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Subject: Wargame Gateways? rss

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Dave
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My boys (age 14 and 8) would probably play more board games if we had some wargames, but I'm completely ignorant as to what to start with. We like Euros, but they're only interested in playing once in a while. They are both pretty good players for their age. Any suggestions for starters?
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Neil
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I recommend Hold the Line. Easy to learn, very engaging play, fidelity to history.
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Memoir '44
Nexus Ops
Axis & Allies [edit: too much for 8 years]


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Wolfgang Kunz
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Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 if it can be a game w/o minis.

The parts are awesome, the rules are not to difficult and there is for sure some eye-candy. If they like it the system can be expanded.

My suggestion.
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Kent Reuber
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One of the most important thing you can do in selecting a wargame is to pick the period and scale. It's important to pick the period because wargames can require a bigger learning investment than Euros. If you're playing a period that interests you, you'll be more willing to put in the time and energy. The next question is scale: are you interested in individual battles (tactical or grand-tactical), a campaign (operational), or the whole war (strategic).

My Euro/Wargame hybrids that I'd suggest are:

- The Commands & Colors series: Commands & Colors: Ancients, Memoir '44, BattleLore. Very entertaining games.
- The Battle Maneuver system: Chainmail, Turning Point
- The Gio Games series: War to Axis: Warfare in Normandy, Yankees & Rebels, Advanced Vive l'Empereur
- Hold the Line series: Hold the Line, For Honor and Glory: War of 1812 Land and Naval Battles
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Don Whitney
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I'd say every game listed so far is appropriate for a 14 year old, but not necessarily an 8 year old.
The only wargames I'd recommend for someone that young would be basic Battlelore game (played without the Lore system and War Council) or Manoeuvre
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Yoki Erdtman
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For WWII gaming I definitely second Memoir '44, and Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! or Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel!. It's also hard to go wrong with Axis & Allies or any of its follow-ups.

If you want classical warfare, then Commands & Colors: Ancients is great, and for fantasy Battleground is a fantastic game (especially in combo with Battleground: Kingdoms), while BattleLore is a good place to start and comes with tons of plastic toy soldiers.

2 de Mayo might not wow your boys with lots of plastic soldiers or cool looking counters, as its components are more of the Eurogame variety, but the gameplay is awesome and it plays in only 20 minutes. It's set in the Napoleonic era.

You might want to try a miniatures game about Roman Gladiators, many of them play in minutes, and others let you play through the entire career of a single gladiator, or have you manage a school of gladiators. Tons of fun to be had. Kids love painted miniatures, and gladiators look so darn cool to begin with.
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David Janik-Jones
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Barry Doyle's brilliant tactical level WW2 game Valor & Victory. Can not recommend it highly enough. Almost the perfect tactical WW2 game out there, regardless if it's print and play.
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Michael B. Hansen
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Small World

Yes, i know about the "Great Debate". Is Small World a Wargame or not.
To me it covers a good part of basic Wargaming and therefore i would recommend it here.

It is also a very good game for the age group mentioned by OP. It is exciting and it does not last forever.

Good luck

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Leo Zappa
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I'm going in a different direction. Here are three games that while long out of print, are always readily available from eBay and are excellent starters for the aspiring wargamer:

Afrika Korps
Waterloo
The Battle of the Bulge

Yes, these are three of the Avalon Hill "Classics", and they remain highly playable games that teach all of the basics of traditional wargaming, including hexes, terrain, supply lines, use of combat results tables, zones of control, and the like. I started playing these games at age 10 and found them to be easy to learn and teach. Now in my 40's, I am currently playing a game of Afrika Korps with a buddy of mine, and I just picked up a copy of Battle of the Bulge from eBay for $16 including shipping! These games have 3 or 4 pages of rules, with some additional optional rules included, and are loads of fun. Newer games may be more historically valid in some regards, but at the cost of complexity and added play time.

I would seriously consider picking up copies of these if you are just getting started.
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p55carroll
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dlewis2 wrote:
My boys (age 14 and 8) would probably play more board games if we had some wargames, but I'm completely ignorant as to what to start with. We like Euros, but they're only interested in playing once in a while. They are both pretty good players for their age. Any suggestions for starters?

