Rotten Wargames
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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A short list of some of the worst wargames to have come my way over the years. Boring, interminable, inaccurate, broken, over-rated and/or essentially ridiculous, these games have it in spades.
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1. Board Game: Supremacy [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:13119]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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I own this game and many of the expansions, and I wish that I didn't. Beautifully produced (and costly), this game never worked and none of the various fixes worked either. The whole thing is simply a horrible mess, with the key economic driver totally broken. Given the expense, I think that this is the worst game (out of hundreds) that I have ever acquired. I am not sure that ordinary words are sufficient to say how much I hated this excresence.
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2. Board Game: France 1944: The Allied Crusade in Europe [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:7468]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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A potentially interesting game, but massively broken. The worst problem is the very peculiar CRT, which delivers perverse results, e.g. attacks at low odds are more effective than those at high odds. Until some fixes are produced, this game will remain unplayable.
 
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3. Board Game: Blackbeard [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2406]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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Somehow this game takes a potentially interesting subject and turns it into an incredibly boring game. The fiddly mechanisms (typical for Berg) and "amusing" event tables do not compensate for the excessively long length and the downtime between player turns, which can be up to an hour depending on the play of the cards.
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4. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:930]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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Oh my god, head for the hills. The decent components cannot save this from being a tedious and unplayable mess. A pity, as it always looked promising, but what a mess. Should never have been released in this state. Not a game so much as an early stage play-test kit.
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5. Board Game: After the Holocaust [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:7830]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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Horribly dull, lengthy game with hardly any player interaction. The rules are not so hot either.
 
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6. Board Game: For the People [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:712]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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A horrible game which rewards players who use strange, gamey tactics. The leader rules are especially weak and subject to manipulation, and the leader loss system is simply ridiculous. The attrition and replacement system is a great time-waster and should have been dropped or handled more simply. I really wanted to like this game, but I couldn't.
 
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7. Board Game: A Mighty Fortress [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:8154]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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I thought that this was an awful game on what could potentially be a fascinating period. Almost every historical aspect of the game is either wrong or deeply questionable, and it is long and boring even if you shut your mind to this and attempt to play it purely as a game.
 
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8. Board Game: Cobra [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:3688]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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Looked good at the time, especially for an SPI magazine game. Two problems: 1) there is no real answer to some very gamey tactics which the German player can use to guarantee a win; and 2) the designer has completely failed to understand the infantry-support role of the independent tank brigades in the Commonwealth armies, which means that the Commonwealth forces are both heavily under-rated and also forced to operate in an ahistorical way.
 
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9. Board Game: Conquistador [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:3113]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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An interminable game with silly, fiddly, pointless mechanisms. Major play balance problems. The combat rules, in particular, are ridiculous.
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10. Board Game: Monty's Gamble: Market Garden [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:2984]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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I have played this a few times, and have not been impressed, despite Breakout Normandy, which uses the same system, being a favourite game of mine. MGMG has fairly limited play options, badly drafted rules, lots of counter errors, and many of the unit ratings are ridiculous in historical terms. The designer has misunderstood the British OOB, and includes units in the game which were not there in reality, or which did not operate in the way he imagines that they did. (And what is the designer doing rating his own game 10 out of 10 here?)
 
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11. Board Game: War of the Ring [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:2366]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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This game was largely designed in an afternoon, and it shows, being a typically half-baked Berg effort from SPI. The military and character aspects do not mesh, with the former being almost irrelevant. Weird and wildly implausible combat systems, bits of chrome which do not gel, a vast map, little of which is ever used, flimsy cards. I can't see why anyone would now want to play this given all the far better alternatives.
 
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12. Board Game: Empires of the Middle Ages [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:2505]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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Nice concept, shame about the execution. It doesn't succeed in giving any real sense of the period and the income/expenditure mechanism simply doesn't work. I have never understood why this game has such a high reputation.
 
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13. Board Game: Armada [Average Rating:5.00 Overall Rank:14803]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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Just awful. A rotten game and rotten history. The original rules were possibly the worst ever published. A real shame, as you could do a wonderful game on this subject, but this one isn't it.
 
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14. Board Game: Tac Air [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:5561]
Michael @mgouker
United States
Pembroke Pines
Florida
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Wow, it's kind of sad to see some of these listed and some of the ones listed in the comments. I am suggesting this game because it had so much potential and I think it was such a poor execution. For those who do not know, it's a game that depicts the European theater of a potential Nato-Warsaw Pact conflict.

1. Combat losses are generally only taken on one side.
2. No retreats
3. Units (including helicopters) are pinned down until they recover or are destroyed.
4. Ground forces often seem like just targets - most of the complexitiy is deciding how many planes to fly now and how many to leave in reserve for when your opponent flies.

I could go on, but that's enough to make any play of it a dreadful execution of the scenario it is supposed to depict.


You guys are nuts for trouncing on Market Garden, For the People, and War and Peace (do you know a better "strategic" Napoleon era game that doesn't assume an outcome of Trafalgar?)

Oh well.
 
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15. Board Game: East Wind Rain [Average Rating:4.78 Overall Rank:13980]
Nicholas Barker
United Kingdom
London
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I was genuinely surprised to see even a few decent ratings for this game. It had some nice concepts but we found it quite unplayable, not least because the rules were half-finished, unworkable as written, and probably among the very worst that I have seen in any wargame. Which is saying something.
 
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