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Subject: Few questions about starting war gaming rss

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Kris Russell
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I've just recently started playing board games over the past 6 months. The closest thing I've ever played resembling a war game has been risk and it's variants.

Just to list a few reasons why I'd like to try war games.

I'd like something that would be interesting to solo. I've played other games solo by playing two or more players but they fell flat for me. With a war game at least it's two different sides with different reasons for doing something.

I'd like something that somewhat reminds me of the computer games I used to play. I loved strategy games like Starcraft. Watching your forces slowly take over an area. As well as plan your defense. I'd like to do that on a table.

I've looked at various Lock N Load games and really liked World at War as well as a Heroes of the Gap. As well as Boots on the Ground. Not sure who it is published by.

I have just a few questions.

Are these good games to start with as kind of an intro to war gaming? Are they also suitable for solo play? What should I look for in a war game when I plan on doing mostly solo? I'm also curious as to why some of the war games I've looked at cost so much. It just seems that some are a bit pricy for just cardboard counters and a paper map. Also can anyone suggest a good video reviewer for war games. I enjoy watching the Dice Tower reviews and they sometimes make or break a purchase.

Sorry for the lengthy post. But thanks for help.
-Kris
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Little Willi
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First thing I would say is which period and scale interest you? By period I mean WW2, American civil war or even alternate history/ sci fi ? By scale tactical (from squads and companies), operational (battles to short campaigns ), Strategtic, (entire wars and theatres ). These are only broad groupings but should help narrow down any advice.
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David Morneau
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Hi Kris,

I'll try to answer some of your questions. I'm still relatively new to wargames myself (started playing them in March of this year.)

I don't know the specific games you've asked about. One recurring bit of advice to players looking to try their hand at wargames is to start with an era or subject that you already like. Find games in that era to try since you will probably enjoy the learning process more.

Personally, I'm not too interested in history as a general rule. I'm drawn to simulation of complex events that wargames represent. I started with SPQR (Deluxe Edition) because I was interested in the Great Battles of History series. It was a very steep learning curve, but I'm happy with it and have moved onto other games in the series, and beyond...

If those games really interest you, find a way to try one out and see how it goes.

As to question of expense, it has to do with the sheer number of components being printed for significantly smaller print runs. I don't know actual numbers, but someone will.

Finally, two video 'reviewers' that I consistently watch are:

Marco Arnaudo
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The first produces concise, informative reviews with rules overviews and commentary. You can find his reviews here: Marnaudo's video reviews

The second produces long series of play-through videos where you get to see him explain the rules and play through an entire game solo. He usually includes a review at the end: Games Receiving the Calandale Video Treatment

good luck!
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Jacovis
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Others with more solo gaming experience will be along shortly, but coming from a relatively new wargamer, I can say that starting out playing wargames solo is not even close to impossible, but having someone at hand to bounce rules questions and play ideas off for a while when starting out wargaming was more helpful than I can even explain.

After a while it all starts to make sense, however, and the forums here are filled with helpful people and most, if not all, of the rules questions you come up with will probably already be answered by doing a quick search in a game's rules folder.

I recommend looking into Victory Point Games, because they have published a number of great, low counter density solitaire games. I also recommend, for a game that can be played solo or multiplayer, Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 or one of the other games in that series. Awakening the Bear, the first of the games, is about to be reprinted. CoH base games have rules and scenarios designed to teach you the mechanisms and units, etc, step by xp as you progress through the scenarios, which I found quite helpful.

As to why the games are so expensive, most of the wargame publishers are smaller companies that produce relatively small print runs of most of their games, which means they have to charge a little more for what looks on paper like less. However, almost all of them have sales and pre order deals periodically, and in spite of the fact that I don't get to play wargames as often as I'd like, my appreciation ratio for wargames is much higher than of my other games categories.

One final thing, with the possible exceptions of Memoir 44 and Commands and Colors Ancients, I would not jump right away into any card driven games for solitaire play. They aren't impossible, but they have more peculiarities to them that make them slightly more obnoxious to break into as solitaire games, IMHO.

welcome, and good luck!

Jacovis
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Kent Reuber
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mobymedic wrote:
I've looked at various Lock N Load games and really liked World at War as well as a Heroes of the Gap. As well as Boots on the Ground. Not sure who it is published by.

I have just a few questions.

Are these good games to start with as kind of an intro to war gaming? Are they also suitable for solo play? What should I look for in a war game when I plan on doing mostly solo?