Yes! I suggest you take a look at this Geeklist of Starter Wargames designed just for this purpose.

Happy browsing!

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Dave
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Many thanks to all of you -- the choices you list appear to span many ranges (theme, length, complexity, etc.). I appreciate ALL the input. I'll begin diving into each to find those that I hope most appeal to the boys. I'm sure I'll find a winner, and likely several.

Again, thank you!
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Byron Collins
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David,

Here's another one for you- not yet out, but available for preorder at $24+shipping. It may be used as a gateway wargame: Spearpoint 1943.

Lots of cards, lots of customization, lots of tension and fun.

Full preview available here: http://frontlinegeneral.com/FG_News_Jan_10.pdf
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j b Goodwin

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DaveyJJ wrote:
Barry Doyle's brilliant tactical level WW2 game Valor & Victory. Can not recommend it highly enough. Almost the perfect tactical WW2 game out there, regardless if it's print and play.


I have to agree. And you get the secondary project of building the game yourselves. Believe it or not, that's pretty cool, too!
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Dave
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Thank you, Byron, for recommending Spearpoint 1943. Looking through the preview with my novice eyes, it does look like a lot of fun. But it seems like it would be too much for my 8-year-old. Maybe not -- I need to look at it more closely.

Another question to the group, and one that will perhaps showcase my naivete: It occurred to me we have a tub full of Heroscape characters and landscape pieces. My oldest and I played this some a few years ago, and my youngest grew the collection and desires to play, but I admit I have a hard time focusing on it and enjoying it (he does most of his playing with a friend with an even bigger collection). I don't know if I can describe my problem with it, but feelings I get are: there's no rhyme or reason for these various characters to be in the same battle; these's almost too much variety in the choices of characters and their special abilities; developing any kind of strategy with the universe of figures we have is way too tedious; and the most fun I have at this is designing new landscape layouts. So is Heroscape a 'typical' wargame, similar to others recommended? Or do these others provide an experience different from what we have in Heroscape?

Again, thanks for any help you can provide.
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kronovan wrote:
I'd say every game listed so far is appropriate for a 14 year old, but not necessarily an 8 year old.
The only wargames I'd recommend for someone that young would be basic Battlelore game (played without the Lore system and War Council) or Manoeuvre

Memoir '44 is also accessible for an eight year old. Less complex than Battlelore.
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dlewis2 wrote:
So is Heroscape a 'typical' wargame, similar to others recommended? Or do these others provide an experience different from what we have in Heroscape?

I am familiar with Heroscape although I have not played it. I would say it is not a typical wargame, compared to the other games in this thread.


Regarding wargames in general, there is a standing argument on this site about what a wargame is. Here's my take on this:

A traditional wargame has hexes and counters, for example the games Hold the Line and Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 recommended above. These are "historical simulations" of battles and wars, also called "consims" meaning combat simulations. The consim games recommended here in this thread are relatively simple, but most of these games are pretty involved, since they try to simulate what happens in real warfare. Cadets at Westpoint would be right at home with these types, I imagine :-). I find them very interesting but they are a very distinct category of game, unlike what the average person on the street would think of when he/she hears the word "board game."

Another broader definition of wargame is "games with combat." This is a broader category but all these games tend to focus more on fast-paced play, and appeal to a broader group of gamers. The games in this category can vary, with examples like Nexus Ops, Risk, Small World, and Memoir '44. It also includes many games of the type called "Ameritrash" or "American style" games: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Ameritrash
Heroscape could be considered a game of this type, but is much lighter and simpler than many games in this category. The problems you described with Heroscape are not typical of games in this category (the other games are much better :-)

Unfortunately, the only way to distinguish between these two types is too look at them individually and decide. Both types have the cateogory label "wargame" applied to them if you look at their pages.


As far as age ranges, each game page on this site has a poll for User Suggested Ages, which can be quite helpful in finding a game for your 8 year old. There is also the "manufacturer suggested age" which in some cases is not very accurate.

