When we were still in grade school, my friends and I were able to get our parents to drive us out to Crazy Egor’s game shop in Hilton (close to Rochester, NY - I’m pretty sure he’s still in business.) We were like kids in a candy store, and after spending nearly all of our money, we’d have a few bucks left over that we could buy a miniature or dice with. Or, one of the plastic sleeved “microgames” of the time. We knew some of these were pretty bad from past experience, but quantity competes well with quality when you’re ten years old.
I’m sure that’s how one of us acquired Metagaming’s Microgame #5 “Rivets” - it was one of the first wargames I played. First published in 1977, it cost $2.95. We definitely got decent mileage out of it back in the day. The artwork on the cover and throughout is very cartoony, and that might have helped sell us on it in retrospect.From the back cover: “BOPPERS were mass produced robotic war machines. When the final war ended they were all that was left. Everyone was dead; but, the BOPPERS kept on fighting. Afterall, with the intelligence of can openers what could you expect… Rivets is a two player tactical level science fiction game of robotic warfare in the 22nd century. Players select their robot armies, set their programs, and send them out to destroy the enemy computer complex. Rivets is fast playing and easy to learn with a humorous style. Games are quick, even if the robots are a bit dumb.”
It was fairly easy to learn even for us kids, and I think it served as a great introduction to wargaming - the humor helped keep our attention and made us feel like we were on the inside of a joke. D&D had gotten us through Egor’s front door, but soon there wasn’t a wargame or rpg being made back then that wouldn’t at least briefly interest us.
Looking over my copy, I see that Steve Jackson was thanked as someone who offered feedback or playtested the game, and also note that the designer Robert Taylor mentions Vaughn Bode as an influence (I’m a huge fan.) The crazy thing about this game is that it’s actually still in print! I was really glad to see that.