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Subject: Question: How good are the classics if they were released today? rss

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Cameron Taylor
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I'm only in my late 20s and I've been hex–and–counter wargaming only for 2 years. I wasn't around the time when hex–and–counter wargames were being churned out in volume. I hear a lot about old SPI games (e.g. Cobra, The Next War, Panzergruppe Guderian) and Victory Games (e.g. 2nd Fleet, The Korean War, The Third World War).

1. If we were to discount nolstagia and novelty, which classic wargame still deserves its praise?

2. If we were to discount nolstagia and novelty, which classic wargame no longer deserves its praise?
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L. SCHMITT
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1. Many VG games are still at the top, titles coming immediately in mind are : The Korean War, Ambush, Carrier, Tokyo Express, Pacific War, Lee vs Grant, Panzer Command, Peloponnesian War ( 2 players ).

2. I always found Peloponnesian War ( solo mode ) overpraised.

I haven't played SPI Games.
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Eddy Sterckx
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The problem is that nostalgia is hard to discount.

I don't get to play them that much anymore but whenever a classic beer & pretzels wargame hits the table I'm grinning ear to ear because at least 50% of my enjoyment is thinking about the ol' days, about the days I spend working out the ultimate German first turn attack in Bulge '65 or The Russian Campaign. Are they still worth playing today ? I dunno - there are much better games on those subjects these days, but if you're into exploring the roots of the hobby ...

Same thing for a game like Panzergruppe Guderian - that one blew my mind - "what do you mean I can't look at the strength of my own units ?" - in fact, I still think it holds up to this day as does Victory in the Pacific.
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Antonie van der Tweel
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Don't forget the classic Avalonv Hill Games;

ASL, Tobruk, Panzerblitz, and Wooden Ships & Iron Men are still among the best.
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Aaron Yoder
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santino el cato wrote:

2. I always found Peloponnesian War ( solo mode ) overpraised.


Same here.
 
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Robert Morss
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Games whose systems are still being maintained, expanded, and/or used as the basis for new production have stood up over the decades. For example:

VG Fleet series now Japanese Fleet Series.

VG Lee vs. Grant led to AH Great Campaigns of the ACW, now published by MMP

VG The Civil War was the basis for GMT The US Civil War

SPI Victory in the West system redone as MMP Variable Combat Series

VG Pacific War to be re-released by Nuts! Publishing.


Victory Games is really the apotheosis of hex and counter wargames. Due in large measure to their designers, particularly Joe Balkoski, Mark Herman, and Eric Smith.
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Jon Gautier

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What Robert said. I never liked most of those old AH games that were mentioned, even in the 1970s I thought they sucked.
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Tony Doran
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Like any period, I think it depends. Some of the old AH games were really aweful (Stalingrad, D-Day,), but others were excellent and groundbreaking and hold up well today (The Longest Day, Panzerblitz, Tobruck, Air Assault on Crete). SPI games were so varied that it is almost silly to apply a single evaluation to them all. There were tons of them which were not very good, but quite a few with innovations, again, which hold up well, even today. I think the biggest " innovation" of the period was the willingness to experiment and the willingness to game battles and wars which had not seen games before then.

I agree that the best of SPI made their way into Victory Games, and a larger percentage of their games remain quality today.

You have to know, though, that I have no use at all for cdg's or COIN games, so I am an old fart.:laugh:

I think the variety is good for the hobby, I just find games which are not hex and counter uninteresting.
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Sean McCormick
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I think very few classic games still hold up well today, Victory Games products included. That said, off the top of my head, I would say these games would still be at or near the top of new releases--

Up Front, Breakout Normandy, Raid on St. Nazaire, The Korean War, Diplomacy
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Matt Irsik
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I've been going back and re-purchasing many of the microgames, Series 120 games, etc., for the nostalgia and because some of them are fun to play. I want to stress the word "some" as many of them weren't very good, but at the time the choices were few, they were cheap, and you needed something to play on the weekend! Having said that, here's a few games I think are still worth playing today:

Avalon Hill
Wooden Ships & Iron Men
Storm Over Arnhem
Stellar Conquest
Siege of Jerusalem
Magic Realm
Russian Campaign

SPI
Freedom in the Galaxy
War of the Ring
Berlin '85
Starforce

GDW
Imperium
Third World War

TSR
Revolt on Antares
They've Invaded Pleasantville
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J.D. Hall
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I think very, very few of the "classics" would be popular today. In part because as with any artistic endeavor, current wargames have built upon what was done before and either found new ways to simulate warfare or improved on the old systems. I think the reason most old wargames would not be popular today is the nature of the newer members of the hobby. There seems to be a demand for high-quality graphics and they finally got sick of pages and pages of errata and clarifications from games pushed out too early. Today's wargamers are actually a bit of a throwback to the oldest wargames, who wanted GAMES, not the incredibly complex and frankly boring overwrought games that hit the shelves in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It's also a matter of taste and thus is subjective.

