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Subject: Good two player wargame for our playstyle? rss

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Ryan Metzler
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Hey all ~

So since I started on BGG my girlfriend and I have rapidly moved from Monopoly to Power Grid with many games in between. I have historically been turned off by the prospect of wargaming, but I can tell from her questions about some of them that she is definitely interested. My question is this: What is a good 2 player (or more) wargame that will fit in with our interests? We want something not TOO complex, but primarily staying away from luck based wins. Our main gaming interests are:

1. Stone Age
2. Power Grid
3. Dominion
4. Race for the Galaxy

I know these give you no idea as to war game interests, but perhaps they can steer you towards a good wargame recommendation.

Look forward to all suggestions. If you can provide good reasoning as to why we may enjoy them that would also be appreciated.

Thanks much

~Ryan
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Łukasz
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Small World!
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Matt Dodor
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Magnus Esko
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War games tend to be quite luck based, or very abstract. While not a wargame exactly Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization is great as a 2 player game if you are looking for something more in depth. It is a civilization game where you build up your farms, mines, labs, theaters and so on while building up your army. You need food to increase your population, resources for buildings and weapons and science to discover new technologies. At the end of the game the civilization that has gathered the most culture over the ages is the winner.
 
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Lee Moneta-Koehler
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My current recommendation for an introductory wargame is World at War: Blood and Bridges. It's a blast to play, has a good rulebook with easy to understand rules, and outstanding components on par with euro games (including a mounted board, something all Eurogamers seem to miss when trying wargames). I like to think of it as the spiritual successor to Panzerblitz - a first wargame for an enormous number of gamers. The hypothetical WW3 setting may or may not be appealing, but the game plays well regardless.

The other suggestions so far have either not been wargames or are on the border between euros and wargames. WaW:BB is definitely a wargame. You'll learn about most of the wargame basics and see if hex and counter simulation games are for you or not.
 
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Fritz Mulnar
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well, propably you're not in the Combat Commander: Europe crowd?

i thing BattleLore fits quite. it has many levels of complexity, adjustable by many parameters (expansions, incuding of magic or not, the flexible hq). has nice minis and board, eurostyle components, wooden dice.

if you go more in the history category there is Commands & Colors: Ancients. new edition just out with mounted board, in my perspective right between euro and wargame-chitty (no pun intended) components: wooden blocks, plastic dice with stickers (have to say i hate that. sticker dice. yuk ), history lessons included.

the underlying system (same in both games) is fast to play and reminds me sometimes of backgammon or checkers, dont know why. but plays quite fast.

most geeks propably will bring up Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 . eurostyle counters, mounted boards. well. i don't know. shake perhaps i am spoilt rotten by commbat commander.

and, Conquest of Paradise comes to mind, as its designer firmly states its roots in eurogames. interesting conquest game with a nice theme.
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Fritz Mulnar
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and i second Twilight Struggle , even if some say it is not a wargame.
i think it is, although a cold one laugh
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Battlelore

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/25417

Even in the basic set there are a lot of stuff to pick and choose from. Quick -easy or more complex.

Easy scenarios are based loosely on real battles - but you can add magic and fantasy as you wish - to make it more complex

Scott explains it - youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq2lmtpLuuA
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Henry Dove
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I would start with Small World. It is short time wise and the the two player version is certainly more of a wargame. I also second Twilight Struggle.
 
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p55carroll
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Wow--this really stretches the traditional definition of "wargame"!

For some background, I suggest this Wikipedia article.
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Łukasz
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
For some background, I suggest this Wikipedia article.


Or this thread cool
 
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Trent Hamm
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Take a look at Memoir '44 (which I'm in the "honeymoon phase" with right now - I love it). It's pretty quick (games take about half an hour - we usually play a scenario "duplicate", which means that we play it once with me as the Axis and once with me as the Allies), is gorgeous to look at, and has a lot of variety from scenario to scenario (some are just shootouts, while others seem to require tons of finesse to win).

My only concern is that the luck factor might be a bit high for your tastes. While there are tons of choices to be made, battles are decided by die roll. Thankfully, the overall scenarios rarely bog down into neverending cycles like Risk - they resolve quickly and with a lot of fun.
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Virre Linwendil Annergård
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1960: The Making of the President and probably Twilight Struggle sounds like good sugestions

I personally have a somewhat similar background with what I like (wel not really except powergrid but still from that type of games, just not them) and I come to enjoy the Block type of wargames such as Hammer of the Scots and Crusader Rex...

(My recomendation would be to try them first though and 1960 is a bigger recomendation than thoose two. But might be worthy of a try )
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Leo Zappa
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trenttsd wrote:
Take a look at Memoir '44 (which I'm in the "honeymoon phase" with right now - I love it). It's pretty quick (games take about half an hour - we usually play a scenario "duplicate", which means that we play it once with me as the Axis and once with me as the Allies), is gorgeous to look at, and has a lot of variety from scenario to scenario (some are just shootouts, while others seem to require tons of finesse to win).

