So, another of TSR's early boardgames is more significant for its associations than its gameplay. Published by TSR under the name COHORTS: THE GAME OF ROMAN CHECKERS,* it's a reconstruction of an ancient game, the rules for which are lost. The game has different names in different cultures. From a quick survey I suspect some of these are different games now associated together more than is perhaps justified.
More interesting than the game itself is the fact that it was the work of L. Sprague de Camp. At first de Camp seemed an odd choice to create (or re-create) a boardgame. Then it hit me: one of de Camp's most famous works is his LEST DARKNESS FALL (1939), a Connecticut Yankee novel about a modern-day engineer who finds himself back in Late Antiquity Rome. If we consider de Camp, who was something of a polymath, an expert in all things Roman, his authoring a Roman or pseudoRoman game makes more sense.**
de Camp's name appears at the end of the rulesheet and on one of the box sides, which says
COHORTS, THE GAME OF ROMAN CHECKERS,
has been specially prepared by world famous author L. Sprague de Camp.
The phrase "Famous Author Series" appears in a starburst in the upper right corner of the boxtop.
So, what is the Famous Writers/Authors Series, and what are the other entries in it (presumably at least two, if this is the third one)? I assume the Leiber/Fischer LANKHMAR Game was one, and that the Larry Smith version of Tolkien's BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES the other.
Finally, for those trying to sort out the seqyence, this game's stock number is #5002.
--New Arrival: Holly Ordway's long awaited TOLKIEN'S MODERN READING.
*Thanks to Steve Brown for my copy of this.
**This was not de Camp's only contact with TSR: DRAGON MAGAZINE reprinted one of the Harold Shea 'Incomplete Enchanter' stories.