Nate Milbrath
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I know these topics have been done to death, but I'm looking into a bit more advanced war game. I finally got a buddy who's willing to play a slightly longer war game and complexity shouldn't be too much of an issue [he's played lots of Axis and Allies, but wants a more complex game and he'd be willing to learn]. I'm familiar with the Commands and Colors system, but I want something more out of a war game. So here is my criteria and some I was looking at:

Games I really liked:
*Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?
*Commands & Colors: Ancients
*Twilight Struggle

*Length: Shouldn't go much beyond 4 hours.
*Complexity: Medium to lowish complexity for a war game [I can handle Through the Ages no problem, if that helps].
*Mechanics: Would prefer not another CDG, but maybe card enhanced?
*Realistic: Don't really care too much, but would lean more towards realistic than not.

Also, has to have chits with little numbers and pictures instead of wooden blocks

Games I was considering:
*Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 - Looks fun, but heard it's pretty unrealistic.
*Combat Commander: Europe - Looks awesome, but heard it's kind of random.
*No Retreat! The Russian Front - Looks to be the most middle ground in complexity.
*Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division - Infantry level combat looks cool. I have nothing to go off of whether I want Infantry level or not. Looks pretty awesome though.

Any other suggestions? Which one would you go with? A mounted map would be cool, but is not required. I would also like to avoid a game where I spend 90% of the time digging around in a rulebook. Thanks in advance.
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Of the games that you really liked all of them have card play. These are two that are not on your list, but worth checking out:

Glory III

Monmouth

Combat Commander: Europe is worth checking out as there is a lot of innovative game designs within, and it infinitely replayable. There is a bit of random factors involved, yet truly, the way I see it the battlefield has much more random events happening ~ swirling around you ~ than a "textbook battle" would.

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I'd recommend Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes for the next step. In my opinion it gives the best 'real wargame' feel with the least clunky rule set. It's CRTs and DRMs and TEMs and all that, not chit-draw like Conflict of Heroes, but with simple enough modifiers you'll come to memorize them within a few games. It avoids the 'stack of doom' that Squad Leader is prone to (granted my experience with it was limited, but it was a recurring problem). The spotting system forces you to spread out and try to 4F your opponent. The expansions cover any flavor of WW2 you're interested in. There is also Forgotten Heroes if you'd prefer to go Vietnam based on the same system. World at War uses another system that I'm not familiar with to be able to recommend or not.

Band of Brothers Screaming Eagles, though I haven't played it yet, looks like it could quite possibly steal the squad-based crown, but it needs to be out longer to see if that holds true.

If you want to go ancients try the GBoH series, just pick an era. Play time will be longer though, probably 2 hours at the short end.

Cheers, happy gaming!
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Every game on your "considering" list has a fanbase; I'm a charter member of the Combat Commander one. It has a lot of friction of war; if you want a game where you can control all your guys every turn, it's not your game. But since you have some success with C&C:A, that may not be a problem.

You might want to cast an eye over the world of block games. Many highly-regarded ones these days--Julius Caesar, Crusader Rex, Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815 spring to mind.
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tyvek wrote:
Of the games that you really liked all of them have card play. These are two that are not on your list, but worth checking out:

Glory III

Monmouth

Combat Commander: Europe is worth checking out as there is a lot of innovative game designs within, and it infinitely replayable. There is a bit of random factors involved, yet truly, the way I see it the battlefield has much more random events happening ~ swirling around you ~ than a "textbook battle" would.

Both those games look fantastic and will be added to my considerations. I'm surprised at how cheap Monmouth is. I may have to add that to my order regardless.

I'm not too worried about randomness as Dominant Species is one of my favorite games and that involves a lot of chaos and to some degree randomness. Thank you for the suggestions and the comment about CC:E.
 
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theTak wrote:
I'd recommend Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes for the next step. In my opinion it gives the best 'real wargame' feel with the least clunky rule set. It's CRTs and DRMs and TEMs and all that, not chit-draw like Conflict of Heroes, but with simple enough modifiers you'll come to memorize them within a few games. It avoids the 'stack of doom' that Squad Leader is prone to (granted my experience with it was limited, but it was a recurring problem). The spotting system forces you to spread out and try to 4F your opponent. The expansions cover any flavor of WW2 you're interested in. There is also Forgotten Heroes if you'd prefer to go Vietnam based on the same system. World at War uses another system that I'm not familiar with to be able to recommend or not.

