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The Top 25 Wargames
Colin Hunter
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About 15-16 months ago I did a geeklist looking at the top 25 wargames. Since that time they have changed somewhat and various new titles occupy the top spots. In the past year I have started my own podcast with some friends
http://thenoisebeforedefeat.podbean.com/
while we are no longer as regular stay tuned for up coming episodes on OCS, the CSRs and CWBS

For those that don't know the wargame rankings on BGG are pure raw average, unlike the BGG ratings, which have 100 dummy votes of 5.5 added. This means that the wargame rankings have a tendency to favour new games and more niche games. They also change a lot more as almost every game goes down in ratings once it achieves more votes. It is a testament to some of the games on this list that they still rate highly despite hundreds or even thousands of votes.

What I seek to do is comment a little about each game and invite comment as well.

Here is the previous list I did
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/29630
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1. Board Game: Case Blue [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:1507]
Colin Hunter
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Case Blue
Dean Essig
Rank #1
Price - You should be able to get this for under $170 dollars online.

Case Blue is an operational level game covering the southern half of the eastern front in WWII. It is part of the venerable Operational Combat System (OCS). Case Blue is mammoth in scale featuring 10 maps, thousands of counters and hundreds of hours of play time. It won the CSR last year for WWII.

On a personal note, OCS is one of my absolute favourite systems. For me the primary appeal of the system is the delicious tension, the depth of the decision making and the quality of feel. It manages to immerse the players in the history and also provide real and challenging decisions.

The heart of the OCS system is its supply mechanism, where supply must be used to fuel your tanks and mechanized units, refit your planes, fire your artillery and fight with your combat units. It can also be used to feed your troops. What may seem like a truly daunting level of details, is a manageable system that makes decision making tense and three dimensional. As a commander you must weight the cost of your offensive with the benefits it may bring.

As a game case blue combines the elegance of the OCS system without many special rules and a truly mind boggling scale to make a workable, but ambitious monster. I have yet to play a CB campaign, but I have played both shorter scenarios and they were pretty good (edge of the world being particularly good). Where Case Blue falls down for me is the lack of playtested smaller scenarios. So much of the work in the game has clearly gone into the campaign and large scenarios, that the game lacks many scenarios you can play in say 5-6 hours, which other OCS games tend to have. Edge of the World is a great scenario, but it is long, and kharkov is a mediocre scenario and uses massive amounts of counters. The result is that while case blue, surely is number one for sheer madness, it isn't a stong game across a range of play times, in the same way say Dak II is or even Burma.

Having said all this, it is clear that OCS and Case Blue are games on the more complex side of the scale, while OCS is a manageable system and the basics are very easy, it still requires study and attention to detail and is not for the feint of heart.

For me in the end though it is the sense of scale and the depth of decision making that this provides that surely makes this a winner.

Future Ranking: Well OCS titles tend to be fairly stable, I predicted last year this would go down in ranking and I was wrong, now I think it should stay reasonably stable as not many people except fans will play this sucker. Which raises the question is it a deserving #1? Well I doubt I can fairly assess that, but it is definitely special even among wargames. I would say this with regard to all the ranking, play the game before you make a judgement.
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2. Board Game: World at War: Blood and Bridges [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:1325]
Colin Hunter
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World at War: Blood and Bridges
Mark H. Walker
Rank #2
Price - You should be able to get it for under $40 dollars online

Well from a monster to a more manageable light wargame. World at War is a platoon level simulation of a hypothetical Russian invasion of Wester Europe set in 1985. Blood and Bridges features fighting between the Russians and the British forces, including T80s, Challengers, Tornados and a host of other rather deadly modern warmachines.

WaW is a straight forward chit pull system with bucket of dice combat resolution. As such it is extremely simple to play with only a few pages of rules and it is reasonably quick. It provides reasonably straight forward hex and counter fare, with out using a CRT. Many of the mechanisms are highly abstracted, which again makes the game easier to play.

Ultimately I think Mark Walker has done a pretty solid job on this system, while I would be lying if I said I was a big fan of WaW, it does manage to provide a simple level of play in a short time span and I think it successfully does what it sets out to do. Does it immerse you in the feel or the conflict? perhaps not, but then again you can manage a couple games in a 3 hour period. More specifically I think Blood and Bridges is a significant step up from the previous game Eisenbach gap because it increases the board size, which offers more movement options and ultimately adds depth to the game.

For me it is hard to put into words why I am not a massive fan of this game. I think it accomplishes its goals as a design, but it fails to draw me in or create any desire to play more. I can take it or leave it I guess, but I can offer little criticism of the game its self. Sure the lack of CRT doesn't help and neither does the kind of odd way the chit pull can work, but ultimately I see these as necessary for the design to maintain its fundamental simplicity.

