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Subject: I play lots of heavy euro and economic style games; is there a wargame for me? rss

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John Wellman
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I posted this over under general recommendations, but got some advice to re-post under this subgroup. Bear with me: I've read many "beginner" wargame threads, but haven't found what I'm looking for...so here we go:

I've historically avoided war games due to rules complexity. I like long heavy games with lots of depth and planning, but I don't love rule checks and I don't have a great memory for line of sight, movement restrictions etc.

I really enjoy heavier euro games like Through the Ages, FCM, and even some 18XX (though these aren't gripping my wife, and to be honest, they probably won't ever become my favourite games).

I like how streamlined these games are once you know the rules: you can just play. No more checking the book and wracking your brain to remember exceptions.

Lately we've been rediscovering the magic of Twilight Struggle. The theme and the mechanics and the planning and the tension. This has me wondering if something down the war game "rabbit hole" might be a good fit.

Games that haven't worked for me yet:
Duel of Ages - too many rules; I bounced off this one.
SW:IA/Descent 2nd ed - didn't have sufficient depth - felt more tactical and I felt there was a lot of rules
Combat Commander: Europe - I've bounced off the rules twice now, but I still own this and want to get it played. I'm not sure I'll ever love moving around chits, but I do want to give it a fair chance.

Games I've been considering (yes, I'm aware not all are traditional war-games):
Polis
Cuba Libre
Mage Knight (the rules intricacies have scared me off till now)
Dominant Species
Churchill
Maria

Have a look at my ratings and let me know if there might be something out there I would enjoy as much as my two favourites: FCM and TTA. Preferably in print or due for a reprint.

Also, any advice on how to get into the tactical style games would be appreciated. I really want to get some value out of CC:E. It just seems like a lot of rules to take in without context (I find context helps me with the memory issues).
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Brandon
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Perhaps try a Bowen Simmons game: Bonaparte at Marengo, Napoleon's Triumph or The Guns of Gettysburg. Only GoG is likely to be readily available and NT is almost certainly going to cost more than you'll want to spend, but if you can find a way to try it...

Anyway, the rules are fairly short and a lot of the typical procedural complexity of wargames is abstracted away (note: I've only tried GoG, but I think they're similar enough on a broad scale to make such statements about all three of them), so you won't have to worry about constant rule lookups for a bunch of procedures. With that said, these games are really complex in a different way and it will still take some time/plays to fully wrap your head around the rules. The rulebooks are also written in an "unforgiving" way, with no repetition that might help to reinforce learning the rules; on the other hand, there's almost no errata for them, so you know they're solid.

They're undoubtably wargames, but they're definitely non-traditional. If you don't have much of a traditional hex-and-counter background, you probably won't get weighed down by the unfamiliarity it presents to many players. On the other hand, they offer an amazingly deep and satisfying gaming experience once you "get it".

You might also check out some Columbia Games block game. I don't have much experience with them but they might interest you. Other CDGs like Twilight Struggle might interest you, but be careful because some of them get pretty heavy (For the People is an amazing competitive game, but I think its rules complexity is far beyond what you're looking for). Lastly, the GMT COIN Series may be a good fit, but be aware that even though they're replete with wooden components, they are nothing like Euro games and cannot be played like them (though I guess some would say the same thing about their relationship with wargames )

Of the ones that you list, I can support Polis as an amazing game. Same with Dominant Species, but it's in no way a wargame (just published by GMT, so guilt by association).

Regarding getting into tactical games. The main problem is procedural complexity, as I referred to it above. In a lot of these games there are a lot of different procedures to do and they often consist of many steps. I can't speak for everyone but I assume that no one memorizes all the procedures before playing a game. You will play a game at least a few times before you start to internalize it. For me, I only have two wargame systems that I could play right now without (many) rule look-ups, both I've been playing for 1.5-2 years, clocking in ~10 games for one and ~20 for the other. I benefit from playing them solo: if I screw up a rule, I figure out the best way to deal with it (just carry on despite it, undo it, or start over entirely). I guess with CC:E you probably can't play solo easily, so your best bet is to find a gaming partner who's relaxed and flexible enough to be cool about rule mix-ups for the first many plays.