Honestly, I'm just damned glad the hobby has survived the brutal crash of the 1980s and 1990s. Whatever the new gamers want, I don't care. Just keep on killing cardboard.
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Mike Hoyt
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Take at look at this excellent analysis done by Herr Dr

Death to the Cult of the New: Top 100 wargames without grade inflation
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Tom
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Three Avalon Hill games quickly come to mind: Victory in the Pacific, The Russian Campaign, and Wooden Ships and Iron Men.

Make that four: I need to include Squad Leader (not ASL).
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Mike Hoyt
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remorseless1 wrote:
... and they finally got sick of pages and pages of errata and clarifications from games pushed out too early.


I think this is more of a problem with today's games.

(Perception is possibly skewed by the existence of the internet. A lot of today's "errata" is really just clarification, and often just repeating the actual rule for people too lazy to read, but it inflates the rules forum.... vs back in the day I didn't even subscribe to The General and had no idea if a game had errata or not)
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Jason Russ
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While it's sad for those of us who started wargaming decades ago, I would have to say that the vast majority of the classics do not stand the test of time. Taking a stroll down memory lane is always fun, but looking at some of my old games (as I am doing right at this moment) does not make me want to play any of them.

When I get together with friends to play face-to-face, we certainly do not bring out 30-40 year old games to play. The new stuff is (generally speaking) more cleverly designed, fun, well-balanced, etc...


Cheers,
Jason
Wargame Depot
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Tim
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I would agree that although I do love to play the classics (WS&IM, Starship Troopers, etc.), I realize I am in a minority and doubt that they would get much fanfare today. Now, there are new and nnovative game mechanics that give one a new experience.

nomoredroids wrote:
santino el cato wrote:

2. I always found Peloponnesian War ( solo mode ) overpraised.


Same here.


As for this side comment, I personally think it is brilliant and deserves the praise. IMHO, it is one of the few games where the AI plays a complete game and sets it forth to what you need to achieve during your turn.
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Tony Doran
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kypros wrote:
While it's sad for those of us who started wargaming decades ago, I would have to say that the vast majority of the classics do not stand the test of time. Taking a stroll down memory lane is always fun, but looking at some of my old games (as I am doing right at this moment) does not make me want to play any of them.

When I get together with friends to play face-to-face, we certainly do not bring out 30-40 year old games to play. The new stuff is (generally speaking) more cleverly designed, fun, well-balanced, etc...


Cheers,
Jason
Wargame Depot


Interesting. There are two sets of opinions going on in this thread. One has to do with popularity, folks remarking that the older games would no longer be popular. With this, I agree.

Others think the older games do not stand the test of time, and that is certainly true for many (probably a majority) of them. But many would stand the test of time, if folks could be persuaded to give them a try.

I think one question not asked here, is "compared to what?" I think most games in any period, including those being done right now, will not stand the test of time, nor be popular in another twenty years.
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Terry Lewis
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Three Cheers for the old classics!!!!


Many great games were published by SPI, for example. SPI was a leader in innovation -- lots of great insights into the history of critical events. So, the art work was not as slick as today's, but so much great content!!


Modern games have built on top of the work of the pioneers like SPI. Yes, they published a few dogs, but what published has an unblemished record? SPI was willing to experiment, and they moved the hobby of historical conflict simulations (HCSs) way down the road.


I started collecting and playing HCSs in the late 1960s, and (among other hobby magazines) I subscribed to S&T from about 1970 until SPI went belly up. Nearly 50 years later I am still collecting and playing HCSs, old (SPI and others)as well as new.


TML (a retired professor in Oregon)
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G. H.
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Don't forget the venerable Napoleon At Waterloo system (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/23117/napoleon...)|

which spawned the Blue & Gray (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4564/blue-gray)

and then Napoleon's Last Battles (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4230/napoleons-last-...)

and finally The Library of Napoleonic Battles (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/2338/library-n...)

The representation of Napoleonic battle was rubbish, but the games were fun and the pedigree cannot be disputed.


rdmorss wrote:
Games whose systems are still being maintained, expanded, and/or used as the basis for new production have stood up over the decades. For example:

VG Fleet series now Japanese Fleet Series.

VG Lee vs. Grant led to AH Great Campaigns of the ACW, now published by MMP

VG The Civil War was the basis for GMT The US Civil War

SPI Victory in the West system redone as MMP Variable Combat Series

VG Pacific War to be re-released by Nuts! Publishing.


Victory Games is really the apotheosis of hex and counter wargames. Due in large measure to their designers, particularly Joe Balkoski, Mark Herman, and Eric Smith.
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Jason Russ
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narodynot wrote:
kypros wrote:
While it's sad for those of us who started wargaming decades ago, I would have to say that the vast majority of the classics do not stand the test of time. Taking a stroll down memory lane is always fun, but looking at some of my old games (as I am doing right at this moment) does not make me want to play any of them.