Another helpful value is the Avg. Game Weight, found in the statistics area at the bottom of the page. This is a number 1-5. Be aware, however, that for "real" wargames (the historical simulation type, the consim) this number may not be helpful. The reason is that people who play consims tend to play only consims and they rate them accordingly. So a 2.0 for a consim game may mean a quite heavy game. Sorry if this is confusing - the reality is rather confusing.


My personal recommendation for you is to go with a game like Memoir '44. Or another game in the more general "combat games" category. I'm assuming your eight year old will like this. There are lots of other great combat games, but they may be a little to heavy for your 8 year old.

But definitely check out the other recommendations. Be sure to read a sample of comments about each game. Also of course you can ask questions here, although Friday and weekends around here can be a little slower.


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Byron Collins
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dlewis2 wrote:
Thank you, Byron, for recommending Spearpoint 1943. Looking through the preview with my novice eyes, it does look like a lot of fun. But it seems like it would be too much for my 8-year-old. Maybe not -- I need to look at it more closely.


No problem. At a recent convention, two young boys came up and saw that I had a card game. They picked it up and were on 'autopilot' once the basic rules were explained in about 5 minutes. They really enjoyed it. They were about 9 or 10 I think. This game is meant to be very light and easy to learn, but with enough intensity and strategy to keep you playing again and again. I think it's accessible for an 8 year old.
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Sicaria Occaeco
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I have a decent heroscape collection and I also found the variety a bit too spread out and picking was long and tedious. I fixed this by taking all the figures and matching them together based on theme and synergy. I made each group or army very close in terms of points usage and then give the players enough extra points to add in one or two additional figures to compliment their army. This has decreased the picking of armies down to under 5 minutes and now we spend most of them time playing instead of setup & creating armies.

This might take a bit of time to setup your pre-mades and readjustments after a couple of games but it made the game more enjoyable for my group.

That said I enjoy Heroscape simply because it scratches my miniatures itch without raping my wallet. It does have some wargaming mechanics but I would go with a different game to start off in, like Memoir '44. Simple and fast and your younger one shouldn't have a problem at all. It brings in some mechanics like defensive positions, line of sight, retreat, etc. but on a simple level.

I'm currently using Memoir to lure some of my group into the wargame theme. Little do they know I have much deeper end and strategic games in mind.
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p55carroll
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dlewis2 wrote:

Another question to the group, and one that will perhaps showcase my naivete: It occurred to me we have a tub full of Heroscape characters and landscape pieces. . . . So is Heroscape a 'typical' wargame, similar to others recommended? Or do these others provide an experience different from what we have in Heroscape?

Have a look at this Heroscape entry (from the above-mentioned Geeklist).

I haven't seen Heroscape myself, but it sounds like it does have some features in common with wargames. Perhaps more in common with miniatures wargames than with board wargames.

You rarely, if ever, see the mishmash of unit types that Heroscape has, though. Most wargames try to simulate something out of military history, so they only include what was actually there.
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Markus Pausch
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Hammer of the Scots comes with just 8 pages of rules and a lot of historical flavor. Very easy to grasp and play but not lacking depth- Another great game is set in the time of the second punic war :Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage.

And if you interested in Eastfront Warfare on a tactical level (units consist of 7-12 men) then nothing beats Conflict of Heroes.


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Don Whitney
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dlewis2 wrote:
So is Heroscape a 'typical' wargame, similar to others recommended? Or do these others provide an experience different from what we have in Heroscape?


I haven't played Heroscape for ages, but from what I recall it's a miniatures/table top game. While I'm not so familiar with it, I'm very familiar with Star Wars Miniatures game which I've been playing weekly with my son since he was 8. Such games do feature skirmish battles, but unlike almost all tactical wargames their based on groups of individuals Vs groups of individuals as opposed to groups of units/squads Vs groups of units/squads. The trick to enjoying them is to learn about creating effective squads and where specific figures compliment one another. Boys in your sons age group do seem to be attracted to them because they have individual heroes to control and they're able to more easily identify with them.
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