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Subject: Should I be concerned before jumping into Panzer Grenadier as a WW2 sim? rss

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Darth James
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I am, perhaps foolishly, looking for a single series to jump into to recreate some WW2 battles, with the ultimate goal of playing out the entire war.

One series I had considered was Panzer Grenadier, but just a cursory glance through the different fora raised a lot of red flags. Are these justified, and if so, can someone point me in a different direction?

I'll be honest, my initial choice was Memoir '44, and I'm leaning back in that direction again, despite the massive drop in historical accuracy.
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Bill Eldard
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Memoir '44 is certainly more abstract than Panzer Grenadier, and quicker to learn.

What level of simulation depth are you looking? For example, at the strategic level would you lean more toward Axis & Allies or World at War?

Another issue is 'playing out the entire war.' Frankly, that's impossible at the tactical level. But if you intend to sample the various campaigns around the globe, do you want Germans vs. Poles '39, Finns v. Russians '39'-'40, Germans v. Danes '40, Dutch v. Japanese '41, Americans v. Vichy French '42, etc.? Or to put it another way, what battles do you want to recreate?

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Roger Hobden
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Q : Should I be concerned ?

A : No.
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Roger Hobden
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1000 and 1 people will jump on this thread to convince that "their favourite system" is the best.

Don't listen to any of that.

Follow your own gut feeling.

Only you knows what system is best for you.

My only advice can be summed up in three words:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Try them all.


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Darth James
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Eldard wrote:
Memoir '44 is certainly more abstract than Panzer Grenadier, and quicker to learn.

What level of simulation depth are you looking? For example, at the strategic level would you lean more toward Axis & Allies or World at War?

Another issue is 'playing out the entire war.' Frankly, that's impossible at the tactical level. But if you intend to sample the various campaigns around the globe, do you want Germans vs. Poles '39, Finns v. Russians '39'-'40, Dutch v. Japanese '41, Americans cv. Vichy French '42, etc.? Or to put it another way, what battles do you want to recreate?



I'm realizing I didn't provide enough detail in the OP, but I also didn't want a wall of text. It should also be noted (if it's not readily apparent) that I haven't played a lot of games like this.

Axis and Allies would NOT fit my needs, and I neglected to mention that I'm not really keen on the PTO.

I guess the perfect game series would simulate smaller battles (Kasserine Pass, for example) as well as bigger ones (Stalingrad). Bonus but not required would be the ability to link them together into Operations (TORCH or Market Garden).
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If you want to learn anything at all about the war, stay far away from Memoir 44. You don't really recreate any battles with that game, it's just a game with some WWII-flavor thrown in. IMO, it's not much fun as a game, either (much too random for my taste).

BTW, you don't mean to play the entire war in one playthrough, do you? Because then you have to look for strategic-level games, not tactical-level games like these.
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Thomas Hammerschmidt
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:
Eldard wrote:
Memoir '44 is certainly more abstract than Panzer Grenadier, and quicker to learn.

What level of simulation depth are you looking? For example, at the strategic level would you lean more toward Axis & Allies or World at War?

Another issue is 'playing out the entire war.' Frankly, that's impossible at the tactical level. But if you intend to sample the various campaigns around the globe, do you want Germans vs. Poles '39, Finns v. Russians '39'-'40, Dutch v. Japanese '41, Americans cv. Vichy French '42, etc.? Or to put it another way, what battles do you want to recreate?



I'm realizing I didn't provide enough detail in the OP, but I also didn't want a wall of text. It should also be noted (if it's not readily apparent) that I haven't played a lot of games like this.

Axis and Allies would NOT fit my needs, and I neglected to mention that I'm not really keen on the PTO.

I guess the perfect game series would simulate smaller battles (Kasserine Pass, for example) as well as bigger ones (Stalingrad). Bonus but not required would be the ability to link them together into Operations (TORCH or Market Garden).


