Games that "simulate" so well you learned from them?
John Brock
United States
Pennsylvania
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Once upon a time wargames were also known as "simulation games". Then along came "computer simulations", and nowadays many people equate the word "simulation" so thoroughly with computers that they forget the word can have any other meaning (as in, see thread...).

But the goal of this geeklist isn't about the definition of the word "simulation", it's about one specific purpose of simulating: To be able to learn something about the real world by making an imitation of it.

In our case, that imitation must take the form of a game.

What games do you feel did such a good job of presenting their subject that one can actually gain insight into the real world by playing them?
What games gave you an "Aha!" moment...
as you came to understand, say, a period of history you'd always wondered about?

For my own purposes I'm primarily interested in historical-conflict-themed games that will give the player a strong insight into the conflict they represent, but this list is in no way intended to be limited to wargames, or even to board games. I'd rather leave out video games because they don't have the same natural tension between abstraction, simulation, and playability as board games -- but RPGs are also welcome entries if they fit the bill.
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1. Board Game: The Stock Car Championship Racing Card Game [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:3936]
John Brock
United States
Pennsylvania
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I'd never been a car-race buff. 500 laps? And lap after lap, hardly anything ever changes... What are we supposed to be watching this for?

Well, after playing this game, I finally got it. Although some people pimp it with an oval track, the base game just includes a single section of straightaway and it's only used to keep track of the relative position of the cars -- because in real life, that's what it's all about. Who cares how many times you went around the track? You've spent the last ten laps one car-length behind the next guy, but that's because you were mooching off his success by drafting... and now it's time to get one car-length ahead of him!

Rather than abstract 500 laps into three trips around the track, this game abstracts out the track altogether, leaves out the empty laps that turned out to be nothing but filler, and brings the race down to the times when the dynamic truly *changes*. That allows it to showcase just how subtle those changes actually are, and taught me what to be looking for in a NASCAR race.
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2. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:585]
Greg Wilson
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Essentially a simple set of rules simulating a small economy. Players produce, buy, sell and ship goods. Whoever has the most money at the end wins.

Can definitely teach a few things about supply-and-demand economics.
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3. Board Game: High Frontier [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:800]
David Gibbs
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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Just how hard it is to push the fuel you need to push the fuel you need to push the fuel you need to push the thing you actually want to get there.

Also, gravity wells are NASTY.
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4. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1197]
Perry Fergin
United States
Baltimore
MD
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The more history of WWII I learn, the more I realize how much this taught me.
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