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Subject: looking for reccomendations for a first wargame rss

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David Morneau
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Hi all,

Lately I've become interested in wargames and want to try one out. Actually that's putting it a little to casually. I want to learn a wargame and spend a lot of time with it to really get a feel for this kind of game.

Here's the list o' requirements:
- I'll be playing alone (no one else in my regular gaming groups is really interested in this.) That's okay, I've played solo versions of several games with no problems. That said I'd like to stay away from card driven games and other situations with hidden information.

- I'm not afraid of complexity or density. In fact, I'm in the middle of a solo play of American Megafauna right now, so I'm confident that I can handle most other games. I'd prefer to stay away from "beginner" wargames.

- I want something with good replay value. I'm going to spend time learning the rules and learning how to play so I'd like something that I can come back to a bunch of times (something with several scenarios will do the trick.)

- I'd prefer something that's part of a larger system if possible so that I can move onto other games if this is a successful endeavor.

- I'm more interested in pre-gunpowder settings than anything else.


The caveat:
- I don't know much about warfare of any era. It's honestly not a subject that has been of interest in the past. I'm interested in it in the context of a game and willing to do a little extra reading if needed to help me understand the history around a battle.


My search so far:
I've found the GBOH series and it looks like something that fits my interest. In that series SPQR and Samurai have the most appeal immediately. I don't know if there are other systems for ancient/medieval battles, but I'd be interested in looking at those as well.

Thanks in advance.
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p55carroll
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For starters, take a gander at this Starter Wargames GeekList.

Then, if you want to start cheap, look at this GeekList of Free Wargames.

Now that I've plugged a couple of my GeekLists, I'll add that your choice of a GBoH game sounds just right--if you're really willing to tackle the complexity.

However, be sure to have a good look at Lost Battles too.

For my own pre-gunpowder-era fix, I go to Ancient Battles Deluxe. But I like it because it's relatively small and quick and simple and has lots of scenarios. You might want something bigger or meatier.
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Steve Willows
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Since you said you'd like to stay away from beginner games, and you are an experienced gamer, and you prefer pre-gunpowder and a "system" game...

Well, the first thing that came to mind is;



"Lost Battles" is forty games in one. The game covers battles and campaigns in the Mediterranean and Near East from the Persian defeat at Marathon in 490 BC to Caesar's victory at Pharsalus in 48 BC. It has been exhaustively tested and refined over the past several years, and is based on Professor Philip Sabin's decades of research and simulation design on ancient warfare; and it includes an updated copy of his book, with extensive historical and design notes on every scenario."

Lost Battles

Pricy venture, however.
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GBoH sounds like a great place for you to start.
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Jim F
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davidmorneau wrote:


I've found the GBOH series and it looks like something that fits my interest. In that series SPQR and Samurai have the most appeal immediately. I don't know if there are other systems for ancient/medieval battles, but I'd be interested in looking at those as well.



I'd go with your instinct on SPQR. The rules are a lesson in clarity and the mechanics work very well. There are plenty of books on the Punic Wars to set your battles in their historical context.

I played Men of Iron and it left me a bit cold.

(I must be going blind thumbing my own post instead of Rogers. It's been a long day)
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Kent Reuber
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Other ancient/medieval systems to look at:

Ancient Battles Deluxe has quite a few battles available. The rules are online at http://victorypointgames.com

There is also its ancestor, Ancients. Some people prefer the combat system from the original Ancients. Also, Ancients is a free download from http://www.relativerange.com/

Champs de Bataille system A boardgame version of the De Bellis Multitudinis miniatures rules. There are several CdB games published in Vae Victis. English translations are available.

Another Vae Victis series is Au fil de l'épée . Again, English translations are available.

The Men of Iron Series is a less complex version of the Great Battles of History series.
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Warren Bruhn
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David, aren't you in NY City? If that is the case, then surely you could find groups of players doing almost anything there. Don't see why you would need to play alone. At the risk of sounding a highly discordant note, I'm going to go off the beaten track and recommend some things for you to try beyond the tactical battles suggested in the previous posts.

#1 - You might be able to get some of the guys in your current group to try strategic multi-player games such as Sword of Rome or Successors. These are light wargames that are played out over large point to point maps using cards to trigger events or activate troops. They look good enough to get some Euro or thematic gamers to try them. Sword of Rome benefits from a recent (2010) reprint with thick counters and thick hard mounted map. It is very colorful and looks very good. One of the things I like best about it is that each of the 4 or 5 players (the 3 player version is not as good as the 4 or 5) has his or her own deck of cards to play from. This, together with special rules, causes each player position to have its own flavor and style. Another suggestion for a light multi-player wargame is Excalibur, if you can find a copy.

