2012 wargame purchases: It was a very good year
Jason Albert
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
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Earlier this fall, I posted about my return to wargaming after 20 years away. But after reading some of the year-end wargame geeklists, it occurred to me I didn’t really buy or play any new (new to me, meaning non-AH) wargames until January 2012. So … inspired by some of the fine recent wargame-related lists, I thought it’d be fun to do one of my own and take stock of 2012, a year of great discovery for me. In alphabetical order:
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1. Board Game: Andean Abyss [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:765]
Jason Albert
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
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Prior to picking this up, I’d never played a true multi-player wargame. What a cool experience. Due to its length and opponent wrangling/scheduling issues, I’ve only had the chance to play this face-to-face twice with the full four factions. Both times were a blast, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched what this game has to offer. As others have said eloquently elsewhere, the COIN series seems like it could be a gamechanger. Can’t wait for Cuba Libre, A Distant Plain, and all that’s coming after. Particularly Fire in the Lake. And, of course, to play this one more.
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2. Board Game: Angola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:1752]
Jason Albert
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Due to the fun I had with Andean Abyss, I bought this on a whim. Another multi-player, another hoot. I love the feel it provides by pairing you with an often unhelpful partner. That, and the eroding control with the order mechanic and turn-order sequence. Like AA, two plays for this one, and it’ll definitely see more in ’13. Also the first MMP game I ever purchased. It wouldn’t and won't be the last.
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3. Board Game: Breakout: Normandy [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:975]
Jason Albert
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Picked this up in the L2 warehouse sale after seeing it referenced glowingly in the forums again and again and again. And then a few more times. It’s currently the rulebook on my nightstand and will be the first new game I learn/play in ’13. Wanting to acclimate myself to area-impulse, I bought Storm Over Arnhem first. That was a wise choice. I can only imagine what BKN will deliver.
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4. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:104]
Jason Albert
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The first game I bought in ’12. The first “new” game I bought after 20 years away from the hobby. How serendipitous. The CC system has become far and away my favorite. Nothing else is close, and nothing approaches passing the “anytime, anywhere” test in the ways CC does. I’ve posted far too many times in the forums why I think this game and system are brilliant, so I won’t do it again here. It’s hard to foresee myself ever tiring of playing it.
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5. Board Game: Combat Commander: Mediterranean [Average Rating:8.51 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.51 Unranked]
Jason Albert
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I picked up CC:M after playing only four CC:E scenarios. I wasn’t quite sure what I had, but I knew I wanted more.
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6. Board Game: Combat Commander: Battle Pack #1 – Paratroopers [Average Rating:8.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.27 Unranked]
Jason Albert
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I’ll just use this as a placehoder for all five of the CC Battle Packs. Because once I was in, I was in. There was no way I wasn’t buying everything CC I could get my hands on, so I just went ahead and did that.
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7. Board Game: Combat Commander: Pacific [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:448]
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This one was fun because my wife completely surprised me with it for my birthday by checking my shelf, then venturing into that scary pit of testosterone and OCD all by her lonesome -- the FLGS -- and buying it for me after hearing me talk about CC incessantly. As a result, every Sogeki Hei sniper shot holds a warm, special place in my heart.
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8. Board Game: Combat Commander: Resistance! [Average Rating:8.43 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.43 Unranked]
Jason Albert
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I’ll break out CC:R from the other expansions because it’s easily my favorite. In my mind, just some more ubiquitous CC genius in that slight variations on a theme play almost like a completely different game.
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9. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:96]
Jason Albert
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This was initially nothing more than a slave-to-the-BGG-wargame-rankings purchase. I liked it fine, but it didn’t really grab me until ...
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10. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #3 – The Roman Civil Wars [Average Rating:8.26 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.26 Unranked]
Jason Albert
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... this found its way to my shelf after a Free Comic Book Day 20% Off Everything Sale! at my spectacular FLGS, and ...
