Hybrid Wargames
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Back in the very early 1980's, when I first was introduced to Orge and Dungeons & Dragons and other exciting new (to me) games, I very quickly became interested in wargames.

Avalon Hill provided some of the early experiences with wargames, with classics like Panzer Blitz, and I really got hooked on a lot of the SPI games, especially the Medieval Battle Quad.

Once I got into the 1990's, my interest in wargames waned (with the notable exceptions of EastFront and Rommel in the Desert), and I spent more time with my old friend Chess, new friend Go, and a lot of very interesting games that we now lump into the Euro category.

In recent years, my interest in and desire for playing wargames has emerged once moe, and I've come to realize it's because of the development of what I'm dubbing "hybrid wargames" - games that have the following characteristics in common (to varying degrees):

1. it has a strong theme - i.e. it's about a specific battle, war, or era

2. it uses non-traditional combat resolution methods - non-traditional for wargames that is. No CRT's here! And often, not a lot of dice at all.

3. it incorporates other elements - this is more nebulous, but by this comment I mean that the game is not just about stacking up my forces and being a brilliant tactician/strategist. Instead, the game itself provides for some realistic but contextual tensions that are outside of my control - e.g. diplomacy/negotiations, event cards, ....

4. it has secret information - fog of war created by secret unit deployment or not knowing what your opponent has in their hand both qualify here. Even in the 1980's I didn't like being able to see all my opponents stacks and have perfect information (except for how the dice would turn out).

5. it works well as a game - by this I mean that you can play any side/role in the game and have a chance of winning (rather than being an exercise in simulation).

My contributions to the list only comprise the games that I have played - I would love to see additions to the list that fit the points above so I can add to my collection.
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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:4]
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I am itching for the March 2008 reprint of this one to get it into my collection.

I love the cold war theme, and the card driven mechanic really appeals to me on many levels. I also really like how the game is about influence and thereby actually abstracts the warfare aspect. In short, it's the kind of game I could even persuade my wife to play.

Every game I've played of this has had a palpable tension from turn to turn, and the occasional turn has had a card-by-card tension you could cut with a knife.
 
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2. Board Game: Friedrich [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:469]
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This is the game that really got me back into wargaming.

It has a strong theme, the mechanics are nice and simple, the secret unit deployment of knowing where your opponents generals are, but not their strength, and the hand management to resolve battles with suits of cards all combines to make a very tense and enjoyable game.

One thing I particularly like about this game's use of traditional suits (hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds) is its inherent familiarity - it removes a layer of needless complexity to the hand management that using suits of say cannons, muskets, cavalry and swords would have generated.

The random element of the "deck of fate", with the attendant possibility of eliminating one of Prussia's opponents, which puts pressure on the alliance players to press, is great. It adds a palpable tension.
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3. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:165]
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What makes this game a real winner for me is all the interconnected elements - yes you can send your English fleets to go after the Hapsburgs or the French, but the underlying premise - the Reformation and its attendant events, make the tensions and decisions very interesting.
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4. Board Game: Hour of Glory: Stronghold Kit [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:4908]
Alan Kaiser
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I just posted this in another list before reading your criteria and I think this one will fit all five of your requirements.

Quote:
1. it has a strong theme


You play a team of commandos infiltrating a Nazi bunker which is played by your opponent. Definitely a nice theme and unique as well.

Quote:
2. it uses non-traditional combat resolution methods


No CRT that I could tell but there is rolling of dice. It looks like there are a variety of factors that influence those die rolls however.


Quote:
3. it incorporates other elements


There is a very unique time element that is incorporated into the game. You can try for a stealthy infiltration and that cuts down on the chance that you'll be noticed but it adds time which isn't good. The run 'n gun approach is the other extreme. It's faster which is a good thing but you get noticed quicker. The Allied player has to balance these two approaches.

Quote:
4. it has secret information


One of the neat things about the game is that you don't get to play all of the Nazi pieces as the German player, only the officer. He then has to go around giving orders to the other pieces. I'm not exactly sure how this works but it does fit the secret info idea since you are not entirely sure how all your pieces will react.

Quote:
5. it works well as a game


Seems like a very neat game with some really good ideas. Certainly not a simulation and it looks like a lot of fun. The playing time is listed at 60 minutes so it's more accessible than a lot of games in this category that require much more time.

Here are some pictures I posted in the other post:

Base game:



And the game with minis added (which you can buy from the publisher):



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5. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:382]
Scott
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I hesitated adding this one because it doesn't quite have those "other elements" but it would seem to fit all your other requirement perfectly. It may be worth a look and some research anyway. Its also, by far, the most attractive game I've ever seen. Looks at those bits and board.

Feel free to erase if it's not quite right.
 
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6. Board Game: We the People [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:1032]
Alan Richbourg
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Arlington
Texas
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I think We the People is a perfect fit for what you describe.
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7. Board Game: Duel in the Dark [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1678]
Paul O'Connor
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This fits all of your criteria, but after one play I'm not sure I like it very much. I enjoy the look of the game but it is a bloodless experience without a lot of excitement. To me it feels like all the most exciting elements of the situation were abstracted out of the game, leaving only the raid planning elements in place. But I would like to try it a few more times before condemning it to the trade pile ...
 
