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Subject: "Reelin' in the Years" -- Wanted: Wargaming Extreme Makeover rss

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Jim Ransom
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I am returning to wargaming following a 25 year semi-dormant period where I was primarily focused on raising three great kids with my wife, and on my career in the Navy. The former task is mostly done -- pending one "rebounder" -- and my submarining days have just concluded, including a fun final tour teaching Strategy and Policy at the US Naval War College. I have landed a post-Navy job, but look forward to a lot more free time to pursue my passion for military history.

The majority of my games are 1970s and '80s vintage AH and VG games. I have never discarded or sold any of my games, although the Great Basement Flood of 2002 claimed favorites like all 3 Squad Leader expansions, Up Front, 6th Fleet, Ambush, and Battle Hymn, and classics like Anzio, Afrika Corps, Gettysburg, Jutland, Luftwaffe, and Panzerblitz. (The pain still lingers...!)

My primary area of wargaming interest has always been WW2 (both Eur & Pac theaters), although I am a student of all military history with a great interest in the Peloponnesian War. I have never really gotten into the Napoleonic era -- although not opposed. I enjoy tactical level games but also play some operational level games, and infrequently enjoy the strategic level.

So here I am, ready to roll but sorely out of date. With the assistance of the denizens of this site, I hope to get recommendations that might allow me to avoid the "hit and miss" approach as I try to catch up. Finding BGG has done a lot to reignite my passion for gaming -- nice to have a place to go to talk, share, and explore.

My first attempt to get current will be with Combat Commander: Europe, which just arrived this week and I will dive into this weekend. I don't at this point have anyone to play with, so I'll be solitaire for a while. I have noted the whole VASSAL thing, which I am somewhat intimidated by.

Long post, I know, and if you've read this far you have my thanks. It will be interesting to find out how games and wargaming have evolved (or not) over the past couple decades. Primarily, I'm looking for input on how best to get back into wargaming, and what games you might recommend based on my background and the above info.
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Welcome back to the fold.

CC:E is a great place to start, IMO. ASL is still out there too, seeing as you're a fan of SL, ASL would probably be a good fit.

If you like fog of war, block games area good choice. Rommel in the Desert, EastFront II and FAB: The Bulge are all excellent options.

Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War is probably your best bet for a current Peloponnesian War game.

I think the (coming soon - end of March or so) Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division would also be right up your alley.
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Hunga Dunga
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Welcome!

The first thing you should know is that many of us are still playing the great games from the 70s and 80s, so you're not "sorely out of date"!

You might find that some of those games you've saved are worth some serious Dinero...


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Dave Long
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For a 'playable' light wargame, anything from the Command and Colors series would fit well-Ancients, Napoleonics, Battlecry, Memoir '44, etc. I've found them to be very enjoyable and a quick play to boot.
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Kent Reuber
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A few tidbits on recent tactical WWII games:

Combat Commander is a series of squad level games which features infantry, but no armor. It is heavily card driven. I've never played it, but as I understand there is a lot of chaos management which some find frustrating.

Conflict of Heroes is a series of squad level games featuring alternating impulses. That is, you activate a single or perhaps group of squads who perform an action costing a number of action points, then the opponent does the same. A unit can continue to act until a total of 7 APs are spent (or a variable amount with option rules). So it's a very interactive sequence. The rules are online, so download and check them out.

Panzer Grenadier is a series of platoon level WWII games covering a very broad range of engagements from the traditional East, N. Africa, Pacific, and West Fronts, to non-traditional engagements such as the Peruvian invasion of Ecuador. This is also impulse based, with the emphasis being on leaders. That is, a leader may activate all units in his hex and the surrounding hexes, plus any lower-ranking leaders who can activate units adjacent to their hexes. Works well, but some of the scenarios can be fairly long. Again, the rules are online on Avalanche Press's site.

Nations at War: White Star Rising is the first game in Lock 'n' Load's WWII platoon series. The same system is used in their "World at War" 1985 fictional Soviet vs. NATO games. It features a chit draw mechanic where various formations activate in turn. Rules are online. This looks like it will play faster than Panzer Grenadier because there are no represented leaders, and the scenarios are limited to around a dozen turns (some PG scenarios go on for 60+ turns).