My only concern is that the luck factor might be a bit high for your tastes. While there are tons of choices to be made, battles are decided by die roll. Thankfully, the overall scenarios rarely bog down into neverending cycles like Risk - they resolve quickly and with a lot of fun.


I second this one. If you and your girl friend are really interested in trying out wargames, this, along with BattleLore and Commands & Colors: Ancients are the best introductory games into the world of wargaming. These games are accessible while introducing some basic wargaming concepts (line of sight, ranged combat versus close assault, differentiation of weapon systems, taking ground and retreating, etc.). Some of the other games listed, while perhaps very good games, are not really considered "wargames", at least by those of us who actually play wargames!

You might also consider these:
Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge
Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal
Axis & Allies: D-Day
Again, very accessible yet are very much wargames, albeit on the lighter side.
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James Palmer
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While it's true that it's not a true "wargame", I think Small World could be a good choice as a bridge between euro and wargaming. This would really be my main recommendation.

If you're really wanting to just dive in to a REAL wargame, Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 would be my recommendation. It's not really much more complex than Power Grid, and has a bit of a euro feel, in that the components are of euro-quality, and there is a bit of a resource-management feel to it. The luck and chaos in the game can be controlled quite a bit via a few optional rules that can be implemented. This is the wargame I play the most with my eurogamer friends.
 
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Ryan Metzler
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Felkor wrote:
While it's true that it's not a true "wargame", I think Small World could be a good choice as a bridge between euro and wargaming. This would really be my main recommendation.

If you're really wanting to just dive in to a REAL wargame, Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 would be my recommendation. It's not really much more complex than Power Grid, and has a bit of a euro feel, in that the components are of euro-quality, and there is a bit of a resource-management feel to it. The luck and chaos in the game can be controlled quite a bit via a few optional rules that can be implemented. This is the wargame I play the most with my eurogamer friends.


Should have mentioned that we already have and have played extensively Small World. We actually find it to be a bit...lacking...in replayability and depth. Something a tad deeper than this would be great.

Things that have caught our eyes were Battlelore and C&C Ancients. What are the major differences there? Should we be looking deeper?
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slaqr wrote:
Should have mentioned that we already have and have played extensively Small World. We actually find it to be a bit...lacking...in replayability and depth. Something a tad deeper than this would be great.


My suggestion was actually a (failed) attempt to pull your leg, sorry for that.

Recently I am in awe of Mark Simonitch's Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage - it is well balanced classic with extremely high replayability. If you're lucky to VG edition, the components are also of high quality and very appealing.
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James Palmer
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slaqr wrote:
Felkor wrote:
While it's true that it's not a true "wargame", I think Small World could be a good choice as a bridge between euro and wargaming. This would really be my main recommendation.

If you're really wanting to just dive in to a REAL wargame, Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 would be my recommendation. It's not really much more complex than Power Grid, and has a bit of a euro feel, in that the components are of euro-quality, and there is a bit of a resource-management feel to it. The luck and chaos in the game can be controlled quite a bit via a few optional rules that can be implemented. This is the wargame I play the most with my eurogamer friends.


Should have mentioned that we already have and have played extensively Small World. We actually find it to be a bit...lacking...in replayability and depth. Something a tad deeper than this would be great.

Things that have caught our eyes were Battlelore and C&C Ancients. What are the major differences there? Should we be looking deeper?


If you don't want luck-based wins, I'd stay away from the C&C system of games. They are fun games (I love Battlelore) but if you're looking for something that isn't a dicefest, then I'd stay away from these games. For me, the major difference between Battlelore and C&C:A is the components. The C&C Ancients base set comes with a flimsy board and blocks, while Battlelore comes with a mounted board and plastic figures. There are certainly other differences, but those were the deciding factor for me.

The "less luck" request was why I suggested Conflict of Heroes. It is fairly low-luck when compared to many tactical wargames, often described as chess-like (by both those who love it and hate it.) It is also way deeper than the C&C games, with minimal added rules. The C&C games and CoH games all have immense replayability, in my opinion.



 
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slaqr wrote:
Things that have caught our eyes were Battlelore and C&C Ancients. What are the major differences there? Should we be looking deeper?


These, just like most wargames are very luck dependent. While I haven't played these 2 I have played Memoir '44 which is similar. There is a lot of dice rolling and even a good plan can turn to nothing if you have bad luck. Great if you want light wargames though, there is much less to learn compared to Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42, which is actually meant to be a lighter tactical wargame.
 
