R.I.P. My Old Friend Greg Novak

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.

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9 Responses to R.I.P. My Old Friend Greg Novak

  1. Phil Hall says:

    I realize that it has been a year now since Greg passed but I thought you would like to know that the Unit 4 School Board, of which Greg was a long serving member, renamed its Academy for kids in need of special help, The Novak Academy in honor of Greg.

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  2. lauraneville50 says:

    I went to 7th and 8th grade with Greg Novak(St. James in maywoods, illinois)- and he was one of the smartest kids I ever knew–his knowledge of the Civil War rivaled that of a PhD university faculty member. Amazing!! Greg would certainly smile and tell you you were being too nice or something along those lines.

    I am just sorry that I did not get to know him as an adult…He must have been a GREAT person!! But I must say that the seeds of greatness were certainly present -even before high school!
    Laura Neville
    Copperas Cove, Texas

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  3. […] Blog About Playing Games with Toy Soldiers – R.I.P. My Old Friend Greg Novak This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← THANK […]

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  4. Vav says:

    Greg was my Father-in-law. I know that the family appreciates hearing of Greg’s impact on the gamer community. Thank you all for your kind words.

    If you would like more information on who Greg was or would like to make a comment for the family directly, visit http://www.novak4u4.com

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  5. Mark Sieber says:

    I am very sorry to hear this. I have played, enjoyed and admired his game designs for many years, and had just made a date with a friend to play Command Decision before seeing this.

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  6. Ray Garbee says:

    I too knew Greg mainly from Command Post Quarterly. He was always encouraging and always had advice on improving my work. In hindsight, he helped me hone the skills that allowed me to succeed in life.

    I had several opportunities to game with Greg mostly at various HMGS conventions. Greg always had fun, educational games that taught you history and tactics. I remember his Corrigidor ’42 game at Historicon back in the 90’s as a fun, obscure battle.

    Though many of us knew him as a gamer, Greg was a tireless educator and advocate for education working as a teacher, a union representative or most recently as a school board member. Greg lived up to the notion of “pay it forward”. His was a stellar example of how to live a rich and rewarding life..

    Right now I have a stack of Greg’s work sitting on the desk next to me. Volley and Bayonet, CPQ and a Great Plains War scenario from an old Courier (which also features an article from Rudy Nelson, RIP).

    I’ll miss Greg as a friend and a writer. May he rest in peace.

    Ray

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  7. Ken Sharp says:

    This is very sad news. His contributions to the hobby cannot be overstated. His Command Post and Command Post Quarterly are the primary reason that Command Decision/Combined Arms are still my favorite games. My thoughts are with those that love him. I hope, that inspite of this, You, Sharon and the kids are doing well.

    Ken

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