I found out today that my friend Greg Novak died yesterday. He was one of the best people I had ever played a wargame with, and one of the most creative and encouraging people I have met while wargaming. Our friendship started way back in 1989 when I got a copy of Command Decision (1st edition) and had some questions about the rules. I decided to include some new orders of battles (French I think?) in my letter to GDW (way back in the snail mail days) in the hope that by giving something I might get a reply. Well I never got an answer to my questions, but I did get a reply from Greg. He sent me a letter that told me he was about to publish a game magazine, The Command Post, and it would be all about Command Decision. He wanted me to send any more orders of battle I had. I did and that led to a largely long distance friendship that went on for over twenty years.
Greg and I kept in touch via the phone and mail, and I sent more orders of battle to him, which he published in the Command Post and the new and improved Command Post Quarterly. Then the Internet came about and we communicated on a regular basis through email and discussion groups. I really like the Volley and Bayonet rules that Greg co-authored with Frank Chadwick and both Greg and I love the American Revolution. Over the years we exchanged ideas and research and stayed in touch. Then in 2002 I moved to Illinois, about 40 miles from Greg’s home and we finally had the opportunity to play a game together.
Although I was in Illinois for only a year, I was able to play several games of Volley and Bayonet with Greg, both at his house and once with him at Frank Chadwick’s home (we played a Borodino game at Frank’s with 54mm figures). I can still remember playing the first battle of Saratoga in Greg’s garage. He was very welcoming to a person he had only known from a distance, and I enjoyed the way he ran his games, fair but with unique referee additions. While I was glad to leave the Midwest and return to the West after my year in Illinois, I did (and still do) miss playing games with Greg, but I was happy that I finally got to meet him in person.
Greg was a man of endless ideas and sadly a few of his projects will remain uncompleted. I know he was working on a War of 1812 book for Volley and Bayonet, and we had talked about an American Revolution book for Volley and Bayonet as well. While I might try and complete the American Revolution book on my own someday, it will surely miss Greg’s brilliance, especially for setting up campaigns. Some of my favorite works of Greg are Volley and Bayonet, the American Civil War supplement for V&B (especially the campaign) and his work on the Barbarossa/25 campaign for Command Decision.
Here’s to you Greg, thanks for your wonderful games which have given me hours of enjoyment, but also thanks for your friendship for so many years. I am a better person from knowing you and that is the mark of a great friend.