Wargame Lite: The Card Games
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I'm sure my gaming background is similar to many who frequent this site. I've been gaming since I was a kid (~30 years) and much of what I started out playing were Avalon Hill games of all kinds. A lot of those games were wargames. I guess I was never really a wargame fanatic, more alone the lines of they were the 'only game in town' so to speak.

While the wargames were certainly fun to play, they were also complex and had a steep learning curve. For these reasons it was also difficult to find opponents. But I still managed to play quite a bit and have fun in the process, at least until I lost a lot of my free time.

Then along comes these great German style strategy games (maybe you've heard of them!). All the strategy and fun you could ask for in an hour or two. Apparently, these games not only grabbed the attention of many gamers but also of most of the publishers of traditional wargames as well. As a result of the competition for our time and dollars we now have a variety of wargame lite style games. Games like Battle Cry, Hammer of the Scots, most of the Columbia Games line and A House Divided are just a few of these games designed to provide a wargame type experience in a fraction of the time (where were these games 25 years ago!?!?).

The card games that fall within the wargame-lite style have recently really intrigued me. They are non-threatening enough that you at least have a shot at getting a nongamer to play (try that with Squad Leader!) but their theme, and in a few cases their play, appeal to wargamers as well. Other potential players are boardgamers and people who enjoy CCGs. This mix of players makes this particular category unusual (although small) compared to wargames, boardgames or CCGs.

Let me add a little about this style of game for those that may have never played one. The large hex-filled boards of traditional wargames are gone and replaced by cards, in some cases, or missing entirely. The small units counters are replaced by cards which makes handling and identifying units a great deal easier! The card format lends itself to a tactical combat style of play but a number of these games also attempt at least some level of strategic play as well. Most of these games are fairly abstract wargames that gloss over a lot of the details, hence the wargame lite classification. Many of these games are similar to Battle Cry in complexity and detail although a number of them go a step or two beyond that on these scales. So, in general, you're not going to get a hard core wargame out of any of these but then again, I guess that really is the whole point to begin with!

Feel free to throw in your suggestions for other games that fall under this catagory. I would also love to hear your comments on any of these games since I have only seen about half of them.
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1. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:373]
Alan Kaiser
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1983 (Avalon Hill, MMP)
http://www.multimanpublishing.com/index1.php

This one is a classic and was way ahead of it's time. Probably the most wargame-like of anything on this list. Two expansions were released, Banzai and Desert War. MultiMan Publishing has been saying they are going to reprint this one for a while now. They have some card art up on their website but nothing has changed for quite some time. While the original was certainly not for the faint of heart (very poor rules) it really wasn't that complicated once you knew what you were doing. Let's hope MMP fixes the rules and keeps the overall play in the reprint!

MMP also has another card based WWII game coming out soon. Here is the blurb from their project update email:

Name - Company Commander: Normandy
System - stand-alone card game
Notes - a fast playing WWII card game with individual leaders, squads, tanks and guns. Terrain is on the battle map where the cards are played.
 
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2. Board Game: Naval War [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3536]
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1983 (Avalon Hill)
This one looks similar to Modern Naval Battles.
 
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3. Board Game: Enemy in Sight [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:3329]
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1988 (Avalon Hill)
Looks like Naval War or Modern Naval Battles but set in the Age of Sail.
 
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4. Board Game: Modern Naval Battles [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3666]
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1989 (3W, Relative Range)
http://www.relativerange.com/cwnb/

This one has morphed into a free desktop published version called Cold War Naval Battles. There is a basic set and 5 expansions. Very nice production but you have to cut a LOT of cards. Decent tactical naval battle game done all with cards. The base set is OK but you'll want to add an expansion or two to make it interesting. The campaign game adds a strategic element to the game. Playing with all the expansions makes this quite a meaty game with hundreds of ships at your disposal along with interesting rules for planes!
 
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5. Board Game: Attack Sub [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:3180]
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1991 (Avalon Hill)

Not many sub games around. This one looks as good as any other.
 
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6. Board Game: Rise of the Luftwaffe [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:2164] [Average Rating:7.08 Unranked]
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1993 (GMT Games)
http://www.gmtgames.com/

1st in the Down in Flames series. It deals with tactical WWII air combat but the campaign game adds a strategic element to play. The rules tend to be slightly more complex for this series than many of the games on this list. Most of the planes are from the early part of the war in Europe.
 
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7. Board Game: Dixie: Bull Run [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:4293]
Alan Kaiser
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1994 (Columbia Games)
http://www.columbiagames.com/

A Civil War CCG. Consists of the Bull Run, Shiloh and Gettysburg decks. Each deck is a different battle. Not sure if you can combine these in any way to get a campaign style game. You can buy the entire Bull Run and Shiloh decks but for some reason not the Gettysburg deck.
 
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8. Board Game: Guerilla [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:4173]
Alan Kaiser
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1994 (Avalon Hill)

Probably more of a complex multiplayer card game than what most would consider wargame lite. Seems similar to BANG! in concept but with a lot of added complexity and a Vietnam theme. Each player plays a role that is hidden from others and then you work towards the goal that corresponds to that role.
 
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9. Board Game: Eighth Air Force [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
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1995 (GMT Games)
http://www.gmtgames.com/

2nd in the Down in Flames series. This is the 'expansion' to Rise of the Luftwaffe that adds planes from the latter half of the was in Europe.
 