Panzer Grenadier is platoon based. I think you're asking a bit much of a system working at that level to do all of Market Garden. I don't play it myself, but I do believe recent titles in the series do tend to have scenarios set up to in a sequence to kind of tell the story of the operation, but I suspect that's not what you're looking for.
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Darth James
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cardboardcadet wrote:
EvilPandaPirate wrote:
[

I'm realizing I didn't provide enough detail in the OP, but I also didn't want a wall of text. It should also be noted (if it's not readily apparent) that I haven't played a lot of games like this.

Axis and Allies would NOT fit my needs, and I neglected to mention that I'm not really keen on the PTO.

I guess the perfect game series would simulate smaller battles (Kasserine Pass, for example) as well as bigger ones (Stalingrad). Bonus but not required would be the ability to link them together into Operations (TORCH or Market Garden).


If you want to play through battles like Kasserine Pass or Stalingrad, you can't use a tactical game like Memoir '44 or Panzer Grenadier. You want an operational game like Standard Combat Series, Operational Combat Series (this one is pretty complicated), or GMT's '4X games. Here is a quick way of understanding the three levels:

Tactical: Fighting over a river, town, small city, or other small geographical areas.
Operational: Fighting over a large city or large geographic areas
Strategic: Fighting an entire war or front.

Kasserine Pass invovled tens of thousands of troops. Panzer Grenadier counters are measured in platoons. Assuming 20 men to a platoon, you are looking at about 1,000 counters per side in units alone. I don't even want to imagine playing that.


This is extremely helpful, and highlights how I know just enough to get myself in trouble.

So I guess I'm looking for a WW2 Operational game series, which seems to rule out PG.
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:
I am, perhaps foolishly, looking for a single series to jump into to recreate some WW2 battles, with the ultimate goal of playing out the entire war.

I wished for something like that when I was new to wargaming (in the 1970s). I thought there ought to be one game system (series) that would be used over and over to re-create all the battles of a war--or at least all the campaigns or big battles. Unfortunately, no such thing was available. And I'm not sure anything much like it has ever become available.

The thing is, wargamers and wargame designers tend to go for a lot of detail rather than just "surveying" a whole war. And each individual design or series highlights a unique set of facets.

For the American Civil War, there's the GCACW series. It's pretty impressive (and expensive) and covers many of the major campaigns--but certainly not most or all. And that kind of series is rare. For the ancient period, there's GBOH and Ancient Battles Deluxe. But World War II?

I don't know of any suitable DYI kit for re-creating World War II battles or campaigns. Panzer Grenadier is too small-scale; you'd only ever get a taste of tactical warfare--part of a battle here or there. Memoir '44 is so stylized or abstract that it can't really simulate much; it's just for fun.

The only thing that comes to mind is a computer game: The Operational Art of War. It plays just like a board wargame, comes with many historical battles/campaigns, and can be edited or modded any way you like (fans have done so extensively). I'm only going on hearsay, though, as I've never played this game series myself.

Good luck finding what you're after! Let us know what you decide.
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Kent Reuber
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Panzer Grenadier has several strengths: there are lots of modules available in all theaters of the war, including some hypothetical ones and it is well-supported by the publisher and by fans (e.g., http://pg-hq.com).

The only problem that I can foresee is that Panzer Grenadier uses platoon-sized units and 15 minute game turns. So, a typical short PG scenario would be 12-16 turns, which represents about 3-4 hours of real time. To play an entire day of battle takes quite a while. And, typically, you'll only be playing only a part of a particular battle (unless it's a pretty small action). So, if you need to simulate an entire battle, you may need a system that's a step or two up from platoon scale, such as company, battalion, or even regiment sized units.

Edit: With operational games, you typically will throw in supply rules, since you're trying to maintain the fighting capability of your units over the period of several days.
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Peter Collins
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What red flags? If you don't say what they are, we can't know if they're justified.

In any case, I'll agree with those who ask why you need other people to tell you what game to buy.

Find a game that looks interesting to you. Buy it. Play it. Is it fun? Success. Not fun? Find another game.