As a result I would recommend this game to people looking for a light wargame in this period.

Future Rank: Well BaB has lasted longer than I thought it would. Like case blue the audience for this will be somewhat self selective, in that those who didn't like its predecessor, seem unlikely to play this. Having said that I suspect that if it gets played by a wider audience it will fall in the rankings somewhat.
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3. Board Game: Lobositz: First Battle of the Seven Years War [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:3284]
Colin Hunter
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Lobositz: First Battle of the Seven Years War
Paul Dangel
Rank #3
Price: Under $40 online

This is the first of the titles which I haven't played myself, although I do own a copy. As such I can't add a lot about this one.

Here is the Designer of Friedrich comment, Richard Sivel
Quote:
much fun, much chaos on the battlefield, quite unpredictable, you feel like in the middle of the battle with bullets flying around you... Lobositz gives a much better feel of the "linear system" than prussia's glory for instance ... Lobositz is fascinating and stays in your mind for many days after the playing session. This is very very good. On the downside, it takes much much time to play (currently we played about 25 hours and have finished 5 turns; but we are newbies, who have to check the rules very often), and i am not quite sure whether the better player wins because of the quite chaotic results of die rolls ... Lobositz is a great simulation ... whether it is a great game, i am actually not quite sure ... I also wish the rules would be more precise in some points ... Anyway, for anybody interested in tactical questions of 7YW battles, i guess this is a must.


It has really nice counters and map, it looks like an interesting system, it is in my stack of rule books to read. I'll get there eventually.

Anyone who has played it, what are your thoughts?

Future Ranking: Well as long as it doesn't get too many votes I can see it holding. It took over 3 years to get over 30 votes, so it is obviously a niche game. Clash of arms is a smaller publisher.
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4. Board Game: Combat Commander: Pacific [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:199]
Colin Hunter
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Combat Commander: Pacific
Chad Jensen
Rank #4
Price: Get it online for just under $50 dollars if you shop around.

The long awaited sequel to Combat Commander: Europe. Combat Commander Pacific is a squad based tactical level simulation of the Pacific theatre of WWII. The Combat Commander system offers a unique perspective utilizing cards as well as more standard hex and counter maps.

Cards are used to issue orders to your troops, carry out actions like demolitions and bayonet charges, resolve random events and do all the randomizing in the game. The system is obviously influenced by the classic game Upfront.

Combat Commander offers a particularly interesting and engaging system, that is still quick and easy to play. You must manage your deck and understand both your own capabilities through card play and your opponents. The result is a fascinating game which is challenging to master.

Combat Commander: Pacific offers a number of changes. Several actions are removed, the random events are less chaotic and there are new orders. Generally speaking you can see CC as an attempt to round the edges of CC:E. It also has special rules to deal with the nature of the Pacific Campaign. There is some controversy over which of the two games is actually better and I must admit I share some trepidation about CC.

My first and foremost complaint is Asset denied card, that simply gets used to heavily punish the Japanese if the US is attacking. Asset denied can now be used to jam and potentially break weapons. The result is that in my games at least, it becomes used in a scripted and rather gamey fashion to break the best weapon of the Japanese. Beyond that, the fact recovery is no longer tied to a units morale feels odd to me, although this is less of an issue.

There is also more general criticism of the CC system as a whole which revolves around the in ability to do actions, especially early in the game, like fire and move. While for me this isn't a big issue, some people do find this frustrating.

Ultimately I like very much, the luck reduction, but it can feel funny. Having said all this one of the strongest aspects that I like about CC is that it feels completely different than the European theatre and it is a testament to Chad that he got this right. I think in the end I do slightly prefer CC to CC:E.

Future Ranking: Well another self selective title in terms of ratings. It will be strong for a while I suspect.
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5. Board Game: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:1012]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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The Devil's Cauldron
Adam Starkweather
Rank #5
Price - Goodluck getting this under $200, looks like you can get a copy for under $250 dollars, it is currently OOP.

The first game of the Grand Tactical Series (GTS). This is a company level simulation of half of Operation Market Garden. It is 4 maps and over a 1000 counters. It is pretty big.

I've already written and podcasted extensively on this title. The short of it is, GTS is a well designed and developed system. It uses a chit pull system and some clever command and control rules.

Here are links to my review on this site
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/317631
and on my podcast
http://thenoisebeforedefeat.podbean.com/2009/04/02/the-noise...

However the long and the short of it is.
TDC is a well put together game and while it has some issues I have a few concerns, it seems to work pretty well. It has beautiful maps and I like the counters, though I can see why others don't. The rule books are written in an annoying style without an index, but the series rules are pretty much errata free.