Chit pull games, such as the World at War and others tend to be good solo games, because the order of activation is always a surprise. For me, solo play is boring unless there's some sort of tension in the game. If you want an even easier game, Tank on Tank is very easy to play and solos well, but the price to value ratio is a bit on the high side.

In contrast, I don't care for most card-driven games as solo games because the tension in these games come from not knowing how your enemy can respond. If you're simply playing both sides, I think you lose that tension.

Also, I second the recommendation for Marco Arnaudo's reviews.
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Jack Bennett
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Both of those reviews are great places to start. As far as solo games, I've never liked playing both sides. CDGs don't work that well, and even great chit-pull games I just find boring without an opponent. However, there are some GREAT war games that specifically designed to played solo, so you could also check out those.
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Kevin C
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pusherman42 wrote:
Both of those reviews are great places to start. As far as solo games, I've never liked playing both sides. CDGs don't work that well, and even great chit-pull games I just find boring without an opponent. However, there are some GREAT war games that specifically designed to played solo, so you could also check out those.


Indeed! Check out the video reviews/gameplay videos for Dan Versen's Leader Games (Thunderbolt Apache Leader, Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Ops for starters).

I keep hoping for another Ambush type of game to be released someday. Lucky for me I still have the original Ambush. I'm also intrigued by Omega Games' Ranger game which is completely hex less, relying on a dry erase pen and laminated map to plot out moves.
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Arthur Dougherty
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mobymedic wrote:

I've looked at various Lock N Load games and really liked World at War as well as a Heroes of the Gap. As well as Boots on the Ground. Not sure who it is published by.


If you are not looking for too steep of a learning curve to start and World at War looked good to you, I would say absolutely go for it. Compared to other war games, the World at War series is easy to pick up and master. Plays very fast and I thought it was a fun solo experience. I'm sure Heroes of the Gap would also be a fun solo experience but it's definitely a heavier set of rules.

I think the World at War scale is probably a good one given what you described in liking taking over an area and planning defenses. I feel like that platoon level game (World at War, Nations at War, Panzer Grenadier, TCS...) will give you a similar level to what you're doing in Starcraft.

I also feel like Lock and Load games give you great components for the money. Less of that "just what am I paying for here?" feeling.
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Martin Gallo
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Jacovis wrote:
Others with more solo gaming experience will be along shortly, but coming from a relatively new wargamer, I can say that starting out playing wargames solo is not even close to impossible, but having someone at hand to bounce rules questions and play ideas off for a while when starting out wargaming was more helpful than I can even explain.
It is absolutely easier to learn if you start off with a friend, even better if he knows how to play already.

And, welcome to wargaming. Fun hobby. A desire to learn more about history is not necessary but does enhance the wargaming experience.
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Steve Arthur
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Those above who recommend a perusal of Marco and Enricos' video reviews are spot on..not only would the novice player get a top-notch overview of the ins and outs of a wide variety of games that are available they will also get a good feel for the 'vibe' of the hobby...
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Kris Russell
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Thanks for all the responses. You have all really been helpful.

As far as the eras go I'm kind of interested in anything from World War 2 and up. I enjoy the history behind World War 2. As well as more of the modern conflicts.

I'm more interested in the tactical level and operational. I like the idea of seeing the smaller picture.

One last question. Given my interests what are some good games to get started with? Preferably something in print or easily obtainable.

Thanks again.
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Ryan
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Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations is my d10-1 It's sister game Thunderbolt Apache Leader is great as well. Both are war gamey. But neither is much of a simulation. Both should be fairly easy to get into for non-wargamers or those who aren't used to complex games. They each have an RPG feel as well, though Hornet Leader's is much superior. Planning your missions takes at least as much, if not more time than executing the missions. I really enjoy each game.

For the opposite end of the spectrum, B-17: Queen of the Skies is more of a simulation than a game. Not many decisions to be made, but if you can deal with lots of charts you may find a narrative creating beast that sucks you in as your crew hangs on against the odds to survive while delivering their payloads to targets in Germany over many missions. It's OOP, but not too hard to find a good playable copy on eBay for less than $30.

All Things Zombie: The Boardgame is not a traditional war game, but it is a war game in mechanics and processes. It has some quirks but it plays nearly perfect as a solitaire game. Do your diligence on this one. People seem to either really enjoy it or be very disappointed depending on their tolerance for war game rules and/or expectations for a zombie game.

