Why I Will Always Enjoy Wargames about WWII
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Recently some BGG denizens have wondered why there are so many wargames about World War II compared to other historical conflicts, and why wargamers for the most part never seem to get tired of playing WWII wargames.

This geeklist is an attempt to explain why many of us enjoy playing games about WWII, why they're so enjoyable and sometimes even inspiring.

Why do YOU like to play wargames about WWII?
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1. Board Game: Stalingrad Pocket 2nd Edition: The Wehrmacht's Greatest Disaster [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:2452]
Hunga Dunga
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Coquitlam
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Drama

The conflict between masses of Russian soldiers and well-trained German soldiers created some of the most dramatic battles in history.

(Edited to change edition.)
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2. Board Game: DAK2 [Average Rating:8.26 Overall Rank:2436]
Hunga Dunga
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Coquitlam
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Mechanized Warfare

WWII was the first mechanized war. Conflict is as much about speed as it is about power.
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3. Board Game: Midway [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2750]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
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Aircraft Carriers:

Because WWI didn't have aircraft carriers, and neither did North Korea and North Vietnam (or if they did, they must have sucked).

And aircraft carriers absolutely rock!

The first time in naval combat history that the opposing ships never saw each other. Oh you got a battleship? Yawn. I'll send a squadron of torpedo and divebombers to put you in the bottom of the ocean.
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4. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:214] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
Jon
Canada
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Gizmos and Do-Dads:

WW2 is the Mother of All Wars for the techno geek. Games like ASL portray the vast array of weaponry in detail, from machine guns to tanks. I mean really:



How could you not want to drive one of these around?

(Geekimage courtesy of Michael Dorosh)
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5. Board Game: Air Power [Average Rating:6.64 Unranked]
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The rise of Air Forces - doctrine, technology and impact changed rapidly during the war.

The way each power handled it is fascinating.
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6. Board Game: Combat Commander: Pacific [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:475]
Ted Torgerson
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Dads and Uncles and Grandfathers
We heard their stories growing up whether Brit, American, German, Aussie, etc. Who didn't imagine what it was like? At war or on the home front.
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7. Board Game: Iwo Jima: Rage Against the Marines [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:5486]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Island hopping

In no other war would you fight so hard for places like Iwo Jima: Valor of Arms, 19 Feb. – 25 March 1945, Midway, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Wake Island, Guam, Saipan & Tinian, and Red Beach One: Tarawa. Places whose only resource worth fighting so hard for was a pile of sand and rock that you could build an airstrip on.

Before WWII, the air power had not fully realized its importance, and after WWII, you didn't need a string of airbases because the planes had so much more range.

So WWII brought the impressive Leapfrogging strategy, which is always fun to try in a wargame.
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8. Board Game: History of War [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:11829] [Average Rating:5.97 Unranked]
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Thoroughly Documented.

Film, photography, reporting, written records, and exhaustive documentation combined with the scope of it all makes for a near endless supply of topics for wargames.

On balance, probably well over half of all historical reference on ALL wars combined are about the Second World War.

In that history every kind of battle, air, land and sea, took place.
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9. Board Game: Blitzkrieg General [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:8280]
Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
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Blitzkrieg!

More specific than just the idea of mechanized warfare, "Blitzkrieg" embodies the idea of slashing panzer attacks slicing through sluggish lines of French, and later, Russian troops, with hulking Tiger and Panther tanks striking fear and chaos amongst the Allied troops. The story of Germany's practice of "Lightning Warfare" is an enduring one for wargamers of World War Two. Of course, the Germans didn't actually use the term "blitzkrieg", there weren't really that many Tigers, and by the end of the war, the Russians and the Americans were beating the Germans at their own game. Nonetheless, the imagery remains a potent draw to wargamers (including, unfortunately, that small sub-group of wargamers who tend to glorify the exploits and 'accomplishments' of the Nazi warmachine).
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10. Board Game: Iwo Jima: Valor of Arms, 19 Feb. – 25 March 1945 [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:7655]
Ronster Zero
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California
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Invasions

From small islands to full contents, armies used all kinds of ways to invade an enemy territory.