There are some interesting decisions over how you use your command points, which function like resources.

There are a reasonably number of small scenarios, the best of which are all advanced scenarios. The campaign game is OK, but the initial stages I found less than interesting, once things start to develop it becomes a lot more fun.

Future Ranking: I think things look good for TDC on this front, a well produced game which is now OOP and unlike to get tons more votes, until reprint comes out.
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6. Board Game: DAK2 [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:1509]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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DAK2
Dean Essig
Rank #6
Price - Another OOP title, good luck getting it under $300, not readily available.

This is the jewel in the Operational Combat System crown. This is the second title from OCS to hit our list. It is easy to see why this is so well liked. DAK2 offers manageable scenarios to the madness of the full campaign and every increment in between. Special rules for leaders, supply and even step losses, DAK2 is probably one of the most chrome filled of the OCS series.

Supply is at a real premium, even more so than some of the other OCS games. The biggest difficulty is managing a network of supply vehicles hundreds of miles long.

For me this is one of the most enjoyable and all around clever games of the OCS series. Not only is this one of the OCS titles with better small scenarios, but the level of historical feel in unparallel in this series.

Future Rank: This has had pretty much the same average the entire time I've been following the ratings, it seems pretty stable. Its ranking will change only as the average tide of ratings goes up (it tends to go up and then down again).
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7. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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Twilight Struggle
Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews
Rank: #7
Price: New Edition preorder for under $40 otherwise online for $40-50 dollars

Well in case you missed this one (because you have some weird genetic defect that means you are unable to read the words Twilight Struggle and it has only just been cured today), Twilight Struggle is a strategic simulation of the cold war.

This is a Card Driven Game (I use that, in the it is derived from We the People/Hannibal sense). It is highly replayable and quite deep for its relatively short play length 2-3 hours (by wargame standards that is short devil ). TS is relatively simple and packs a bucket load of tension into the game.

There is some dispute over whether this is a wargame. I care not at all to be honest. TS is a wonderfully tense and meaty game for its relatively light weight. It has tons of long term and enough tactics to keep it interesting.

Future Rank: Given its massive number of votes it is highly stable in terms of its overall average, so it is unlikely to change.
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8. Board Game: EastFront II [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:783]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Eastfront II
Craig Besinque
Rank #8
Price: Online for under $80

Eastfront is a high level Operational simulation of the Eastern Front in WWII. Eastfront II is a re-release of Eastfront. I'm not familiar with the original, but I understand the map is bigger, but I imagine it is generally the same game.

This is the first block game to hit the list. I'm not a massive block game fan, but I think this is one of the best. The system relies around using HQs, which can activate units to fight, provide air support and combat supply. As each HQ is used, it takes a step reduction, making it less effective in future. This for me is the most interesting part of the game as it offers an interesting decision, about whether more can be gained by not attacking/moving.

The mechanics for replacement combined with the HQ system can give an almost economic quality to the game, where maximizing efficiency over your opponent can be important (and I'm sure at times it isn't as well). The rest of the game is pretty much standard block fare, roll a bunch of dice to hit your opponent, rotate blocks to signal step losses etc...

Overall though this is a relatively simple game. It can combine with Westfront and Eurofront to simulate the entire ETO. Given the relative simplicity of the game, it seems like a great monster for those wanting the sense of scale of a complex monster, without the rules hassle. I'm not sure if I could ever be bothered playing the full thing, as if I had the time and space I'd probably go for another game, but for the right group I could see this being a ton of fun.

Future Ranking - Well another self selective audience really, if you didn't like eastfront, why would you replay eastfront II that isn't that different. However having said that, this series is a pretty well respected one and I see it sticking here for a while.
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9. Board Game: Darkest December: Battle of the Bulge 1944 [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:4756]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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Darkest December: Battle of the Bulge 1944
Kurt Martin, Pedro Ramis and Ray Tapio
Rank #9
Price - No idea check ebay for a copy, looks OOP.

This is a squad based tactical level WWII simulation of some of the fighting involved in the Battle of the Bulge. Darkest December is part of the Advanced Tobruk System, another system I have yet to play (although I at least now own one of the games, so it will get to the table). ATS is a reasonably complex system (you could think of it as a competitor to ASL).

Ken Feldman's Comment
Quote:
ATS does very well in the Bulge. This game provides a good mix of scenarios on three small maps. My one gripe about this game would be that the hex sizes are too small. You cant fit the move arrow markers behind the counters in congested spaces.


Please feel free to comment on the ATS system or Darkest December, since I can't add a lot till I actually get to play it.

