The Comprehensive Guide to Board Wargaming, by Nicolas Palmer
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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Published in 1978, Nicolas Palmer's book The Comprehensive Guide to Board Wargaming is a classic of the old wargaming days; the days when huge beasts with names like SPI and Avalon Hill and GDW roamed free, releasing games that have become legends in their own right such as Drang Nach Osten, Global War, Panzerblitz, Waterloo, Afrika Korps, and Invasion America.

Part IV of Palmer's book, "Simulating History on $10 a day" is a examination of the games in print at the time the book was released, and in this Geeklist I hope to link to BGG entries for all the games listed in the chapter, along with some of the book's comments on each.

Most games are rated from both polls done at the time by both SPI and Avalon Hill; ratings run from 1 (abysmal) to 9 (excellent). I'll list ratings where given so you can compare the contemporary views of the games listed with the present BGG ratings. Additionally games were ranked numerically; there were 202 games in the SPI poll and 25 games in the Avalon Hill poll, so I'll include those numbers as well.

NOTE: The following games listed in the book are not on BGG (or at least I couldn't find them), so therefore aren't on this Geeklist: Four Roads to Moscow (AH), Freiburg (SPI), Missile Patrol Boat (GDW), Pursuit of the Bismarck (DCC-AWA), Raiders of the North (DCC-AWA), Victory at Sea (DCC-AWA).

UPDATE: Much thanks to commenters who pointed out games I had missed!
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1. Board Game: The African Campaign [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:7058]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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(Jedko edition is the one listed.) SPI rating 5.4/169

"Brisk North African Second World War simulation."

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2. Board Game: Afrika Korps [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3681]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 5.6/150; AH rating 6.1/14

"Well-balanced, fast-moving easy to learn [sic], but rather luck-dependent."

"Length 2-4 hours."
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3. Board Game: After the Holocaust [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:7832]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Highly innovative."
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4. Board Game: Airborne! [Average Rating:4.80 Unranked]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Map rather bland, since some scenarios involve disregarding terrain. Good tactical stuff - includes confusion!"
 
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5. Board Game: Air Force [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3140]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Tactical Second World War air game, painstakingly detailed [. . .]" "Very complex and realistic."

"Length varies with the scenario, from half an hour upwards."
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6. Board Game: Air War: Modern Tactical Air Combat [Average Rating:5.23 Overall Rank:14838]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Tactical air game featuring combat with the latest designs".

Well, the latest circa 1978, anyway.

The first game on this list which is legendary for complexity - not the last, though.
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7. Board Game: Alexander the Great [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:5119]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 5.7/143; AH rating 6.07/15

"Notable for the exotic units (phalanxes, chariots, elephants, archers) and the violent green mapboard, which some find exciting and others off-putting, but nobody has yet called nondescript."

"Quite easy to learn. 2-3 hours."
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8. Board Game: Alien Space Battle Manual [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:9475] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 6.3/93

"Small Star-Trek based game, with eight very different star ships, each with surprise secret weapons, unknown to the other players."

"Game length 15 minutes - 3 hours, depending on the number of players."

I have to admit to a personal love affair with this game ever since I first saw it on the rack at "The Point of Conflict" game store in Fairport, NY circa 1976 or so; it's not the most sophisticated, not the most detailed, not the easiest to play, and the presentation values are cheap, to say the least. But it's FUN.
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9. Board Game: The American Civil War [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:10805]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 6.1/109

"Grand-strategic level, with sea and rail rules and map covering most of the nation."
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10. Board Game: The American Revolution 1775-1783 [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:9129]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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Just called "American Revolution" in the book. SPI rating 5.9/128

Zone-based movement instead of hexes.

"A dozen optional variations with 'what-if' factors."

"Fairly easy to learn. 2-4 hours."
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11. Board Game: Ancient Conquest [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:8744]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 6.5/65

No details provided beyond poll ratings.
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12. Board Game: Antietam: The Bloodiest Day, 17 September 1862 [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:9505]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 7.1/7

"[. . .] the most popular SPI land game in the poll bar War in the East."

"Special rules limit the number of Union units able to move (bad organization). A close game."
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13. Board Game: Anvil-Dragoon: The Second D-Day [Average Rating:4.75 Unranked]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Not a popular game as the German player spends most of the time retreating. Even when he wins he has still lost France!"
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14. Board Game: Anzio [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:2753]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 6.4/80; AH rating 6.64/2

"Tremendously detailed long mapboard, with scores of units of different types and strengths on each side."

"Four complexity levels from something a bit harder then the classics to ultra-realism."

"Interesting, varied and challenging, but not for the impatien.[sic] 3-9 hours, depending on players's choice of scenario."
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15. Board Game: The Arab-Israeli Wars [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3287]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Scheduled for release as this book goes to press [. . .]"
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16. Board Game: The Ardennes Offensive: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:9122]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 6.6/54

No details other than rating.
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17. Board Game: Arms Race [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
 
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"[. . .]Attractively produced."
 
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18. Board Game: Arnhem [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:3506]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Part of the most popular Quad, West Wall."
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19. Board Game: The Plot to Assassinate Hitler [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:13126]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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Called just "Assassinate Hitler" in the book. Described as "Unusual".

"Released as this book goes to press."
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20. Board Game: Atlanta: Civil War Campaign Game [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 5.4/169

No description beyond rating.
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21. Board Game: The Battle of Austerlitz [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:10069]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 6.6/54

This must be an earlier edition of the game, as the BGG listing was published in 1980, after Palmer's book was published.

"Simple, well-balanced operational level game."
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22. Board Game: Avalanche: The Salerno Landings [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:9786]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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"Fascinating struggle for beaches by Salerno with both armies represented at company and sometimes platoon level."

"Marvellous for lovers of complex, realistic games, but frightful for a beginner."

Game length described as "up to fifty hours or so".
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23. Board Game: Barbarossa: The Russo-German War 1941-45 [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:8496]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 6.0/119

"[. . .] one of SPI's most enduring successes. Fast-moving but fairly realistic; weak ZOCs and a second movement phase enable encirclements and breakthroughs."

"4-6 hours per game year, intermediate complexity."
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24. Board Game: Bar-Lev: The Yom-Kippur War of 1973 [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:4865]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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SPI rating 7.1/7

"Seventeen-turn simulation of 1973 Yom Kippur War."

"Complex sequence of play with many different unit types."

"Great fun."
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25. Board Game: Basic Fighter Combat Manual [Average Rating:4.83 Unranked]
Gary McCammon
United States
Rochester
New York
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I assume this is the game Palmer's book lists as "Basic Air Combat".

"Fighter v. fighter ultra-tactical game, with a clever system of energy use to regulate maneuverability."
 
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