Lock 'n' Load also does a squad level series of games (which I haven't played).

Squad Leader has been updated with the ASL Starter Kits.
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Eric Walters
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Jim,

So much is a matter of taste, but since you went towards Squad Leader and three gamettes, allow me to steer you to Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit Expansion Pack #1. Sure, there are the ASL starter kits #1-3, but I think you could take the plunge into this and skip the precursors (if you want them, you can get them later). Something tells me these will grab you.

You need to try one of the strategic games that fall into the Card Driven Game (CDG category). I think you should take the plunge with Empire of the Sun. I say this since you seem to have a WW II bent. Now, it won't be easy getting into it, but you'll be richly rewarded once you grab onto it and doing the other CDGs will be downright easy.

Great interest in the Peloponnesian Wars. Wouldn't you know, there's a number of games in print on that. But something tells me you'd be dissatisfied with all save the old Victory Games The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC, if you can somehow snag a copy. I am a huge fan of this war as well and despite a number of interesting titles, the 1991 game is still my favorite for the period.

Naval games. My, my, my. That happens to be a specialty of mine--my first wargame ever was the old AH game, Midway. There's two series of games you "might" be interested in. The first is by Avalanche Press: the Great War At Sea (GWAS) series and it's cousin, the Second World War At Sea Series (SWWAS). The operational games are terrific, the tactical resolution is simply so-so. Then there's the Admiralty Trilogy by Clash of Arms games, consisting of naval miniatures rules for the Russo-Japanese War and World War I (The Russo-Japanese War and Fear God and Dread Nought), the COMMAND AT SEA series covering WW II, and the Harpoon v4.1 series for modern naval warfare. The focus is on tactical battle resolution and not the operational situation leading up to it.

You'll find that wargaming today is incredibly rich. There are games on topics you never even heard of, much less found to be popular. World War I games like Paths of Glory and Pursuit of Glory are all the rage and there's a series on the American Revolutionary War battles by GMT that are immensely popular. Games on the Spanish Civil War and the Crusades abound, as well as games on the Thirty Years' War and the War of Austrian Succession. It's amazing.



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Shawn
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Combat Commander: Europe and its later expansions constitute a great series for seeing how wargaming has evolved since you were last involved. I would also suggest A Victory Denied as an in-print, easy-to-learn Eastern Front game that has a modern approach to traditional hex-and-counter designs.
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Steve Vance
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Since you are starting out again primarily solitaire, I'll wager you'd enjoy John (Ambush!) Butterfield's recent D-Day at Omaha Beach. Another solitaire game to check out would be Silent War.

Two excellent series that have appeared in the past couple decades are the Operational Combat Series (OCS) and the Tactical Combat Series (TCS). The most recent games in those series are Baltic Gap and GD '42, respectively.

When you have an opponent available, be sure to check out the innovative and outstanding Fires of Midway, and sample of the very popular card-driven games (CDG) such as, Twilight Struggle or Washington's War.
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Kev.
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what a great community. Good job guys.
On a side note. If you are attempting to learn CC:E there are some great videos there by one of the members - Tanksalot. He also has vssal tutorials.
Dont be intimidated by VASSAL. Its an electronic copy of your game. Nothing more.
Find a friend and muddle thru it on skype.

Its great.
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Michael Decker
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ericmwalters wrote:
Jim,

So much is a matter of taste, but since you went towards Squad Leader and three gamettes, allow me to steer you to Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit Expansion Pack #1. Sure, there are the ASL starter kits #1-3, but I think you could take the plunge into this and skip the precursors (if you want them, you can get them later). Something tells me these will grab you.



Then quickly move to full Advanced Squad Leader, the greatest game devised by the mind of man, (circa 1986 or thereabouts!)

