1970s Sheffield board game to be re-launched at battle night

Mike Hayes, inventor of Classic Warlord. Photo Dan Hobson
Mike Hayes, inventor of Classic Warlord. Photo Dan Hobson
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A cult board game created in Sheffield 40 years ago is being relaunched – and its inventor hopes the move will spark a gaming revival in the city.

Inventor Mike Hayes has re-released the game he designed as a student in 1974 in the hope of making the country’s first ‘board game city’ in Sheffield.

Classic Warlord being played outside

Classic Warlord being played outside

To mark the launch of Classic Warlord, which depicts the geopolitics of nuclear war, a battle night is being hosted at the Showroom next month.

Mike, now 78, of Ranmoor, said: “Sheffield is emerging as a centre for board gaming. There’s a shift back from computer games to playing proper board games again.

“I hope the battle night will be the start of Sheffield becoming a board game city, with more cafes and bars hosting board game nights.”

Mike dreamt up the concept of Classic Warlord – initially named The Warlord – as a student at the University of Sheffield in 1974.

Inventor of Classic Warlord, Mike Hayes

Inventor of Classic Warlord, Mike Hayes

Beginning life as pastime for his friends in the students’ union, word of the game quickly spread to other universities in the north of England.

Owing to the growing demand, Mike printed copies of the game locally and began a small business selling them.

In the 1980s, he was approached by two pals, and fans of the game, who said they were starting a business in London and could make the game a real success.

The game was re-branded as Apocalypse and was the catalyst behind the multimillion pound company, Games Workshop.

Despite almost being banned in the 1980s by an act of parliament, the game has enjoyed much success since it was first released.

Mike said: “I lived through the Cuban missile crisis and it inspired me to make a board game, more as a macabre joke really.

“The game really seemed to connect with people, though, and its popularity just grew and grew.

“Even now, with ISIS, Putin, or the South China sea, the game is still as relevant as it’s ever been.”

The idea of the game is to gain and defend territories through combat, cunning and bluff. Instead of rolling dice, the attacker chooses the number of attacks they want to launch on a dice. The dice is then concealed and the defender attempts to guess the number.

If they guess correctly the attacker loses that number of armies. If they guess wrongly one defender is lost, and if the territory is now left unoccupied the attacker can advance into the territory to capture it. Alliances are allowed – and can be broken at will.

A-bombs and the more devastating H-bombs are used in the game. A-bombs are a reward for successful combat, and H-bombs are gained as a result of launching an A-bomb.

These can be placed to act as deterrents against other players and can be launched to clear enemy territory prior to an advance.

Nuclear damage renders map spaces impassable for the remainder of the game.

Mike, who lectured at the University of Sheffield, said: “Whether you can play or not, it would be great to see you down for the battle.”

The battle night is taking place at The Showroom Cinema, from 12-4pm on Sunday, July 10.