Good competitive wargames.
Ingólfur Valsson
Iceland
Sauðárkrókur
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While we all play wargames for different reasons it can be argued that some are better than others when it comes to good competitive gameplay. So I offer you to add games on here that you believe are great for that 2 (or more) player experience with tense decisions and strategies that you want to try out to beat your opponent.

Suggestions on what I would look for but these are not requirements.

Balance
To be competitive there needs to some sort of balance between sides, sure they can be asymmetrical and you might even just need to try to not lose too much but there should be some measure of victory.

Skill
While wargames almost always have some random factors to help with the chaos of war a game should have meaningful decisions and you can get better at it over time.

Replay-ability
When you play a competitive game you want to go again and tr to do better next time, or just defend your title. Linear games where you just play once and are then done with it aren't really what I'm looking for.

Tense
You should feel your heart pumping when you make that move that could win you the game, and the sigh of relief when the opponent doesn't make the only counter-move that you think could stop you.
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1. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:138]
Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Remarkably tense game of cat and mouse. Hannibal is deadly on the battlefield and is likely to thrash any Roman army he meets if his army is full strength. However, he can't be everywhere at once, and the Romans multiply like rats while Hannibal can reinforce slowly and with great risk. The scope of maneuver is perfectly integrated with the struggle for political control of provinces. Battles have political consequences that go beyond local supremacy or the war of attrition. The card events have real impact and present tough choices. And all in a manageable 4 hour playing time.
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2. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:100]
Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Ted Raicer caught lightning in a bottle with this excruciatingly tense CDG. From the first turn - no, the first cardplay - it's a duel on a high-wire with no net. There's so much you need to do, but you can only achieve a fraction of it. Crucial events, bringing replacement armies onto the map, replenishing the armies relentlessly consumed by attrition. And then there's the dance of death, when gaps in the line must be plugged to stem catastrophe.

The depth is remarkable. This is a 10-20 hour game where you're still a neophyte after three full plays. A player with 10 games under his belt will almost certainly beat one with only 5. Grandmasters with 40+ games will face-off against one another in nail-biters. There's a reason PoG is still extremely popular in competitive online play 15 years after its publication.
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3. Board Game: Europe Engulfed [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:901]
Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Strategic WWII games are often lifestyle games. But if you're not up to dedicating your life to Advanced Third Reich or World in Flames for six months, Europe Engulfed is a tightly balanced and playable alternative. Often in these games, you know which way the war (and the game) is going after Barbarossa. But Europe Engulfed can be a nail-biter even as the Allies converge on the shattered armies defending Germany. The ingenious action marker system models the early supremacy of Germany and the eventual effectiveness of the Allied armies without a huge amount of rules cruft. And the best thing about a game with so many die-rolling is luck will even out over the course of a game - which is not the case of games where a single die roll will determine if Lengingrad falls or holds out.
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4. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:98]
Tim
United States
Frederick
Maryland
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You should look into this series. It seems to address all of your wants and there are many scenarios to go through. I haven't tried Commands & Colors: Napoleonics but imagine it is the same if this time period is more to your liking.
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5. Board Game: The Russian Campaign [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:1071]
Eric Johnson
United States
Rohnert Park
California
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Balance: asymmetrical sides with shifting advantage. Russians must try not to lose early in the game; as advantage shifts, Germans must try not to lose at the end. Both sides have a chance to win with good play.

Skill: Random factors will sometimes affect the outcome of this game, especially weather die rolls, but generally the superior player will win.

Replayability: I've found this game fresh and interesting over many plays spread across many years.

Tension: The Russian player is always hoping his cobbled together defenses will stop the German juggernaut; in contrast, the German player's offensives always seem to stop just short of total victory. Both players are on the edge of their seats during every turn. The German groans with a bad weather die roll; the Russian exults when a tenacious infantry army defeats a panzer assault.

This game is one of my favorites. The two impulse movement system accurately simulates armored breakthrough and exploitation. Simple but realistic rules for weather, supply and German air superiority. Highly recommended.

See also 4th Edition here: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/10156/russian-campaign-fo...

I've never played the 4th edition, and cannot comment on it.
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6. Board Game: EastFront II [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:1279] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Sam Carroll
United States
Urbana
Illinois
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In my opinion, the finest eastern-front game ever made. When you read about the effects of maskirovska on the Eastern Front, how many games give you any of that sense? Eastfront does.

How many wargames make you wonder if you can afford the logistical costs of an offensive? Eastfront does. So does OCS, if you want to go there, but it's a lot heavier than Eastfront.

How many wargames really reward keeping and then committing a reserve? Eastfront does.

And it's fairly well-balanced, with a significant learning curve on both sides. Hugely replayable. I could go on . . .

EDITED to correct "easter-front" to "eastern-front." Rather different images.
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7. Board Game: A House Divided [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:949]
Christopher Donovan
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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I think this is a very competitive (simple) wargame;

Balance: With the basic rules I think it favors the CSA a little, but with the "CSA Victory Delayed" optional rule, the cavalry raid victories suddenly become much more difficult to pull off. When the game goes all the way into 1864-5, it often seems like the USA is unstoppable, but conquering the South is such a mammoth task that it really does take so much time & manpower that victory is far from assured.

Skill: There is no doubt a lot of luck to AHD, however it's also a pretty long game and the luck eventually averages out. The positional play and the logistical restrictions (if you play with the Supply rule) require a high degree of skill.

Replayability: AHD has it, I'd say. Even if you tire of the game there are many different ways to play it by adding or changing the modular rule-set.

Tense: Because it takes time to build up experienced troops, losing a big battle often means you are going to have to play catch-up to the winning side, hoping for a chance to turn the tables again.
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8. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:385]
Evil Bob
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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Balance
The French and Allies are finely balanced. Both sides have similar strength units with only minor variances. The Allies can activate fewer formations but the French begin with fewer units on the board and must change stance (defensive to aggressive) and victory conditions in order to unlock reinforcements.

Skill
This game has no random factors. Both opponents generally begin the game with an overarching strategy, which they invariably modify based on reactions from their opponents.

Replay-ability
Based on the fact that setup is fairly free-form, I found there's alot of replayability. The fog-of-war system allows one to hide their strength at start-up and prevent opponents from knowing where the main thrust will be and which victory locations will be most heavily fought over.

Tense
In this game, one wrong move can shatter a corps and effectively take them out of the main conflict as they attempt to rebuild. Cavalry recon becomes critical in piercing the fog-of-war long enough to provide the opponents with critical information concerning troop strengths and deployments. Tension increases as both army's morale is slowly ground away from attrition. The game's time element increases tension as both sides are maneuvering and fighting for their victory conditions before the sun sets.
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9. Board Game: The Battle of the Bulge [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:5351] [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
Robert Stuart
United States
Los Alamos
New Mexico
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Some of the earliest wargames were very well balanced, and this is one of them. I recommend the Advanced Game.

Replayable? Eminently.

Tense? Yes. The German, to win, has to advance after successful attacks. But this leaves his forward units vulnerable. There's nothing worse than having a powerful armored stack attacked, surrounded, at 1-2 odds and -- horrors! -- having that 1 in 6 Defender Retreat die roll. End of spearhead.

Skill grows with experience? Yes. To win each side has to do some scary things. In the case of the Americans, that means counterattack at low odds. If the attacker gets thrown back too in too many attacks, or too many spaces, however, his line can become kind of swiss-cheesy.
 
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