Future Ranking - Well one of the reasons that this is now in the top 10 is that the some of the ATS shillers have gone or at least stopped shilling ATS. You will see on most other wargames several 1s from people that have obviously never played the games. So my guess is this will stay reasonably high until some one gives it a 1 out of spite, at which point they will probably drop in rating. The anti shill algorithm does help, but many of those who shill rate other games properly (one particular wargame shiller just rates all wargames 1s, and other games properly).
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10. Board Game: Clash Along the Psel: The Battle of Kursk 1943 [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:4243]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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Clash Along the Psel: The Battle of Kursk 1943
Ray Tapio
Rank #10
Price - Under $35 dollars online

Another entry from the ATS system. This one covers some of the fighting around Kursk, so I imagine lots of tanks and probably fortifications. One of the differences between ATS and ASL is that the scenarios are historical and don't use isomorphic maps (I know some ASL scenarios are historical too, but it seems like much more of an emphasis in ATS).

Robert Sera's Comment
Quote:
Put your tank tactics to the test - Tigers, mark IV's and T-34s run around blowing the hell out of each other. The scenarios range from large to small, simple to complex and you'll also see elements like river crossings, off-board artillery and air strikes. Newer versions of the scenarios include molotovs.

I have played several, but not all, of the included scenarios. Perfect balance is impossible in any system like this but since we usually switch sides after a game it doesn't matter quite so much. As long as you like the Adavanced Tobruk System, you should like this game.


Future Ranking - See above
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11. Board Game: Birds of Prey: Air Combat in the Jet Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:3168]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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Birds of Prey: Air Combat in the Jet Age
Philip A. Markgraf and Tony Valle
Rank #11
Price: Online for just under $50 dollars

Birds of prey is a complex simulation of modern jet dogfights. It models the three dimensions of flight using realistic physics rather than an more abstract flight points based system.

The base game features aircraft from some of the earlier jets in the Korea war up to F16s, Flankers and other modern jets. It doesn't feature ultra modern jets (yet). There is no doubt that this is an extremely cleverly designed system. The shear ability to model flight to this level of detail in a board game, while still being playable is a pretty impressive achievement. This game is not for the feint of heart, it is complex, but it is manageable, if you can play fighting wings, you should be alright with this although they are quite different systems.

When you stop and think about the mind boggling amount of decisions in this game, you can see that by adding more aircraft you will start to get a massively deep game. One thing that I liked in particular was that crew quality actually mattered quite a bit. Better pilots get more actions and can often withstand Gs better, you have to be careful thought it is fully possible to destroy your aircraft with high G manoeuvres.

Ultimately thought I have a one criticism. The rules are still a bit of a mess. There are two rule books, a tutorial book and a main book. You basically have to refer to both to work out how the game works. This is very frustrating, combined with a lack of index it makes the game exceedingly hard to learn, much harder than it should be. While I don't mind having a tutorial book, it needs a proper, indexed main rule book, with very logical organization. A game with this level of complexity need every help it can get. Having said all this, the support provided by the designers and other players is second to none (perhaps equal to the support for fighting wings). I understand that a new edition of the rules will be made available and I'm sure much of my concerns will be dealt with.

I wouldn't want to overstate the point BoP is one of the best games I have played in the past year and if you can get some one to teach you, it will make playing a breeze.

Future Ranking - This will always be a niche product. It is hard to tell if it will drop much or not. Assuming more commercial success I would think we will see a small drop in rating.
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12. Board Game: Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:200]
 
Colin Hunter
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Conflict of Heroes: Awakening of the Bear
Uwe Eickert
rank # 12
Price - Under $50 online

Conflict of Heroes is the first in a line of upcoming squad based tactical level games. CoH is a very simple and straight forward game. The rules are easy to learn and generally for most wargamers this is a breeze.

I think the success of CoH is due to several fundamental aspects. Firstly I think it delivers what people have wanted for ages, a simple squad level game, not dictated by cards (like CC:E and M44). Secondly there is obviously a real desire for nice components. Again conflict of heroes delivers, with nice thick counters. Lastly it has to have twist, something different (which is where I think some of the LnL stuff fell over in terms of commercial viability) and the CAP system is great example of this.

The CAP is basically a resource system, not all together different from GTS. You use a pool of action points to carry out extra actions with your units, from fighting more effectively to opportunity fire to extra movement. For me CoH does its job well, a simple game with a hook.

Having said all this I do not really like this game that much. It isn't that it is bad, but it isn't engrossing in the same way that really good light wargames are. I don't mind abstraction, Manoeuvre is a game I enjoyed. I like light squad based games (CCE and CCP), so it is hard for me to put my finger on it. Perhaps it falls too much between a more abstract game and a wargame, so we don't get the wonderful feel of a wargame and we don't get the purity of something more abstract. There are other legitimate criticisms, including the very gamey nature of CAPs and how this effects opportunity fire.

