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Subject: Operational game favorites and recommendations rss

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Steven Myers

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I am wondering what everyone's thoughts are to their favorite operational level games and perhaps find a few that have I may want to try and pick up.


Some of my favorites are:

France '40
Next War: Korea
Next War: Taiwan
The Dark Valley
Red Winter: The Soviet Attack at Tolvajärvi, Finland – 8-12 December 1939 (Or is that more tactical?)
The Civil War (Or is this one more strategic?)
Bitter Woods: Designer Edition
A Victory Denied
The Western Front: 1914 to 1918


What about everyone else?
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Fred Thomas
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Ukraine '43
Decision in France
Operation Mercury
Lost Victory: Manstein At Kharkov, Winter 1943
Victory in the West
The Korean War
Gulf Strike
Avalanche: The Invasion of Italy
The Third World War
Italia
Russia Besieged
Stalingrad Pocket II
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Jim McNaughton
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Liberty Roads
The Third World War and the others in the series
FAB: Sicily
FAB: The Bulge
Next War: Korea and Next War: Taiwan
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J Bays

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I very much liked Reluctant Enemies, the recent one-map OCS game from MMP. OCS is not actually very complex in terms of rules, although there's a lot of depth in terms of how to get the most out of your units. Anyhow, great game, in my opinion - finely balanced and very playable in a just a few sessions.

I also enjoyed Ardennes '44 - similar to France '40.

And I haven't played any of the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War series, such as Stonewall Jackson's Way II, but I know many people like them.

J

PS: As you say, I would count The Civil War as strategic and Red Winter: The Soviet Attack at Tolvajärvi, Finland – 8-12 December 1939 as tactical.
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Tony Doran
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East Front Series (GMT)
The Next War (SPI)
Desert Fox (SPI)
Rommel's War (L2)
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Øivind Karlsrud
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I haven't tried them yet, but maybe it would be worthwhile to try an area-impulse game like Breakout: Normandy or Monty's Gamble: Market Garden.
 
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Walt MacEachern
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Check out L2's website for the warehouse sale and grab Breakout: Normandy while you can!
 
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Marcus
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waltermac wrote:
Check out L2's website for the warehouse sale and grab Breakout: Normandy while you can!


Definitely.

Playing Breakout: Normandy this upcoming weekend after a long hiatus. L2 is still shipping out games I believe and the warehouse sale will probably continue until all stock is gone.
 
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M St
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WW1:
Der Weltkrieg Series (yes, you can play the campaign, but at heart the individual games are all operational)

WW2:
Triumphant Fox
Tunisia 43
Winter Storm
Edelweiss
The Last Victory
48th Panzer Korps
Ruweisat Ridge: The First Battle of El Alamein
Budapest '45
Bloody Buna
The Legend Begins

Modern:
Air & Armor

I'll also add the ones below, but have to include a disclaimer. These games all have low ratings on BGG and deservedly so, because they are famous for their failed development process, leading to multiple rule versions, errata, counter errata, and a rule structure that makes them really tough to learn. Once learned though, I found an experience of running an army or a corps in a WW2 environment so supple, rich and interactive that I have not seen it equalled in any other system.
Tide of Fortune
To The Far Shore
The Italian Campaign: Sicily
The Italian Campaign: Salerno
The Italian Campaign: Anzio
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Mike Oberly
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Markus, good list, many of which I'd like to try, but most of which are annoyingly oop or expensive (I do have The Legend Begins), but just curious, have you ever played Borries' Barbarossa series? I really like them, though they are confined to the eastern front. (Borries has used some elements from these games in his other operational games)
 
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Henrythesecond
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MikeOberly wrote:
Markus, good list, many of which I'd like to try, but most of which are annoyingly oop or expensive (I do have The Legend Begins), but just curious, have you ever played Borries' Barbarossa series? I really like them, though they are confined to the eastern front. (Borries has used some elements from these games in his other operational games)


I have an interest in the series, though have only played Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov.

I believe it provides an excellent balance between historical detail and flexibility. For me it is important that a player is constrained by historic 'possibilities', but still has room to be creative, rather than simply re-running historical events. That said, I do sometimes find that the effort/fun balance in the East Front Series is not always as I would like it.

Borries' Roads to Leningrad series uses a very similar system, yet I believe is more accessible. The games are slightly more focussed on specific operational-level battles, however.

Regards.
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Paul Spak
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elsieve wrote:
... I haven't played any of the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War series, such as Stonewall Jackson's Way II, but I know many people like them.


+1 for this. Operational ACW, about as good as it gets.
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Andrew N
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Great Campaigns of the American Civil War
Campaigns of Napoleon System: 1x Series
Campaigns of Napoleon System: 2x Series
Campaigns of Napoleon System: Days Series
Washington's Crossing

Can you tell gunpowder-era operational wargames are my favorite?
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Jim Daniels
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anything OCS
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Peter Collins
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Sorry, but this looks like a good place to ask for one more clarification on the differences among operational and strategic and grand tactical.

Thanks. blush

Edit: On topic, I'm still studying the rules for The Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee's Campaigns, 1861-1863 which I would guess is operational scale. That's why I ask for the clarification. Pacific War would be another.
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Rex Stites
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PeteyWA wrote:
Sorry, but this looks like a good place to ask for one more clarification on the differences among operational and strategic and grand tactical.

Thanks. blush

Edit: On topic, I'm still studying the rules for The Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee's Campaigns, 1861-1863 which I would guess is operational scale. That's why I ask for the clarification. Pacific War would be another.


Very generally, and broadly, I would say that Strategic would cover the entire duration of a war; Operational would cover one campaign season--e.g. a year of the war and focus on one theater, or one commander's army; and grand tactical would cover one battle of the campaign--e.g. a few weeks.