Band of Brothers Screaming Eagles, though I haven't played it yet, looks like it could quite possibly steal the squad-based crown, but it needs to be out longer to see if that holds true.

If you want to go ancients try the GBoH series, just pick an era. Play time will be longer though, probably 2 hours at the short end.

Cheers, happy gaming!
I forgot to add Band of Heroes to the list. I saw it mentioned a few times and forgot to look into it further. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not sure how much I would like chit draw, but how much different is that really from dice?
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alfredhw wrote:
Every game on your "considering" list has a fanbase; I'm a charter member of the Combat Commander one. It has a lot of friction of war; if you want a game where you can control all your guys every turn, it's not your game. But since you have some success with C&C:A, that may not be a problem.

You might want to cast an eye over the world of block games. Many highly-regarded ones these days--Julius Caesar, Crusader Rex, Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815 spring to mind.
Yeah, the fanbase thing I was worried about. Is there anything specifically different/better that makes Combat Commander stand out for you among those?

I'm also not opposed to block games, far from it actually. I just wanted a game with little chits with a handful of numbers to move around on the map :-P I just watched a video review of Julius Caesar and it looks fairly similar to CC:A. More involved, but fairly similar. I am fascinated with that era of time though. Will be looking into Napoleon next as I'm also strongly interested in that era.
 
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Do you want strategic level or tactical level game?

If you want strategic level wargame, then buy No Retreat, period. I played it recently and liked it. If this had been my first wargame, then I would have loved it. There are just more detailed(but much longer) games of the same subject that I'm more intrigued to play.

If you want tactical level wargame, then it gets a lot harder.

pickboy87 wrote:
*Mechanics: Would prefer not another CDG, but maybe card enhanced?


If you don't want a card driven game then maybe you should pass on Combat Commander, because it's really really card driven game.

I would assume that Fighting Formations is a bit too heavy, or at least a bit longish for you guys.

I just ordered CoH. I'm a sucker for vehicles and damage chits. I'll have to see how much I like it. I wouldn't worry about realism criticism. People can always create reasons why something is realistic in one game and why something is not realistic in other game.

Then there is Lock-n-load series, like already mentioned.

and Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles.

I would suggest to get No Retreat. CoH might be also good choice but I can't vouch for it.
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pickboy87 wrote:

Games I was considering:
*Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 - Looks fun, but heard it's pretty unrealistic.
*Combat Commander: Europe - Looks awesome, but heard it's kind of random.
*No Retreat! The Russian Front - Looks to be the most middle ground in complexity.
*Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division - Infantry level combat looks cool. I have nothing to go off of whether I want Infantry level or not. Looks pretty awesome though.

Any other suggestions? Which one would you go with? A mounted map would be cool, but is not required. I would also like to avoid a game where I spend 90% of the time digging around in a rulebook. Thanks in advance.


I can give a big thumbs up to FF: Grossdeutchland I.D. I really enjoy the initiative system. I found a definite lack of variety in the cards, but other than that small gripe, it was an awesome experience.
Tim
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Thank you both Tim and Roadhouse. I honestly don't know whether I'm looking for a strategic level or tactical level war game. I tend to prefer tactical more than strategic in my euros. I like to think on my feet and adjust to the situation at hand. I feel it keeps me more engaged than strategic.

I'll probably end up getting all of those games I mentioned eventually as well as some of the suggestions I saw mentioned. I was thinking of going towards No Retreat, but I keep seeing such praise for Combat Commander. I just get the feeling it's going to be fairly similar to all the other CDG's I own. The nice thing about that however, is it would be easier to ease my buddy into the system. But, I would like to have something completely different from something I own, too.

I see they're doing a reprint on Screaming Eagles, so that might have to wait for now. It looks awesome though.