Conflict of Heroes does deliver as a system and I don't want to sound too critical. It has many, many fans (some of whom shill all other wargames above it on the list) and is deserving of its high ratings.

Future Rank: I suspect CoH will slowly fall as it gets wider publication. If more people play it though, it may well push its way into the top 10 on the main BGG rankings. I suspect the next game in the series will go straight to number one on the wargame rankings.

This is another game I have reviewed on our podcast
http://thenoisebeforedefeat.podbean.com/2009/04/02/the-noise...
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13. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:191]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Napoleon's Triumph
Bowen Simmons
Rank #13
Price: Just under $50 dollars online

The successor to Bonaparte at Marengo, Napoleon's Triumph is a block game with a luckless combat resolution. The game features wonderfully austere graphics with block in Blue and Red. It is an Operational (I think) level view of the battle of Austerlitz.

Both players must balance their aggression. If the Allies over extend they risk the French bringing on their reserves and flanking them. If the French bring on their reserves too early and go on the offensive, the Allies will have an easy time in a defensive posture. The victory conditions assure that the Allies must attack initially, but as the French bring on their reinforcements, the momentum shifts to them.

NT has proven a pretty popular game, as did its predecessor. The mixture of blocks for hidden information and a luckless combat system, makes it hard to avoid its charms. The use of Artillery, Cavalry and Infantry are crucial to success. NT is very much a game where bluff is important.

While NT is not a game I choose to play a great deal any more, I think it is easy to appreciate as a clever design. Having said that the combat system is less than intuitive and takes a little getting used to. Understanding the combat is essential to playing the game well.

Future Rank - NT has help up pretty well over the past couple years and I'd expect it to continue to do so.

We reviewed this in the first episode of our podcast
http://thenoisebeforedefeat.podbean.com/2009/04/02/the-noise...
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14. Board Game: WestFront II [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:2272]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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WestFront II
Craig Besinque
Rank #14
Price - Under $75 online

Another game in the Eurofront series (EastFront II being the previous one). I haven't played this. It can be linked with Eastfront II and Eurofront II to make a game of the entire ETO.
Harro Bosma's Comment
Quote:
My Favorite: Strategic - WWII WestFront - Medium

+One of the best 'what if' games available.
+Brilliant new map and overall beautiful components
+Fully compatible now with EasFront II without the tangram maps of the old
+One of the greates systems ever: so simple yet sophisticated, I can rave on an don.
+Playtested and it does work brilliantly

A must have for WWII Boradgamers and glad to see the high ranking it deserves!!

With EuroFront you can now play the Spanish Civil War. The map is just great and if you lack space, simply play with the original WestFront map.

See comments EastFrontII. This is a great remake (map) and one of the most playable strategic WestFront game outthere. Great What Ifs and you can try everything out: invasion of France '43, invade Balkans rather than Italy etc. High quality, very playable, fun yet realistic and combined with EastFront II (EuroFront II) the best playable monstergame ever produced.


Future Rank - Hard for me to tell, this is a bit of a specialty product, I would think most would buy Eastfront II first and if they wanted to play the full campaign they might pick this up.
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15. Board Game: Whistling Death [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:1894]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Whistling Death
JD Webster
Rank #15
Price - Under $60 dollars online

The latest game from the Fighting Wings series from Clash of Arms. I finally got to play a few games of this. At its core, Whistling Death is a tactical level game of air to air and air to sea combat in the Pacific theatre in WWII. WD is complex system, although I'd rate as slightly easier than BoP (but that might be because the rule book is much more stable and better laid out).

The fighting wings system uses a flight point system and once you get the hang of the rules it is pretty straight forward. Working out how to manoeuvre your aircraft is another matter entirely. FW is a highly detail system, but works for both small dog fights and large engagements. I'm really interesting in trying some of the larger engagements, they seem really interesting.

I don't think this sort of game is for everyone, it is detailed and somewhat self indulgent, but it can be pretty fun to try and evade a Zero on your tail or try and knock out a Bomber or two in your plane. The online community is also fantastic for this game and they run games all the time.

I think WD is probably one of the best games in the series, it offers tons of scenarios and lots of different aircraft. I've got one of the other games and it isn't nearly as impressive in that regard.

So be warned this isn't for new wargamers, but it is the best WWII air combat game that I have played.