Anyway, the point is, don't be afraid to make mistakes when playing a wargame for the first time (or the first five times). I'm sure that almost everyone here does. And eventually, the more games/systems you try, the more some fundamental things will become familiar and old-hat, so you can just focus on learning the specifics of each individual game.
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Rex Stites
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Polis would probably be a good option. After a couple of games, you shouldn't need to be checking the rulebook often. In many ways, it's more economic than military.

If you like/know TS, then Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? would be worth a look. Similar style of games. Labyrinth is a bit more complex, but the necessary rules are all condensed down to a very good player aid that comes with the game.

Washington's War is another game with a light rulebook. There are some good player aids that you can download that covers all the actions. There are a handful of tricky cases when it comes to handling certain fortified spaces, but in practice they rarely come up.

I would also suggest looking into the GMT COIN Series. I'd suggest starting with Andean Abyss or Cuba Libre. They both do a good job of introducing you to the core concepts of the game that then translate to other games in the series. CL is a smaller/shorter game. A lot of people like it, I personally prefer AA. Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar is also on the low end of the COIN rule-complexity scale, but I don't think it necessarily translates as well to helping you learn/understand other games in the series because it has some unique concepts. It has the advantage that it should still be in print (at least, last I checked.)

Churchill is a fantastic game, but it has a lot of niggling details that might frustrate you if you were having to constantly check the rulebook. My experience has been that I have to refer to the rulebook itself for it more than I do other games (other games have play aids that take care of any easily-forgotten/missed rules).

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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blu_in_green wrote:
I really want to get some value out of CC:E. It just seems like a lot of rules to take in without context (I find context helps me with the memory issues).

Read a book or watch a movie that features men in combat - there's your context.

[edit] Thinking further, I'd like to point out is that Combat Commander is a tactical game. Wargames can be broadly categorized as tactical, operational and strategic.

The long term planning and economic considerations you seem to favor in Through the Ages, Twilight Struggle and 18xx are at the strategic end of the scale; when you're playing games like TS and TTA that cover the entire globe over a period of many years it's grand strategy. Barring basic considerations like running out of ammo, you're in an entirely different realm when you play a tactical game. One of Napoleon's maxim's sums it up: "No battle plan ever survived first contact with the enemy".
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David Janik-Jones
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Brandon has hit the nail on the head recommending Rachel (nee Bowen) Simmons games. They are masterpieces. But given everything you said in your post, you mentioned one game I think would be an excellent fit ... the brilliant Maria. It's a longish (3-5 hours) tangled gorgeous deep game polished to the n-th degree. Fabulous. Combines politics, religion, and military into just a superb package. Recommended.
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Jeff Kuhn
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Imperial is what you are looking for.

OK, that was a joke. Polis is going to be your best bet, would be my guess. The economic engine is tied very closely with the military campaign. Plus, the rules aren't too bad. This is going to feel very familiar to you. I would also concur about Maria, or the closely related Friedrich.

Love them as I do, I actually do not think Simmons Games titles would necessarily be a good fit. That goes for Churchill, as well. They are actually very different from anything you have likely ever seen. Might be good to get a bit of experience before you embark on those, but that is probably where you are headed.

I'd also recommend something like 2 de Mayo, Virgin Queen if you are up for multiplayer, or Wallace's Gettysburg.

EDIT: honorable mention for 1714: The Case of the Catalans, if you end up with multiplayer.
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David Janik-Jones
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Xookliba wrote:
EDIT: honorable mention for 1714: The Case of the Catalans, if you end up with multiplayer.

Forgot about that one. Yup, good idea.
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Brandon
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Also Wir sind das Volk! for CDG-style mechanisms and historical (albeit non-war) setting.
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Xookliba wrote:


I'd also recommend something like 2 de Mayo, Virgin Queen if you are up for multiplayer, or Wallace's Gettysburg.



Here I Stand is a much better option than Virgin Queen as an introduction. There is a lot of chrome in VQ that make it significantly more complex.

But the OP is looking for games that you can just put the rulebook aside and play. Neither HIS or VQ is really that. They are very complex and highly procedural games as compared to any economic game.


Watch Quinns from SU&SD's mind be blown by trying to play VQ.

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John Wellman
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Thank you all for the input and guidance. Lots of these look great; they have me very excited for something a bit different than what I'm used to!
 
