Formats for original SPI Games.

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The Overview of SPI Formats

The question always becomes 'What games are available in which format?'

These questions can vex experienced SPI gamers and collectors.

Below is a thumbnail sketch to track various formats, with general timelines of when each was available.

If the format is hyperlinked, it will take you to list of the games in that format.

On the menu list at the top of the page, I try to take you into detail of the format changes at SPI.
I've backed these up with a quotes from articles from S&T and Moves.

This is a work in progress: as of July 7, I have all but completed the table below.

I hope to finished the 'chapters' on the different formats from the envelope to the flatpacks and Quads, and am working on the Designer Editions pages. Once I add in the Boxes and Capsules pages, it will essentially be a 'History of SPI 1970 - 1982'

Below: a brief overview of each format phase, including links to lists of what was published in each format.
Note - each of the links in this table will open as a new tab. Close it to return to this page.

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Format Era Details  
All S&T and Ares games.
1969- 1982 The original format for a direct mail company. Remember, though, that "Games in issues prior to number 18 contain only written rules, instructions and/or lists of units bound-in [to the magazine] but no finished components." For example: Crete (issue 18) is bound into the magazine itself (including the mapsheets).  
Poultron Press
Test Series Games
1969-1970(?) The Test Series Games (TSG) were the original efforts by the formative band of would-be designers that came together around S&T magazine in the early days. Poultron Press was organized to improve the games offered to wargamers, and break the 'one game a year' stranglehold Avalon Hill (AH) exerted on the hobby. [Article] The rules were not typeset. The maps were black & white, on very thin paper. Counters were essentially printed on construction paper, unmounted.  Poultron Press first advertised in S&T 18 - [Ad from S&T 20] and the response was overwhelming. Check out all the great pictures here!    
(UNMOUNTED Counters)
S&T 19 - 25 (see notes)
1969-1971 Purchased by Dunnigan and Simonsen and incorporated, the changes for S&T begin with the birth of SPI. The games in S&T from 19 to 25 came with components but the counters were uncut and unmounted. These counters require the buyer to glue them to pressboard or tileboard, and then cut them. Still, the rules were professionally printed, making them a big step above the TSG games. 

NOTE: Once SPI begins mounting counters (issue 26 on), it retrofits the games from 19 to 25 [not including T-34]* with mounted counters.  

*T-34 has no counters, ; and France, 1940 had sold to Avalon Hill.

This picture shows Centurion with only the original cardstock counters. (link)

(MOUNTED Counters)
S&T  26 - 90, All Ares
(19 - 25 reprints retrofit)
1971-1982 All SPI games from issue 26 were mounted. 

Early purchases of these games could buy the counters, and people buying the games after the mounted markers became available might get both the mounted and unmounted counters.

See this picture of Renaissance of Infantry (link) for example - the magazine retrofit with a paper copy and a mounted copy of the counters.) 

Z-Pack   Games in plastic ziplock bags. ALL SPI gamers were available in plastic bags for individual purchase. (Exceptions: The games from the Conquerors, Paratroop, and the GBACW two pack - Jackson at the Crossroads and Battle of Corinth - were NOT offered separately - only as a set.)
White Box
Purchased Separately
September 1972 -  January 1973 As SPI tried to expand, they wanted into the retail market. To do that, they had to have boxed games, but they needed to balance cost vs. sales. The first effort was to create a plain white box to hold the games on store shelves, with a separately printed label to identify each. That saved money, but the boxes had some issues. (See Chapter 3 - WHITE BOXES link at top of page.)
Printed Boxes
Three in Sept 1972
Sept 1972 only White Box 1.5, but with full color illustrations. Normandy, Leipzig, and Barbarossa are the only ones produced according to RAS. (Covered in detail with pictures and history on Chapter 3 - WHITE BOXES link at top of page.)
White Box Mark I.5
Ordered after 1/1/73
January 1973-
        April 1973
An improvement to the White Box - now featuring tabs on the pocket covers, and a corrugated filler to act as counter trays. Still some trouble, as the counters tended to slide out of reach inside the box. (Pictures included on Chapter 3 - WHITE BOXES link at top of page.)

