A Casual Stroll Through the Easiest Wargames on BGG
Alex N
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Metuchen
New Jersey
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As a new war gamer who is interested in building up my gaming skills without getting too overwhelmed with details and lengthy game sessions I decided to see what my best choices were by examining their complexity measured by BGG's Average Gameplay Weight statistic. In BGG parlance, 1.0 represents LIGHT and then goes all the way to 5.0 for HEAVY.

I examined every identifiable wargame on BGG that had an average gameplay weight between 1.0 and 1.3 with at least 7 voters weighing in (pun intended). The 1.3 weight cutoff of course excluded popular games like:

Memoir '44: Wt. = 2.3

Attack! : Wt. = 2.5

Risk: Wt. = 2.1

Stratego: Wt. = 1.8

I also excluded YOUNG CHILDREN'S games, at least the ones that were strictly classified as such in the subdomain by BGG such as "Crossbows and Catapults". Mind you, we are only talking about simpler games in this Geek List. Some of them only take 30 minutes or less to play and will not freeze your brain. The complexity ratings reflect what was tabulated on BGG as of May, 2012. These numbers may change over time, but not substantially. Once a game acquires a reputation of being simple, I seldom see the weight rating change to a more difficult level.

The list starts with the easiest games first. Games that were later reimplemented into separate BGG entries are both included for completeness, though I reserved my comments primarily to just the newer implementation. You may of course comment on either one of them.

I would love to hear your own experience and recommendation on whether you think these games are still suitable introductions for all ages into the wonderful world of wargaming! shake

You are also welcome to add more titles to this list. Just try to stay within the 1.3 cutoff for gameplay weight. Meanwhile, Part II, a continuation of this series will be popping up soon.

If you enjoy or find this List helpful, be sure to give it a nice THUMBS UP !

By the way, you can find the weight statistic easily under "Avg. Game Weight" in the "Stats" section, which is found between the "GeekLists" and "Linked Items" sections for the selected game.

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1. Board Game: Battleships [Average Rating:4.83 Overall Rank:10444]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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One of the grand daddies of all wargames, the original Battleship game predates World War I! Probably the simplest wargame in existence.

A tactical entry level war-game depicting naval battles using submarines, aircraft, cruisers, gun batteries, and ammo dumps, opponents try to ensure the greatest amount of hits using the least amount of shots with some psychological warfare tricks thrown in!

This particular edition was published in 1963. Unlike Milton Bradley's plastic grid and peg system game for young kids, the classic Waddington edition relies on the old vintage pencil and paper approach. Still relatively easy to find on eBay.

Perfect for the novice sailor in your family.

Wt. Rating: 1.0
Primary Mechanic: Deduction
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: c. 1892 - after the Royal Navy officially adopts the term "battleship"


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2. Board Game: Tank Command [Average Rating:4.71 Unranked]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Haven't tried this one but if you are into miniatures and enjoy moving tanks through perilous terrains, this could be fun.

Wt. Rating: 1.0
Primary Mechanic: Simultaneous Action Selection
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 1975
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3. Board Game: Damn the Torpedoes! [Average Rating:4.83 Overall Rank:9801]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Similar to "Naval War" but with a Civil War theme. Given the high prices being paid for used copies of "Naval War" (usually between $40 to $65) this card game is a bargain.

Wt. Rating: 1.0
Primary Mechanic: Hand Mgmt
Period: Civil War
Year Published: 1995
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4. Board Game: The Battle of the Little Big Horn [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:7861]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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An amazingly well-crafted game with splendid infantry and Indian miniatures. This vintage game is on the top of many a collector's wish list. Hard to find, and expensive to procure (goes for over $60 on eBay for a complete set) it is nearly impossible to find a mint copy in the USA.

Though the game was originally designed for young adults there are enough details like line-of-sight, terrain restrictions, and tactical planning to keep the "kid" in the adult satisfied.

Wt. Rating: 1.1
Primary Mechanic: Roll and Move
Period: American Indian Wars
Year Published: 1963


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5. Board Game: Hit the Beach [Average Rating:5.13 Overall Rank:10295]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Another splendid miniatures game, this one focuses on the Pacific campaigns of WW II. The pieces include Marines, Infantry, Naval landing support ships, and Strategic air support units.

Not a fairly deep game, (obvious from its wt. rating) it can still provide enjoyment in moving the various pieces along the beach islands.

The game is relatively easy to find on eBay due to American Heritage's large print volume.


