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Subject: What Tactical WWII Wargame Series Should I Get Into? rss

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Russell Evans
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I have just recently gotten into Hex & Counter wargames, starting with Battle for Moscow which I enjoyed. I am now looking for a less introductory, smaller scope tactical type series of wargames for World War II that I can get into but the choices are overwhelming so I would like to ask you guys about your favorites. ASL and the Band of Brothers series look interesting but I don't really know where to begin with those (the whole ASL starter kit versus modules is confusing). There's also things like Panzer Grenadier and Combat Commander. So, any ideas?

EDIT:

I am playing solo but don't mind playing two sides single-handed.

I'm more interested in German Panzer divisions especially, but like a mix of infantry and armor.

My budget is under $80, the cheaper the better.

I don't mind a bit of randomness as long as it makes sense.


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suPUR DUEper
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A few questions:

What is your tolerance for complexity?
What is your budget?
Are you likely to stick with a series or do you want to move around a bit?
Do you want a game that focuses on infantry or armor?
Do you have a favorite front? East, West, Med, Pacific?
What is your tolerance for randomness?
Are you playing solo?
Will you have the same gaming partner who is willing to explore the system with you or will it be more casual, random gamers?
Do you want a rigorous system (design for cause) or a thematic one (design for effect)?
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Russell Evans
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TedW wrote:
A few questions:

What is your tolerance for complexity?
What is your budget?
Are you likely to stick with a series or do you want to move around a bit?
Do you want a game that focuses on infantry or armor?
Do you have a favorite front? East, West, Med, Pacific?
What is your tolerance for randomness?
Are you playing solo?
Will you have the same gaming partner who is willing to explore the system with you or will it be more casual, random gamers?
Do you want a rigorous system (design for cause) or a thematic one (design for effect)?


I will answer your questions here and I will also update the OP with some.

Tolerance for complexity? As long as the game mechanics run smoothly and the rulebook is written clearly, I don't mind a bit of complexity.

Budget? I'd like to start with a game that was under $50, but I realize that cuts out quite a bit so I'd be willing to go up to about $80 if it's something that has a lot of replayability. Definitely not looking for something over $100

Likely to stick with a series? I tend to roam around and vary my collection of games, but I would like to find a game I enjoy so much that I want to get all the expansions, etc.

Infantry or Armor? I would like to play something with both as I enjoy German tanks especially but don't want just a tank v. tank brawl. A good mix of both would be great.

Favorite Front? I don't have a favorite front per se, but lately I've been interested in German Panzer divisions so whatever that tells you...

Tolerance for randomness? I actually don't mind a bit of randomness, but it has to make sense. (example, I enjoy Fleet Commander: Nimitz despite it's awkward randomness with Japanese movement)

Playing solo? Yes. But I don't mind playing two sides single-handed.

Rigorous system vs. Thematic? Ummmm I'm not sure, could go either way. Good game mechanics are more important to me than storytelling, but I like both.
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Fernando Robert Yu
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Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 would seem to be a good fit. The 2nd edition is coming soon.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition) has a good scenario generator and solo system which are both bought separately.

I have and love the Band of Brothers family but with the concealment rules maybe it will not play well solo.

There is also the Panzer game system which is quite technical and geared towards tanks. I think you can play both sides to make it a decent solo game.
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Joe Donnelly
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Fighting Formations would seem to be a good, perhaps even perfect, fit.
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Robert Wolkey
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If you were looking for opponents I would say ASL Starter Kit #3, because it has tanks and you can find more opponents for ASL than any other wargame anywhere in the world. And there is a large number of players who play online using VASL (where it originated when an ASL player programmed it).

But, if you're strictly playing solitaire than something like Panzer Grenidier or Conflict of Heroes might work better.
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L. SCHMITT
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Quote:
I'm more interested in German Panzer divisions especially, but like a mix of infantry and armor.

Forget Combat Commander, no panzers here... no vehicles at all.
Why not Ghost Panzer to start with Band of Brothers ?
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Russ Williams
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FWIW I've played Band of Brothers, Combat Commander, Conflict of Heroes, ASL SK, Fighting Formations, Combat Leader, ...

Of the games I know, I'd suggest Band of Brothers (if you're fine soloing both sides of 2-player wargames) or Conflict of Heroes + its Solo expansion (if you want to compete to win vs a true solitaire system). Band of Brothers does use concealed markers but has a reasonable suggestion for how to deal with them in soloing both sides. (Of possible interest: Completed solo playthrough of Band of Brothers Screaming Eagles...)

Combat Commander is great, but it lacks the tanks you want, and the hands of cards make a majority of people find it less pleasing for soloing both sides (but of course as with every game there are other people who love soloing both sides).

