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Subject: Operational/tactical WWI games rss

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Tyler
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CDGs like Twilight Struggle, Sword of Rome and Paths of Glory were my gateway drug, and now I'm deep into chasing the solo-suitable, hex-and-counter Bergian white dragon (GBoH in particular). Ancients are a lot of fun, but the First World War is my first love (to the point that I spent five days in October 2011 walking Verdun). I've been looking closely at Clash of Giants II and Grand Illusion, and will probably pull the trigger on one or the other (leaning CoG because I prefer to game a battle more than a campaign, but I might just grab 'em both). Between those two and GMT's 1914 series (and those monsters are too far beyond my depth), I'm seeing a whole lot of options to game the Guns of August.

So where's the rest of the war? I'm sure it's no accident that the more fluid campaigns of 1914 take design priority over the stasis of 1915-18, but surely there are some operational-level games that tackle trench warfare? About all I can find are Red Poppies and They Shall Not Pass. Any other recommendations?
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Michael McCalpin
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Guns of Galicia has scenarios for the 1914 Galicia campaign as well as for the 1915 Gorlice-Tarnow offensive and the 1916 Brusilov offensive. The latter two have trenches, but the length of the lines meant that the trenches in the east were never as impermeable as those in the west. Units are mostly corps and turns are three days in length. Hexes are nine miles across. The game uses chit-pull mechanics that can add some fun and unpredictability even when playing solo.
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K G
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I feel very comfortable recommending "The Battle of Loos."

EDIT: Egad, its real title is "The Big Push," and published by Against the Odds.
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Tyler
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Re: Guns of Galicia: Man, I'd definitely overlooked that one. I've seen it before, too, but I (sheepishly) have to admit I wrote it off based on the box art. How's that saying go?

Thanks for the tip, it's now on my list.
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Tyler
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Kluvon wrote:
I feel very comfortable recommending "The Battle of Loos."


I'm intrigued, but this is the closest I can find here: Loos: The Big Push. Is that the one?
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K G
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My apologies, Tyler. I mean to say: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/13979/the-big-push

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Bill Lawson
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Try this one, excellent: The Western Front: 1914 to 1918
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Justin Nordstrom
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There are two great looking hex and counter titles for WWI on the GMT P500 right now: 1914: Serbien mu sterbien, and 1914: Glory's End. Both look like very playable titles.
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Tyler
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justnord wrote:
There are two great looking hex and counter titles for WWI on the GMT P500 right now: 1914: Serbien mu sterbien, and 1914: Glory's End. Both look like very playable titles.


I actually just canceled a P500 order for Glory's End, after reading about the density (two counters per unit, four total step losses). Grand Illusion seems to be a more stream-lined equivalent.

On the other hand, I'm extremely tempted to dive into Serbien mu Sterbien ... but knowing the scale of the other games in the series, I'm more than a bit intimidated.
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Bill Lawson
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Here's 2 more operational west front games from 1918
Marne 1918: Friedensturm
Somme 1918
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K G
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whisky_bear wrote:
justnord wrote:
There are two great looking hex and counter titles for WWI on the GMT P500 right now: 1914: Serbien mu sterbien, and 1914: Glory's End. Both look like very playable titles.


I actually just canceled a P500 order for Glory's End, after reading about the density (two counters per unit, four total step losses). Grand Illusion seems to be a more stream-lined equivalent.

On the other hand, I'm extremely tempted to dive into Serbien mu Sterbien ... but knowing the scale of the other games in the series, I'm more than a bit intimidated.


"Grand Illusion" is a very interesting game by the look of it. I've yet to get very far with it, but it's one of my happier purchases this year.
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Andrew N
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For operational WWI gaming, it doesn't get much easier to learn than Rock of the Marne. Since it's a Standard Combat Series game, the standard rules are easy as pie, and the game specific rules add just the right amount of chrome without too much overhead. It's also relatively inexpensive, and easy to find!
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Warren Bruhn
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Isonzo

