Kevin Kelly
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Greetings all,
B
I’ve wanted to get into wargames for quite a while now. I’ve got a friend who’s willing to give it a go as well. The question is; what should we try? I’ve narrowed it down to a few choices and I’m looking for opinions as to which one would be best. We’ve played Axis & Allies, Wings of War: Famous Aces and a few other games (Blood Bowl (Third Edition) is the main one, but neither of us is particularly into the “fantasy” realm when it comes to games). We both liked A&A, but we found it a bit too simplistic. Wings was good as well but I think we want something a little more “ground based”, you know, something that makes us feel more like there’s something else on the line other than our own butts. We both have an interest in WW2 and I think a good mix of strategic as well as tactical play would suit us. I personally like the idea of Fog of War, but it’s not a necessity. The choices so far are:

Paths of Glory: I know it’s WW1 but the reviews are pretty good. (That and I personally have a thing for the Great War…)
Europe Engulfed: Is this too heavy for a beginner?
World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin: Same system as PoG but set in the 2nd World War.
EastFront II/WestFront II: Do these pretty much play the same? Are they suitable for beginners?
Combat Commander: Europe: Seems more tactical than the above choices. Suitable for us newbie’s?
Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1: From what I understand, this is as tactical as it gets. Should we just start where we would probably end up anyway?

These are what I’ve come up with so far. There were many others that I discounted after reading about them like The Burning Blue (sounds like a blast but a bit too technical for a beginner, maybe once we get our feet wet), Panzer Grenadier: The East Front (basically I just don’t know where to start with this one…), Great War at Sea: Jutland and La Grande Guerre 14-18 (as I said before, WW1 is more my thing as opposed to his but I like the idea of commanding a fleet in battle) and Tide of Iron (it’s not out yet and I’m just afraid of ending up with another A&A, I guess time will tell with this one…)

Any and all help and suggestions would be appreciated.
 
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Have faith
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I've only played ASLSK1, so I can't be of much help in suggesting which one. There's some good info in the ASKSK1 page here, which I imagine you've looked at.

ASL is not for the casual gamer, of course. I would recommend trying a lighter game - ASL's steep learning curve for a wargame newbie could sour you to wargames, which would be unfortunate. Even starter kit one is a lot to digest if you've never played 'real' wargames. Me and another newbie worked through the first scenario and it took us 6 hours - and we had read the rules in advance.

Wargames in general are much heavier than euro games or Axis and Allies type games. If possible, find someone to teach you whichever game you decide on.

I will say that Combat Commander: Europe sounds good for you, based on what I've read.

Also, I have looked at the Tide of Iron rules, and it's not just another Axis and Allies. It looks tactical, for one thing. I think this might be the perfect game for you, if you're willing to wait for it. Check out this intro video:
http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/tideofiron_downloads.html

It sounds like you're past the point of checking out your wargame options, but here's a recent post about that in case you're not:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1482788

[Edited many times]
 
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I think most of what you've chosen there is a very big leap from Axis and Allies, etc. In terms of complexity, Combat Commander: Europe is probably your best bet from the games you listed.

But, if you're interested in WWII and fog of war, you could start with EastFront II or Rommel in the Desert. They're fairly complex, but, unlike Paths of Glory etc there are few exceptions to the rules, so if you're happy to put a few hours into studying them you should do okay. The rulebooks to both games are available online at http://www.columbiagames.com/ -- have a read and see what you think.

ASLSK#1 I found fairly difficult to learn (certainly more complex than the block games you mentioned). If you do go down that path, there are some player aids and articles here on BGG that are essential to learning the game. The rules as written are almost impossible to digest. Having said that, once you do learn the rules, ASLSK#1 has enormous bang-for-the-buck. You could easily get 100 enjoyable plays out of what's in the box.
 
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Alexander B.
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My suggestion is ASL: it takes more effort, but the simple scenarios aren't too tough, and you get to look forward to a lot of depth, cool vehicles, and a ton of expansions if and when you become ready for it.

The new starters do help to ease ya in also
 
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Mark Ballinger
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I endorse Combat Commander: Europe. It's really fun, and not nearly as complicated as the rules length makes it seem. It is very much simpler (and shorter!) than most of the others on your list.

I also heartily endorse A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943. I can't say enough good things about this game. You do have to make a decision on scale. CC:E is tactical and very chaotic. "AVL" is a larger scale and less chaotic, but the first time you start drawing chits out of the cup you'll be hooked.

Take a look at Sergeants! On the Eastern Front and Action Front! Watchtower too. Like CC:E you'll be dealing with a smaller scale. They are each much smaller (and more inexpensive) than any of the others on your list.

Finally, if you like Wings of War, consider Battleground. (That is, if fantasy doesn't turn you off.) Like Wings of War, it's card based and you'll play it on a big table.
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Colin Hunter
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Paths of Glory: Well this is one of the best games I have ever played. Deep strategy, wonderful mechanics and an interesting period. However it is challenging and there is a lot to it. If you are willing to make a serious investment or don't mind playing 2 or 3 games just to learn the rules it is well worth it. Be warned while on the scale of wargame complexity it isn't too bad it is a definite step up.