I didn't realize that FF: Grossdeutchland was close to high for complexity. Not saying I couldn't handle it and if I was determined to learn it, I could. Do you think it would be too much of a leap from Commands and Colors/Labyrinth? It looked like it had a really cool system with the command matrix thingy.
 
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pickboy87 wrote:

Yeah, the fanbase thing I was worried about. Is there anything specifically different/better that makes Combat Commander stand out for you among those?


I hard to put my thought to words but this maybe quite close what I'm thinking:

DarrellKH wrote:
Biggest concern is how much needs to be learned and remembered, for a game that carefully stays out of the details, yet still manages to occasionally leave a player at the mercy of his hand


One other thing is that many times you have to mechanically seach through the deck for the right cards and wait for the right combinations. I'm more of a person that enjoys "make the best actions of what you got in your hand"- type of games rather "create the best hand for yourself". Seems like you really have to make a huge effort sometimes going through the deck and planning everything but yet you are at mercy of random elements that can very well blow it all away. I don't really critize the randomness in it's essense but somehow I just feel there is always a huge effort to do something but very little payout each time. I'll have to try the Mediterrenean at least once and see if the experience is any better.
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pickboy87 wrote:
Thank you both Tim and Roadhouse. I honestly don't know whether I'm looking for a strategic level or tactical level war game. I tend to prefer tactical more than strategic in my euros. I like to think on my feet and adjust to the situation at hand. I feel it keeps me more engaged than strategic.

I'll probably end up getting all of those games I mentioned eventually as well as some of the suggestions I saw mentioned. I was thinking of going towards No Retreat, but I keep seeing such praise for Combat Commander. I just get the feeling it's going to be fairly similar to all the other CDG's I own. The nice thing about that however, is it would be easier to ease my buddy into the system. But, I would like to have something completely different from something I own, too.

I see they're doing a reprint on Screaming Eagles, so that might have to wait for now. It looks awesome though.

I didn't realize that FF: Grossdeutchland was close to high for complexity. Not saying I couldn't handle it and if I was determined to learn it, I could. Do you think it would be too much of a leap from Commands and Colors/Labyrinth? It looked like it had a really cool system with the command matrix thingy.

Not sure if the complexity is too much but the scenarios are at least 4 hours long even if you are experienced. Better to search for more detailed info on the exact playing time of each scenario on the forums or scenario book on GMT website. The intro scenario is about 2 hours but if I'm not incorrect, the 2nd is already at least 4 hours and probably closer 5-6 hours first time.
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pickboy87 wrote:
alfredhw wrote:
Every game on your "considering" list has a fanbase; I'm a charter member of the Combat Commander one. It has a lot of friction of war; if you want a game where you can control all your guys every turn, it's not your game. But since you have some success with C&C:A, that may not be a problem.

You might want to cast an eye over the world of block games. Many highly-regarded ones these days--Julius Caesar, Crusader Rex, Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815 spring to mind.
Yeah, the fanbase thing I was worried about. Is there anything specifically different/better that makes Combat Commander stand out for you among those?

I'm also not opposed to block games, far from it actually. I just wanted a game with little chits with a handful of numbers to move around on the map :-P I just watched a video review of Julius Caesar and it looks fairly similar to CC:A. More involved, but fairly similar. I am fascinated with that era of time though. Will be looking into Napoleon next as I'm also strongly interested in that era.


Combat Commander sticks out for me first and foremost because it's a "toybox" game, where you have a huge pile of bits and cards and can put together scenarios for the rest of your life. It and C&C: Ancients are my two favorite games in your post. I also like CC because it tells a strong narrative every time I play; I play games to create a story and evoke a period rather than for competition or "simulation" (which I have my doubts about in general, but anyway). Some people play CC more competitively, and I think CC is a pretty good sim as they go (with certain things understood), but it suits my purposes well.

It has other advantages as a game to learn--very compact (small map, few units), very clear presentation of the rules. As practical matters.

No Retreat! is an interesting game; very clever, but a little abstract for my tastes. (The "empty" Soviet side on Turn One freaks me out. I see what the designer's doing, but still.) My two favorite eastern front games are either enormous or solitaire, so I'm not much help. (And they come bigger than my "enormous" game.)