Tannenburg

Caporetto, 1917

The 1916 Brusilov Offensive / Gorlice-Tarnow Breakthrough

The Brusilov Offensive

Gorlice-Tarnow

Von Hindenburg in Poland

Over the Top! The Battles of Verdun & Lemberg

Tannenberg: Eagles in the East / Galicia: The Forgotten Cauldron

Galicja 1914

Battle for Galicia, 1914

Serbia/Galicia

Guns of Galicia

Allenby's Blitzkrieg

Marne 1918: Friedensturm

Home Before the Leaves Fall: The Marne Campaign 1914

The Marne: Home Before the Leaves Fall

First Blood: Second Marne

Bataille de la Marne 1914

Over the Top! Mons & The Marne

We Shall Fight on the Marne

First Day of the Somme

Somme 1918

Poor Bloody Infantry

They Shall Not Pass: The Battle of Verdun 1916

Verdun: A Generation Lost

Verdun, The Game of Attrition

Verdun: The Game of Attrition

Verdun 1916

Verdun, A Dagger at the Heart of France

Battle of Verdun (1916 AD)

Kaiserschlacht: 1918

Gallipoli

A Fatal Attraction: The Gallipoli Campaign

Gallipolli, 18 march 1915

Bloody April, 1917: Air War Over Arras, France

Wings over Arras

Osmanli Harbi The Ottoman Fronts: 1914 to 1918

Ottoman Sunset

Twilight of the Ottomans: World War I in the Middle East

Pursuit of Glory

The Lost Battalion: The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, 1918

Cambrai, 1917: The First Blitzkrieg

Breakthrough: Cambrai

Messines: 1917

Trenches of Valor

Lodz 1914: First Blitzkrieg
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Tyler
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Much obliged for the rather exhaustive list!

I placed an order last night for Clash of Giants II, They Shall Not Pass and Rock of the Marne.

I'd have picked up Guns of Galicia, too, but CSI doesn't have it in stock. Doesn't hurt to save one for next time. And I'm definitely hoping a copy of The Western Front: 1914 to 1918 pops up on the BGG marketplace.
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Warren Bruhn
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whisky_bear wrote:
Much obliged for the rather exhaustive list!


I wouldn't call it exhaustive. There's more tactical and operational WW1 games with threads on Consimworld here:

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.ee6ded6/
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I'll second billyboy's nod to The Western Front: 1914 to 1918. It's a good'un.

Tactical? Landships! Tactical Weapons Innovations 1914-1918. Not perfect by any means but interesting and actually pretty fun. Except the arty rules, IIRC. Those needin' some fixin'.
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Pelle Nilsson
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I am surprised there are so few games zooming in to show the big western front trench attacks of 1915-17 on a more detailed scale where the most interesting things, imo, happened. There is an endless supply of possible playable historic scenarios like "the counterattack of German X company on the left flank of British Y battalion at hh:mm on the second day of the Battle of Z" if you go down to a map and time scale more like ASL. Especially if you look at what happened after the initial push across No Man's Land. Most attacks managed to get into the defender trench system and was followed by several hours or days of fighting back and forth before things settled down. Some battles would even work as something similar to the ASL campaign games, with players taking turns to launch assaults and breaks in between for bringing in reinforcements.

For the attack across No Man's Land I think you could use rules like many games on (ww2) amphibious assaults do and have abstract die-rolls to decide what units make it "ashore". It is not very interesting anyway to move units forward and rolling a billion defensive-fire attacks.
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Pelle Nilsson
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On bgg or csw a few years ago I also suggested that operational scale would work better as "artillery game". Focus on the days/weeks before the battle (doing recon (including aircraft and trench raids) and firing artillery on (suspected) enemy positions) instead of the battle itself. The game ends with some very abstract movement of infantry units forward, and is decided by how well the player(s) have prepared the battle.

Still waiting for someone to make that game so I can play it.
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Warren Bruhn
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Well, look at this write up on the BGG page for Messines: 1917:

"Scale is 240 yards per hex and each unit is a battalion or regiment. There are also some German companies for the front trenches. There are two 13x19" maps with over 200 counters. There are two rules books - standard rules that are 5 pages and Messines:1917 rules that run another 4 pages. There are two scenarios - first day and campaign. Artillery is the centerpiece of the game with four different types of bombardment (saturation, standard, intermittent, and gas) possible. There are three types of guns - field, medium, and heavy with each best suited to certain roles. For Messines the addition of mines makes initial set up and play a real chess match. The key to victory is correct deployment and effective use of reserves. For the Allies, one of the key decisions is how much to bombard. It is very effective but it also destroys the drainage systems of the area and leads to a quagmire that with eliminated possibilities. For the German player, commitment of reserves is the key. He has to guess correctly at the main points of attack by the British player before they have sufficiently evolved to make the attack plan apparent."