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10. Board Game: Eagles: Waterloo [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:4065]
 
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1995 (Columbia Games)
http://www.columbiagames.com/

Same series as Dixie but now we are dealing with Napoleon. Three different types of cards (bronze, silver and gold) that seem to have the same cards in them just that the gold are more rare than the bronze (and hense cost more). Not sure what Columbia was trying to do here!
 
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11. Board Game: The Last Crusade [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:6711]
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1995 (Chameleon Eclectic, Pinnacle)
http://www.peginc.com/OurGames/index.htm#

A WWII themed CCG of battle between the Americans and Germans on the Western front. Units are Platoon level and there are terrain cards as well. Seems like a decent game. There are a total of 300 different cards. An expansion that covers the Russian front has also been released.
 
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12. Board Game: Echelons of Fury [Average Rating:4.44 Overall Rank:14448]
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1995 (Medallion Simulations)
http://www.medallionsimulations.com/index.htm

Tactical WWII CCG. Cards represent units as well as terrain, weather etc. I believe this one covers the Western Europe battles between the Americans and the Germans. There is a 34 card expansion to bring Eastern front units into the mix. A stand alone (I think) related deck covers the Pacific battles between the US and Japan.
 
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13. Board Game: Echelons of Fire [Average Rating:4.38 Overall Rank:14707]
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1995 (Medallions Simulations)
http://www.medallionsimulations.com/index.htm

Modern tactical warfare between NATO and Soviet forces in Europe in the form of a CCG. A recent expansion called Freedom Fighter brings cards into the mix to allow you to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan!
 
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14. Board Game: Tank Commander: The Eastern Front Edition [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:12437]
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Name: Tank Commander
1996 (Moments in History, Critical Hit)
http://www.criticalhit.com/tc05.htm

WWII Eastern front tactical combat in the form of a CCG. 60 card decks for $7 with a total of 164 different cards. Most cards feature individual weapons and terrain.
 
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15. Board Game: NUTS! [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:8564]
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1998 (Decision Games)
http://www.decisiongames.com/wwii/nuts/nuts.htm

A WWII themed card game dealing with the Battle of the Bulge. The units are at the brigade, regiment and battalion level. Other cards represent terrain and events. One of the few on this list that is non-collectable and non-expandable. It has two sets of 150 cards.
 
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16. Board Game: Zero! [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2115] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
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2001 (GMT Games)
http://www.gmtgames.com/

3rd in the tactical air combat Down in Flames series. As you probably guessed from the title and cover picture, this one deals with the Pacific theater. The planes in this set are mostly from early in the war.
 
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17. Thing: N/A
Alan Kaiser
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Alan Kaiser
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2001 (DGA Games)
http://www.dgagames.com/

Western Europe Theater
An expandable WWII card game. This set features the British against the Germans. It has a good mix of land, sea and air units. Not surprisingly, the British land units are weak compared to the Germans but they have some good planes and ships including 4 carriers in the basic set (the Germans/Italians have none). Still the Brits have to watch out for the powerful German battleships and those pesky U-boats. Great tactical battle game with good strategic play as well. The rules are straight forward and the card quality is top notch!
 
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19. Board Game: Battlecards: World Conflict – Pacific Theatre – Starter Set [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:11732]
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2003 (DGA Games)
http://www.dgagames.com/

Pacific Theater
The 2nd in the battlecards series. As you would expect, most battles involve naval and air units. The structure of the battles is a little more complex than the 1st set making play a little more interesting. Ya gotta love all those carriers!
 
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20. Board Game: Battlecards: World Conflict – The Russian Front – Starter Set [Average Rating:5.34 Overall Rank:13020]
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2003 (DGA Games)
http://www.dgagames.com/

Russian Front
The 3rd in the Battlecards series. Lots of land based units, especially tanks! Little in the way of naval battles. The strategic element is enhanced by giving special bonuses to the winner of certain battles. The battle structure is also enhanced over the original version which adds to the strategic play.
 
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21. Board Game: Corsairs and Hellcats [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
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2003 (GMT Games)
http://www.gmtgames.com/

4th in the Down in Flames series. Adds planes from the latter part of the Pacific theater. Most of these are the better, more well known planes from this theater.
 
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22. Board Game: Battlelines: The Stalingrad Campaign [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:8576]
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2003 (Lost Battalion)
http://www.lostbattalion.com/

Looks like an interesting expandable WWII card game series. Each game uses 3 decks of cards, one German, one Soviet and an Operation deck. There are also optional decks that can be used to add more cards to the pool in a given battle. There are 3 campaigns in the works. The first is Stalingrad with Kursk and Bagration to follow. For the Stalingrad campaign there will be 5 seperate unit decks for both the Germans and the Soviets, each deck contains about 50 cards. Then there are 4 Operation decks and 2 different optional decks (one for each side it seems). That's 16 individual decks for one campaign! They sell sets of decks that contain a Soviet unit and a German unit with an Operation deck for $30. Individual unit decks run $11.
 
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23. Board Game: Blue vs. Gray [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:2861]
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2003 (QED Games, GMT Games)
http://www.gmtgames.com/

GMT is doing a reprint of this Civil War card game from a number of years back (1999) which should be out shortly (July 2003). The QED version was known for having poor rules but it looked like a decent game. GMT will have a mat for card layout and the rules will be completely rewritten. Looks nice.
 
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24. Thing: N/A
Alan Kaiser
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25. Thing: N/A
Alan Kaiser
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