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Subject: Tactical WW2 game recommendation rss

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Richard Hecker
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I need to scratch the tactical wargaming itch. I've played a lot of ASL in my teens, but that is now decades past alas and have since played more operational scale games.

I would like more detail but I don't need to get to the level of counting ammunition for individual weapons - a degree of abstraction / simplification for the sake of an engaging game that allows meaningful player decisions is fine with me. Playable solitaire or over Vassal would be preferred, as would a system with say a dozen scenarios available out of the box.

I have Memoir 44 which while fun enough to play with the 8 year old it is just too simple otherwise. I'm looking for some meat here,

Seems that there are currently ca. 4 choices.

- ASL / ASLSK: has a whole lot of scope but risks being a complete time & money sink. Limiting to the ASLSK may be a solution.
- Combat Commander
- Conflict of Heroes
- Lock and Load

So what are the strengths, weaknesses, & limitations of these systems?



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Michael Dorosh
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Hamster007 wrote:
Seems that there are currently ca. 4 choices.

- ASL / ASLSK: has a whole lot of scope but risks being a complete time & money sink. Limiting to the ASLSK may be a solution.
- Combat Commander
- Conflict of Heroes
- Lock and Load


Panzer Grenadier, TCS and Fighting Formations are also on the list, as well as Fields of Fire, off the top of my head.

Quote:
So what are the strengths, weaknesses, & limitations of these systems?


That so many people start so many threads trying to distinguish between them.

I think at the end of the day, you're asking other people to tell you what you're going to like, which is not possible. I'd recommend trying one or two with your local gaming club, if that's a possibility, or watching a session or two via VASSAL. What you're asking for here, and are going to get, are people telling you what they like.

There are some good reviews in the game forums;
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just did a very good comparison-type review of note.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/728052/comparing-bob-to-comb...

I guess I forgot to add "Band of Brothers" to the list.

You may find this recent thread of interest:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/738540/band-of-brothers-tact...
 
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B. Marsh
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Advanced Tobruk System Basic Game 1a: Screaming Eagles plays well as solitaire, they currently do not support VASSAL but they did at one time so with a little research you can find the modules and some opponents.
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Jim F
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Well, in my quest for WW2 tactical perfection, l have tried out all those options. You know the commitment ASL requires so l wont say much about that except the sk version is far lighter in terms of rules and there are enough scenarios in them to keep you going for quite a while, with more on the horizon.

Combat Commander is my favourite because it brings in the confusion and chaos of war. That said l haven't won or lost a single game of it where l thought l was just lucky/unlucky, whereas l have thought that quite often in asl. It has no vehicles for the rivet counters but equally the asl scenarios l have enjoyed the most are infantry on infantry, so that's obviously my preference. It's card driven which takes some getting used to but the narratives it produces are great.

Conflict of Heroes is the lightest of the four. It personally didn't satisfy me and l got bored of it quite quickly, as l did with M44. I thought the scenarios were weak and the interaction between infantry and tanks almost non existent. It works well for an introduction because most mechanics can be taught in 20 minutes to a newcomer. The designer is also incredibly helpful in responding to.questions on here.

Lock n load l disliked from the start. I thought the rules were poorly set out and quite simple procedures described in a way that make the asl rules a paragon of clarity. The maps are lush and the counters are beautiful but l just gave up on it and sold it off. I know people who have persisted with it love it so maybe l just didnt give it a fair crack.

All the above are just my opinions and l am sure other folks will be happy to contradict them. Ultimately its only by trying them out, maybe after reading some reviews etc, that you will find one you like. Fighting Formations is another one you could look at....
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Sean McCormick
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Hamster007 wrote:
Seems that there are currently ca. 4 choices.

- ASL / ASLSK: has a whole lot of scope but risks being a complete time & money sink. Limiting to the ASLSK may be a solution.
- Combat Commander
- Conflict of Heroes
- Lock and Load


Panzer Grenadier, TCS and Fighting Formations are also on the list, as well as Fields of Fire, off the top of my head.

Quote:
So what are the strengths, weaknesses, & limitations of these systems?


That so many people start so many threads trying to distinguish between them.

I think at the end of the day, you're asking other people to tell you what you're going to like, which is not possible. I'd recommend trying one or two with your local gaming club, if that's a possibility, or watching a session or two via VASSAL. What you're asking for here, and are going to get, are people telling you what they like.

There are some good reviews in the game forums;
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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just did a very good comparison-type review of note.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/728052/comparing-bob-to-comb...

I guess I forgot to add "Band of Brothers" to the list.

You may find this recent thread of interest:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/738540/band-of-brothers-tact...


I'm flattered to have one of my reviews mistaken for gittes' work, as his are among the best on BGG. Anyway, to make a long story short, I think Band of Brothers is fabulous, and likely the best tactical game you'll find on the market. It also is the simplest, which I count as a good thing, but if you're hoping for lots of grit, you may be put off by the approach. The other game I would highly recommend is Fields of Fire, which is solitaire and certainly more complex, but shares with BoB what I consider a proper focus for its design.
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Ashiefan wrote:
Combat Commander is my favourite because it brings in the confusion and chaos of war. That said l haven't won or lost a single game of it where l thought l was just lucky/unlucky, whereas l have thought that quite often in asl. It has no vehicles for the rivet counters but equally the asl scenarios l have enjoyed the most are infantry on infantry, so that's obviously my preference. It's card driven which takes some getting used to but the narratives it produces are great.