Of course, there is the problem of finding a copy to play...
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Warren Bruhn
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And here's more:

In Flanders Fields

Ypres

Dire Heroes: Gas Attack at Ypres

Frankly, I never imagined that there were so many operational and tactical wargames on WW1 until I started looking. And I haven't even listed the naval wargames. There is a wargame publisher in Eugene, Oregon that seems to do mostly WW1 operational wargames called Oregon ConSim Games which seems to specialize in WW1. They published:

The Cossacks Are Coming! (2nd Edition)

1914: Serbien Muss Sterbien
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Ben Bosmans
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Incredible that no one even mentioned

To the green fields beyond...( Cambrai first major Tank Battle over trenches)



A pure classic and highly acclaimed game from Isby for SPI and reprinted a few years back.

I have both copies. The original in mint and unpunched state.

It should be worth at least 150 dollars.

Another one is SOLDIERS. Also from Isby for SPI (1972!). It is a tactical simulation and very bloody.

Belgian troops among others.

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Ben Bosmans
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pelni wrote:
On bgg or csw a few years ago I also suggested that operational scale would work better as "artillery game". Focus on the days/weeks before the battle (doing recon (including aircraft and trench raids) and firing artillery on (suspected) enemy positions) instead of the battle itself. The game ends with some very abstract movement of infantry units forward, and is decided by how well the player(s) have prepared the battle.

Still waiting for someone to make that game so I can play it.


The game you are looking for is Verdun.

It has had many incarnations.

I have the GDW one, but the others are equally interesting. The initial game design is by John Hill.

The aim is to bombard the different Fortresses around Verdun for days.

I played the game and I stood in awe how good it represented the battle after having read the book "Verdun".





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M St
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pelni wrote:
I am surprised there are so few games zooming in to show the big western front trench attacks of 1915-17 on a more detailed scale where the most interesting things, imo, happened. There is an endless supply of possible playable historic scenarios like "the counterattack of German X company on the left flank of British Y battalion at hh:mm on the second day of the Battle of Z" if you go down to a map and time scale more like ASL.

The problem is that, ultimately, all of these will end up looking rather alike, fought over a rather abstract stretch of shelled-to-dust (or shelled-to-mud) land.

Quote:
Especially if you look at what happened after the initial push across No Man's Land. Most attacks managed to get into the defender trench system and was followed by several hours or days of fighting back and forth before things settled down. Some battles would even work as something similar to the ASL campaign games, with players taking turns to launch assaults and breaks in between for bringing in reinforcements.

And spending hours or days playing a detailed game about fighting back and forth over a section of trenches and then moving on to a different scenario depicting more fighting like this over a different section of trenches would be interesting to...?

Quote:
For the attack across No Man's Land I think you could use rules like many games on (ww2) amphibious assaults do and have abstract die-rolls to decide what units make it "ashore". It is not very interesting anyway to move units forward and rolling a billion defensive-fire attacks.

Yet those play a big role in determining what happens when the attack hits the defenses and whether it can be carried through. I think you answered your own as to why there are so few games on this.
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moly19 wrote:
I'll second billyboy's nod to The Western Front: 1914 to 1918. It's a good'un.

Agreed. It should be mentioned that it is actually part of a whole series: Der Weltkrieg Series, which at this point covers every theatre of the war (even the Middle East). They are all included in Warren's long list from what I've seen, but here they are in one place. Since the original question was about games on the eastern front campaigns, it's probably useful to point out that the "mirror game" to Western Front 14-18, appropriately called Eastern Front, is due for production within the next couple of months. It is supposed to include all the previous east front games in the series: Tannenberg/Galicia, Brusilov/Gorlice-Tarnow, Romania/Serbia.

This system is excellent, historical in its results and quite playable with a rather elegant and short set of core rules. It means I'll never have to look for another WWI operational game again. (For the fanatics, they are also now producing what is known as the "Duration Game", i.e., an overarching WWI campaign if you have all the boxes. Strategic WWI at a new level.)

Quote:

Tactical? Landships! Tactical Weapons Innovations 1914-1918. Not perfect by any means but interesting and actually pretty fun. Except the arty rules, IIRC. Those needin' some fixin'.

I agree, Landships is the best tactical WWI game I've seen, even though it's rather rickety and kludgy in quite a few places.
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Ben Bosmans
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I disagree that all these games look alike ...

To the Green Fields beyond was praised back then for its very innovative system of Tank breaktrough on trench warfare.

While the above mentioned Verdun is focusing in on the bombardment phases of the fortresses.

On the other hand a small tactical game like Soldiers SPI was showing the more fluid battles of very early western ww1 warfare with cavalry charges in August on Belgian soil...



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