#2 - If you really want to spend some time alone with an ancient or medieval wargame, then why buy cardboard when you can buy a nice computer game such as Medieval: Total War or Rome: Total War. Both of these have a strategic framework for campaigns, but the cool thing is the tactical battles fought out in "real time" on nice terrain with lots of little animated men killing each other. You can learn enough about ancient and medieval tactics from these experiences to encourage you to read up on the warfare of those periods. Don't get me wrong. I like cardboard, am primarily a cardboard wargamer, and have played some cardboard wargames solitaire in my day, but I like cardboard best for the social aspects of the big multi-player games. If I was looking to play solitaire, I'd think first about computer games such as Medieval: Total War and Rome: Total War, among others.

#3 - If you are in NY City, then there are probably clubs of players of miniatures games such as DBA (De Bellis Antiquitas) and Armati. I have played some of those without owning any ancient or medieval figures of my own (have lots of other miniatures). You could probably find such clubs or groups of players to introduce you to their hobby and let you try it without making you buy any of your own figures. Personally, I prefer Armati because it feels more like an ancient battle to me. I also like the 4ft x 6ft standard playing area, and the larger number of figures in the armies. However, DBA is arguably the most popular wargame in the world. It requires very few figures, almost no terrain, and only a 2ft x 2ft playing area. Part of the joy of ancients and medivals is images of the armored men with all their sharp pointed and edged weapons and all their colorful heraldry and designs. Nothing makes that more enjoyable than playing with well painted and based miniature figures.

#4 - Not saying that you shouldn't buy and try one of the cardboard tactical options suggested above. I'm just suggesting that you should add #1 light strategic multi-player cardboard option, #2 computer tactical option, and #3 tactical miniatures option to your ancient and medieval wargame experiences. Living where you do, I think that all those options are very much within reach.
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Andrew C
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Scrogdog wrote:
Since you said you'd like to stay away from beginner games, and you are an experienced gamer, and you prefer pre-gunpowder and a "system" game...

Well, the first thing that came to mind is;



"Lost Battles" is forty games in one. The game covers battles and campaigns in the Mediterranean and Near East from the Persian defeat at Marathon in 490 BC to Caesar's victory at Pharsalus in 48 BC. It has been exhaustively tested and refined over the past several years, and is based on Professor Philip Sabin's decades of research and simulation design on ancient warfare; and it includes an updated copy of his book, with extensive historical and design notes on every scenario."

Lost Battles

Pricy venture, however.


Please, do yourself a favor and stay away from this mess of a game.

GBoH is more complex but a much better game and provides far more insight into ancient warfare.
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David Morneau
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Thank you everyone for your input.

I looked at Lost Battles. It looks fascinating, but it costs too much for something with such divided opinions. I may check out the book though.

Ancient Battles Deluxe also looks like a good possibility. I've downloaded the free Ancients game to give the system a closer look.

SPQR is still my first choice. It's nice to have other games to compare it to as I steel myself to take the plunge.
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David Morneau
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Warren Bruhn wrote:
David, aren't you in NY City? If that is the case, then surely you could find groups of players doing almost anything there. Don't see why you would need to play alone. At the risk of sounding a highly discordant note, I'm going to go off the beaten track and recommend some things for you to try beyond the tactical battles suggested in the previous posts.

#1 - You might be able to get some of the guys in your current group to try strategic multi-player games such as Sword of Rome or Successors. These are light wargames that are played out over large point to point maps using cards to trigger events or activate troops. They look good enough to get some Euro or thematic gamers to try them. Sword of Rome benefits from a recent (2010) reprint with thick counters and thick hard mounted map. It is very colorful and looks very good. One of the things I like best about it is that each of the 4 or 5 players (the 3 player version is not as good as the 4 or 5) has his or her own deck of cards to play from. This, together with special rules, causes each player position to have its own flavor and style. Another suggestion for a light multi-player wargame is Excalibur, if you can find a copy.

#2 - If you really want to spend some time alone with an ancient or medieval wargame, then why buy cardboard when you can buy a nice computer game such as Medieval: Total War or Rome: Total War. Both of these have a strategic framework for campaigns, but the cool thing is the tactical battles fought out in "real time" on nice terrain with lots of little animated men killing each other. You can learn enough about ancient and medieval tactics from these experiences to encourage you to read up on the warfare of those periods. Don't get me wrong. I like cardboard, am primarily a cardboard wargamer, and have played some cardboard wargames solitaire in my day, but I like cardboard best for the social aspects of the big multi-player games. If I was looking to play solitaire, I'd think first about computer games such as Medieval: Total War and Rome: Total War, among others.