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8. Board Game: Shogun [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:127]
Graham Smallwood
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Santa Ana
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1) The Sengoku period of Japan. And I totally knew that before I had to look it up...

2) You throw all the armies fighting in to a tower, and whoever falls out the bottom is who actually fights.

3) Outside the idea of fighting and conquering is the idea of developing the land you hold. And there are seasonal event cards too.

4) You know the first five actions (of ten) that will take place each season, but not the order of the next five. And each player is secretly deciding in what region they will perform each action.

5) It is one of the most awesomest games ever.

It seems like #1 is the weakest point judging from the other games listed. The historical theme here isn't something that is central to the game. Maybe when you are thinking of point 1 and 5 together, you mean you are looking for a game with realistic asymmetrical sides?
 
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9. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:134]
June Hwang Wah
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I am surprised no one mentioned good old Hannibal.
 
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10. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:374]
Ray
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Carpentersville
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Number one on my list of games to really shake up the wargame mechanics paradigm but still be a great game of war.
 
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11. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:312]
Joseph Cardarelli
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Tucson
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1. It has a strong theme - i.e. it's about a specific battle, war, or era

The theme is based on an excellent series of books by George R. R. Martin. 5 major houses are represented by the players as they vie for the domination of Westeros!

2. It uses non-traditional combat resolution methods - non-traditional for wargames that is. No CRT's here! And often, not a lot of dice at all.

Combat resolution is a combination of Diplomacy and LotR:C, meaning that each unit has a base number + the stregnth of the card you play. Very nice.

3. It incorporates other elements - this is more nebulous, but by this comment I mean that the game is not just about stacking up my forces and being a brilliant tactician/strategist. Instead, the game itself provides for some realistic but contextual tensions that are outside of my control - e.g. diplomacy/negotiations, event cards, ....

The game has blind bidding for control of three different tracks that give bonuses to those who win, such as a combat bonus and an "order changing" ability. These tracks also determine turn order and decides who breaks ties in combat. AGoT also has three event cards that are flipped every turn and determine when supply routes are updated, recruitments are made, and certain other effects such as the "Wildling" track. Once the Wildling track reached its climax the players must blind bid a certain amount to stop them all from sustaining heavy damages, with a reward to the person who bid the most if the players win, and a severe penalty to the player who bid the least if the Wildlings win.

4. It has secret information - fog of war created by secret unit deployment or not knowing what your opponent has in their hand both qualify here. Even in the 1980's I didn't like being able to see all my opponents stacks and have perfect information (except for how the dice would turn out).

Each player submits one order, counter face-down, to each area he has units. Sort of a backwards Wallenstein/Shogun mechanic. The orders are move/combat, a defensive bonus, raiding, etc. Also, the combat cards each player has in his hands are kept close to the chest.

5. it works well as a game - by this I mean that you can play any side/role in the game and have a chance of winning (rather than being an exercise in simulation).

Well, it could be debated that some Houses are stronger than others, and I might be inclined to agree, but there is a lot of diplomacy int he game, so if you think there aree better players than you at the tabloe, then make sure you play Greyjoy with a easily suseptible person as Lannister, etc, etc. I don't find it to be a problem.
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12. Board Game: Gunslinger [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1528]
Ray
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Carpentersville
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Movement plotting via card stacking. Combat results via card drawing. Hamblen was the man for game innovation.

Card plotting also used in RoboRally and Wings of War.
 
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13. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:225] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Ray
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A bunch of Euro style mechanics layered out in so many layers as to no longer be a Euro. One of the first true hybrids between wargame conventions and mechanics designed to be fun even without the theme of results tables.

For a more contemporary treatment see Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648
 
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14. Board Game: Kingmaker [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1706]
Ray
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Another game that reshaped the gaming landscape by having war without any of the usual wargame conventions (and per your request plenty of hidden information cards).

 
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15. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:312]
oystein eker
Norway
Unspecified
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Order sequence is a quick streamlined version of Diplomacy.

Battle is wide open - you may inspect opponent cards
 
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16. Board Game: War of the Ring (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:82]
oystein eker
Norway
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Most obvious
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17. Board Game: Age of Gods [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3246]
oystein eker
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Fantasy - Feels like Vinci on steriods with a small taste of Colossal Arena in round 7.
 
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18. Board Game: 1936: Guerra Civil [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:2571]
Arturo García

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I think it qualifies on all points.

It does have a strong theme. Each card portrays a military, political, economical, social or cultural element of the war. Each card has a historical text and uses a real photograph or poster, adding a lot of flavor.

Combat is not solved using dice but by comparing forces and assigning damage in a luck-free way. The difficulty is deciding whether is good for you or not!

The game may be won by military / political victory points but also by demoralizing the enemy.

You don't know what your opponent may have in his hand.

After a few years promoting it and meeting many players, my experience is that it's indeed a solid and balanced game.
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