Gliders, Commandos, Airborne, Marines, and landing craft. You name it, it was used to get into an enemy occupied territory.
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11. Board Game: Patton Goes to War [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:10545]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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The Generals

WWII armies were commanded by fascinating men. Patton, Eisenhower, Zhukov, Yamamoto, Nimitz, MacArthur, Halsey, Montgomery, Rommel, Bradley. Larger than life men often with even larger egos. We love to put ourselves in their place and hope to discover the answer to questions such as "If he had done this instead what would have happened?"
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12. Board Game: World in Flames [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:987] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Agree with the posts above.

But WW2 makes the good basis for a game (especially grand strategic) because:

-- it was global in scope
-- the stakes were high
-- it was reasonably clear who the good and bad guys were (even among the defeated nations, there are few serious people today who believe Germany's and Japan's cause were worthwhile)
-- compelling personalities especially at the national level (note: "compelling" does not mean nice or admirable)
-- there was a dramatic story line. First the Axis powers were ascendant early on to the point that serious-minded people in Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States at the time feared defeat was a real possibility. Then midwar things stabilized, think Midway and Stalingrad. And finally, the Allies came roaring back to achieve a complete victory.
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13. Board Game: Sturm Europa! [Average Rating:8.22 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.22 Unranked]
 
Ted Torgerson
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Variety

Fighters over the channel, bombers over London and Berlin, tanks at Kursk, Marines in the jungle, Germans and Russians in Stalingrad, Battleships in the South Atlantic, Subs and destroyers across the Pacific, artillery barrages in the desert, night fighting. The variety is endless. Ancients, ACW and Napoleonics can't match that.
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14. Board Game: Karelia '44 [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:5034]
Larz Welo
United States
Katy
Texas
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You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel, but you can never strike God!
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Nationalist Appeal

Almost everyone, from Northern Europe to Southeast Asia...even including Brazil have a history of being involved in this conflict. China, India, Indonesia, Italy, USA, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, France, Serbia, Greece, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morrocco, Philipines, and countless others. We can all remember what our countrymen did those decades ago.
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15. Board Game: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:1738]
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Coquitlam
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Narratives

Already touched on in a couple of items above, but just wanted to emphasize: in so many of the battles in this all-encompassing war, there are so many great narratives. That is, the amazing things that happened as a battle/campaign unfolded. And great narratives make great games, no matter what style of game you prefer!
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Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
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With awesome series like this on WW2 I don't see me ever losing interest !
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17. Board Game: Combat Command [Average Rating:5.08 Overall Rank:14475]
Drew Heath
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Galesburg
Illinois
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Scale. WW2 is fascinating to game at ANY scale. From small unit actions, to company-, division-, front-, theater-, and global-scale - all offer something to the wargamer.

No other conflict is as flexible and satisfying in terms of variations in scale.
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18. Board Game: NATO, Nukes & Nazis [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:7037]
New Zealand
Dunedin
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As tired as I might get of WW2 games, it's hard to deny the attraction of the Nazi as Villain. With motives, and methods, so goofily evil they seem as if they've stepped out of a 1930s pulp comic book, the Nazis made the transition back into comics rather seamlessly after the war was over. 'Bwahaha! We shall invade Europe on every front we can open, using weapons both superscientific and outrageous while arbitrarily exterminating entire peoples according to the whims of our mad leader!' Themed orgies, jack boots, furniture made of human beings. It can make you chuckle, until you remember it was real; then it makes you weep.

Nazis: corny, campy, vile, with a catchy logo and great fashion sense. Even in a world in which education and self-awareness has robbed The Just War of much of its power, in which humanistic ideals have reinforced the bond between real people on both sides of the battle line, it's hard not to smile when you scrag a Nazi unit in a rousing game of (choose one of the above). And if you have to play them, well, they did have fun toys, and if you lose, you can feel better in knowing that justice has won the day yet again.
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19. Board Game: Operation Mercury [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:6071]
Mike Szarka
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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Paratroops

Elite troops dropping from the sky behind enemy lines. How much more dramatic can you get?
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20. Board Game: Dunkirk: The Battle of France [Average Rating:6.72 Unranked]
Shane Brewer
United States
Monticello
Utah
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Mass Evacuations and Partisan Participation

New to wargaming and WWII history but the story of Dunkirk where an entire army was saved only because any and every fishing boat and trawler came to the rescue. Add to that the local upheaval of partisans. Probably non unique to WWII but certainly an important part of the picture.
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