White Box Mark II
Ordered after 4/1/73


April 1973 - Aug 1973 Introducing the plastic tray, inserted into the White Box, removing the 'disappearing counters' problem of Mk I and MK I.5. This tray is actually the base of what would become the flat pack - see picture on Chapter 3, WHITE BOXES.
The Flat Pack
Purchased after 9/1/73
     Full List
Sept 1973 - July 1978 Introduced as the Mark III box, and referred to as a box in the catalogs, the 'flat pack' is the iconic image of SPI games to most of us. Announced in S&T 39 (July/Aug 1973). Covered in detail under Chapter 4. See the link FLAT PACKS at top of page.
The Quadrigames
     Full List
 May 1975 - July 1979 In 1975, SPI introduced the Quadrigame - smaller game sets with smaller maps - but in 4 colors! Covered in detail on Chapter 5 - QUADS link at top of page.  
Folio Folders
     Full list here
May 1975 - July 1979 Folders for holding the map and rules. Allowed for a nicely printed cover and some details on the back. Generally these were used for the individual games that made up the QuadriGames. There were also 'Strategy & Tactics Folios' and a special 'Lord of the Rings Folio' for the two smaller games in the Middle Earth game.

The July 1979 catalog no longer breaks out the Folio games as having a 'folder' simply as 'smaller' games in a plastic bag.


Designer's Editions
     Full list here

April 1976 - July 1979 Standard SPI game in a 2" bookshelf boxes with mounted map boards and most have a counter tray. (Standard games have 34" x 23" map and at least 200 counters.)  
Collector's Editions
     Full list here
April 1976 - July 1979 Folio-sized SPI game in a 2" bookshelf boxes with mounted map boards and a counter tray. (Folio sized games are 17" x 22" map and 100 counters.)  
Power Politics Series
    Full list here
April 1976-
           July 1979?
Multiplayer non-wargame SPI game in a 2" bookshelf boxes with mounted map boards and a counter tray. (First announced in S&T 53, page 2, Nov/Dec 1975 for Russian Civil War. Game later published on May 28, 1976. ) First full discussion S&T 54, page 22.  
Box - 2"
Purchased  after 7/1/78
  List Here
July 1978 - Now all games in print that need a new printing of the game will get a 2 or 4 inch cardboard box with full color cover. Monster/Double games get 4" boxes. (Descent on Crete appears to be the last flat pack game.  Few boxed versions of this version exists.) Any game in production once the 2" boxes begin can become a boxed game.  
Box - 4"
Purchased after 7/1/78
   List Here
July 1978 - As above, except 1600 t0 2000 counter games (most Monsters) get 4" boxes.  Atlantic Wall, which came out as change over was occurring, started life as a double flat pack, but quickly became a 4" box.  
   Full list here
March 1979 - These should be called 'the killers.' In an attempt to compete with Steve Jackson and TSR's low cost games, these packages took folio games and folded them again to fit in a 5.5 x 8.5 plastic bag, and sell for $3.95. Crazy!  
Box - 1"
    List Here
Sept 1979 - Dec 1981 But not as crazy as this: The decision to take S&T games, Ares games, and others, and sell them in a 1" box for $5.95 (to $8.95 if full sized game, such as Pea Ridge.) The S&Ts stopped automatically getting placed in a box with Kaiser's Battle, but non-magazine games sold in 1" boxes continued until the end. This is at a moment of the worst runaway inflation the USA has ever known. According to later examinations of costs, the box alone cost $5.73 -- without a cover or materials inside it. At a time when, "over 80% of the number of games being sold were $5.95 games." (Reported in S&T 86)  

Next page - Chapter 1: S&T, Test Series Games, and the Dawn of SPI - Next

Draft| END GAME - not finished |

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This site was last updated 02/07/22