WWII: Berlin to Barbarossa: Haven't played this yet, but I have played shifting sands which I believe is similar. Basically it is like paths of glory, but slightly inferior, especially when it comes to card play. Shifting sands is really fun though and i would recommend it.

Combat Commander: Europe: Easy to play, fun and reasonably quick. This was surprisingly good to play. I would recommend anyone new to wargaming to take a look.

The Burning Blue: Amazing, but way too complicated. If you work your way up to paths of glory and can handle that, easily, you should have a look at this. It isn't a monster, but it is very strategically deep and take a lot of rules knowledge from both players to play properly.

ASL: I wouldn't probably start here. I have only played this once or twice, but I have worked my way through the rules. It is a bit complex to start with and both players need to know the rules well. Advanced Tobruk System I hear is easier, but I haven't played. It is supposedly similar. Personally i would grab combat commander if you want a tactical game. Get into playing it and if you like it move up to ASL. The reason is that Combat commander is different enough to warrant owning itself and is really fun.

Europe Engulfed: For some reason I really struggled to learn this game. Mechanically it is dead simple, but there are lots of thing to remember and exceptions. If you are diligent you could move up to this. The combat itself is simple. Great game, again plenty of strategy.

Other Games you could consider:
Ok if your like me Fantasy Flight games can really turn you off, but I think they are by far the best games out there for beginners, mainly because they don't have lots of chrome or exceptions.
Wings of War: Beer and Pretzel Game, fun, but not a whole lot of depth (literally and metaphorically).

Tides of Iron: When it comes out this might be ideal. Looks good, but you never know. Has nice miniatures and wouldn't be too hard for you.

War of the Ring: One of the few FF games I like, has a great depth of strategy and is really fun. I only mention it because it might be a good introductory game and it is an excellent game.

Good Luck
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Aaron Cinzori
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I strongly recommend A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943 and Rommel in the Desert.

Rommel in the Desert is shorter and simpler than EastFront, but implements the fog of war nicely and gets you into block games with a reasonable investment of time and effort. The shortest scenario plays in about 90 minutes and several of the others play in the 2-4 hour range.

A Victory Lost doesn't do fog of war by hiding the identities of your opponent's pieces, but rather by making uncertain when you will get to activate your pieces. Now unlike Memoir '44, you will get to activate all of your chosen HQs every turn, you just won't know in what order your (and your oppenent's) HQs will activate. This small twist makes the game much more tense and interesting than traditional hex and counter games. Also, the rules are streamlined and well-written. The only downside of this game for me is the playing time. Some people can play it in about 3 hours (I hear), but for my friend and I (who tend to ponder a bit) it's more like 8 hours. Fortunately there is an excellent Vassal module for the game (and a great Vassal tutorial here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/154388 ).

Have fun.

-Aaron
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Todd Pytel
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My usual rant...

Focus on playing time, scale, and theme, tempered by whatever estimations of "quality" you can gather from reviews and reputation. Forget "difficulty". If a game covers a part of the war that you're personally interested in, and the game fits in your schedule, you'll learn the rules because you'll play it and enjoy it. A perfect "beginner's" wargame that doesn't interest you won't get playing time and you won't get anything out of it. And ultimately, there is such an enormous variety of different (and high-quality) WWII games that you're almost certainly going to try out several of them before you settle on something that fits. So, unless you're really broke, just try out a few things and don't be afraid to trade or ebay them if you find they don't suit your needs.

Personally, my choice out of your list is most certainly ASL. You can play an SK scenario in two hours or a Red Barricades campaign game in two months. You can stick with a Starter Kit (or three), spend less than $100, have a nice progression through the rules, and get enough great gaming to occupy yourself for several years. Or you can dive into the full system, spend anywhere from moderate to ludicrous amounts of money, and have enough great gaming to occupy yourself for several lifetimes. And I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding opponents in Toronto. I started into wargaming less than a year ago, played a number of things, but haven't played anything besides ASL every week for the last four months. It's just that good.

But that, most assuredly, is just me. Follow what seems interesting to you and you'll do better than listening to anyone here.
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Steve
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I sort of agree with Todd. It's not a view that most of the people around here buy--I say jump in the deep end with whatever is really compelling you to the wargame field--what is it you eventually want to play? You might as well start there. That's what I did--I started with PoG. It was a tough couple days picking it up but once I did it was all worth it. And I was really motivated to learn all the stuff in PoG because that was the wargame I *really* wanted to play and that was how I motivated myself to play wargames, not by playing stuff I wasn't really that into to build up to the stuff I really wanted to play. To me there's some danger of quitting before you get to what really motivated you in the first place because you don't like the theme, war, etc.
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Kent Reuber
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I won't give suggestions for specific games. What I'd suggest is:

1) Pick a period or battle that really interests you.
2) Err on the side of short and simple games; that is, if you have a choice in games to start with, start with games that are more simple and short. When you first start, you may find yourself drowning in rules.
 