So using the American Civil War as an example, a strategic game would allow you to control all the various armies and do so for the duration of the war--e.g. The Civil War. An operational game would allow you control of one army, and only for a portion of the war--e.g. Great Campaigns of the American Civil War. And finally, a grand tactical game would allow you to control all the forces that took part in a single battle, like Gettysburg, e.g. Terrible Swift Sword.

Edit: And a tactical game might focus on a portion of one day of a battle like Gettysburg--e.g.Devil's Den.
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Peter Collins
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Got it.

For now.
 
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Sam Carroll
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I use "operational" a little more broadly. According to the title, it ought to portray "an operation." Operation Wacht Am Rhein? Sure! Operation Barbarossa? Likewise. I feel like strategic-level games should have rules for production of new units; tactical should have line-of-sight rules; and operational should be in between those two levels.

I think "grand tactical" is a specialized term, meaning that a game covers a single battle in more than usual detail - usually qualifying as a monster. The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen is a archetypal grand tactical game.

Oh, and I choose the Fast Action Battles Series (FAB). Go preorder FAB: Golan '73 today!
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Mike Stoddart
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oivind22 wrote:
I haven't tried them yet, but maybe it would be worthwhile to try an area-impulse game like Breakout: Normandy or Monty's Gamble: Market Garden.


Is the Avalon Hill version of Breakout: Normandy worth picking up?
 
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stodge wrote:
oivind22 wrote:
I haven't tried them yet, but maybe it would be worthwhile to try an area-impulse game like Breakout: Normandy or Monty's Gamble: Market Garden.


Is the Avalon Hill version of Breakout: Normandy worth picking up?


Whichever one is cheaper. AH has mounted boards. L3 has better counters. I got my in shrink/unpunched AH copy a couple of years ago for $22. Cha-Ching! No regrets.
 
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John New
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rstites25 wrote:
PeteyWA wrote:
Sorry, but this looks like a good place to ask for one more clarification on the differences among operational and strategic and grand tactical.

Thanks. blush

Edit: On topic, I'm still studying the rules for The Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee's Campaigns, 1861-1863 which I would guess is operational scale. That's why I ask for the clarification. Pacific War would be another.


Very generally, and broadly, I would say that Strategic would cover the entire duration of a war; Operational would cover one campaign season--e.g. a year of the war and focus on one theater, or one commander's army; and grand tactical would cover one battle of the campaign--e.g. a few weeks.

So using the American Civil War as an example, a strategic game would allow you to control all the various armies and do so for the duration of the war--e.g. The Civil War. An operational game would allow you control of one army, and only for a portion of the war--e.g. Great Campaigns of the American Civil War. And finally, a grand tactical game would allow you to control all the forces that took part in a single battle, like Gettysburg, e.g. Terrible Swift Sword.

Edit: And a tactical game might focus on a portion of one day of a battle like Gettysburg--e.g.Devil's Den.


Or perhaps, in another historical context, for the Napoleonic Wars, I suggest:

Strategic: Empires in Arms. Operates at highest level over the course of a war and requires achieving war goals.

Operational: Any of Kevin Zucker's Campaigns of Napoleon System games, e.g., The Habit of Victory. Emphasizes administration, supply, maneuveur at a large scale (i.e., over the course of a campaign) friction, and simplifies actual battles

Grand Tactical: Any of Kevin Zucker's Library of Napoleonic Battles games: e.g., The Last Success: Napoleon's March to Vienna, 1809 (battlefield maneuvering at a large scale, with individual unit activities (formation, facing, etc.) abstracted.

and Tactical: Ney vs. Wellington Focus on operation of lower level (battalion/company/etc.) with emphasis on unit activity (formation, facing, deployment of skirmishers, etc).

The latter may be somewhere between Grand Tactical and Tactical, but I draw a very wobbly border and place it in tactical because it emphasizes unit formation, facing, and ammunition supply at the battalion level, whereas Grand Tactical abstracts these for larger units, but still emphasizes movement of units on the battlefield.

Of course, YMMV
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Johnny Wilson
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I think you're right. Red Winter would be more tactical. At least, that was my experience with it.

Would Grand Illusion be operational? I really like the flow of that game.

Now, Totaler Krieg, THAT would be strategic.
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Andrew N
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drjohnny wrote:
I think you're right. Red Winter would be more tactical. At least, that was my experience with it.

Would Grand Illusion be operational? I really like the flow of that game.

Now, Totaler Krieg, THAT would be strategic.


Correct.

Another way to look at the different scales is the things that they tend to simulate.

Tactical games tend to concentrate on differences in opposing weapons systems and battlefield tactics/command structure.

Operational games tend to concentrate on things like march routes, supply, and intelligence (in games where there is hidden info).

Strategic games tend to focus on politics, economics, and strategic war aims (like capturing capitals, etc.).
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Mike Stoddart
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wernervoss wrote:
drjohnny wrote:
I think you're right. Red Winter would be more tactical. At least, that was my experience with it.

Would Grand Illusion be operational? I really like the flow of that game.

Now, Totaler Krieg, THAT would be strategic.


Correct.

Another way to look at the different scales is the things that they tend to simulate.

Tactical games tend to concentrate on differences in opposing weapons systems and battlefield tactics/command structure.

Operational games tend to concentrate on things like march routes, supply, and intelligence (in games where there is hidden info).

Strategic games tend to focus on politics, economics, and strategic war aims (like capturing capitals, etc.).


Thank you! This explanation is very helpful.
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Mike Stoddart
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Any comments on Der Weltkrieg series? I see you can get a boxed set of Western Front and the Schlieffen Plan.
 
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