BTW, thanks for your military service! You are much appreciated, sir.
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Greg Sager
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The majority of my games are 1970s and '80s vintage AH and VG games. I have never discarded or sold any of my games, although the Great Basement Flood of 2002 claimed favorites like all 3 Squad Leader expansions, Up Front, 6th Fleet, Ambush, and Battle Hymn, and classics like Anzio, Afrika Corps, Gettysburg, Jutland, Luftwaffe, and Panzerblitz. (The pain still lingers...!)


Ouch! I feel for you brother. When my sister took over my parent's house, she gave away all the games I'd stored in their garage at a church rummage sale. But, you can't go home again, unless you're willing to buy them on ebay.
Hungadunga's right though; the best of the old ones are still sublime.


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Tom Stearns
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Don't be intimidated by Vassal. It is your friend. There is a great community of wargamers out there to help you learn Vassal and the games. You will not regret taking the time to learn how to use vassal. It has opened a whole new venue of gaming for me.
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Wolfgang Kunz
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gohrns wrote:
Don't be intimidated by Vassal. It is your friend. There is a great community of wargamers out there to help you learn Vassal and the games. You will not regret taking the time to learn how to use vassal. It has opened a whole new venue of gaming for me.


Hi Jim,

also a "Welcome back" from the other side of the pond.

I second what Tom says about Vassal. Just grab a module of a game you know and have and play a bit along. "Play" around with it - with the features, with the right mouse-button over a counter aso. As long as you aren't afraid of a computer Vassal is rather intuitive after some playing around.

For your gaming ambitions I would encourage you to take your time, look at GMT's or MMP's webside, look at the Geek under the "Wargames" column and surely you will find out what really interests you. Then you might ask in the forums "which game to get / help me to narrow down" or you will buy y game win interesting topic based on the ratings it has here at the Geek (which I sometimes do).

I like Monster - Wargames most and if you are one of these too, come over and join our Guild here at the Geek (Monster Wargaming).

Suggestions:
The Gamers SCS (Standard Combat Series): builds upon the same rule-set for all of the games with a few special rules for the specific battle. Easy to learn, good solitaire

The Gamers OCS: mentioned somewhere above, much bigger than SCS, same rule-set for all of the games but true monster-wargames (the epitome would be Case Blue

Also for a sub-guy beside Silent War from Compass Games you might also look into the new Steel Wolves: The German Submarine Campaign Against Allied Shipping – Vol 1. Solitaire and a very good game IMHO. Also check out the other games from Compass Games. Might be your taste.

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Steve Arthur
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Welcome back Jim...two or three years ago I was in a similar situation to you returning to the hobby after a long break with a fair few old hex and counter games in tow...you'll find that things have changed a quite a bit and mostly for the better...I quickly realised that many of the old games were somewhat obsolete with game mechanics, depth of research, graphics and so on having moved on quite a bit...by all means hang on to those old games (particularly those VG 'Fleet' titles) but have a good look at the newer stuff as well...as mentioned above BGG is a good place to start...I'm sure that you like me will be pleasantly surprised...I agree with most of the suggestions mentioned above but I'd like to particularly reinforce the suggestion of the Standard Combat Series as a great starter for getting into the newer style of games...
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Jim Ransom
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First, before replying to each, I'd like to say thanks to all. Never been a big website posting type before, and all the comments, suggestions, and time spent replying to some old-fart Navy dude's plea for assistance truly tells me the caliber of folks out there -- and also the passion that we all have for wargaming and military history. I'm humbled and feel welcome! Sniff.

And I could probably stand to brush up on my forum etiquette. Dropping a post asking for comments and then dashing off, waiting until next morning to check in just before heading off to work is probably bad form.

You've all given me a lot to think about -- the challenge will be to concentrate on work and not all this until I get home later today! Thanks again.

Jim
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Ernest Schubert
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If you tell us what your favorites were back in the past, then perhaps folks can point you to similar newer games. Like in my case.. PanzerBlitz was probably my favorite game back in the day - at least in terms of times played. So the PanzerGrenadier series was a natural upgrade.

That's about the only new game that I've been playing. Like you, I have a pretty decent collection from the 70's and 80's so I don't really need to buy anything new.
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Jeremy Fridy
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See, if you lives in NE Ohio, we could just game and you could find out what you liked.