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Wolfgang Kunz
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thniff wrote:

I also heartily endorse A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943. I can't say enough good things about this game. You do have to make a decision on scale. CC:E is tactical and very chaotic. "AVL" is a larger scale and less chaotic, but the first time you start drawing chits out of the cup you'll be hooked.


I would second this - definitely for "beginners" but with enough replayability and depth that you won't throw it away after becoming "more experienced". The ones you mentioned are great games but might be a bit bite right now.

AVL will teach you wargame-basics and looks / plays really well.
 
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Phillip Heaton
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I would like to second the recommendation for Sergeants! on the Eastern Front, and its siblings (Sergeants! in the Sand, Sergeants! Expansion, and Sergeants! Scenario Book One).

The Sergeants! system is simple. The basic rules are four pages, plus four more pages in the expansion to cover vehicles and field works. You can be up and playing your first scenario in less than an hour.

The Sergeants! system is inexpensive. All four parts cost $44 from the publisher. There are other maps and scenarios available from the publisher's website for free. You get 10 maps and 43 scenarios, plus the counters to run Germans, Russians, British, Italians, Americans and French.

The Sergeants! system is quick to play. The small map scenarios we have played run 60-90 minutes. We haven't tried any of the large map scenarios yet.

The Sergeants! system feels right to us. It may not have tons of rules, but it seems to emulate WWII tactical combat really well.

Please note that when I was younger, I played the complex games a lot. I've just found that I enjoy the simple games more as I get older. I want to play the game, not pause every few minutes to look up a rule to make sure we got it right.
 
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Marty M
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Combat Commander: Europe. The rules are available for free download here on the CC:E page, so you can have a read of them before you commit yourself to buy it.
 
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Andrew C
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Another recommendation for A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943. Its a great place to start wargaming. While I agree with those that say pick an topic that interests you first, I disagree that once a topic is picked don't worry about complexity. There are plenty of options so choosing a relatively simple game on a topic that interests you shouldn't be very hard.

Two other recommendations that I haven't seen yet:

Bitter Woods (fourth edition) is the 8th highest rated wargame on BGG. It is graphically without peer in the wargame industry, its highly polished and errata free (4th edition), and it ranges in complexity from low, using the basic rules, to moderate when all the optional rules are added in.

I aslo recommend Clash of Giants II, by GMT. Simple but interesting game of operational level combat in WWI. Includes two separate battles.
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Brad Wagnon
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Look at GMT's Clash of Giant 2. WW1, low complexity, manageable games. You can download the rules for review, and to have an extra copy for your opponent...

If you like the system, you can try and chase down a copy of Clash of Giants.

Just a thought....
 
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John Bohrer
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thniff wrote:
I also heartily endorse A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943. I can't say enough good things about this game. You do have to make a decision on scale. CC:E is tactical and very chaotic. "AVL" is a larger scale and less chaotic, but the first time you start drawing chits out of the cup you'll be hooked.


Gotta second this choice, great game, doable for newbies, too.
 
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David Brown
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I can't believe anybody is recommending Advanced Squad Leader to a beginner - it's called Advanced for a reason.

There were two guys at our club who played nothing but ASL, They lived for that game but even they had the rule book constantly open having to refer to whatever rule they need for this micro management game. This game demand a massive investment of time

Buy it if you must buy it please don't think that all wargames are as mad.

My thoughts are:

Command and Colours (dead easy)- Recommended

Clash of Giants II - Fairly easy, two games in one package, low counter density.

POG - Great game but for a beginner..................not too sure

Europe Engulfed - Again great game but for a beginner..............not too sure

Columbia's Waterloo - Not a bad game, plays quickly and is simple

Rommel in The Desert - Not too sure if this is good for a beginner , the rules are not the best in the world and they do seem to make an easy game appear complex




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Jim Ruddy
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Just a thought - MMP is releasing Panzerblitz: Hill of Death soon. if you pre-order now you'll save a few bucks. Panzerblitz is what got me into hex & counter wargaming many many moons ago. If this lives up to the hype it should be a great place to start.
 
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Tray Green
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Another vote for Combat Commander - excellent gateway game.

Ancient's - Command & Colors Ancients
Age of sail - Flying Colors
WWII Naval - pick up an old copy of Victory in the Pacific (my first NEW game back in the early 80's)
WWII land combat -
Russian Campaign
old copy of Panzer Leader
Combat Commander
Band of Heros
Shifting Sands
 
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alex smith
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i would suggest Risk, its very cool and addictive both the board game and the online version,its very tactical and u basically need to creat ur own strategies, u can get some useful info in www.totaldiplomacy.com if u r not sure about it. the site has a section for beginners and just talks about strategies and tactics u can use to win.
 
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suPUR DUEper
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I'll throw in a few other titles for consideration, some old, some new.

Old:
1776
House Divided
Russian Campaign
Blue and Gray Quad from SPI
Napoleon's Last Battles
Squad Leader (not ASL)
Gettysburg (AH)

Not as old
Twilight Struggle
We The People
Glory
East Front II

 
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