In Ann Arbor: The Guns of July

The resinous scent of hot green summer flowed in waves across the sprawling north campus of the University of Michigan. But the obsessed, drifting in and out of the five-building brick residence complex perched above Ann Arbor, hardly noticed. This was a weekend devoted to the joys of combat.

The occasion was Origins 78, the fourth U.S. national war gamers' conference. For 72 hours, some 3,600 hobbyists, exhibitors and camp followers milled and argued, chattered and competed in a giant tournament. To Paul Wood, 35, chief conference organizer and president of the hosting...

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