When I get together with friends to play face-to-face, we certainly do not bring out 30-40 year old games to play. The new stuff is (generally speaking) more cleverly designed, fun, well-balanced, etc...


Cheers,
Jason
Wargame Depot



I think one question not asked here, is "compared to what?" I think most games in any period, including those being done right now, will not stand the test of time, nor be popular in another twenty years.



That's a really good point. One of my favorite series, OCS, is reasonably "modern" and is standing the test of time already, but I would not want to bet on many others - like them though I do - making it another 20 years.


Cheers,
Jason
Wargame Depot
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Ron A
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When you're in your 20s, and I don't mean this in a bad way, but everything from long ago and far away gets the 'classic' label.

40+ years ago, 'the Classics' were self defined by Avalon Hill as Gettysburg, Waterloo, D-Day, Stalingrad, Afrika Korps, Battle of the Bulge, and Midway. They were all released by 1964, before SPI existed.

All of those games have been surpassed by newer games.

Cobra and Panzer Gruppe Guderian were more 2nd generation responses by SPI to AH's first-gen hex and counter land wargames. Next War and the Victory Games catalog built upon the knowledge gained in the first 20 years of the hobby.

...and so it goes, each new generation learning from prior efforts. Not that every new game is automatically better, and some will always prefer the classics, regardless. In fact, if you ever go to World Boardgame Championships, Afrika Korps and Waterloo are still included in the 100 tournament games.
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Steven Goodknecht
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eddy_sterckx wrote:
The problem is that nostalgia is hard to discount.


This has gotten to be the case more and more for me. It probably occured the day I realized that there was a lot more behind me than in front of me. In 1986, games I played in 1966 held no nostalgic value. But now in 2016, the games I played in 1986 do very much so.

I've owned some newer games and sold most of them and plan to sell a couple more. My gaming partner is my age and he likes and owns newer games and I happily play them with him. But between his and the ones I have owned, I haven't seen much I care to actually own or keep. I think in many cases it's an age thing. Not always, but not unusual to look back nostalgically and prefer what you grew up with.

Games I still enjoy:
The Civil War
Battle for Germany
Arnhem
Terrible Swift Sword
Cedar Mountain: Prelude to Bull Run, August 9, 1862
Ney vs. Wellington
Lee vs. Grant
Napoleon at Leipzig
Thunder at the Crossroads (first edition)
In their Quiet fields
Crimean War Battles

And a couple that I haven't played yet but hope to before my time is up:
Hell's Highway
The Desert Fox

I've owned and played a few newer games that supposedly replaced a few of the above. But for me, they didn't. But YMMV. And that's what makes the world go round!

I could never get viral attacking or defending older/newer games, I just play what I like. And when my game partner wants to play a newer game, I do so happily and have fun. Even when I don't fully understand the concept. But who knows, if I'm still alive 20 years from now, I may like those games for their nostalgia value!
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Rex Stites
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seanmac wrote:
I think very few classic games still hold up well today, Victory Games products included. That said, off the top of my head, I would say these games would still be at or near the top of new releases--

Up Front, Breakout Normandy, Raid on St. Nazaire, The Korean War, Diplomacy


Peloponnesian War, The Civil War, Pacific War, The Korean War, and Vietnam 1965-1975 are all arguably still the definitive treatment of their respective subjects.

Ambush! is still a go-to recommendation for a pure solo experience.

Hell's Highway, Gulf Strike, France 1944: The Allied Crusade in Europe, NATO: The Next War in Europe, Fleet Series, and Pax Britannica are all still well regarded and frequently recommended.

Lee vs. Grant and Panzer Command are the progenitors of Great Campaigns of the American Civil War and Grand Tactical Series respectively, and the originals are still worth playing in their own right.

That's neighborhood of 20 titles (out of 45ish--many fewer if you throw out the James Bond and Dr. Ruth/Playboy games) that are still very good--and in some cases, great--games judged by the current state of the art. My guess is that there are some current publishers who haven't had as high a success rate over the past few years.
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Jason Cawley
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Deserve -

Russian Campaign
Squad Leader
Terrible Swift Sword, GBACW
Wellington's Victory / Ney vs Wellington (with some mods)
Battle for Stalingrad
Hell's Highway
To the Green Fields Beyond
Trireme
Wooden Ships & Iron Men
Submarine
Flattop / CV
Air Force / Dauntless (with some mods)
Blue Max
Imperium
Godsfire
Freedom in the Galaxy
Alesia
Kingmaker
Pacific War
USN (Deluxe)
Crimean War Quad
Napoleon's Last Battles with Stumptner variant only

Don't deserve -

Panzerblitz / Panzer Leader (without mods)
Panzergrenadier (without mods)
Afrika Korps / Battle of the Bulge
Stalingrad / D-Day / Anzio
Panzergruppe Guderian / Drive on Stalingrad
Sniper
Firefight


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Mo Caraher
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I'm not convinced that PanzerBlitz was ever any good whistle
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