Future Rank: Again pretty stable, this is a niche game that is played by fanatics.
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16. Board Game: This Hallowed Ground [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:2705]
 
Colin Hunter
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This Hallowed Ground
David A. Powell and Dean Essig
Rank #16
Price - OOP and good luck getting a copy $250+

This Hallowed Ground is the first game in the Regimental Sub-System (RSS) and it covers Gettysburg. For those that aren't familiar RSS is basically a larger version of The Civil War Brigade Series. Each counter is a regiment instead of a brigade so there are a lot more counters.

I have yet to play RSS, but I have played CWBS and read the rules to RSS (it isn't much more complicated really). Both systems use an order system where orders are sent to various commanders and then it takes time for them to implement them. The result is a game that "feel" right. Commanders are often annoyingly stubborn and sometimes when acting on initiative brilliant as well.

I think CWBS and I imagine RSS, capture the struggles of command in the era quite well. They also offer a lot of long term planning and thing. However more than this I can't say, as I haven't really played THG. It is obviously a monster, many maps and tons of counters. One day if it is reprinted I will definitely pick it up.

Here is Ken Feldman's Comment
Quote:
Huge game. Really need teams to play this one, with players each handling one or two corps.

It's a blend of the Gamers Civil War Brigade series games with the combat mechanics from the old GBACW games (from the '80s, not the current GMT versions.) While I like those systems, this game is just too big, and it can go off the rails fairly quickly if the CSA can blast through the thin Union screen north of Gettysburg without taking too much damage, as happened in our game.



The strength of the system is it's command and control rules, and the key to that is how orders are accepted (or not) by Corps commanders and whether Corps commanders press their attacks (governed by Corps attack stopage rolls when units start taking fire). By shifting the game down to regimental scale, the system adds 4 to 5 times the die rolling and counter management as the brigade scale games, with a corresponding increase in playing time. The few instances when you get get one of your regiments to flank the enemy line dont justify the decrease in playability.

The Regimental Subsystem (RSS) works better in A Fearful Slaughter because it has far fewer units and faster playing as a result.


Future Rank: Again fairly stable, unlikely to get tons more votes as it is OOP, although I expect it to drop somewhat.
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17. Board Game: Guderian's Blitzkrieg II [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:1543]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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Guderian's Blitzkrieg
Dean Essig
Rank #17
Price : OOP but $120 on preorder from MMP

The northern half of the Eastern front from the Operation Combat System. This game can be combined with Case Blue to play out operation Barbarossa at a scale of 5 miles per hex. Yes if you are keen for a truly insane monster game this is a must combined with case blue.

My previous OCS comments I'm sure apply here, but I have not played this one yet (well I don't own it either).

Chris Milne
Quote:
OCS gets too ambitious. The campaign is flawed by being too long for OCS to handle (unit fatigue isn't taken into specific account, and most players are too aggressive to have any realistic chance of making it all the way through), and the game flawed by having insufficient scenarios.

Nevertheless, this is still one of the best systems for portraying this level of WWII combat, and there's plenty of value in this package. Just not the best OCS game out there (by any means).


Future Rank: It will be interesting to see where this goes when it gets reprinted, until then I wouldn't expect a lot of change.
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18. Board Game: Iron Tide: Panzers in the Ardennes [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:2902]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Iron Tide: Panzers in the Ardennes
Nathan Kilgore
Rank #18
Price: Under $60 online

One of my greatest shames is that I still haven't played this. I bought this well over a year ago now (more like 1 1/2) and I have read through the rules several times. I still haven't played it and I want to.

Iron Tide is an operational level treatment of the battle of the bulge. It is a relatively straight forward Hex and Counter game with one twist. The combat strength of units is not know until they actually entre combat. While units are rates A/B/C depending on how strong they are, you don't know the exact value. The result seems to be an interesting looking game, but I have yet to play it.

Kevin Moody's Comment
Quote:
Far less scripted than some other Bulge games, our two games showed wildly different narratives. The VitW system is fun in that the fog of war from chit-strength draws will prevent you from ever having to consider a dance of units to perfect a tired old 3:1 attack. The CRT results aren't as linear as some are comfortable with, but since there are no DRMs it makes no difference, the key to combat being odds shifts instead. The key to the combat isn't in the base power, but in the aforementioned CRT shifts from factors such as armor support, cohesion, artillery, terrain, etc. The game's only real drawback is the time requirement, but Kilgore has recently included some shorter scenarios to allow for completion in a day. Excellent for three players. Brief rules, low complexity. Expensive, but worth it.