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11. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #5 – Epic Ancients II [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked]
Jason Albert
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... I decided to buy this one to see what the epics were all about. After cobbling together blocks from my two sets to get an epic battle to the table, I went on a secondary market hunt and bought expansions 1, 2, and 4. Now, I can’t imagine ever playing a single-mapper unless I’m pressed for time or space. I’ve taught the system to a few people and I’m really looking forward to getting together a four- or six-player day of epic line bashing. C&C:A doesn’t generate narrative for me in the way my favorite games on this list do, but it is always, always fun. And, bonus, it’s a quick and easy gateway drug to introduce others to the hobby.
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12. Board Game: Hammer of the Scots [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:307]
Jason Albert
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St. Paul
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I heard Hammer mentioned on a wargaming podcast, did some research, found it to be nothing short of beloved. Turns out it didn’t really connect with me. I like it, but there’s something about the period that doesn’t quite give me the bang I’m looking for. I’d play it anytime someone asks, but it’s not one I find myself reaching for.
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13. Board Game: FAB: The Bulge [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:1527]
Jason Albert
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St. Paul
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However, *this* block game, I will. I bought it late in the year so it’s only hit the table a handful of times, but I particularly love the interactivity of the turn sequence and the FAB system as a whole. Looking forward to trying Sicily, and I really, really hope Golan makes its P500 nut.
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14. Board Game: Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:296]
Jason Albert
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While I don’t own it, I played Twilight Struggle early in the year for no reason other than its #1 ranking* and to see what all the fuss was about. It was another one that didn’t find the mark. But this descendent, *this*, oh yes. The asymmetry, the levers and pulleys, the best plans laid to waste (Election? Nooooooooo!). It seems no matter how much I play, I remain terrible strategically, but every single outing has been enjoyable, and more importantly, made me more aware of the world around me.

*These things do matter.
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15. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:394]
Jason Albert
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Wow. Everything about this game: the aesthetics, the innovative and unfamiliar mechanics, the incredibly helpful online community, the fact that when you’re done, it feels like you’ve run a 10k while taking the SATs. No other game in my collection -- in my entire gaming experience -- wears me out the way this one does. And I mean that as the highest possible compliment. Guns of Gettysburg can’t get released fast enough.
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16. Board Game: No Retreat! The Russian Front [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:657]
Jason Albert
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This made it into the fold during the same FLGS sale as C&C:A #3. Unfortunately I’ve only played it once. And even more unfortunately, I played it with someone who thinks wargaming began and ended with Squad Leader ’77, so the fact that it has cards made him pout the entire game. It tainted my experience and that’s not fair to a game that’s obviously got something special going for it. I need to get it back to the table, and I will.
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Jason Albert
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The only game I’ve bought this year that I’ve yet to at least read the rules. I feel so much shame. I P500ed it due to the awesome advance designer support. Now that it’s cropping up over and over on the ’12 best-of lists, I have to make it a point to give it its due.
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18. Board Game: Space Empires: 4X [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:438] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
Jason Albert
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Another late year purchase. Two very fun plays. After the first, I P500ed Close Encounters. The only thing that’s kept CE from getting a test-drive has been a busy holiday month.
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19. Board Game: Space Empires: Close Encounters [Average Rating:8.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.27 Unranked]
Jason Albert
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Soon. Very soon. Ground troops!
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20. Board Game: Storm over Arnhem [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1593]
Jason Albert
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I got this to ease myself into Breakout: Normandy and instead it spawned an instant love of the game itself, and area-impulse in general. As a result, there are more than a few classic AH area-impulse games on my ’13 to-buy list. Related: C’mon Storm Over Dien Bien Phu! You can do it!
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21. Board Game: Strike of the Eagle [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:1374]
Jason Albert
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St. Paul
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The only game I bought this year that I just don’t like very much at all. And I don’t exactly know why. I realize I’m in a tiny minority, but to me it feels like the sum of its (admittedly very cool) mechanics and parts don’t gel in an engaging way. Ah well. Someone always has to finish last.
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22. Board Game: Warriors of God [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:1061]
Jason Albert
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My final purchase of ’12. Marco’s videos net another victim. Chaos? Unpredictability? A $50 gift xmas gift certificate? No willpower? Sold.
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