I'm intrigued by how Julius Caesar struck you as fairly similar to C&C:A. How so? The blocks and cards are pretty different.
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If you want to try a real but very playable wargame outside WW2, then take a look at Infidel. If you are interested in the Crusades period, then this a must have as a tactical Crusades period game. The rules are only 12 pages(although a bit condensed but not too hard). Playing time is 1-4 hours (average is about 2 hours) depending on the scenario. 6 scenarios. I have played one scenario three times, and I could easily play another three times even the same one, there is a lot to learn about tactics and each scenario has its own challenges.
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alfredhw wrote:
I'm intrigued by how Julius Caesar struck you as fairly similar to C&C:A. How so? The blocks and cards are pretty different.

First off, thank you for that comment about Combat Commander. That seems to be the general attitude towards it. It just looks like a fun game and people mentioned that it seems to "tell a story". That's why I also like Akrham Horror so much.

I love CC:A and feel it's a great game. It's got a nice historical feel to it, it's fun to push around the pieces and it gives you plenty of options to choose from. The cards can be a bit too limiting though and sometimes you get a really bad hand that's tough to work with. That's what I'm trying to avoid in my next war game. I don't necessarily feel like I need full control of the battlefield, but when I can sometimes only move 1 or 2 groups of units because of a bad hand in CC:A, it can get slightly frustrating.

As for how close Julius Caesar is to CC:A, I feel like I may have misspoken. I guess I felt like it was similarish since it was an ancient battle, wooden blocks, dice and cards. I guess you could say half my euros are "the same" if I described them like that The cards are much more useful in Julius Caesar though and don't look to be as limiting. They do look quite different from each other and I would love to acquire it, but I feel like right now I just wanted something very different from what I have now. It does look awesome though, and I love that period of time. I'll look into it further before I make up my mind.
 
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RoadHouse wrote:
If you want to try a real but very playable wargame outside WW2, then take a look at Infidel. If you are interested in the Crusades period, then this a must have as a tactical Crusades period game. The rules are only 12 pages(although a bit condensed but not too hard). Playing time is 1-4 hours (average is about 2 hours) depending on the scenario. 6 scenarios. I have played one scenario three times, and I could easily play another three times even the same one, there is a lot to learn about tactics and each scenario has its own challenges.

That looks like an awesome game. I honestly have no preference on a war time frame, but I do like learning and playing obscure wars. I know that's not exactly an obscure war, but it seems to step outside of the usual WW2, Napoleon, Civil War circle. I'm really interested in that one now. You keep making this harder and harder with your decisions. I was planning on just adding 1 war game to my order, but now it may just turn into a full war game order instead. laugh
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I just played my 3rd and final game of CC, this time it was with the Mediterranean expansion. You can see my thoughts about the game in the commented games section of my bgg account page.

pickboy87 wrote:
Really been digging war games as of late. This would be my first foray into actual war games. This game looks awesome. This will also be my determining factor as whether or not I'll like a full fledged war game.

I can most confidently say that CC is not by any means a deciding factor if you like wargames or not. I also find very questionable how CC can actually represent history in any other level than the so much advertised combat chaos. Definitely not something that gives you a real wargame feel.
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Sorry, I've been so busy the last few days I haven't gotten a chance to post what I ended up going with.

So I talked to my buddy that was interested in war games and he wasn't much help in deciding. He said basically everything looked fun. So I went with what looked most appealing to me at the time and ended up with:

*Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943
*Monmouth
*No Retreat! The Russian Front

I haven't really gotten a chance to play any yet, but I've been reading/re-reading the rules to No Retreat almost religiously over the weekend. I had a hard time grasping the overall flow of the game, but I think I've mostly gotten it under control. Watched a few videos which helped solidify a few things. The only thing I don't 100% get is counterblows and supply paths. I get the concept for it, but it's not 100% clear. Mainly it's the supply paths distance. I just wanted to say thank you all for helping me decide. I'll probably end up going with Combat Commander later on since it still looks like it would be a blast to play. It should also be a slight step up on the difficulty chain according to GMT's website.
 
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I'll be interested to hear your thoughts after you have played those games.
 
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