Conflict of Heroes is the lightest of the four. It personally didn't satisfy me and l got bored of it quite quickly, as l did with M44. I thought the scenarios were weak and the interaction between infantry and tanks almost non existent. It works well for an introduction because most mechanics can be taught in 20 minutes to a newcomer. The designer is also incredibly helpful in responding to.questions on here.

Lock n load l disliked from the start. I thought the rules were poorly set out and quite simple procedures described in a way that make the asl rules a paragon of clarity. The maps are lush and the counters are beautiful but l just gave up on it and sold it off. I know people who have persisted with it love it so maybe l just didnt give it a fair crack.

That's very close to my take on those systems. With that in mind, and considering your comments my recommendation would be either:

Combat Commander Series
or
Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit

Two new systems that might be worth looking at as alternatives are Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division and Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles. Neither have more content currently available beyond what's in the box as they are both new games, but they are expected/hopeful to grow into families.
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Michael Dorosh
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seanmac wrote:
I'm flattered to have one of my reviews mistaken for gittes' work, as his are among the best on BGG. Anyway, to make a long story short, I think Band of Brothers is fabulous, and likely the best tactical game you'll find on the market. It also is the simplest, which I count as a good thing, but if you're hoping for lots of grit, you may be put off by the approach. The other game I would highly recommend is Fields of Fire, which is solitaire and certainly more complex, but shares with BoB what I consider a proper focus for its design.


blush

My apologies to both of you.
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Warren Bruhn
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If you are looking to play solitaire or pbem, then why not get a computer program instead of a boardgame. Something like Combat Mission might do it for you.
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Erik Nicely
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Lots of good recommendations in the previous posts. My personal picks at 3 levels of complexity:

Rules-light: World at War: Eisenbach Gap (OP you didn't say keep it to WWII) or Nations at War: White Star Rising. Platoons with chit-pull activation and similar rules. Bloody and playable. I think with both of these games people either play once and then never again or become die hard fans of the system. May or may not be your cup of tea.

Rules-medium: Toss up between Conflict of Heroes and the Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit. With the ASLSKs you get a solid tactical game but also run the risk of spending additional $$ on moving into full ASL when you need more cool stuff. CoH is much less of a simulation, more gamey, but a very solid set of rules with some great scenarios.

Rules-tough: ASL. Lifestyle game. If you play as a beginner and love it you may end up not playing a lot of other wargames.
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Eduardo Gabrieloff
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usrlocal wrote:
For the best solitaire tactical boardgame, Fields of Fire is totally the way to go.

Are there other tactical solitaire games as good as Fields of Fire?
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I've owned ASL (sold it all off about 5 years ago), still own LnL and Clash of Heroes, and have recently acquired and started playing Combat Commander.

Squad Leader was the second wargame I purchased as a 16 year old (after Richtofen's War, which I still have!). I soon 'upgraded' to ASL and it was a firm favourite of mine into my early twenties. I think eventually the format and design stagnated a little for me and other wargames caught my eye and my imagination, particularly with regards to visual presentation. I sold off all my ASL about 5 years ago and haven't really missed it, if I'm honest.

I've got to agree with Ashiefan with regards to LnL and CoH. I really, really wanted to like LnL so I gave it a pretty long run on my game table, but something just didn't click and I've only returned to it once in the last couple of years.

I found Combat Commander to be a breathe of fresh air for me. While there are arguments for/against the 'luck' or 'fog of war' influences in the game, I think it's a beautifully balanced game. Of the 20+ games I've played up to now, there's only been once or twice where either myself or my opponent has been resigned to losing. When I'm under pressure, I always feel I can turn it around if I can just pick up that Artillery Request Order next turn...

The ebb and flow of CC has to be experienced to be appreciated and as the non-active player, you're always on the lookout for an opportunity to throw a spanner into the works. Thoroughly enjoyable game if you can live with the 'fog of war' that leading a Combat Platoon in WWII inevitably produced.

Cheers.
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Richard Hecker
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Yikes. I disappear for a few hours to visit the grandmother-in-law with underage terrorists in tow and find a plethora of suggestions. Many, many thanks gentlefolk!

Think I'm down to Combat Commander or wallowing in the ASKSKs. Cointoss and read a few reviews for a guide it seems.

A similar-but-related question, are there any credible First World War squad or platoon tactical games?
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Hamster007 wrote:
...are there any credible First World War squad or platoon tactical games?
Landships (and its derivatives) and Infantry Attacks (and its derivatives) come to mind as possibilities. Infantry Attacks was derived in turn from the WW2 platoon level Panzer Grenadier system. Landships was a new design. I believe there are reviews of both on BGG, and that would provide more insight than I am able to give.

