Mattias' top Wargames
Mattias Elfström
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In my view the BGG ratings for games fail to give a fair reflection of how good a game is. Part of the reason for this is that many games are not directly comparable since they cater to different gaming interests. How can you, for example, compare Love Letter to Advanced Squad Leader on the same scale?

I would prefer game ratings to be divided into categories so that games are more comparable. Some games may even belong to several categories.

Competitive Games: These games can be played as a competition and reward strategy and skill. Competitive Games are well balanced and provide a level field, even if starting positions or abilities are asymmetrical.

Multiplayer Games: Multiplayer Games allow for lots of players. In many cases the game gets better as more players are added. The winner of a Multiplayer Game should be decided by how good the player is at making deals, manipulating his opponents or outmanoeuvring them. Player interaction should be high. Multiplayer Games need not have perfect balance. It might even be considered a challenge to play an inferior position in such a game.

Wargames: Wargames deal with historical (or believable) situations of conflict. The game should have a simulation aspect and provide logical outcomes. The winner of the game should be the player with the better strategy. Playing time varies greatly and downtime may be long or short. Wargames are well balanced, but have varying starting positions and can be asymmetrical.

Experience Games: These games are almost always multiplayer. Who wins an Experience Game is less interesting compared to how fun it is to play the game. Experience Games have great themes and may in many cases take fairly long to play (long playing time being an asset in these cases). These games also tell a story that will live on beyond the gaming session and be retold over and over by the participants. Experience Games need not have perfect balance. It might even be considered a challenge to play an inferior position in such a game.

Two Player Games: Two Player Games emphasise game mechanics. Who wins a Two Player Game should be decided by who is the better player and who is capable of the better strategy. Two Player Games should be well balanced to allow a tight and exciting game.

Cube Pusher Games: Cube Pusher Games have ingenious mechanics and often invite competitive play, but they are low on direct player vs player interaction. Many of them can be thought of as ”multiplayer solitaire”, where all players just try to maximize their score irrespective of the moves of the other players. The theme of a Cube Pusher Game can feel ”pasted on” and seldom has any real influence on the game mechanics.

My top games of the different categories all have their own geek list:
- Competitive Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190487/mattias-top-compet...)
- Multiplayer Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2537/mattias-top-multipla...)
- Wargames (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190519/mattias-top-wargam...)
- Experience Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190418/mattias-top-experi...)
- Two Player Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2489/mattias-top-two-play...)
- Cube Pusher Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/218102/mattias-top-cube-p...)
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1. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:206] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: Based on the classic Squad Leader, Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) is without competition the greatest game ever made. It is, contrary to what some may believe, quite simple to learn and play and is infinitely replayable. I will keep returning to this game forever. The game consists of various modules covering all nationalities and locations of WWII. Of particular note is the Red Barricades module with its historical maps and great campaign game.

Rules: The rules were very well structured in the first edition of ASL. Parts of the rules are admittedly complex, but depending on which scenario is being played not all rules are always in effect. The current second edition of the rules are a bit less clear in some regards.

Tempo: The game plays quickly and there is a lot to engage both the active and inactive player.

Components: The ASL components are somewhat dated, but very functional.

Winning: The best player will usually win the game, but as in real combat luck plays its part.

This game is also on my Top Competitive, Wargames and Two Player Games lists.

Check out my Complete Advanced Squad Leader core module list at http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2809

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2. Board Game: Fortress Europa [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:3168]
Mattias Elfström
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This classic wargame is based on the Russian Campaign, but adds a number of refinements.

The game simulates divisional level ground combat. It also has an abstracted mechanic to handle air support that works quite well.
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3. Board Game: Rise and Decline of the Third Reich [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1430]
Mattias Elfström
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This is the greatest strategic wargame I have come across. The playing time is a little prohibitive, but I would never pass on an opportunity to play this game.

Once assimilated the game is actually not very complex to play.

The almost deterministic combat resolution removes most of the luck factor.
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4. Board Game: The Siege of Jerusalem (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:2251]
Mattias Elfström
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5. Board Game: Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:478]
Mattias Elfström
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6. Board Game: Storm over Arnhem [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1571]
Mattias Elfström
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This is a great competition between two players. It is the game that introduced area movement and interactive impulse turns to wargames.

The game plays quickly and there is almost no downtime.

Components are great and the nice map is an accurate depiction of the real battlefield.

The best strategy will usually win the game and luck plays a very minor part.
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7. Board Game: The Russian Campaign [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:1071]
Mattias Elfström
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8. Board Game: The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:1285]
Mattias Elfström
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A great card driven multiplayer game. I also like that it doesn't take too long to set up and play. I have had great experiences in using this game as an introduction to war games for people who have never tried one before.

It can be played both one on one and as a multiplayer game.
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9. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #5 – Epic Ancients II [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.39 Unranked]
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Commands & Colors: A truly unique experience when fighting with four players on each side in Epic Ancients!
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10. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:297]
Mattias Elfström
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11. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:100]
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Awesome card driven game that takes the mechanics introduced in We the People and spins them into an epic game.
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12. Board Game: Successors (third edition) [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:916]
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Great multiplayer version of the card driven games. Beautiful components.
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13. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:138]
Mattias Elfström
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14. Board Game: Europe Engulfed [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:903]
Mattias Elfström
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15. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:14]
Mattias Elfström
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This is a great game for two players that takes the basic principles from the classic SPI game War of the Ring and turns them into a highly playable game.

The game may run for the better part of a day, but is very exciting and thematic.

The components are great (even if the 1st ed original map was a little small and had some easily overlooked symbols).

This game is also on my Top Competitive, Wargames, Experience and Two Player Games lists.
 
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16. Board Game: Pax Baltica [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:2745]
Mattias Elfström
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17. Board Game: We the People [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:1051]
Mattias Elfström
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18. Board Game: Quartermaster General [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:695]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: This is a very original game that provides an interesting competition between two to six players. Two nice expansions provide even more varied play without sacrificing the elegance of the base game.

Rules: The rules are deceptively simple and written in a concise way.

Tempo: The game plays quickly and there is almost no downtime, even with the full complement of six players.

Components: Components are high quality and the artwork is nice. There is however a big problem in that for what seems to be for reasons of "political correctness" some of the historical flags have been replaced by fantasy versions. This detracts greatly from a game that otherwise provides an accurate historical context.

Winning: The best strategy will usually win the game and luck plays a minor part.

This game is on my Top Competitive and Wargames lists.
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