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Wargame ratings from 1982 vs. 2012. How 126 games compare 30 years on.
Steven Goodknecht
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A couple of years ago I was thumbing through Strategy & Tactics #90; it was the last issue put out by SPI before they folded and is dated Jan/Feb 1982. Back then I always enjoyed looking at the game ratings chart in the magazine and I still do today. Nostalgia.

I thought it would make an interesting geeklist comparing the ratings from then and now but I never got around to doing it. Then in July of this year, David Dockter had the same idea and did a list of 43 wargames comparing their S&T ratings from 1980 vs. 2012. I really enjoyed the list and urge you to check it out here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/74949/wargame-ratings-.... Anyone who has read David's geeklists are well aware that he has a real talent for crunching game rating numbers. What is interesting about comparing the higher rated games on his 1980 list to this list is that many of them had dropped over two years. What David would call "cult of the new".

I don't possess David's talent for analyzing numbers but I'll try to compensate by the sheer number of games listed. Quantity vs. Quality. Also, I'm putting an emphasis on the various wargame categories.

In their Game Ratings Chart, SPI listed Publisher/Date Published/Price/Acceptability Rating/% Played/Complexity Rating/Playing Time/Solitaire Suitability. The % Played is the number of people who left feedback for that particular game; they weren't supposed to rate it unless they had actually played it. Playing Time is in hours and Complexity Rating is what BGG calls Game Weight. And of course, Acceptability Rating is what BGG gives as a game's Average Rating and comparing those numbers is the primary purpose of this list.

For those who may not be aware, S&T and SPI's other magazine Moves, came with feedback cards with 96 questions which subscribers would fill out and send in. The questions were varied but always included new game proposals (a form of P###) and recently published games, which the subscriber would rate on a scale of 1 to 9.

In S&T #77 from Nov/Dec 1979, it was stated that 10%-15% of subscribers sent in their feedback cards. From 1980-1981 S&T's circulation was 32,000-36,500. That works out to some 3,200-5,475 wargamers who filled out feedback cards. So if a game has 20% Played, we can assume that 640-1,095 gamers rated that particular game. We can also assume that SPI was getting a fair bit of information about what gamers liked...and didn't like.

SPI listed every game that rated 6.2 and above. I will list every game at 6.4 and above. I will also include an Honorable Mention to a few games rated below 6.4 that have a higher rating today. Also included is SPI's category rating for each game. I'm sure some gamers will weep when they see what some of these games sold for new versus the eBay prices today!

Because this list is from 1982, it will naturally be dominated by SPI and Avalon Hill with a smattering from GDW, OSG and a few other small publishers.

The categories are:
ANCIENT AND DARK AGES 1-4
Only four titles in this category. I believe this category is more popular today than it was 30 years ago. Games such as Commands & Colors, with more emphasis on game rather than simulation, have made this period more accessible and popular. Victory Point Games has also produced titles in the same vein.

Except for one title, the games in this category seem to have aged very well and retain their popularity.

MIDDLE AGES AND RENAISSANCE 5-12
Only eight titles in this category. I think the comments for the Ancient and Dark Ages category are valid here also.

Like the Ancient and Dark Ages category, the titles in this category have also aged well overall.

NAPOLEON 13-23
Eleven titles in this category. A mixed bag. While several have held up well, I'm not sure that they would be the first choice for many of today's gamers.

AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (1830 TO 1900) 24-38
Fifteen titles. SPI dominates this category with the GBACW series and Blue & Gray quads; games that complexity wise, were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Really nothing in-between. Most have held up okay over three decades. A few of the GBACW games are still popular today. Avalon Hill made few serious attempts in the Civil War category back then. Yaquinto scores one big hit with Ironclads.

WORLD WAR I 39-43
Not a very popular category in 1982 or before. Only five titles but those five have retained or increased their popularity. This is another category that is more popular today. Like the first two categories, I think this is due to newer games that stress playability over simulation.

WORLD WAR II 44-88
As you would expect, this is by far the largest category. A very mixed bag. I think this is a large enough sampling that you can surmise that it has more to do with a shift in the type of wargame gamers prefer today. Cards, blocks and area movement games have replaced many of their hex and counter counterparts.

Except for Squad Leader and its progeny, AH has only a few that have held up well. SPI does okay with Panzergruppe Guderian and the numerous games it spawned. The SPI monster games are a very mixed lot; the ones that haven't dropped haven't increased much either. You could make the case that GDW is the winner in this category; most games from their Europa series are still popular.

