How to turn your child into a grognard or wargames for kids
Brian Morris
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I think I was a grognard from birth. I've been playing boardgames since as far back as I can remember. My father loved Monopoly and would play with my sister and I when we were 6 or 7. From there I went onto things like Dogfight, Sub Search and from there into Risk.

My buisness partners have little two boys who are 7 and 9 years old and they love board games. We like to get the kids boardgames for Christmas and I was just sitting here thinking about the games I enjoyed when I was a kid and wondering if these two boys are grognards in training as they seem to enjoy boardgames as much as I did at their age.

So with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to explore the many game options available for someone trying to turn a young impressionable child down the long dark path towards being a grognard.

Two big things to watch for. First off is you will notice a lot of these games are from the 1960s. There's two reasons for this. One is the American Civil War. As discussed below the American Civil War Centennial had a large effect on gaming both for adult games and kids. While in the 60s and 70s historical themed kids games were very popular. These days however kids games are much more likely to be connected to TV shows, superheros and things of that nature. So it's interesting to see how kids games have changed over time and how you simply don't see children's games with historical themes as much as you did 30-40 years ago.

The other thing as mentioned above to watch for on this list is something that I find very interesting. It was something that has always been in the back of my mind but doing this list brought it out to the front. Milton Bradly did a series of games in the early 60s called the American Heritage series. These were wargames for kids and this series came about as a result of their success in around 1961 of a Civil War linked game released during the Civil War's Centennial (also included in this list). Milton Bradly learned rather quickly that this sort of game sold and what followed was a whole bunch of kids games in this series include Hit The Beach, Dogfight and Broadside, all of which you will find on this list. In fact it is that Centennial which spawned a large number of Civil War games by a number of different game companies, both for adults and kids, that sold well and in part kick started what in time turned into the wargaming hobby we know today. In short, the American Civil War had a big part in the hobby's growth in the 1960s. So don't just dismiss these kids games as just kids games because it was the kids who played these games that grew up into the the grognards we are today. So keep that in mind as well as you look through this list.

This list will be followed by a second geeklist taking a closer look at how the American Civil War effected gaming in the 1960s.
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1. Board Game: Dogfight [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:4134]
Brian Morris
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I honestly think this was my first wargame. It's a great game and if it were available today I would pick it up for my partner's boys in a split second. I have heard rumors that this game is going to be reprinted but so far rumors is all I've heard. Please let them be true!

Part of the American Heritage series.

 
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2. Board Game: Sub Search [Average Rating:5.77 Overall Rank:8432]
Brian Morris
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I have a vivid memory of beating my mother at this game twice in a row much to her surprise.
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3. Board Game: Battleship [Average Rating:4.58 Overall Rank:15330]
Brian Morris
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Ok, the classic game. I never really cared much for Battleship because it seemed to me even as a kid to be based to much on luck. Plus I played it with my cousin Scott all the time and he always won.
 
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4. Board Game: Tank Battle [Average Rating:5.29 Overall Rank:14733]
Brian Morris
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Plastic tanks! This game was recently reprinted under the title of Axis and Allies Miniatures...sorry but I couldn't resist that one no matter how hard I tried....ok, I didn't really try that hard.

I have memories of playing this but not sure with who because I know I didn't own it but I do remember enjoying it.

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5. Board Game: Hit the Beach [Average Rating:5.14 Overall Rank:14441]
Brian Morris
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Another American Heritage series game. This one sort of represents their version of island hopping in the Pacific during WW II.

 
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6. Board Game: Broadside [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:5263]
Brian Morris
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Another American Heritage game. I never played this one as a kid which is a pity because it looks very cool.

 
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7. Board Game: Battle-Cry [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:11488]
Brian Morris
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Yep, it's another from the American Hertiage series but this one is an important one. This was one of the first and the one that sold really well for Milton Bradly thanks to the Civil War's Centennial. So well in fact that as we have seen on this list it was followed up by many other games of a strong historical nature like Dogfight and Broadside.

I had a friend who had this game and I do remember playing it and having fun. Little did I know how much the Civil War would one day turn into a lifelong study for me.

 
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8. Board Game: 12 O'Clock High Card Game [Average Rating:3.78 Unranked]
Brian Morris
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Finally a game not from the American Heritage series although very much a kids wargame....make that card game.

 
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9. Board Game: Stratego [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:2280]
Brian Morris
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I never liked this game. Moves rather slow. I had it as a kid but never played it much except when my cousin came over and he liked to play it...likely because he always won the bugger.
 