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Fritz Mulnar
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Commands & Colors: Ancients has as topic ancient battles of rome, greece, macedonia etc. every scenario uses a historic battel, mostly with the better inital stance of armies on one side (who won the REAL battle mostly). so you have to play most scenarios twice with changing sides.
units are represented by wooden block with different stickers on it. as units get hit, the blocks become fewer. there are mechanics for leaders, close combat, chariots, cavalry and such. and there are expansions (six and still going...) covering the ancient world.

BattleLore is set in medieval times, imagining all the stuff said then was true: saracenes are goblins, there are orks, scottish drarves and so on. dragons are coming.

the blocks from above are here minis, the order cards are of slightly better stock. the counters too are euroquality. classic design from above is now fantasy art.
there is magic, complete with summoning creatures and aggressive and defensive spells. here also, there are expansions afoot, moreso as battlelore has changed its publisher to fantasy flight, which are notorious for their love of expansions.
the newest one is about heroes which can gain experience per battle. and die with it.
also only in battlelore there is a hq, in which you can put your personal favourites into position: a good leader, or a strong magician? or a rogue?
there is a fine review (one of many i am sure) on Bruno Faiduttis webpage:
http://www.faidutti.com/index.php?Module=ludotheque&id=473

though the similarities are quite extensive: each has a strong thematic feel (which i find especially surprising with cc:a, since it is not that expensive produced).
the other two entries in this game system are not to my liking:

Battle Cry i never played. and Memoir '44 is not my cup of tea: i play combat commander in ww2 and i find the order system of flanks and middle and superior battle commander a little ahistorical for ww2. but as one can easily read on bgg, many think otherwise.
i personally know a grognard who has all four. and right now he plays memoir like a madman. LIKE A MADMAN I SAY!
 
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Twilight Struggle is quite a bit longer than the four games you listed (first game could take 3-4 hours, after that the average is probably 2 1/2), but could blow her/your mind.

Failing that, Commands & Colors: Ancients is probably the right speed. Of course, depending on her/your interests in theme, you might opt for sister games Memoir '44 or BattleLore. I just happen to think that C&C is the best version of the system, the most beautiful to look at, and the most interesting thematically. If you enjoy one of these games, a deluxe edition of Twilight Struggle should be out by Christmas.

Does she like stickers?

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You might want to have a look at this Geeklist on "Starter Wargames."

Also, I recommend having a look at the offerings from Victory Point Games. AFAIK they're all very accessible to noobs; they're reasonably priced; the several I've bought have all turned out to be great games; and I've gotten great service from the company.

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Luck and C&C system (Mem44 - Battlelore).

It depends on your play style. You can play it as pure luck.

or

Considering the odds and consequences. If it less than 50% to succeed a roll? Should I go for it? If I do the worst case roll and the other guy rolls well in next turn? What will the board looks like? Any emergency plan? Where to move my reserve?

Play against a planner with odds considering - and you play as a pure luck roller - You will certainly loose a lot of games.

In short:

C&C is not that much luck depended as you may think.
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Twilight Struggle - This is the best suggestion I've seen so far. It's still very much a "starter" wargame, but fun and interesting. Plus the theme is a bit more abstract, in case you didn't want to get into more detailed combat simulations.

A Victory Lost (AVL) - If you are looking for a "traditional" wargame, then either AVL or the recently released sequel A Victory Denied (AVD) might be interesting choices. Both games are fairly easy to learn and offer plenty of strategic and tactical tinkering to explore. AVL is easier to learn, but AVD is faster to play and easier to find. Just use some caution though, because both games might be longer than you are used to.

Hammer of the Scots - One thing about wargames that is very important is theme. If you aren't interested in the theme, then wargames can feel overblown or cumbersome. I liked the movie Braveheart, and this game was a perfect way to extend that experience (while providing some historical corrections at the same time). Entry level block wargames are also good choices because they tend to have short rulebooks, small maps, not a lot of units on the board at once, and reasonably short playing times. If you don't like the William Wallace theme then consider other block games like War of 1812, Crusader Rex, or Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815.

BattleLore/Memoir '44 - These games can feel luck-heavy because your movement is limited by card draws and combat relies on die rolls... but good players will often prevail despite those factors. If you do have a game where one player loses, the best response is to just switch sides and try again. I prefer these two over CC:Ancients or Battle Cry because of the theme and bits.

Warriors of God - Randomness definitely might be an issue for you because leader deaths will have a significant effect on gameplay, but Warriors of God is a very interesting area control game with some wargame trappings. Lots of fun can be had with the historical setting, and each time you play a different story emerges. Frankly, a major reason that I am posting this suggestion is because it's one of my personal favorite games... :)



Have you considered print-and-play options? You can get some decent wargames for almost no cost if you don't mind printing and assembling the componets yourself.

Some free games that are worth considering include:
- To The Last Man!
- Valor & Victory
- Battle for Moscow (first edition)
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Small World definitely fits your bill.

It may even win 'best wargame of the year' for the golden geek awards.
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