For a sci-fi type war game, I have enjoyed Struggle for the Galactic Empire the couple times I've played it. I eagerly wait for my next opportunity to play again. Lots of charts, lots of luck and randomization, and lots of dice. It has 7 scenarios which should give it good replayability in addition to the factors I mentioned above. While trying to regain control of your empire, chaotic events (lots of them) arise that you must try to manage and keep from getting swept away. You'll build fleets, build and destroy systems, fight of invaders, independent empires, rebels, usurpers to your throne, and aliens as they try to carve up your empire for themselves. I think it's really fun. It's supposed to be seeing a reprint soon, but copies can still be found here and there.
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R. Marsh
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I actually prefer playing each side of a two-player game. When I'm particularly self-indulgent I'll set up a board in an obscure corner of my house, taking time to look at each side's possible actions and then deciding the most logical one.

Some games of course work better than others. Of particular recent success are Tide at Sunrise and Storms of Steel. My upcoming sessions will include Hold the Line, Storm Over Stalingrad, and Bastogne.

I think any of those titles should be easy to step into.
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Enrico Viglino
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The old SPI Napoleon at Waterloo is a very good start to get you
playing a game that's not too 'gamey' (important for soloing, IMO).
There are many others in that same style though. Here's an intro to
the traditional wargame I did using that system:



Overall though, Marco tends to cover a lot more of the lighter
modern games. Perusing his list should give you many many options.
He also does a lot of 'made for solo' games (I'm not a fan of these -
they seem to be more about playing the odds against a system, but many
enjoy the genre), which are worth peeking at.


An easy way to start is with a PnP game. It's on the 'wide scope' of
operational, but you might enjoy Unconditional Surrender! Case Blue. It's a bit
on that 'gamey' side, but definitely provides interesting choices.
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Jason Doyle
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mobymedic wrote:
Thanks for all the responses. You have all really been helpful.

As far as the eras go I'm kind of interested in anything from World War 2 and up. I enjoy the history behind World War 2. As well as more of the modern conflicts.

I'm more interested in the tactical level and operational. I like the idea of seeing the smaller picture.

One last question. Given my interests what are some good games to get started with? Preferably something in print or easily obtainable.

Thanks again.


One that might be worth looking at is Phantom Fury, it's solitaire, the rules are pretty straightforward, and based on a modern conflict.
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Jeremy Fridy
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If you can find others to play with, it's the most common way to pick up the hobby. Also, MANY wargames have rules that are written in a style assuming you already know your way around the hobby.

Victory Point Games is pretty newbie friendly, affordable (usually around 15 to 20 bucks,) and their games are both affordable and short as well! It's just a matter of finding a subject that you want to try out.

You might want to check out the Battlesson series. All the games are on the lighter rules side, cover a variety of scenarios, and you get 8 games for 90 bucks. They are a little more on the operational scale than tactical (Except for Trenches of Valor, which is WWI trench raids at the tactical level.)

I wish I lived closer! I love introducing people to the hobby.
 
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Nigel Twine
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Something you might like to consider is learning a game from a popular series. That way the effort of learning the rules once will pay off multiple times. For tactical you could try the "Lock and Load" series or "Combat Commander" series - you can then decide on whether you want to get into the very deep pool that is "ASL".

For operational level I would go straight for "OCS". The learning curve is initially steeper but the system is worth the effort. The smaller ones are "Tunisia" (getting rare) and "Burma" (which is where I started - thanks again to Calandale for his wonderful vids on it).

There is an upcoming OCS title, "Reluctant Enemies" which is being touted as the ideal learning package, so you could start with tactical scale games and then jump onto operational when MMP release "Reluctant Enemies".

Whatever you decide, have fun exploring the hobby!
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Mark Tomlinson
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Nigel66 wrote:
Something you might like to consider is learning a game from a popular series. That way the effort of learning the rules once will pay off multiple times. For tactical you could try the "Lock and Load" series or "Combat Commander" series - you can then decide on whether you want to get into the very deep pool that is "ASL".

For operational level I would go straight for "OCS". The learning curve is initially steeper but the system is worth the effort. The smaller ones are "Tunisia" (getting rare) and "Burma" (which is where I started - thanks again to Calandale for his wonderful vids on it).

There is an upcoming OCS title, "Reluctant Enemies" which is being touted as the ideal learning package, so you could start with tactical scale games and then jump onto operational when MMP release "Reluctant Enemies".

Whatever you decide, have fun exploring the hobby!


