Playing Old Wargames for the First Time, Part 2
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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A continuation of a previous list that came about because I realized that I had gotten to more games than I thought. I still have around 80 yet to play, though, so my quest is nowhere near completion.
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1. Board Game: Guadalcanal [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:9804]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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This game was reasonably fun to play, but I liked it a lot less once I learned something about the actual battle. In the game, the Japanese tend to mass their forces south of the airfield (inland). In real life, they only managed to get a small number of troops through the jungle for one attack from that direction. The problem is that the situation here doesn't lend itself to traditional hex-and-counter games.
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2. Board Game: Blitzkrieg [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:6109]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Even though the situation is abstract, something about this game really grabbed my attention. In part it may have been the existence of so many different kinds of units on both sides, and rules that cover a lot of situations (I particularly remember thinking that the use of air units to cut lines of retreat was cool). I played against an old-time grognard who showed me quickly that "breakthrough artillery" (a concept I've not heard of in any historical wargame) dominated the game at the expense of everything else.
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3. Board Game: Operation Felix [Average Rating:4.70 Overall Rank:14438]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Sometimes, I see a game that attracts my interest so much that I immediately set it up. Forget trying to write a novel; forget designing my own game; the thing I need to do most in the world, right now, is see what this game looks like. It helps that Operation Felix is a tiny game (you know it has to be small if they feel a need to include a second game in a magazine). Mainly I was just interested in it because I had never seen seen a game about a hypothetical German attack on Gibraltar (and I am interested in anything about WWII in the Mediterranean). It is simple, small, and fairly pointless as a game (not many options for the British defenders), but I learned what an attack on Gibraltar would have to face.
 
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4. Board Game: Norseman: Viking Kingdoms of the North Sea [Average Rating:5.27 Unranked]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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I have written 5 reviews on BGG, 3 of them for Simulations Canada games that had no other reviews. "Norseman" was one of them. Every province is rated for 3 values and has its own leader rated for 4 more; when you undertake an action, you combine these 7 numbers in a bewildering variety of ways to calculate your chances. For raiding, it is the leader's courage plus the province's population minus the military of the defending leader; for combat, leaders contribute their province's wealth plus their own military, but only if a die roll is greater than their independence. It's such a neat idea for a game where you can get points for trading as well as raiding and attacking, but it is beyond me how anyone could actually play it.
 
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5. Board Game: Scourge of God [Average Rating:5.54 Unranked]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Another SimCan game on another unusual topic. This one is not overwhelming, but it has the problem that one player has nothing to do. I played against an opponent, but I was smart enough to give him the Mongol player so he would have something to do. He confirmed my suspicion that the "empires" player should almost never move. Interesting to play solo.
 
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6. Board Game: D.A.K. [Average Rating:5.68 Unranked]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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I've pulled this one out several times, but never really got myself to play. I'm too intimidated by having to deal with hundreds of supply points (usually over 500) each turn, which get used to pay for unit movement on a one supply point equals one movement point basis. It was supposed to be re-issued, so I suppose some people found it playable. I got through 2 1/2 turns solitaire (enough for Rommel to show up) before I gave up.
 
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7. Board Game: To Forge a Nation [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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This is a series of very small games (American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War) by a very small publisher. The rules are pretty generic and have been adapted to or from several other games. They emphasize hidden intelligence, leadership, and troop quality, and de-emphasize anything resembling chrome. Combat is conducted by a matrix of troop strength with leader quality, troop quality, and morale. You get a single die roll's worth of movement points to divide among your leaders, but each leader gets to add his rating (1-3) to the points you give him, which works surprisingly well. I played the American Revolution game against an opponent and he agreed with me that the result seemed somewhat more like chess than a traditional wargame. Kudos to the designer for making his dream a reality.
 
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8. Board Game: Target Arnhem: Across 6 Bridges [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:3420]
Derek Croxton
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Small games are at least 10 times as likely to get played, for the obvious reason that I can do them in a short time. This one also benefitted from some very positive reviews. I love the system (which seems to owe something to Hell's Highway, one of my favourite games) and enjoyed solitairing it, but I haven't got the hang German strategy. Like so many games, this one seems unbalanced in one direction until you learn the proper strategy, and then it seems unbalanced in the other direction. It would be nice if I could get an opponent to try this with me enough times that we could figure out why the Germans are supposed to have a huge advantage. In any case, I definitely enjoyed my two solitaire ventures, each of which took only about an hour.
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