Future Rank - Surprisingly this just hasn't garnered traction from the mainstream wargame market and still hasn't sold out. It is well regarded and if this gets more attention we could see movement both up or down. Time will tell.
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19. Board Game: DAK [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:2177]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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DAK
Dean Essig
Rank #19
Price: Cheaper than DAK2, but still OOP $150 dollars on this site

Go see the entry for DAK2. This is basically the same game, but an older version. I don't own it and haven't played it, but I have played DAK2.

Here is Johan Johanesson's comment

Quote:
An awesome game of the OCS-system that incorporates everything you can think of about the desert campaign. OCS is very well suited to simulate desert warfare. The only gripe I have with the game is the british historical withdrawal rules which complicates and bogs down the game. Luckily there is a random withdrawal system that solves this problem. This game is one of my favorite WWII games and is highly recommended


Future Rank: Well seeing as it is likely to be played much anymore, probably pretty stagnant. We may see some carry over ratings from DAK2.
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20. Board Game: SPQR (Deluxe Edition) [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:793]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Deluxe SPQR
Leland Myrick, Richard Berg and Mark Herman
Rank #20
Price: Under $65 dollars online

The remake of GMT's classic game SPQR. SPQR is a tactical look at battles in the Roman Republic, including the wars against carthage. The deluxe edition comes with tons of scenarios and maps and has just about enough stuff to keep you entertained forever.

Deluxe SPQR is part of the Great Battles of History series. A series of games which share some common rules elements, but are generally different games, from game to game.

The heart of SPQR and the GBoH system is its command system which relies a momentum and trump system, where superior commanders are more likely to be able to activate troops multiple times in a turn and also are more likely to prevent other commanders from doing the same.

The game offers a level of simulation and depth that other simpler games cannot match. SPQR simulates the differences between different command systems, the roman's for example have a different command structure to the carthaginians. Different units including elphants, phalanxes, heavy infantry, legionaries, cavalry, velites and skirmishers are all used.

GBoH is the definitive ancients game system, if you want something more intensive than the simpler C&C:A. For its part SPQR is probably the best of the series that I have played. The fact it has no personal combat is a big plus for me (I don't like it in the other games) and the difference in command systems is interesting. There are plenty of playable scenarios too.

There has been some criticism of the GBoH. The system as a whole can be somewhat random, failing trumps, the dice roll of doom and a few other mechanics tend to penalize a player that rolls poorly. On the flip side the CRT is excellent and very attrition based unless you can flank. Many of the scenarios are rather uneven and while you can bid route points to fix the balance, it seems odd they simply don't offer a ball park estimate in the book for how many route points it takes to even out the scenario.

I think for many players though the great attraction of the GBoH is the immersion of the system. It captures the metaphors of the period well.

Future Rank - I expect this to go down. It has been released by a reasonably big publisher (GMT) and seems certain to garner more votes, many of which I suspect will not like some of the rough edges in the game.

We do a review of the GBoH (including SPQR) on our podcast here
http://thenoisebeforedefeat.podbean.com/2009/04/01/the-noise...
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21. Board Game: ATS Stalingrad: Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works 1942 [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:3721]
Colin Hunter
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Auckland
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ATS Stalingrad
Ray Tapio
Rank #21
Price: Under 35 dollars online

More ATS, see above

Nevin Ball's Comment
Quote:
ATS is the tactical system that I have always wanted. It's detailed, but not overwhelmingly so. (I never got into ASL because I have limited gaming time and like to play a variety of games). The game is very interactive and plays well both solitaire and FTF. The components are top-notch and the many scenarios range from short infantry or armor only clashes to lengthy combined-arms ones. The game system works just as well in a dense urban environment as it does in the desert. ATS provides an excellent narrative and gives good tactical insight. It's interesting to see the differences in weapons systems and how they (along with terrain) shape the battlefield. Be sure to get the most recent rules & charts!
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22. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:45]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Paths of Glory
Ted Raicer
Rank #22
Price: Current OOP I saw a copy for $55 reprint out soon

The modern classic Paths of Glory is a strategic level card driven game about WWI. Much has been said about this game and frankly I don't want to harp on about it too much. It used to be GMT's biggest seller (and may still be, but twilight struggle must be drawing close to this).

PoG for me is one of the pinnacles of game design, it is a deep and engaging game that I think pretty much everyone should play at least once.

The brilliance of the system for me is really the card play. You must manage your deck as well as your hand and your board positions. Cards can be played for events (and deck stripping), ops, replacements or strategic movement. All of which can be viable options in any given situation. Combine this with a board system that involves exploiting multiple fronts and you have a very and challenging system that rewards both short term and long term play. One must balance maintaining strategic initiative with the desire to bring in reinforcement and replacements.

