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When I was in college in the late 1980s, a friend of mine whose father was a VP at Mattel gave her a Zomax set, which she gave to me. I like Risk and Stratego, etc., so I liked Zomax a lot. Unfortunately the game was accidentally destroyed by the louts who lived in the same dorm. I have a 6-year-old son now who loves Stratego and Risk and I'd like to have a Zomax set for him to play with!
I fell in love with this game in the mid-80's, while on a ski trip to Sun Valley, ID. It seems a ski instructor there invented the game of Zomax. In the beginning, he devised a great way to market the game, by having a annual Championship in Sun Valley. The grand prize was $25,000! He dreamed that the contestents would come from various regional contests, mostly held in small pubs or bars. The creator had an agreement with the Idaho prison system to build the games.
I became the southern distributor and still have over 150 games stored away in my garage, hoping someday to revive this great game. I believe it's downfall was the huge price, MSRP $80. Given it is complicated to create; metal board, magnetic pieces and strange packaging, along with a very strange name, it demanded a large price to cover the creation as well as the Championship prizes. I tried very hard to market this game in Georgia, but unable to create a long running audience. I even put on a small contest at a local bar, with a grand prize of $100, but failed to attract more than 10 players. I also put the game on the Home Shopping Network, and presented the game as a guest on the show. Many callers were intrigred by the game. I believe the downfall was that it was too involved (like chess), but too simple to gain adult attention. If the Championship had been successful, I think the game would gain recognition it deserved.
My daughter, who at 12, loved to play the game with me, still to this day thinks it should be a hit. Many times I think of throwing away the games in the junk yard, but always seem to forget doing it. I've even given samples to the local charities like Boy Scouts and Toys for Tots. I may put an ad on eBay. My price would be around $10 plus shipping. If anyone is interested, feel free to contact me.
Funny, I still have a newspaper clipping about the game, as well as various marketing items such as membership cards. My game collection include the numbered, signed by creator originals, with certified stickers. It's a shame that this great game never caught on, it is much better than chess, but can last for hours. I think the downfall of the game is having to depend on the honesty of the other player (you can't view what they do), and the need for a overseer during contests.
As of May, 2003, the game of Zomax has been out of print for no small number of years, which is rather a shame I think. I found this game lying neglected and desolate in the far corner of a games shop, and such was the pity that welled in my heart that I was compelled to purchase it and give it a home.
I expected utterly nothing of it: after all, it has a horrible-looking box and a silly name. I thought it could provide a bit of amusement over Christmas holidays, and then remain as a curiosity amongst my collection. But oddly enough, the game of Zomax (billed as 'the world's greatest game' by its creator) actually doesn't suck.
Zomax is... was... essentially a Battleship-Risk hybrid. The two players place a mapboard between them - vertically, mind you! The map is printed on both sides and indicates where each player's pieces begin. The pieces are small cylindrical magnets that stick to the board, and fit satisfyingly into circular indentations on each square of the map. Each player has three types of piece: airplanes, tanks, and ships. Ships (white pieces) must move on water, tanks (yellow) on land, and airplanes (red) go anywhere. In addition, each player has one piece to represent the capital city, which remains on a fixed spot and the location of which is known to your opponent.
On their turn, players roll two dice, and then have that many movement points to distribute amongst their pieces any way they like. Now here comes the neat bit: if you move a piece onto a square where an opponent's piece sits (on the opposite side of the map), the magnet will repel it off the board! In this case, the active player's turn immediately ends. They have eliminated an enemy unit, but also revealed the location of one of their units... if their opponent remembers where their original piece was placed!
There's some sneakiness to Zomax. You can't see the other player's units but you know where they all started. If you just go after them, though, it's easy for your opponent to get you right back. The real trick is to find a way to sneak in a group of units sufficiently far into enemy territory, then choose the right time for the final charge. (You win by bumping the capital city marker off the board; ships can move onto it from neighbouring water.)
To my astonishment, then, I found myself playing this game more than once on that aforementioned Christmas holiday. And I can even imagine there being a future time when Zomax may be brought out to introduce to friends, far surpassing my original expectations.
I still can't understand where the name Zomax came from, even though it was the 80s at the time, when such things were wont to happen. I can't help but wonder what might have been if only they'd given this game a decent title and printed some non-sucky artwork on the cover. Yet since that has not happened, we are merely left to wonder: Whither Zomax?