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Simple but Deep Wargames
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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I love wargames and I enjoy games like World in Flames and OCS. However over the last few years I've disovered a plethora of games that are simple to play and have innovative rules and/or mechanics.

I thought this geeklist may be useful to new players (or old hands like myself) who are looking for a new challenge but are unsure where to start. I've seen some other geeklists covering low complexity wargames or light battle games, but the lists have either aged or have a lot of games which are out of print.

As such the scope of this geeklist is:

(1) The game must be in print and commercially available now.

(2) You must have played the game.

(3) The game must be low complexity.

(4) The game must have a mechanic that made you think "cool!" *edit* or it can be demonstrated the game has a solid set of rules.

(5) It must be a hex and counter wargame, a block wargame, or a war-themed game like Memoir'44 that has a distinct combat or 'battle' phase in the rules.

Thanks in advance and I am looking forward to your contributions!

PLEASE NOTE THIS LIST IS NO LONGER BEING MAINTAINED, SEE Small, Simple and Soloable Conflict Games
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1. Board Game: 1812: The Invasion of Canada [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:411]
Piero
Italy
Florence
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Favourite mechanic: the dice determine combat outcomes, rout, and individual flavour of each fighting force.
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2. Board Game: 1960: The Making of the President [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:110]
Tanks Alot
United States
Fort Mill
South Carolina
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(1) The game must be in print and commercially available now. Yes

(2) You must have played the game. Yes

(3) The game must be low complexity. Yes, but there are several games within the game.

(4) The game must have a mechanic that made you think "cool!". Oh yea! The issue track! The presidential moving around of the candidates trying to handle several issues that occur do to event cards

(5) It must be a hex and counter wargame, a block wargame, or a war-themed game like Memoir'44 that has a distinct combat or 'battle' phase in the rules.
Themed? Yes Wargame? no. Combat is based on electoral votes in each state, issue track, and debates. Very different sort of wargame.
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3. Board Game: 1st Alamein [Average Rating:6.64 Unranked]
Lou Coatney
Norway
Flateby
Akershus
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1ST ALAMEIN is a free, print-and-play educational 2-player operational level military history game simulating the historical decision-making situations of Allied and Axis commanders in Egypt, in July 1942. 1ST ALAMEIN is intended to be a basic introduction to the study of military history through manual simulation games--board wargaming.

12 ground units on each side - 10 game-turns.

The scale of the game is: 1 day of real time per game-turn, approximately 6 miles/10 kilometers per hexagonal space width, and brigade-to-division (8,000-15,000 men) unit scale.

The unique mechanic are the finicky stacking rules for Commonwealth unit - quite as finicky as Commonwealth relations were.
 
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4. Board Game: 2 de Mayo [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:678]
Tanks Alot
United States
Fort Mill
South Carolina
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Inexpensive, and super easy to play. One of my favorites
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5. Board Game: Aachen: First to Fall [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:6845]
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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Part of the Decision Games Folio Series which uses series rules for a specific period.

This game uses the Fire Movement Rules and the various games currently cover WWII and Modern conflicts.

Decision Games Folio Series

Can anyone comment on this? Any interesting mechancis or just good solid design and simple and concise rules?
 
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6. Board Game: The American Revolution: Decision in North America [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:6018]
Terence Co
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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About average complex but more simple and deeper and better than Washington's war why???

Read the Review

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/713759/st-270-american-r...
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7. Board Game: Ancient Battles Deluxe [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:3470]
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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I have the 3W version as well, but the Victory Point Games version takes this series to the next level without adding undue complexity. One of the mechanics I like is resolving combat without the need to consult a combat results table (CRT). For me it makes the game feel a lot more organic.

Mechanic: No Combat results Table

p.s. For those of us that like the old CRT, Ancient Battles Deluxe is also backwards compatible with the older Ancients games
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8. Board Game: The Arduous Beginning [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:4812]
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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Can anyone comment on this one please? Any snazzy mechanics or just rock solid design?
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9. Board Game: Ars Victor [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:3635]
Steve DeBaun
United States
Ventura
California
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The grand champion at last year's tournament described it as a cross between Warhammer 40k and Command & Colors: Ancients. We had a reviewer describe it as a meaty intro wargame. I myself am a hardcore gamer, and designed AV as something that's simple to learn, plays fast and furious, but still has lots of tactical depth.
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10. Board Game: Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:1275]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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This is the poster child for this Geeklist.