Paths of Glory does have its detractors and I am sympathetic to some of the arguments. Firstly it doesn't play very historically and some of the metaphors are odd (particularly the Italian entry). The supply system is unforgiving, perhaps overly so, meaning that at time despite the long terms depth of the game, tactical decisions can be utterly crucial. Thirdly the idea that somehow launching an attack with the french some how stopped the russians from attacking can seem odd. Finally I think some people don't like deck management and they feel that it is rather gamey. While for a grognard PoG isn't much of a stretch for lighter gamers this can be a bit much.

None of these particularly sway me (although the supply rules can be annoying). The fact is though that this is an impressive design that is highly replayable and very deep. Many successive games would seek to fix these problems. The result are games that frankly are usually not as good (although Triumph of Chaos is pretty awesome).

Future Rank: Stable, lots of votes means it is unlikely to change much.
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23. Board Game: Pursuit of Glory [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:992]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Pursuit of Glory
Brad Stock and Brian Stock
Rank #23
Price - Just under $35 dollars online

Pursuit of Glory is the long awaited sequel to Paths of Glory. This time the game focuses on what is the near east map in Paths of Glory. Sadly another game I have yet to play, I'm currently going through the rules. There is an excellent podcast on this game, Moritz on Point 2 Point talks about it
here is the link
http://cdn4.libsyn.com/point2point/Point_2_Point_39.mp3?nvb=...

Here is Justin L's comment
Quote:
Pursuit of Glory is exactly what you expect: the Paths of Glory system with crappy troops on awful terrain with crazy little jihad units popping up. What you won't expect is a rulebook twice as thick as the original. This definitely swings more towards Triumph of Chaos. Its not unmanageable but only fans of the system need apply. There are still lots of small fronts for good "which front" decisions, which is good. My big concern, though, is that the card play seems awfully Shifting Sands-ish, with sequencing issues and significant must plays when it comes to the events. Parvus has shades of Torch, and the Allies grind through their deck for war status much as the Axis do for Malta in Shifting Sands. I'm not sure how much opportunity there is to wander from that script, though there are still plenty of tactical considerations in both the unit maneuvering and card play. In Paths you were pained to skip an op play for an event, and in Pursuit (for the Allies at least) it's the exact opposite: it hurts to miss an event play to take ops. So far I'm pleased with the game regardless, but I'm a big fan of the PoG system in general. The original Paths is perhaps the only one without some sort of significant flaw, but Pursuit is shaping up to be quite enjoyable if you can get through the thicker rulebook. It definitely seems second tier when compared to the original but I'm certainly glad to have this one around as well.


Looks cool definitely should get played soon.

Future Ranking: Down, down, down.... Unfortunately I think more ratings will me less average and I see this drifting down the ratings.
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24. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #3 [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:490]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit 3
Ken Dun
Rank # 24
Price: Under $30 online

This is the most recent starter kit for Advanced Squad Leader. It is a complete stand alone game and features rules for tanks, artillery and support weapons. It boasts a mere 24 pages of rules and is actually on the light side. ASL is a squad level simulation of WWII tactical combat.

ASL is the bar by which we measure other tactical game. The full rules may be daunting, but the starter kits offer accessability and leave out much of the unnecessary chrome. The starter kits teach you the basics, movement and firing and most of the core of the game. Full ASL is much more manageable form these starter kits. SK3 is the most complex of the starter kits as it features tanks.

As an introductory game these modules are great and for me beat much of the competition hands down as far as games go. I think the game is more interesting than Conflict of Heroes to play and certainly offers a different perspective than CC:E.

Having said that, I'm not convinced SK3 is the way to go. I like SK1, which features just infantry the best, as it allows you to really get to grips with the system. Still once you get familiar with the rules driving tanks around is fun enough. Also the art on the ASL stuff isn't really very good by modern standards, I think if ASLSK were given the same treatment as stuff like panzer blitz, we would see a lot more ASLSK sales, just me thinking out loud though.

Great entry points into a great system.

Future Ranking: I suspect this will continue to fall to about 8,00, putting it out of the top 25.
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25. Board Game: Panther Line: Army Group North 1944 [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:3950]
Colin Hunter
New Zealand
Auckland
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Panther Line: Army Group North 1944
Kurt Martin
Ray Tapio
Price: Under $40 online

More from the ATS series, this time 1944 russian front. See other ATS games.

Ken Feldman's Comment
Quote:
Update 3/08. Plays even better with version 3.08 of the rules. These scenarios are really tense, well-balanced and fun.

Nice map and good mix of scenarios. This is the Eastern Front in 1944. The map features a couple of hills with built in hedgehogs, and four villages. It's mostly open ground with good lines of site, so the scenarios are quite deadly. Plays very well with version 2.95 of the ATS rules.


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