#3 - If you are in NY City, then there are probably clubs of players of miniatures games such as DBA (De Bellis Antiquitas) and Armati. I have played some of those without owning any ancient or medieval figures of my own (have lots of other miniatures). You could probably find such clubs or groups of players to introduce you to their hobby and let you try it without making you buy any of your own figures. Personally, I prefer Armati because it feels more like an ancient battle to me. I also like the 4ft x 6ft standard playing area, and the larger number of figures in the armies. However, DBA is arguably the most popular wargame in the world. It requires very few figures, almost no terrain, and only a 2ft x 2ft playing area. Part of the joy of ancients and medivals is images of the armored men with all their sharp pointed and edged weapons and all their colorful heraldry and designs. Nothing makes that more enjoyable than playing with well painted and based miniature figures.

#4 - Not saying that you shouldn't buy and try one of the cardboard tactical options suggested above. I'm just suggesting that you should add #1 light strategic multi-player cardboard option, #2 computer tactical option, and #3 tactical miniatures option to your ancient and medieval wargame experiences. Living where you do, I think that all those options are very much within reach.


Hey Warren, thanks for taking the time to respond. I welcome discordant opinions.

I prefer to stay away from computer based games. I work at home on my computer and have had trouble sticking to task when the game is right there. Miniatures are less interesting to me for some reason (I think it's the nostalgia of hexes and counters, even though it's not really nostalgia because it's new to me...)

I did take your advice on looking for NYC players. There was a posting in the regional forum from someone looking for GBoH players who is also willing to teach new people. I responded to that and will see where it goes.
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Warren Bruhn
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BGG is a great tool for finding opponents. NYC has some great game designers in residence, so I suspect there are lots of players. As the former home base for SPI and Victory Games, it should be one of the great centers of wargaming. Adam Starkweather and Greg Costikyan live there. I usually scroll over the flag of most people who post in these forums out of curiosity to see where they live. Much to my surprise I've found lots of wargamers in my local area that way. When I find out they live near me I send them a PM via BGG. Most of the people I play wargames with now I met through BGG.
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A few thoughts:

You may want to try Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1. It's a good system, moderate complexity, and of course, leads to the rest of the Starter Kit series and/or ASL. 'Full' ASL has some hidden information, which is why I'm recommending ASLSK in particular, though it's quite possible to solo ASL as well. However, with a little work, you are likely to find opponents in your area. $25

A Victory Lost isn't part of a series, but there are other games that are mechanically very similar. Complexity is low. There is a little hidden information--which activation chits did each side put in the cup. However, the random activation draw makes it very fun to solo. Out of print, but I don't think it's that hard to find, and the other 'Victory' games can be hunted up first.

Carthage: The First Punic War isn't much of a series, with the first game long out of print, and the third still unannounced. Moderate complexity with a heavy amount of look up and procedural stuff. Ancient period, but at the 'operational' level instead of tactical. Again, random chit draws make it fun to solo, and it has no hidden information. And, the last I saw, it was on sale from GMT for $30.
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Robert Stuart
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For your very first wargame I would recommend you consider one of the early 'Avalon Hill classics', which though out of print are generally available, at good prices, on ebay. Why one of these? They introduce some of the most common essential features of wargames, have simple rules by 21st century standards, can be played in a single (sometimes long) afternoon and are all well-crafted with good play balance. Which one? D-Day, Stalingrad, Waterloo, Afrika Korps, The Battle of the Bulge: any one of these would be a good starting point.


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Well, I know you said pre-gunpowder but I'm still going to recommend a classic from Napoleonic days.

Napoleon's Last Battles!
 
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I seem to remember from some thread or other that this is somewhat solo-able...

It's very replayable (variable leader entry/leader death means it's quite a different game each time. There are also 2 scenarios).
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Jakob Schneider
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davidmorneau wrote:

My search so far:
I've found the GBOH series and it looks like something that fits my interest. In that series SPQR and Samurai have the most appeal immediately. I don't know if there are other systems for ancient/medieval battles, but I'd be interested in looking at those as well.

Thanks in advance.


The GBoH series is a good place to start.
If you consider the Japan route (Samurai), you should consider picking up it's sister game "Ran" first.
The rules are streamlined, and I think that the scenarios are better because they are more balanced than "Samurai's".
Ran is standalone, you don't need "Samurai" to play it.
You can always get "Samurai" later if "Ran" gets you fired up about the theme.

Jakob
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Case Blue

Is this passe yet?
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paradoxes wrote:
Case Blue

Is this passe yet?


Nope, You could even say "The Campaign for North Africa"

Cheers, Haring
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