The ULTIMATE WWII/Squad level game/system. Very small rulebook gives you super realistic results. There is nothing else like it.

(1) The game must be in print and commercially available now.

Yes.

(2) You must have played the game.

I only wish I could play it more and I have played it non-stop for a year.

(3) The game must be low complexity.

7 pages and you are off and running with infantry-based combat. 4 more pages adds tanks, guns, and equipment.


(4) The game must have a mechanic that made you think "cool!" *edit* or it can be demonstrated the game has a solid set of rules.

There are no CRTs. The basic data is on the unit itself. The morale and proficiency concept are so incredible that you slap yourself in the head and wonder why you didn't think of it.



(5) It must be a hex and counter wargame, a block wargame, or a war-themed game like Memoir'44 that has a distinct combat or 'battle' phase in the rules.

Hex-based.
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11. Board Game: The Battle for Hill 218 [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1034]
Blazing Apostle
United Kingdom
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Can`t believe this is not on here yet. Simple and classic.
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12. Board Game: Battle for Moscow (second edition) [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:2486]
Tanks Alot
United States
Fort Mill
South Carolina
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Man there are so many VP games that could be added, but this one is pretty darn nice.
Simple?- Probably one of the simplest rule sets out there at 4 pages.
Deep? Good zone of control and supply restrictions. Reinforcements.. mud turns, excellent gameplay.

I am on my second game of this and just having a blast, although I am getting my butt kicked I am definitely learning a little heavier hex and counter thought process.

Highly recommend this game for the Simple and Deep category
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13. Board Game: Battle of Hachiouji-jou [Average Rating:6.57 Unranked]
Takashi Ishida
Japan
Abiko
Chiba Prefecture
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Battle of Hachiouji-jou is fought in1590.
The game focuses only the siege battle of Hachiouji-jou.

Designed by Kenji Hushimi.
Issue game of Wargame Japanese history #15.

This game uses very unique way to represent the benefit of defending castle.
See my review.
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/891081/an-innovative-siege-b...
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14. Board Game: Battle of Kawagoe: Hojo Ujiyasu's gamble [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked]
Takashi Ishida
Japan
Abiko
Chiba Prefecture
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This is an issue game of the latest Command magazine Japan.

The battle of Kawagoe is known as one of three great surprise attack in Japanese history.
The game uses the familiar engine and the number of units are limited. But, this is an exciting and difficult game of siege and siege relief attempt.

I've posted the review today. I hope it would be soon approved.
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15. Board Game: Battle: The Napoleonic Wars [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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I've played this and the rules are very simple. It has a diceless and luckless combat system and beautiful hex-shaped 'mega-hex' style tiles that will allow you to make any sort of battlefield. The wooden round pieces represent cavalry, line infantry, militia, artillery etc and each Napoleonic army is different. There are rules for hidden movement, points selection, hidden setup and also a campaign game.

The game is brutal. A poor setup and you'll likely get crushed. Going first can often be critical and once you are outnumbered you are on the highway to defeat (unless your units are better quality or in a good defensive position). However the design delivers what it says - if you want a simple game with luck then are plenty of other games out there.

I like the game but it is a little too simple for my tastes. The grognard in me of course rebelled and I now play it with some house rules that add lots of chaos and also make the units last longer. With these additions it would make a fun quick battle resolution system for a campaign game.

Mechanic: Dicless, luckess chess-like combat

There is also an American Civil War version as well.
 
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16. Board Game: Bitter Woods (fourth edition) [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:1581]
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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Bitter Woods is the most beautiful game I have ever seen. The rules, the counters the maps all intertwine to make a play experience more like your favourite opera than a game.

Mechanic: lots of optional rules and variant play to keep the experience fresh

I suggest to pick up the expansion kit as well
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17. Board Game: Boots on the Ground [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:4694]
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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Oh yeah...its on its way to me.

looks to be fun and accessible. I'll let you know once I've got it in my hands!