EDIT - and on your original question for my 2 cents I like very much the application of WaW to WW2 in Nations at War: White Star Rising and am looking forward to Nations at War: Desert Heat. A simple concept that holds together for WaW and in WW2 works even better due to the further simplification of weapon systems, although oddly it has not caught on quite like WaW seems to have. My other experience is limited to ASL, PzGr, and the old classics PB/PL/AIW. And Steel Panthers on the PC which I enjoyed at one time.
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Jordi Cairol
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I'm not a fan of tactical games, although I own and have played some.
But I've just read the article in Battles Magazine #7 (great magazine indeed!) and can't wait to buy and play Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division. Same designer as Combat Commander, Chad Jensen, with, IMO, innovative and cool "matrix" system.
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usrlocal wrote:
For the best solitaire tactical boardgame, Fields of Fire is totally the way to go.


+1000 thumbsup

M.
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I've read a lot of good things about ATS.

Self contained system, a good balance between accuracy and complexity, that unfortunately doesn't have much of a Vassal support...
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Robert Stuart
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Gorgoneion wrote:
I've read a lot of good things about ATS.

that unfortunately doesn't have much of a Vassal support...


Very unfortunately. Plus, they won't reprint Darkest December: Battle of the Bulge 1944. Neither will they engage in the hard research of finding out just where, and from whom, you can buy a secondhand copy.
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If you want to keep it simple, Combat Commander - a truly incredible system that gives a ton of excitement for relatively little effort, has a ton of expansions and will certainly get more. Easy to teach to new players.

If you want significantly more complexity and will mainly play solitaire, ATS. A really good system with great maps and counters. However, the system exists in a vacuum, other players are as rare as hen's teeth and the company that produces it, Critical Hit, is eccentric and unpredictable.

If you want still more complexity, will mainly play face to face or on VASL, ASLSK or ASL. The queen of WW2 tac game systems, loads of websites and forums, well supported by MMP and third party companies.
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Erik Nicely
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Hamster007 wrote:

Think I'm down to Combat Commander or wallowing in the ASKSKs. Cointoss and read a few reviews for a guide it seems.


You can look at those as either high degree of chaos (CC) or a high degree of control (ASLSK). Two games that play differently. Also, no tanks in CC.
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It used to be a no-brainer to try the starter kits for ASL as SK1 was so cheap. Unfortunately it is now out of print, but I guess some places may still have it.

The Expansion Pack for ASLSK would now be my first port of call to try ASL before committing to it.

I wrote about my experiences with the SKs here:
http://aslexplorations.blogspot.com/2011/10/beginning-asl-wi...

I am now getting into full-on ASL, but consequently other wargames have had to fall by the wayside.
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bob_santafe wrote:
Plus, they won't reprint Darkest December: Battle of the Bulge 1944. Neither will they engage in the hard research of finding out just where, and from whom, you can buy a secondhand copy.
Darkest December was just reprinted.

I find ATS to be the best of the bunch, with TCS a close second. I have not tried Band of Brothers yet. ASL and CC are at the bottom of my list (the ASLSK fares a little better). Fighting Formations was fun but I have only gotten it to the table once so not enough to really evaluate it - It seemed a little bit light to me, but seemed to work okay. The LnL games are a tough call for me - They are fun and focus on the right details but I always feel like something is missing and wind up playing ATS (sort of like the feeling you get an hour after eating Chinese food and just need something more).
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I'll offer a dissenting opinion and recommend Conflict of Heroes, or Band of Brothers over Combat Commander or ASLSK. To my mind I have an easier time focusing on the scenario and the tactics in those two games, rather than the game system.

Hamster007 wrote:

A similar-but-related question, are there any credible First World War squad or platoon tactical games?


I'm not a fan of WWI, but you may want to check out Red Poppies. Never played it but reading the rules it seems quite streamlined and like Fields of Fire / Band of Brothers is more focused on the effects of classes of volume of fire and how they work in combined arms than specific weapon minutiae.
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adorablerocket wrote:
I'll offer a dissenting opinion and recommend Conflict of Heroes, or Band of Brothers over Combat Commander or ASLSK. To my mind I have an easier time focusing on the scenario and the tactics in those two games, rather than the game system.


Agreed. I understand not many people have had a chance to play Band of Brothers, as it just came out, it's from a small publisher, and there were some distribution problems. That said, I think it sets a benchmark for streamlined and accessible play, and it forces players to concentrate on relevant choices throughout the game. Conflict of Heroes is also good, though it allows more game considerations to creep in with the activation/CAP system. Both of Chad Jensen's designs devote significant amounts of time to managing systems that don't map to history.
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I have played Squad Leader, ASL, ASLSK3, Conflict of Heroes and Lock and Load. Of those I prefer Conflict of Heroes. It has vehicles, which is a must for me, but I never get bogged down in referencing rules and can focus on the scenario. I don't think it is as well suited to solitare play (due to the cards). I have no idea if there is VASSAL support. The components are beautiful and superoir to the othfer games. Every battle has been tense and usually decided in the last activation or two of the last turn. I also really like COH's unit activation system. Sorry for my awful typing. BGG is not too mobile friendly.
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