MODERN 89-108
If you were a big fan of games from this category 30 years ago, prepare to be depressed. Games that were timely 30 years ago seem antiquated today. SPI's The Next War and the games from their Central Front series are the only exceptions to a hypothetical clash between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces that have withstood the onslaught of time.

It's a different story if it's a game about the Arab-Israeli Wars though. Most of those hold up with GDW's Bar-Lev on top.

SCIENCE FICTION 109-119
GDW seems to be the winner in this category with its Traveller series of games. SPI was trying hard but with only middling results today. Metagaming first appears in this category with results that are still okay today.

FANTASY 120-126
This is another category where SPI was trying but failed according to today's ratings. Metagaming looks like the winner. All of their games carried a $3.00 price tag back then so even if it wasn't a great game, no one needed to feel cheated. But they are apparently still well thought of today.

NOTE: I have included a link to a review for every game that has one.



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76. Board Game: Bismarck (second edition) [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:3660]
Steven Goodknecht
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AH.....6/79.....16.....6.7.....17.....6.5.....5.....4.0

AH resurrected and redid one of their older titles and scored a hit. And it's an even bigger hit today.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/781088/guns-as-big-as-st...

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77. Board Game: Winter War [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:3215]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....8/72.....12.....6.6.....18.....4.5.....3.....5.8

Already ten years old in 1982 and it was still popular. That's surprising. What's shocking is that it's even more popular today. Not bad for a 40 year old game with a very Spartan appearance.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/589717/asymmetry-near-th...
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78. Board Game: Submarine [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2604]
Steven Goodknecht
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AH.....5/80.....16.....6.6.....17.....4.5.....2.....4.0

Another Battleline game acquired by AH. But this one hasn't held up as well as some of the others.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/345712/the-game-that-mak...

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79. Board Game: Patton's 3rd Army: The Lorraine Campaign [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4245]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....1/80.....10.....6.5.....55.....5.4.....5.....6.4

A part of a series called Victory in the West. A total of three games all published in S&T. Sicily was still too new to be rated and Operation Grenade didn't even make the list. This one hasn't held up too well either.

I was always glad S&T didn't do too many cover pictures that looked as bad as this one.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/743373/looking-back-on-a...
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80. Board Game: The Fall of France [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:4599]
Steven Goodknecht
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GDW.....7/81.....20.....6.5.....12.....7.0.....7.....5.9

GDW did very well with the Europa series and for the most part, many of the games are still popular with today's gamers. This one is no exception.
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81. Board Game: Panzer Leader [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1491]
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AH.....11/74.....16.....6.5.....35.....7.1.....4.....5.0

A popular game back then and it still retains that popularity today.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/111794/my-gateway-grogna...
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82. Board Game: PanzerBlitz [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1585]
Steven Goodknecht
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AH.....10/70.....16.....6.4.....38.....7.0.....3.....5.4

Right behind its younger brother Panzer Leader, comes Panzerblitz; a seminal game. The oldest game on the list and it has almost the same rating as it did 30 years ago.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/821837/panzerblitz-resto...

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83. Board Game: Kharkov [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:3981]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....6/78.....12.....6.4.....37.....5.8.....6.....6.8

Another game based on the PGG system and like PGG, also an S&T game. Not much change in its rating.
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84. Board Game: Four Battles of Army Group South [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....6/79.....25.....6.4.....9.....6.0.....5.....7.0

SPI decided to stop fooling around and do four games utilizing the PGG system. Again, this is another example of the quads growing up. This game rates higher today. I recently got a copy of this game and I like it.

Individual quad ratings in 1982:
Operation Star: 6.5

Korsun: 6.3

Kiev: 6.2


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85. Board Game: Bulge [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:6375]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....1/80.....8.....6.4.....8.....4.0.....5.....6.0

A smaller Bulge game designed by Jim Dunnigan.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/91044/review-and-experie...

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86. Board Game: Rise and Decline of the Third Reich [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1064]
Steven Goodknecht
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AH.....11/74.....16.....6.4.....40.....6.5.....6.....6.0

An iconic game that has gone up in popularity. I assume that the people who like it today are not playing with the first edition rules.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/302770/john-prados-endur...
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87. Board Game: Battle for Germany [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1537]
Steven Goodknecht
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HONORABLE MENTION

SPI.....8/75.....5.....6.2.....32.....4.0.....3.....6.5

A huge ratings leap for this great little game. Reprinted by Decision Games.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/412680/an-unbiased-revie...