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10. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:14523]
Brian Morris
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Because of the depth of strategy and because it also appeals to adults we forget that Risk was designed as a kids game first and foremost.
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11. Board Game: Broadsides and Boarding Parties [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:4152]
Brian Morris
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Finally some more present day games. I wish this one was around when I was a kid because it's pretty cool looking. The game was released as part of Milton Bradly's GameMaster series which included Axis and Allies but while A&A was an adult game this one was definately more for kids.

 
 
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12. Board Game: Carrier Strike! [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:7118]
Brian Morris
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This one was released in 1977 when I turned 13 so at this point I was starting to move onto games like Risk and such and on the verge of moving into the Avalon Hill games in just another year. A pity because this looks cool.

 
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13. Board Game: Siege [Average Rating:4.84 Unranked]
Brian Morris
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I don't ever recall seeing this one as a kid.

 
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14. Board Game: Tablut [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:6874]
Brian Morris
United States
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A little hack and slash never hurt anyone...ok, maybe it did to the hackie.
 
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15. Board Game: Wings of War: Famous Aces [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:787] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
pronoblem baalberith
United States
Pleasantville
Massachusetts
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I have yet to break this one out with my son, perhaps this weekend. I think it will be a great introduction wargame.
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16. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Jeffrey D Myers
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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This one is very accessible. My then 10-year-old picked it up right away.
 
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17. Board Game: Skirmish [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:8096]
Brian Morris
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Another American heritage game, this time covering the American Revolution. It also came out later than most of the others in the series getting released in 1975, undoubtably to take advantage of the Bicentennial.

 
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18. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:269] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Jeffrey Van Ness
United States
Dunellen
NJ
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This a great "first step" into wargaming. It has different levels of strategy, units that interact with each other, and a relatively simple combat system.
 
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19. Board Game: Sonar Sub Hunt [Average Rating:6.44 Unranked]
Jeff Binning
United States
Rollinsville
Colorado
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The Milton Bradley "war" games were my entry into real gaming. The only one of that series that I still own is the best one, Dogfight.

Mattel also had this excellent game, which came out in 1961, long before electronic games became popular. I found and bought a copy this last year, and I'm glad to have in my collection again. Mattel was my personal favorite toy company when I was a kid.

"You can tell it's Mattel, it's swell!"
 
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20. Board Game: Shapeshifters [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:9494]
Slobodon Ginfizz
United States
Unspecified
Virginia
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Perhaps this one will help them get used to the idea. That way they might not freak out when you turn them into a "wargame for kids".
 
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21. Board Game: Chopper Strike [Average Rating:5.20 Overall Rank:14644]
Robert Wesley
Nepal
Aberdeen
Washington
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surprise NOT just for 'kids'! The '3rd Dimension' element was reminiscent of ''Sub Search''-except for there being NO 'Sea' involved.
 
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22. Board Game: Conflict [Average Rating:5.30 Overall Rank:13541]
 
Robert Wesley
Nepal
Aberdeen
Washington
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Yep, we were playing this WITH our Parents, and even some of their friends as well. Sometimes it was the 'Adults' VS the 'kids', while I still got my Dad's copy of it!
 
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23. Board Game: Little Wars [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:7730]
Andrea Angiolino
Italy
Rome
European Union
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This one for miniature wargaming.
 
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24. Board Game: Ace of Aces: Handy Rotary Series [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1508]
Ken Jarosz
United States
North
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I am not sure if you are trying to have a list for the historical "how you got started" or "how to get the kids off the sofa this afternoon" type of list, but here is a later choice.

Key for this is the "looks like a video game" feel and the basic game I even got my mother to play!!! You then "just want to add a little" to the game and utilize the chart for altitude and damage location and then they are started down that trail of a wargame.

Then you switch on them mini models of planes with Blue Max or Canvas Eagles rulesets (or Richthofen's War, or Wings for cardboard). That is if you want to stay within the genre of WWI Air, but adding a ground attack feature to the air power you can move to WWII in the pacific and naval battles or gound attack the russian front or DDAY.

Either way the transition to minis or cardboard will only work if you don't show off your enormous aptitiude and crush them, for then they will resort to putting you in front of the screen with a handheld controller to seek revenge!!!

You know, give them the choice
A- 20 Shermans or the one King Tiger...
B- 10 Shermans or the 3 King Tigers....
....you figure out which side you should be on!!

Oh wait AAMinis don't have a King Tiger yet, I CAN'T PLAY without Hasbro!
 
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25. Board Game: Rome & Carthage [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:7179]
Alfred
Netherlands
Noord-Brabant
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Maybe not quite what you're after as the card driven mechanism might be too tough for younger kids. Still, quite good although underproduced (card deisgn is a bit ..erm.. poo).
 
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