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Darth James
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So looking at the SCS, it seems like it fits the bill for the most part -- low enough complexity that a new player can pick it up, high solitaire suitability, coverage of most of the major battles.

I suppose my problem now will be finding and acquiring them; I had hoped for a series where I only had to buy a half-dozen or so games, but that's probably unrealistic.

I'm also looking at stuff from VPG. I already have Battle for Moscow (though I admit I haven't played it). Most of their stuff in that vein seems like it's what you would call "strategic" level, though.
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Darth James
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PeteyWA wrote:
What red flags? If you don't say what they are, we can't know if they're justified.

In any case, I'll agree with those who ask why you need other people to tell you what game to buy.

Find a game that looks interesting to you. Buy it. Play it. Is it fun? Success. Not fun? Find another game.



Because I know very little about this genre, having only played a handful of games? Because BGG is a repository of knowledge and wisdom that will help me avoid buying a game that doesn't fit what I'm looking for?

Because ultimately wargames seem like they have a higher barrier for entry, both in terms of knowledge needed and money spent, than standard board games.

In the end, I will end up buying a game that looks interesting to me. This is a fantastic way to a) fill in some of the (considerable) gaps in my knowledge, and b) widen the pool of choices.
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Kent Reuber
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:
I'm also looking at stuff from VPG. I already have Battle for Moscow (though I admit I haven't played it). Most of their stuff in that vein seems like it's what you would call "strategic" level, though.


The VPG Paul Koenig D-Day games use company-sized units and 4.5 hour turns (10 hours at night). That seems to be about the right scale for a battle that extends over a few days.

Another series you might look into is the Blood and Steel series. This is a fairly simple set of rules that uses bigger units than typical tactical games.
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Mike Hoyt

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If I might, part of the problem is you said you want to game "battles". WWII Battles tended to be pretty big affairs, so as others have mentioned, most tactical games give you scenarios that cover a portion of the fighting in any given battle.

Which suggests to me that you might not want to give up on the tactical quite yet. Continuing to use PanzerGrenadier as an example, you wouldn't want to fight all of Kassarine or Kursk with that system. But you can fight representative actions from both of those battles with PG, and you will see the differences in the armies, equipment and even tactics. Since you only have to learn one set of rules, and you get a chance to play a LOT of possible scenarios from all over the war, you'll have plenty of opportunities to see how tanks evolved etc.

Two more points in PG's favor. The platoon scale is relativily rare (most tactical games go smaller, squads) so you get a good feel for the range of artillery etc, which is often lost as you zoom in (everything is point-blank) or zoom out (everything is same or adjacent hex). Lastly, PG does have one module that represents an entire battle, that is Panzer Grenadier: Cassino '44, Gateway to Rome and while it is a major effort, the feel of fighting the entire battle is incredible.

A simpler, and in my mind better, but very much tactical system is Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles. Now you're fighting over a small area, a village say, but the differences in armies, even differences across years, the differences in equipment, etc. are well reflected. Consider starting with Band of Brothers: Ghost Panzer as that has the most up to date rules

All that said, if you really want to fight "battles" you're probably going to have to pick your battles (hehehe) and pick the best of breed game for each. You'll play a bunch of great games, but you'll be learning a new system for practically every battle and it won't be easy to link them in any way.

Welcome aboard!
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Daniel Rouleau
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Normally, I would recommend Panzer Grenadier: Elsenborn Ridge to new players but not in this specific case.

Panzer Grenadier: Burning Tigers is the latest entry in the WW2 series and there I think it would work better for you.

The first 6 scenarios cover the action of Army Detachment Kempf during the first week of Operation Citaddel.

The next 3 scenarios cover the action of the 78th Storm division on the first three days of Operation Citadel.

The next 10 scenarios are titled Graveyard of Armor I through X and cover some actions from July 5th through the 7th.

And so on, with series of scenarios helping seeing the larger story.

The scenarios are medium to large size which means they can be played in roughly 3 to 12 hours once you know the system. The system works well both solitaire and face-to-face.