*edit* I haven't played this yet, but I soon will
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18. Board Game: Bravery in the Sand [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:4047]
Emanuele Vissani
Italy
Bologna
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This game MUST be here. I had 3 plays and they've been so different.
Rules are simple and clean, but lots of strategy, decision making and FUN.
And since you have many possible victory conditions there's space for deception too.
Love this
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19. Board Game: Bulge 20 [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:4074]
Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
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A low-complexity Bulge game with fewer than 20 units per side.

I only expected to get a few plays out of this game--one scenario, basically fixed setup for the Allies--but tonight was my 13th game, and we haven't run out of devious things to try.

The unusual thing about this game is that, although it's card-driven (attacking, reorganizing your forces, rebuilding units, etc., is all done with cards), at the end of your turn, you sift through your entire deck of 20-24 cards and choose which cards will be in your hand. Then your opponent takes his turn... and then you take your turn, and hope that the situation on the map is reasonably close to what you planned for.

Another neat thing is that it uses hidden victory conditions: the Germans choose from one of three objectives, and the Allies can lose if they overcommit reinforcements. The Allies can use cards to try to learn the Germans' objective, but (as happened to me tonight) if they put too many resources into that, they fall short in other areas...

Mechanic: card-driven, but you pick your hand of cards from your entire deck.
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20. Board Game: Caesar's Gallic War [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:4109]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Sorry I am late to the party. Here is another one to add to the list from Worthington, the masters of "Simple but deep."

(1) The game must be in print and commercially available now.

Yep.

(2) You must have played the game.

Yep. I loved it so much, I learned how to create Vassal modules just so I could make one for this game.

(3) The game must be low complexity.

Yep. It's a descendent of Hammer of the Scots.

(4) The game must have a mechanic that made you think "cool!" *edit* or it can be demonstrated the game has a solid set of rules.

Yep. It blends the concept of a card driven game (one card can have 4 different uses) with a block game. Also, the Roman supply track becomes a metagame in itself. Romans need supply points to force march, garrison, and rebuild units. The Germania play is wise to keep raiding this. Both sides are fighting for tribes (one per area) and revolt cards can make them flip to your side or become neutral.

I have played all of the Hammer-based games and this is the best one.

(5) It must be a hex and counter wargame, a block wargame, or a war-themed game like Memoir'44 that has a distinct combat or 'battle' phase in the rules.

Block game.
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21. Board Game: Chainmail [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:7452]
k b
United States
Unspecified
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I've been very curious about this one. Is it a different and fun mechanic? Is it a long game? Any info much appreciated.
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Mike NZ
New Zealand
LOTR
New Zealand
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The rules are simple & play very well. Love the points/action points/Leaders mechanics in this great game makes so many things uncertain. Plays very well solo too. cool
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23. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:50]
Tanks Alot
United States
Fort Mill
South Carolina
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As such the scope of this geeklist is:

(1) The game must be in print and commercially available now. Yes

(2) You must have played the game. Yes

(3) The game must be low complexity. No, but if taught by an experienced player the concepts are easily picked up

(4) The game must have a mechanic that made you think "cool!". Oh heck yes. Artillery strikes, suspense, Dancing girls! lol ok no dancing girls

(5) It must be a hex and counter wargame, a block wargame, or a war-themed game like Memoir'44 that has a distinct combat or 'battle' phase in the rules.
Definitely a wargame. and themed very well
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24. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:46]
Magister Ludi
Australia
Fremantle
Western Australia
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Can't believe this hasn't yet been added. I was quite sceptical of this game but after racking up over a dozen plays it captures ancient warfare pretty well and can be completed very quickly. If you have been thinking about this one, definately give it a try.
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25. Board Game: Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:199]
 
Tony Kerstan
Australia
Hobart
Tasmania
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This game got me back into Tactical wargaming after a long break.

Cool Mechanic - Activations and Command Activations. When you read the rules you wonder how this game would work. However after playing the first 4 learning scenarios I started to see all the tactical nuances that activation provides.

Simple to learn, gorgeous to look at and deep gameplay - Conflict of Heroes has it all and deserves to be the first entry on this list.

Mechanic: Activation Points
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