Fighting Formations is great but a lot of its scenarios are big and long. It has a little bit of hidden card play, plus concealed units.

ASL's reputation for being more than just a bit complicated is well-deserved. I would highly recommend you not jump into ASL now.

(Also do not jump into ASL if you want to "get all the expansions".)

ASLSK is more manageable but you'll still need to spend several days reading forum threads and tutorial files (e.g. by Jay and Eddy, you'll easily find them should you go the ASLSK route) before you mostly grok it all. I've been enjoying ASLSK1. ASL(SK) like SL before it is pretty manageable with infantry-only but tank rules start to get more hairy...

Combat Leader is at the very simple stripped-down minimalist end of the spectrum and infantry-only, so probably has less historical flavor than you want, but it does have a true solitaire expansion which I found to work fine and clearly.

FWIW there are other systems possibly worth exploring. E.g. Lock n Load which has a new solitaire expansion similar to Conflict of Heroes. Valor and Victory is a free downloadable print-and-play 2-player tactical WW2 game. Etc.
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Russell Evans
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russ wrote:
FWIW I've played Band of Brothers, Combat Commander, Conflict of Heroes, ASL SK, Fighting Formations, Combat Leader, ...

Of the games I know, I'd suggest Band of Brothers (if you're fine soloing both sides of 2-player wargames) or Conflict of Heroes + its Solo expansion (if you want to compete to win vs a true solitaire system). Band of Brothers does use concealed markers but has a reasonable suggestion for how to deal with them in soloing both sides. (Of possible interest: Completed solo playthrough of Band of Brothers Screaming Eagles...)

Combat Commander is great, but it lacks the tanks you want, and the hands of cards make a majority of people find it less pleasing for soloing both sides (but of course as with every game there are other people who love soloing both sides).

Fighting Formations is great but a lot of its scenarios are big and long. It has a little bit of hidden card play, plus concealed units.

ASL's reputation for being more than just a bit complicated is well-deserved. I would highly recommend you not jump into ASL now.

(Also do not jump into ASL if you want to "get all the expansions".)

ASLSK is more manageable but you'll still need to spend several days reading forum threads and tutorial files (e.g. by Jay and Eddy, you'll easily find them should you go the ASLSK route) before you mostly grok it all. I've been enjoying ASLSK1. ASL(SK) like SL before it is pretty manageable with infantry-only but tank rules start to get more hairy...

Combat Leader is at the very simple stripped-down minimalist end of the spectrum and infantry-only, so probably has less historical flavor than you want, but it does have a true solitaire expansion which I found to work fine and clearly.

FWIW there are other systems possibly worth exploring. E.g. Lock n Load which has a new solitaire expansion similar to Conflict of Heroes. Valor and Victory is a free downloadable print-and-play 2-player tactical WW2 game. Etc.


Thanks, I just started watching the Band of Brothers tv series and was very interested in the Screaming Eagles and Ghost Panzer games but was afraid of the hidden markers for solo play but if you say there's a way to deal with it then I'm all in. And thanks for the insight into the other games, I think I've made my decision.
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Jim Cavallari
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SoloGuy wrote:
Thanks, I just started watching the Band of Brothers tv series and was very interested in the Screaming Eagles and Ghost Panzer games but was afraid of the hidden markers for solo play but if you say there's a way to deal with it then I'm all in. And thanks for the insight into the other games, I think I've made my decision.


The Band of Brothers system will definitely work for you. I play it solo all the time. One more suggestion for you:
Look into some of the games put out by Lock N Load Publishing. I recommend White Star Rising. It's a bit larger scale than squad level, but it plays like a small tactical level game. They also have a "Heroes" series that are tactical level and I've heard they are quite good.
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Nicolas Eskubi
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Let me recommend our tactical serie, War Storm Series; similar in complexity to PanzerGrenadier but better game; right now we have published 3 games and 3 more incoming, one of them is a SOLO and multi-player expansion for all our game published and incoming ones:

Paths to Hell
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/177861/paths-hell

La Bataille de France, 1940
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/35219/la-bataille-de...

A las Barricadas! 2nd Edition
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/63868/las-barricadas...

Alone in the Storm
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/186822/alon...

Normandy, The Beginning of the End
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/221848/normandy-begi...

Help Arrives!
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/35220/help-...

Desert Struggle
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/224481/desert-strugg...

For any question, just let me know

Best
Niko
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oystein eker
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Only one for me:
Fighting Formations.

This one is a keeper. I will probably sell my other dust collectors. I realized that I prefer operational level games in my older days.
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Jon Gautier

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eker wrote:
Only one for me:
Fighting Formations.

This one is a keeper. I will probably sell my other dust collectors. I realized that I prefer operational level games in my older days.


