chu Contention (the source of many military aphorisms in China).
The twin threat that should have been a source of alarm for wargames publishers was seen.
In this toot we see the end of "amateur hour". From a humble beginning, we see component quality improving, we see custom packaging, we see more modern game designs (including unique features). This is the cusp of professionalism.
That's one prong of the twin threat.
The other prong is the subject matter. These games are, for the most part, on topics of interest to the **CHINESE**. Western publishers, if they want to remain relevant, need to wake up!
Spoiler alert: they don't.
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