Northern Front: Games about warfare in the Nordic states
Karl Mueller
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Scandinavian and Finnish military history have held a fascination for me since before I started playing wargames. The Nordic theater is less well represented in wargames than one might expect in light of the whole plucky-defense-against-impossible-odds leitmotif. With a few marginal exceptions, this list is limited to games set in the 20th century, in which the Nordic states are either the center of attention or are notably prominent in a supporting role, starting with the few that aren't about World War II. Please let me know if I've missed any.
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1. Board Game: Arctic Front [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:3218]
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Though there have been plenty of games about World War III in Europe, most never included anything north of the Baltic. GDW's Third World War was an exception, with this module being the only theater-level game dedicated to the potential land war on the Northern Flank.
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2. Board Game: 2nd Fleet [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:2082]
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The second of VG's Fleet series covers the naval and air war for the Barents Sea and the GIUK gap, something the USN spent a lot of time preparing for in the 1980s.
 
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3. Board Game: Nordkapp [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:6238]
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Chuck Kamps's game from S&T 94 is hard to resist, with a weird and wonderful order of battle covering the diverse, specialized forces that were dedicated to the defense (or conquest) of northern Norway if the balloon went up.
 
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4. Board Game: Winter War [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:4182]
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The first wargme to appear on the Winter War, back in S&T 33.
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5. Board Game: Arctic Storm: The Russo-Finnish Winter War 1939-40 [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:6052]
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GMT's entry into the Winter War genre. OOP but very slowly crawling its way up the reprint P500 list. If it ever reaches the top some updated counter art wouldn't be a bad idea.
 
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6. Board Game: A Winter War [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:5385]
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Europa's treatment of the Winter War. Creates more of a feeling that the Finns were the outnumbered underdogs than does Arctic Storm. A second edition reprint has been promised for years.
 
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7. Board Game: Molotov's War [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:9968]
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One more game of the whole Winter War, from S&T 172. Seems to be seriously flawed.
 
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8. Board Game: Narvik [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:4913]
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Portraying the 1940 invasion of Norway, this is said to be the second most popular Europa title (after Western Desert, I think). After three editions, its place in the roster has now been taken by Storm Over Scandinavia.
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9. Board Game: Storm Over Scandinavia [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:7311]
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Narvik updated, with the addition of scenrios for the very quick invasion of Denmark in April 1940 and for the invasion of Sweden that the Germans later contemplated several times. Can be linked with AWW if you want to play out the possibility of a war in the North pitting Finland, Norway and the Western allies against Germany and the USSR--which Churchill thought sounded like a fine idea.
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10. Board Game: Invasion: Norway [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:6510]
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GMT's combined arms Weseruebung game. Very attractive, but marred by a map riddled with important terrain errors.
 
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11. Board Game: Norway 1940 [Average Rating:6.57 Unranked]
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From Quarterdeck, a double-blind game that covered only the naval phase of the German attack--a far more hairy operation than is generally remembered.
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12. Board Game: Strike North [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:11801]
 
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A composite game from Command #39, covering the 1940 invasion of Norway and a hypothetical German attack on Sweden later in the war with non-identical systems (the same issue also contained an ACW alternate history game as well).
 
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13. Board Game: Forgotten Axis: Murmansk 1941 [Average Rating:4.86 Overall Rank:13731]
Karl Mueller
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From S&T 194, a marginal entry for this list as it's about the German attack from northern Finland against Murmansk rather than operations involving by the Finns. The same system was employed in the sequel below, neither time to positive reviews.
 
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14. Board Game: Forgotten Axis: The Finnish Campaign [Average Rating:5.05 Overall Rank:13483]
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From S&T 199. Reputedly about as much fun as actually being sent to the Russian Front.
 
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15. Board Game: Blood on the Snow: The Battle of Suomussalmi [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:10991]
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The first of Avalanche's two games covering battles from the Winter War. Renowned for having one of the least attractive wargame maps ever.
 
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16. Board Game: Winter Fury: The Battle of Tolvajärvi 1939 [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:11686]
Karl Mueller
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Sequel to Blood on the Snow.
 
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17. Board Game: A Frozen Hell [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:7266]
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"Limited edition" release in The Gamers Tactical Combat System, covering the Battle of Tolvajarvi (the same topic as Winter Fury) at the platoon level. At the time of writing, on sale for $25 in MMP's closeout sale.
 
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18. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: Arctic Front [Average Rating:6.70 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.70 Unranked]
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Also at the platoon level, but generic rather than specific, Panzer Grenadier's module covering the Finnish army.
 
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19. Board Game: Crescendo of Doom [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
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The Finns arrived in the Squad Leader system in Crescendo of Doom, which makes it on to this list as a game in which the Nordic element is proportionally large even if secondary. The Finnish leader ratings followed (and still do in ASL) a goofy sequence, but happily the Finns had their own counter color. Also introduced Allied minor power units to represent the Norwegians and other early victims of the Blitzkrieg.
 
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20. Board Game: Beyond Valor: ASL Module 1 [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
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For ASL, the Finnish army shows up in BV, now depressingly German-colored (presumably with no expectation of a future containing Lapland War scenarios about the Finnish effort to expel the Wehrmacht from their country in 1944-45). Other slightly Nordic ASL modules include Norwegains and Danes in The Last Hurrah and Doomed Battalions (plus the partisans in Partisan). Critical Hit also did a Finnish module under the title "Jatkosota" ("Continuation War"), for which I don't see a BGG entry. There are rumors that the future will hold a new Finnish core module for ASL "sometime after Armies of Oblivion", which I guess means my grandchildren might get to play it long after I'm dead.
 
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21. Board Game: Great War at Sea 2: The North & Baltic Seas [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:6026]
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Not only is Sweden on the map, the 1914 Swedish navy is here, to face off against the Russians in hypothetical scenarios based on the possibility that the latter might have jumped to the conclusion that the Swedes would side with Germany and started hostilities with them.
 
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22. Board Game: Asia Aflame [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked]
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One of the main selling points of this ill-conceived expansion to World in Flames (an arguably redundant phrase, I realize) was the inclusion of a map of northern Scandinavia, Finland and the Kola peninsula (at the Pacific board scale) to replace the off-map boxes on the WiF map. As in the case of Africa, the Final Edition sensibly reverted to boxes for these areas.
 
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23. Board Game: Sweden Fights On [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:2837]
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It seems only fair to toss in at least one game in which the Nordic states aren't playing the role of victim of greater powers, in this case the second volume of Ben Hull's excellent Musket and Pike Battle Series. Vol. IV is slated to be Sweden-centric, too, focusing on the battles of Gustavus Adolphus (and consigning Lion of the North (from GBOH) to the backs of game cupboards once and for all). Perhaps the Danes will also see action before the series concludes.
 
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24. Board Game: Lion of the North [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:6908]
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GBOH takes a crack at the Thirty Years War, with Gustavus Adolphus in the leading role. With only two scenarios--Breitenfeld and Lutzen--perhaps the least popular installment of the series.
 
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25. Board Game: Assault on Narvik [Average Rating:6.19 Unranked]
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Published alongside "War in the Aegean" in Against the Odds #14, this small game covering the 1940 battle for Narvik was designed by Andrew Mulholland when he was a student in Phil Sabin's wargames design course in the War Studies program at King's. The maroon-and-aqua map generated much controversy prior to publication, but in compensation the graphics treatment features counters that are laudably un-ATO-like in their legibility.
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