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88. Board Game: Beda Fomm [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:4200]
Steven Goodknecht
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HONORABLE MENTION

GDW.....6/79.....6.....6.2.....8.....6.0.....2.....0.0

Yet another GDW game that is much more popular today. Am I surprised? No, not really.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/296443/500-british-rifle...
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89. Board Game: Air War: Modern Tactical Air Combat [Average Rating:5.08 Overall Rank:10618]
Steven Goodknecht
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MODERN

SPI.....12/79.....25.....7.4.....9.....9.0.....4.....3.2

Topping the category in 1982, Air War has crashed and burned today, suffering the greatest ratings loss of any on this list. Even greater than CfNA. In 1982 only five other games matched its Acceptibility Rating and only three surpassed it. Notice also that its Complexity Rating is higher than CfNA or any other game on this list.

So far, we have seen a drop in air games. I imagine that today's gamers would prefer to play an air game this complex on the computer instead. That wasn't an option in 1982.

Reprinted by TSR.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/83457/and-kills-migs
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90. Board Game: NATO Division Commander [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:7457]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....6/80.....40.....7.3.....8.....7.1.....3.....5.0

Another game that takes a big ratings dive. It was timely in 1980 but it's an antique now.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/700595/the-battle-for-he...
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91. Board Game: TacForce [Average Rating:6.43 Unranked]
Steven Goodknecht
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GDW.....6/80.....12.....7.0.....4.....7.1.....3.....2.5

Another ratings drop but not as much as the top two in this category.

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92. Board Game: Berlin '85: The Enemy at the Gates [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:3429]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....3/80.....10.....6.9.....49.....6.8.....5.....6.0

A part of a series called Central Front that postulated WWIII and battles in Germany between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces. All of the games in this series first appeared in S&T. This particular title from the series is not as popular today.
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93. Board Game: Firefight [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:7731]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....8/76.....20.....6.9.....21.....6.5.....3.....5.5

The downward spiral in this category continues. If I remember correctly, this game was contracted by the U.S. Army and used as a training tool for their officers. Reprinted by TSR.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/694675/modern-warfare-sm...

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94. Board Game: MechWar 2: Red Star / White Star [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:7665]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....6/79.....20.....6.9.....16.....8.0.....2.....6.0

Another game about a hypothetical clash between Nato and Warsaw Pact forces. No one seems to care anymore.

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95. Board Game: MechWar 2 [Average Rating:6.65 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.65 Unranked]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....6/79.....35.....6.8.....16.....8.0.....2.....6.0

The least drop so far in this category. But if that is the best that you can say...

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96. Board Game: Bar-Lev: The Yom-Kippur War of 1973 [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:3449]
Steven Goodknecht
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GDW.....5/74.....13.....6.8.....10.....6.7.....6.....5.0

GDW breaks the trend with a game simulating a war that actually did occur. Even more popular today with a big ratings surge.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/168003/dont-let-the-map-...
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97. Board Game: Fulda Gap [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:4871]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....6/77.....12.....6.7.....19.....7.0.....5.....6.5

The respite from the ratings crash in this category was short-lived. Now, we take you back to more hypothetical NATO vs. Warsaw Pact games with the usual results.
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98. Board Game: Fifth Corps [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:3851]
Steven Goodknecht
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SPI.....9/80.....10.....6.6.....54.....7.1.....5.....5.5

Another in SPI's Central Front Series and this one hasn't dropped. Is there hope yet for this category?

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/501481/a-brief-review
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99. Board Game: TaskForce [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:5099]
Steven Goodknecht
United States
Bradley
Illinois
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SPI.....3/81.....18.....6.6.....20.....7.2.....5.....4.5

Two in a row where the ratings hold steady over the years. Is this a trend?

[urlhttp://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/83338/positive-impressio...][/url]

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100. Board Game: Nuclear War [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:1760]
Steven Goodknecht
United States
Bradley
Illinois
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FB.....9/80.....9.....6.6.....7.....3.0.....1.....1.0

Flying Buffalo makes its first, and only, appearance on the list. This game also continues the downward spiral in this category.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/374431/a-thorough-and-ob...
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