If you have not checked PG-HQ dot com, you should take a look at it to see how well the fans support the series. It's a good place to ask questions and also to find opponents if you want to play over Skype.
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Darth James
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Well now I'm rethinking what I even want, and trying to express it in wargamer terms.

Maybe strategic IS the way to go, though I still think Axis and Allies isn't going to fit the bill. I should clarify that I'm not wanting to "link" the games in any way (i.e. I'm not going to play a 6-year campaign where losses carry over, etc.), I just want to relive those fights.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm looking for a game system covering large portions of the ETO where I can feel like Ike, not some dogface sergeant.
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Roger Hobden
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:

Bonus but not required would be the ability to link them together into Operations (Market Garden).


In this case I would suggest It Never Snows.

Moderate-Low complexity (SCS) game.

Contains many sizes of scenarios : very small, small, medium, etc.
and you can also play the whole campaign, either with historical or non-historical airdrops.

Can very well be played solo, or with two or more players.

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Bill Eldard
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:
Well now I'm rethinking what I even want, and trying to express it in wargamer terms.

Maybe strategic IS the way to go, though I still think Axis and Allies isn't going to fit the bill. I should clarify that I'm not wanting to "link" the games in any way (i.e. I'm not going to play a 6-year campaign where losses carry over, etc.), I just want to relive those fights.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm looking for a game system covering large portions of the ETO where I can feel like Ike, not some dogface sergeant.


As a former dogface sergeant let me ask: If you are looking at strategic level, do you want units representing naval and air forces as well as ground units?
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Darth James
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Eldard wrote:
EvilPandaPirate wrote:
Well now I'm rethinking what I even want, and trying to express it in wargamer terms.

Maybe strategic IS the way to go, though I still think Axis and Allies isn't going to fit the bill. I should clarify that I'm not wanting to "link" the games in any way (i.e. I'm not going to play a 6-year campaign where losses carry over, etc.), I just want to relive those fights.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm looking for a game system covering large portions of the ETO where I can feel like Ike, not some dogface sergeant.


As a former dogface sergeant let me ask: If you are looking at strategic level, do you want units representing naval and air forces as well as ground units?


Not necessarily, but their presence wouldn't put me off.

I recently ordered Hold the Line as a game that covers several battles of the American Revolutionary War, but haven't got to play it yet. It occurs to me that I'm probably at some level looking for a game like this for different portions of WW2.

Also, no offense was intended toward sergeants, dogface or otherwise.
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:
Also, no offense was intended toward sergeants, dogface or otherwise.


None taken, Jeffrey. Other soldiers called us grunts; we referred to ourselves as line-doggies, and we were proud of both labels.
 
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Mike Windsor
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"Should I be concerned before jumping into Panzer Grenadier as a WW2 sim?"

Only if you pick up Panzer Grenadier: Korean War – Pusan Perimeter or Panzer Grenadier: Korean War – Counter Attack by mistake.
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Roger Hobden
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A few examples of games that are well regarded in the area of ETO.

Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe

A World at War

Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg!

EuroFront II

Liberty Roads

Total War

World in Flames Deluxe Edition

Hitler's War

 
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Dave Cruces
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For an inexpensive start try this

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/70311/second-world-war

It is a print and play game. It is $10 BUT has a Vassal Mod that let's you play it without all that printing. 65 page Rule book with both ETO and PTO.
 
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:
Well now I'm rethinking what I even want, and trying to express it in wargamer terms.

Maybe strategic IS the way to go, though I still think Axis and Allies isn't going to fit the bill. I should clarify that I'm not wanting to "link" the games in any way (i.e. I'm not going to play a 6-year campaign where losses carry over, etc.), I just want to relive those fights.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm looking for a game system covering large portions of the ETO where I can feel like Ike, not some dogface sergeant.


If you are looking for strategic coverage of Europe, thenUnconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe fits your criteria pretty well. It's in print. It's easy to play for a newbie. It solo' swell and it covers the entire war. I just played the full campaign solo and can't speak highly enough about it. And everybody that I've heard talk about seems to think very highly of it as well.
 
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