I wouldn't go for OCS as a beginner . I am struggling with the OCS Burma rules and I play ASL. I think waiting for Reluctant Enemies is a better idea (I think that's what I am going to do). Or go for something from the SCS series instead?
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Mike Welker
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Honestly, I think the way to try OCS is to play small with the rules in hand to focus on the subsystems... you'll find that most of them are pretty reasonable in terms of practical mechanics... I think, actually, the whole system is radically less complex that ASL once you have some experience. Th learning curve depends on your particular context, but try doing small operations, etc., even Burma covers a lot, so just grab one section and mess around a bit.
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Stephen Harper
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mobymedic wrote:
Thanks for all the responses. You have all really been helpful.

As far as the eras go I'm kind of interested in anything from World War 2 and up. I enjoy the history behind World War 2. As well as more of the modern conflicts.

I'm more interested in the tactical level and operational. I like the idea of seeing the smaller picture.

One last question. Given my interests what are some good games to get started with? Preferably something in print or easily obtainable.

Thanks again.


Since you are more interested in tactical or operational, I suggest that you start with Conflict of Heroes. It will introduce you to the stock concepts of tactical games, such as hard and soft targets, LOS, HE and AP fire, ranged fire vs close assault, and so on. The CoH rules are presented in an easy to learn "programmed instruction" style which is very helpful to those who are new to wargaming, and the physical production is top notch. You should be able to find both CoH: Storms of Steel and CoH: Price of Honour still available. Plus Academy games will be releasing a revised and updated edition of their first game, CoH: Awakening the Bear, any day now.

A good easy to learn operational game would be Red Winter: The Soviet Attack at Tolvajarvi, Finland, 8-12 December 1939, just published by GMT a coiuple of months or so ago. Go on their website and see if they are still having their Fall Sale, with a discount of 20%. Or check out Noble Knight Games, an online game seller. The designer, Mark Mokszycki, provides a tremendous amount of information about the game, including AAR's (After Action Reports, or a narrative account of a particular scenario that was played), and "designer's notes" about the units and formations in the game. This info can be found on the Red Winter page at the GMT website (gmtgames.com).

A good "purpose-built" solitaire wargame, and one of the best, is D-Day at Omaha Beach put out by Decision Games. It may be OOP though, but you could look around at the online sellers and ebay to see if a copy can be had.

I second other's recommendations of the reviews/play throughs by Marco (marnaudo) and Enrico (calandale). Both are very prolific, and chances are good you will find what you are looking for with one or the other. Also, if you look up a game on BGG, especially those from GMT, it is highly likely that you will find a video game demo put on by either a GMT person or the designer.

If you have a hard time finding FTF opponents, or are too shy to locate such, give VASSAL a try for PBEM. As has been mentioned, learning these games can be a bit easier when playing against a human, as you avoid uncaught learning errors. If you would like to get started in VASSAL, drop me a line here at BGG and I can help you along.

The hobby of wargaming is truly a fun and fascinating one, and you are in for a very entertaining time!

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Little Willi
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Lots of good advice, in many of the previous posts. To draw upon them and focus the advice again, in general terms the mechanics of standard two player wargames are generally fundimentally different to Solo games. As been highlighted they have to be to create an "AI" or system to struggle against. Victory games state of seige games are great, but really not very similar to regular hex and chit wargames. (If you want to try out the system ,levee en mass is availible for IOS and android, for not a great deal of money and will allow you to see if you like this type of game), Getting a few simpler regular two player games to "cut your teeth on". may be a good thing and allow you to become familiar with alot of the conventions. Getting hold of the old SPI Folio games or Avalon Hill classics thanks to ebay could be a cheap way to try out a few games and topics. Panzer group Gudarian (published boh by SPI and Avalon Hill ),is a standard two player wargame but has varible strength units, you don't know which units will stand firm or ar just figments of your imagination. As for Soloing standard games lots of simple "tricks". Such as using a dice to decide how risky a manover to try. Or simple leaving the game set up or simply taking a break before you return to play the other side. I;m sure other players could chip in with tips. Also you don't have to play solo, thank to the internet and App's such as cyberboard and VASSAL finding someone to play with shouldn't be that hard. Plenty of modules exist of the older games, and the better publishers allow modules for the newer games.

Pls don't feel intimdated, but do try to start small, and find a topic that interests you. tactical WW2 may not be your thing, or it may try and do a bit of research and enjoy.
 
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