October 2019 was a bad month for the gaming hobby
with the death of three high profile gamers.
For many years, Geoff seemed to attend every con
going - MidCon, ManorCon,
RamsdenCon, BayCon and for all I know, StabCon and
He'd cut back considerably on con attendance in
recent years; I think BayCon was his only regular
con of the year.
He was one of those people who seemed to buy
every game ever published (before this became
impossible in the KickStarter era) and find the time
to play them.
Geoff was an integral part of the
Warfrog/Treefrog enterprise from the early days.
A proud Mancunian, raconteur, dweller of the saloon
bar, occasionally bolshie but often surprisingly
generous, it is a shame he seemed to drift away from
attending cons though many of us kept in touch via
Facebook, where Geoff was indefatigable in attacking
the denizens of smug Middle England (i.e. not
1936 - October 23, 2019
Francis Tresham was, arguably, the greatest board
game designer Britain has ever produced.
He was not particularly prolific but his two big
"hits", Civilisation and 18xx (1825,
1829, 1830, 1853), were two of the most
influential designs in modern boardgaming.
Civi, being a bit of a six-hour marathon, is not
much played at cons these days but many of its game
design features have been "borrowed" by other games
(e.g. the trading mechanism in Settlers of Catan)
plus the game was the inspiration for the
fantastically successful Sid Meier computer game,
We all take technology trees and card combos for
granted these days but Civi had these way back in an
era when the best games hardcore gamers could hope
to play were hex-based war games, Talisman,
Kingmaker and anything by Sid Sackson.
As for 18xx, it spawned a whole cottage industry
and regular MidCon
attendees will know that there are some gamers who
appear to play nothing but 18xx variants.
The game was the inspiration for the
fantastically successful Sid Meier computer game,
Francis was recently featured in TableTop Gaming
magazine where one of the quotes was something along
the lines of, "people will still be playing his
games in 200 years' time".
His other published designs were: Revolution:
The Dutch Revolt 1568–1648, Shocks & Scares, Spanish
Main and The Game of Ancient Kingdoms.
Leaving aside his massive impact on the games
hobby, Francis was an absolute gent and a humble
genius. Several of my friends have told stories of
ordering 1829 from Francis's games company, Hartland
Trefoil, and being surprised to have it delivered in
person by Francis.
Perhaps he moonlighted as a courier ... unlikely;
I can see him as a professor game design, however.
In terms of shaping the gaming hobby, Keith's
contribution was less than that of Geoff Brown's and
Francis Tresham's but I have literally not met
anyone who did not enjoy sitting down to play a game
Affable, self-deprecating, full of quips and
amusing anecdotes, he preferred games at the lighter
end of the spectrum, although he would try a medium
weight game if it appealed; six-hour brain burners,
however, were not really his scene.
For this reason, and because he was a regular and
much-loved con attendee, we will be honouring his
memory this year with a
Silly Drive on the
Friday afternoon in the Milldale Room between
3pm and 5pm.
The idea behind the Silly Drive is you play a
fun, quick game with a group of people and then that
group disperses once the game is over to play with
different groups of people.
15th February 1961 to 16th September
Chris Tringham (MidCon chairman
from 1981 – 1996) writes: It is with great
sadness that I find myself having to write an
obituary for my good friend John
Dodds, who passed away a few weeks ago, very
shortly after being diagnosed with idiopathic
I had known John for more than 35 years,
initially through the MidCon
committee, and we had remained in contact even
though I have been living in Hong Kong for 20
years (we last met up two years ago when I visited
London). I hope I can do justice to John’s
significant involvement in the games hobby over
John Dodds was a key member of the MidCon
committee from 1981 – 1996 (the 1981 event was the
first one at the Royal Angus hotel, but we called
MidCon III because there were two
earlier MidCons in Digbeth in the
late 70s organized by Dave Allen).
For the first few years, John’s official
responsibility was publicity, and from 1982
onwards he ran the (highly successful) quiz on
Friday and Saturday nights.
In 1988, John took over as tournament director
for the National Diplomacy Championships. Then in
1993, he came up with a proposal to run qualifying
events all over the UK. This was hugely
successful, and the official record shows an
increase from 37 to 117 players.
Needless to say, this required a huge amount of
effort by John – coordinating and publicising the
events and turning up at most of them himself.
John repeated this heroic effort in 1994, but then
had to stand down due to his increasing workload
(at that time John was working at HM Treasury as
Head of the Budget Coordination Team). Stephen
Agar took over, and I believe the qualifying
events continued for a few years, and they
certainly increased attendance at
John was editor of Perspiring Dreams (44
issues from June 1980 - June 1984). This was a
first-rate traditional Diplomacy zine, and it
appeared very regularly and then folded
efficiently (which is far more than most of us
managed). This is all the more amazing when you
consider that John was studying at Christ's
College Cambridge for the first two years of the
John did many good things to promote the board
games hobby. He co-edited 37 issues of
Hobby News (from 1992 – 1995), wrote the
Novice Package, ran the
Zine Bank, and also produced the
Hobby Services Bulletin.
John was a regular at cons both large and small,
and was always an affable and patient games
player, whether winning or losing. On top of that,
he was always good company and invariably had
something interesting to say on a wide range of
I will always remember a group of us meeting up
to watch the 1992 election results. We all
expected a Labour victory, so when we heard the
results of the exit poll shortly after 10 pm most
of us thought there must have been a mistake. John
then quietly informed us he had placed a (fairly
substantial) late bet on the Tories to win, which
of course they did.
There was a memorial service at Stationers’ Hall
in London on 20 October, where we heard a lot more
about John’s early life, his time studying at
Cambridge, his interest in board games (from Dane
Maslen), his love of reading, watching Darlington
FC and Durham CCC all over the country, and his
long career in the civil service - including 15
years with HM Treasury. It was certainly a life
lived to the full.