29 July 2019
Decorated Charles S. Roberts Hall of Famer passes away
Richard H. Berg, the designer behind the singularly ambitious wargame Campaign for North Africa and dozens of other acclaimed tabletop titles over the last four decades, has passed away.
Following his time in the US Army – including a period in Vietnam during the late 1960s – and stints as a criminal defense attorney, composer for musicals (something Berg wryly said ended when he agreed with a New York Times review of his show Alice as “boring and derivative”) and singer in a rock band, Berg became a game designer in the mid-1970s and went on to design more than 140 published games over the next 40-plus years.
Berg’s best-known game is likely The Campaign for North Africa, his unrelentingly detailed and demanding simulation of the World War II operations in Libya and Egypt from 1940 to 1943. The 1978 game become known for its vast play time – requiring literally months of gameplay to finish its 1,500-hour campaign – as well as the minutiae of its systems (Italian units requiring extra water supplies due to their fondness for pasta is just one such example) and sheer size, which included enormous ten-feet maps and nearly 2,000 counters.
The Campaign for North Africa was far from Berg’s only acclaimed design, however. With Mark Herman, he co-designed the 1992 Roman hex-grid wargame SPQR, which won him one of his more than a dozen Charles S. Roberts Awards. In 1987, Berg was inducted into the Charles S. Roberts Awards Hall of Fame.
Berg was also an author, penning several books and editing Berg’s Review of Games, a wargaming magazine that garnered a reputation for its no-punches-pulled approach to criticising games.
Berg’s death on July 26th was announced by Herman, who led tributes across social media from players and designers alike.
Berg’s final design appears to be The Big Apple, a city-building game set in New York currently slated for release in 2020.