Games that look like they should be wargames but really aren't
Brad Hurst
United States
Gastonia
North Carolina
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Hopefully the title of this list doesn't confuse, but I'm trying to compile a list of games that when you look at the box or give the game a cursory glance, you might be lead to think it is a wargame...but when you really get down to the play of the game, you realize that its not really a wargame at all.

Obviously, this is open to interpretation as to what a wargame IS. Rather than try to offer my definition, I'd rather leave this open to conversation. Heck, I don't know if I could define a wargame, because its more of a feel I get as I go through the process of learning it and playing. I'd say most would agree that wargames tend to be more rules-heavy than usual boardgames and that they all have a military theme (duh). Most are historical, historical what-ifs, or abstracted from history...but not always (for example, War of the Ring, is an exception).

So, feel free to add your game(s) in this list with a blurb about why its there.

I'll start off...
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1. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:179]
Brad Hurst
United States
Gastonia
North Carolina
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When I looked at the box cover, with the nice ancients look, AND when I knew this game was made by GMT, I immediately came to the conclusion that it must be a wargame. I read terms like 'breakthroughs' and saw cards that represented specific military units or leaders like Alexander and Darius. I wasn't sure how it would work out to be a wargame, with no board or dice, but I figured the numbers on the cards must be a units strength and was excited to see how it all came together.

Well, much to my surprise, this game was no wargame. Its really a numbers game with different 'suits' where you try to build mini poker hands to outrank your opponents in the same slot, whereby you win a pawn. Taking a certain number of pawns wins you the game.

I'll say one thing though, even though you're really playing poker with some extra battle cards that do miscellaneous surprises to the playing field, you will find yourself picturing a battle of ancients going on in your head, so the theme is well worked into this one in the end.

A great game...just not a wargame.
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2. Board Game: The Battle for Hill 218 [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1474]
David Kahnt
United States
Youngstown
Ohio
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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I think this game is on the cusp...

It looks very much like a watered down one (to me, a non-wargamer), but is very much card control.

-DK
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3. Board Game: Imperial [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:140]
Richard Sullivan
United States
Novi
Michigan
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Trying to play this one like a war game is a sure way to lose.
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4. Board Game: Pax Britannica [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:2446]
Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
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I bought this game on impulse in a wargame-hobby store about 20 years ago.I thought it was a wargame (The Brits keeping control of there colonies).I guess I should have looked closer!Its still unpunched I have zero interest in this.Not a wargame!I believe the game ends (and you lose)if war breaks out.
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5. Board Game: Blood Royale [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2872]
Jae
United States
Bryan
TX
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Though you can win the game with an early and relentless military campaign, the game really is more about diplomacy and regency.
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6. Board Game: Ultimatum [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:11355]
Kent Reuber
United States
San Mateo
California
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In spite of the fact that this game looks like a nuclear combat game, a nuclear strike is usually the last resort. If it comes to nuclear combat, both sides are likely to lose. Most of the game is about trading off influencing the various areas of the world while simultaneously increasing your arsenal to guard against a first strike.
 
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7. Board Game: Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:133]
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Any game with 300+ plastic miniatures has to be a war game right?

While there is a little direct combat there are no dice involved. And omg there is work placement, victory points. Holy cow its a euro
 
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8. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:317]
Andy Foulke
United States
Bethel Park
PA
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Not sure if this qualifies, as I'm pretty sure all of the BGG community knows what this one is about... but I could see a muggle taking a quick glance at this in a store and saying "Eww... wargame"
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9. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:47]
 
Scott Lewis
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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I ogled this game for a long time before I bought it. It looked like it would be a cool battle-oriented game. (Not a hardcore "wargame" with chits and counters, but more like Risk/War of the Ring/etc in terms of wargameness). Reading the box made me wonder if it truly was. But when it comes down to it, I'd say this really isn't a "wargame" in the classical sense. Sure, warfare can be part of the game, but generally, war isn't the goal in and of itself - it is just sometimes a mechanic for other goals. Politics, diplomacy, and resource management play just as big a role in this. However, with all those plastic bits, it can be easy to think it's more warfare-centric than it is.
 
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10. Board Game: Age of Mythology: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:2481]
Scott Lewis
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Thornton
Colorado
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Again, lots of plastic units. Battle is a mechanic in this game, sure. But at the core, this is really a resource management game, with some battle elements included. Trying to play this as an all-out war will almost always spell defeat (unless everyone continually loads all the VPs onto the "won the last battle" card).

You fight when you need to accomplish a certain task, and building a giant army can net you VPs at the end, but battles are only one facet of the game.
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