Funny, I sold that one and kept most of the others.
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Craig Nicholls
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Old School Tactical

This is Eastern Front, tank and infantry. It is a very streamlined game, with a variable impulse turn system. Volume 2 covering the western front is out shortly.
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Roger Hobden
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Panzer (second edition) has both tanks and infantry.

The basic game is super-easy.

Then you can add advanced and optional rules as you want.

Playing is very fast and intuitive once you understand the rules.



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Roger Reisinger
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I've owned of played most of the systems mentioned and I would have to support 2 recommendations already made:

- Conflict of Heroes: it has a dedicated solo variant that has gotten high praise from many reviewers. You'll need the orginal title, Awakening the Bear, plus the solo pack.

- Bands of Brothers: I played a few test scenarios from Ghost Panzer and enjoyed my limited plays. Then I KS'd the series and sadly haven't even broken the shrink yet. I still can confidently recommend it as a worthy tactical squad level game with interesting mechanics.
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Michael McLean
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Sunray11 wrote:
Fighting Formations would seem to be a good, perhaps even perfect, fit.


That was my first thought as well. The system is genius, imo.
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Adam Starkweather
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It isn't often recommended in these lists but perhaps there might be interest in what is called "Grand Tactical"? These are tactical games but cover actual campaigns - instead of being geomorphic. I think there is room for both and perhaps you might enjoy this as well or instead.

In most (all?) the games mentioned, you get a great deal of flexibility in what you game - but that comes at the price of specificity. You don't get the actual hills or towns fought over nor the actual people involved. To me, at least, that matters. So a Grand Tactical game on the invasion of Saipan (to be fair, my latest design) - is about the actual invasion of Saipan. You don't get out Map 13 and the US and Japanese counters and play over an abstraction of the battle - you actually play the battle.

There are "historical" modules, at least for ASL, but these still tend to have a lot of abstraction - 2 minute turns and a few months long campaign will do that...

But the Grand Tactical does lose flexibility - you can only play Saipan in a game on Saipan - and not Guadalcanal, Okinawa, etc...

So to play a new battle, you have to buy a new game and learn new rules. However, the cost isn't really less than buying a bunch of modules and learning new rules that apply to that module. It is a tradeoff one way or another.

There are various systems of this - like my CSS (Company Scale System), GTS (Grand Tactical Series - which I also designed), TCS by the Gamers, etc...

Anyway, not trying to sway anyone and hope people might forgive my bias, but I made the games I made because of this...not vice versa.

Anyway, just something to consider when you are wading in...decide which is better for you as a gamer.
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Rosecrans man
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Adam, agree on your points. I, myself, prefer fighting over the historical terrain over geomorphic maps (That preference started with the TCS). And of course I have Saipan and am waiting for Guam.

That said, I do enjoy the Lock and Load Tactical System geomorphic maps an all. They do have beautifully rendered maps though and large enough to contain four counters without stacking.
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Eric Walters
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I play just about every tactical system out there and can only tell you it's a matter of taste.

I will tell you there are various low cost demonstration games/systems to look into--

Try the free Panzer Grenadier kit from Avalanche Press: http://www.avalanchepress.com/PlayPG.php with the rules available at URL: http://www.avalanchepress.com/4E.php

Don't overlook Valor & Victory. Used to be you could download and print all the components for the whole game system for free; now there are only selected portions of it in the Files section on the BGG site. But it's worth trying...and there's always VASSAL!

Try the Lock 'N Load demo game for WW II: http://store.lnlpublishing.com/lock-n-load/LNL-Demo-WW2

Try the Advanced Tobruk System intro games: http://www.criticalhit.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Prod...

Like everything else, there are pros and cons to these as well as other tactical systems. It just depends on what compromises you are willing to make. Worth trying some of these just to see if they scratch your particular itches.
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Gary Logs
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I too wanted to mention Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes series etal. Lots of supporting reviews/replays and still going as far as expansions are concerned.
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Doug Kirk

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ASL is still going strong after all these years for good reason.
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Peter
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All of the usual suspects are basically fine, and there is clearly a lot of good advice above. You cannot go too wrong with any of the systems.

My personal advice: if you really want to get into tanks, then Panzer is probably the most insightful.

For infantry focus and quick play where tanks play differently than infantry, I'd check out Band of Brothers.



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Derek Jackson
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wdkirk wrote:
ASL is still going strong after all these years for good reason.


ASL starter kit can be had for his budget. Of course, he'll probably curse you if he gets addicted to the system.
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Russ Williams
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wdkirk wrote:
ASL is still going strong after all these years for good reason.

Certainly, but that doesn't make it the best first choice for someone who has "just recently gotten into Hex & Counter wargames".
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