It was weird, ASL was the only real option for 20+ years, and then inside of 3 years 3 games come out to compete for the tactical WWII crown. All are a little less technical, and a little faster. All are fun.

Combat Commander
Lock n' Load
Conflict of Heroes

I have a slight bias for Conflict, having played it since playtesting with the designer. I'd say all are really good though, with the slight change in focus each designer put on it.


Also check out some of the print and play games, http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/28452/valor-victory
Valor and Victory is another on the subject, but free if you are willing to make it yourself.
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Jeremy Fridy
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For some smaller, but fun wargames, I've had good luck with the games from Victory Point Games. They have short, highly playable games with a very solid solitaire lines.
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Wendell
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jpr755 wrote:
And I could probably stand to brush up on my forum etiquette. Dropping a post asking for comments and then dashing off, waiting until next morning to check in just before heading off to work is probably bad form.


Not at all. You don't have to tether yourself to BGG.

Though some do!
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Roger Hobden
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Freitag wrote:


It was weird, ASL was the only real option for 20+ years, and then inside of 3 years 3 games come out to compete for the tactical WWII crown. All are a little less technical, and a little faster. All are fun.

Combat Commander
Lock n' Load
Conflict of Heroes


There is also Advanced Tobruk, known as "ATS". It's foundation was Tobruk: Tank Battles in North Africa 1942, created two years before Squad Leader, and ten years before Advanced Squad Leader. Supporters of the ATS system say that it integrates many of the positive aspects of ASL, within a simpler turn sequence.
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David Sullivan
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A big thumbs up for "Conflict of Heroes" and "Nations at War: White Star Rising." CoH is the best new entry into tactical WW2 gaming in several years. WSR is also a great system.

I jumped into the Panzergrenadier system when it came out years ago and bought several of the titles. However, it just didn't hold me and I sold off everything except the first few games in the series (the Russian Front stuff).
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David Sullivan
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Keep in mind, too, Jim, that a lot of the out of print 70s and 80s era games are available on eBay, Craigslist, and online game stores like Troll and Toad who carry OOP games - or even sales from BGG members. I started gaming in the 70s with AH and SPI games. I passed on a lot of games back then, which I regretted later. I've been eventually able to get almost every game I've wanted.
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Brian Lucid
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I'm at the end of a 20+ year Army career. The wife and kids are home, I'm in Korea. I still am a huge fan of Squad Leader (the original one and only) and Upfront. These are still great games to play on Bruce Wigdor's wargameroom.com and Vassal/VSQL. Yes online boardgames are intimidating but when you're hard up, living in a foreign country and you look around and wonder who are all these X-Box playing kids and where are my gaming buddies; it's an option.

*You have a good one in hand, Combat Commander is a great series! Nice blend of UF and SL.
*Commands and colors and *Memoir 44 are fun too, not difficult to learn and teach a new guy who may not be familiar with games. You can't break out a GMT/AH game with maps and charts on a newbie.
*I want to try Conflict of Heros, bought one of the games but it's at home waiting for me.
*GMT has a lot of really cool titles, if you can get someone to play with you or check out warhorse simulations automated card tracking system...you can play them online. I confess I haven't got much patience with the computer but these sites are tools for learning the games.

Good luck, have fun and congratulations on a successful Navy career! Now it's time to catch up on those things we put on hold all those years.
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Hi Jim,

.-- . .-.. -.-. --- -- .

F.
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Jim Ransom
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dave3l wrote:
For a 'playable' light wargame, anything from the Command and Colors series would fit well-Ancients, Napoleonics, Battlecry, Memoir '44, etc. I've found them to be very enjoyable and a quick play to boot.


Thanks Dave. It seems like there is a large amount of support for the Command and Colors series, and I also see a lot of Memoir '44 fans out there.

I found that in the past I gravitated towards the more challenging formats -- some would say "more realistic," while others would say "less playable." I think these days I'm looking more for FUN, at least initially. Something that will keep my attention and not gather dust on the shelf. Lord knows my current crop of oldies/goodies have gathered enough dust!

Jim
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