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Maybe take a look at the later "Storm over" series https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/21701/storm-ov...

These play quick and have few rules exceptions. The production is a little bland when compared to the astonishing leaps in component quality in Euros. Also, it's an area-impulse system, and here is where a little insider baseball is helpful. Watch this even if you aren't interested in this particular game because he does a section on wargame history that I wish I had seen when I returned to the hobby:



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jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
Also Wir sind das Volk! for CDG-style mechanisms and historical (albeit non-war) setting.


This game is incredible. Also definitely look at 1714: The Case of the Catalans.
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Chris Gillmeister
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blu_in_green wrote:
I posted this over under general recommendations, but got some advice to re-post under this subgroup. Bear with me: I've read many "beginner" wargame threads, but haven't found what I'm looking for...so here we go:

I've historically avoided war games due to rules complexity. I like long heavy games with lots of depth and planning, but I don't love rule checks and I don't have a great memory for line of sight, movement restrictions etc.

I really enjoy heavier euro games like Through the Ages, FCM, and even some 18XX (though these aren't gripping my wife, and to be honest, they probably won't ever become my favourite games).

I like how streamlined these games are once you know the rules: you can just play. No more checking the book and wracking your brain to remember exceptions.

Lately we've been rediscovering the magic of Twilight Struggle. The theme and the mechanics and the planning and the tension. This has me wondering if something down the war game "rabbit hole" might be a good fit.

Games that haven't worked for me yet:
Duel of Ages - too many rules; I bounced off this one.
SW:IA/Descent 2nd ed - didn't have sufficient depth - felt more tactical and I felt there was a lot of rules
Combat Commander: Europe - I've bounced off the rules twice now, but I still own this and want to get it played. I'm not sure I'll ever love moving around chits, but I do want to give it a fair chance.

Games I've been considering (yes, I'm aware not all are traditional war-games):
Polis
Cuba Libre
Mage Knight (the rules intricacies have scared me off till now)
Dominant Species
Churchill
Maria

Have a look at my ratings and let me know if there might be something out there I would enjoy as much as my two favourites: FCM and TTA. Preferably in print or due for a reprint.

Also, any advice on how to get into the tactical style games would be appreciated. I really want to get some value out of CC:E. It just seems like a lot of rules to take in without context (I find context helps me with the memory issues).


Hopefully you have more suggestions now than in your other thread

I agree with most except I would be cautious of Bowen Simmons games. Napeolon's triumph is my favorite game, but I was constantly looking at the attack procedure during every battle. I would say it takes 5 games of constant rulebook checking to feel comfortable. This goes against your point of disliking this. Same with Guns of Gettysburg as the artillery rules can be fiddly. Amazing games but can be very procedural.

No matter what game you are going to get rules wrong on first few play through, don't sweat it. Just play the best you can and incorporate the rules you missed next time!
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You mentioned context. For me, it is important to understand that wargames tend to be about their subject, the designer is trying to convey a sense of the battle/operation/war so if some aspect of that subject is important, they will include it, even if that tilts the balance or makes it more complicated or whatever.

As opposed to approaching the game as a game first, with a military theme. In this approach, historical inclusion/accuracy is less important, often markedly less important.

What that means to you is that if know of a particular military/historical subject that is interesting to you, then the rules needed to implement it not only make more sense they become part of the joy of playing it. If not, it can all seem a bit unnecessary. For instance, somebody who knows WWII carrier operations will understand why they have to turn their carriers into the wind to launch/recover aircraft...a pure gamer may think it's some kind of balancing mechanism...

Wargames (big umbrella term) break down into Tactical,Operation and Strategic scales, and within all three, different degrees of attempted fidelity to the subject. Knowing where you might land within that matrix will help steer your choices. If nothing else, understand that at this point there is sufficient diversity in the wargames themselves that no one game is really representative, so keep looking!
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Wings for the Baron.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/184866/wings-baron-secon...

My most played game this month. Economic game about making money by running an aircraft factory. Short and simple, but a lot historical feel.
Comes with a booklet of historical facts.


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Race to Berlin might also appeal to a Euro gamer looking for familiar territory in the wargame genre. It's easy to teach, and after your first game everyone playing or watching should be fairly confident. It's something you could put away for a month or so and return to with no refresher, which sounds ideal for you.

I'll +1 Polis.

While I like 1714: The Case of the Catalans just know it doesn't scale well, 5 people is really required. The rules are not difficult, but a little bit of experience goes a long way so the game improves drastically the 2 or 3rd play for the group, it may be difficult to get 5 together to do that. Everyone will also want to know what the cards coming up say at the beginning of every turn before bidding which tends to bring about AP in new players and veterans alike so some downtime is inevitable. Like I said, I'm a fan, just not sure it's wargaming's best foot forward to a fresh audience.
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Jeff Thompson
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Sphere wrote:
blu_in_green wrote:
I really want to get some value out of CC:E. It just seems like a lot of rules to take in without context (I find context helps me with the memory issues).

Read a book or watch a movie that features men in combat - there's your context.

[edit] Thinking further, I'd like to point out is that Combat Commander is a tactical game. Wargames can be broadly categorized as tactical, operational and strategic.

The long term planning and economic considerations you seem to favor in Through the Ages, Twilight Struggle and 18xx are at the strategic end of the scale; when you're playing games like TS and TTA that cover the entire globe over a period of many years it's grand strategy. Barring basic considerations like running out of ammo, you're in an entirely different realm when you play a tactical game. One of Napoleon's maxim's sums it up: "No battle plan ever survived first contact with the enemy".


Don't confuse scope with gameplay. CC:E is a game about tactical scope. But as a game it includes a lot of strategy.

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Rex Stites
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Tompy wrote:


Don't confuse scope with gameplay. CC:E is a game about tactical scope. But as a game it includes a lot of strategy.



Yeah, this is an important point. A tactical level game might be more "strategic" (in terms of game play/mechanics) than some strategic games that are more "tactical."
 
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Jason Cawley
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OP - No.

But I can recommend 4X space games, specifically Stars! on the computer (old shareware release), Space Empires in the recent board game version. Might try original Imperium from GDW (40 year old classic). Play depth, rules not too complex, economic allocation focused strategy - the genre fits your asks much better than actual historical wargames.
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The way the rulebook is laid out for CC:E makes it really easy to reference (I forget things all the time). Another Chad Jenson, war game with Euro-like mechanic & that is a tactical Panzer-pusher is Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division. A war game with fun game mechanics...or frustrating (depends on your POV). I find the whole Combat Commander system frustrating but appreciate its pedigree.
 
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I'm going to make an odd recommendation: Talon

It's a space combat game that manages to do a lot of interesting things with very, very short rules. For example, each turn you have to pick a line from the speed/power table for each ship. Want to go faster? Less power for charging weapons, reinforcing shields, increasing maneuverability, et. Want more power? Sorry, you're going to have to slow down.

It's the behemoth that is Star Fleet Battles stripped down to near-Ogre complexity.
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Mike Toot
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Haven't played it, but 1989: Dawn of Freedom sounds like something you'd be interested in. Twilight-Struggleish, democracy vs. the godless communists (I kid!) in Eastern Europe.
 
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Big gulf between the heavy Euro's and even the lightest of wargames. That said:


The usual suspects:
GMT Coin Series
Polis
Maria
Churchill

Maybe a bit unconventional
Strike of the Eagle- pretty easy to learn, lots of stuff to do with the cards, a ton of vexing decisions each turn.
Conquest of Paradise- a 4x game in the Pacific Ocean
Struggle of Empires- a great Weuro. If you like TTA, this might be a good choice for you. Needs lots of players though.
Italia- wargaming meets Small World
Age of Napoleon- pretty straightforward wargame with an immensely strategic focus. most of the complexity is handled by the cards.

If you are having trouble with wargame rules in general, I must dissent with the distinguished gentlemen above and suggest you stay away from Guns of Gettysburg and Napoleon's Triumph.
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I like many block games, many of which have relatively low rules overhead and tend to emphasize game play over historical detail, so would recommend Julius Caesar and Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. Maybe also Triumph & Tragedy if you're OK with a three player game.

And since you like Twilight Struggle, would also recommend Washington's War and Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage.

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1775: Rebellionwould fit the bill nicely. Rules easily grasped relatively quick play euro cubes everywhere. A very good game
Also the Pax series are euro like but getting into the rules and style of the game is a learning curve, when you have done it though they are also excellent.
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