Wt. Rating: 1.1
Primary Mechanic: Roll and Move
Period: WW II, Pacific theater
Year Published: 1965


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6. Board Game: Strike Force One [Average Rating:4.42 Overall Rank:10944]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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This is the game that started it all for me! Victory Point Games has an excellent reputation for putting out superb games at a price point that is accessible to every hobbyist.

What separates this particular game from its competitors is that VPG deliberately takes great effort in helping you understand the mechanics behind a hex-and-counter war-game. Not only do you get a full set of explained rules with this introductory game, but they also add commentary as to why certain moves are important AND a complete gameplay tutorial that you can easily follow on your own. Very few games do that. ("Twilight Struggle" being an excellent exception)!

I have played this game at least 9 times and fail to understand why it's so maligned for it's simplicity. I use it frequently to teach other new "recruits" on the art of hex-and-counter wargaming with its zones of control and reinforcement features. Fast playing and partly dependent on the roll of the die, they all love it!

Once a player grasps the full meaning of this game, an expansion "Strike Force One+" takes them to the next level by introducing random events, tank warfare, infiltration and breakthrough rules, etc.

Should be in every gamer's library.

Wt. Rating: 1.1
Primary Mechanic: Hex-and-Counter
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 1975

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7. Board Game: Les Nettoyeurs [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Clear enemy trenches with bags of grenades and flame-throwers against machine guns, barb wire, and mines! How much more fun do you need then that! Easy to setup and play, many consider this one of the better ambush games available for World War I.

This game (translated literally "The Trench Sweepers") can be played either with its provided counters or 15mm miniatures if you happen to have some lying around.

The game can be purchased directly from its publisher, Vae Victis #88 for 6.5 euros. If you don't know French, not a problem. English rules are available from BGG on:

http://boardgamegeek.com/weblink/57675/informations-on-the-g...


Wt. Rating: 1.1
Primary Mechanic: Dice Rolling
Period: WW I
Year Published: 2009
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8. Board Game: Risk Express [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2058]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Now here's a game that remains elusive as ever. A Reiner Knizia family game, it is nowhere to be found in the USA. This might have something to do with licensing restrictions in America.

The game can be best thought of as having "Risk in your pants"! Composed primarily of 14 round colored disks representing various countries it is your job to conquer as many disks as possible. Great packaging, presentation, and a extremely portable wargame.

Very similar to Pickonimo, it plays well from 2-5 players. This edition is one of the most highly rated "easiest" wargames on BGG. A gem to have if you are fortunate to find one!


Wt. Rating: 1.2
Primary Mechanic: Dice Rolling
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 2006

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9. Board Game: Naval War [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:2797]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Fast paced card game representing a fleet of ships from the navies of WW II. Very simple. Draw a red card, play it immediately. Draw a black card, add it to your hand and then play or discard any one card.

Inspired more complex games like "Enemy in Sight", AH and "Modern Naval Battles", 3W. Long out of print, this game commands a premium price on eBay in just about any condition.

Many consider this as the premier beer & pretzels game! In fact it is represented every year at the World Boardgame Championship since 1992! Time to Splice the Main Brace, mate!


Wt. Rating: 1.2
Primary Mechanic: Hand Management
Period: WW II
Year Published: 1979
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10. Board Game: Torpedo Run! [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:6003]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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An action/dexterity game, this one for me begins to fall in the realm of a children's game or at a minimum requires you to be horizontal on the living room floor while shooting torpedo discs halfway across an enormous gameboard. Not necessarily a game you want your boss to see while you are at work.

Having just said that, what are you going to do if you are the Admiral and you must answer the call to battle stations so you can destroy the enemy fleet before the enemy destroys you! Why, ready your torpedoes of course! Aim for the target areas of your opponent's ships and fire away to "explode" the command towers and turrets of the enemy ships! The video contributed by megasween is a hoot to watch!

http://boardgamegeek.com/video/11041/torpedo-run/power-sessi...

Wt. Rating: 1.2
Primary Mechanic: Simultaneous Action Selection
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 1986

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11. Board Game: Sinai [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:7558]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Hex-based desert combat between two opposing armies with miniature Infantry, Artillery, and Tank units, initially separated by a river in a arid terrain sprinkled with oases, mountains, dunes, bridges, and ammunition depots! Oh my!

This hard to find miniature board game has some geeks questing heavily for a copy to show up one day on eBay. Produced and distributed from Spain, it is easy to learn, pretty to look at, and is a dice fest utilizing two clever rotating discs to determine hit successes between opposing forces!

Good luck to the ones who get their hands on this rare find. I've seen this game sold on eBay for over $150 in very good condition! For those who can't wait and want it now, you can download your own personal copy for free from:

http://www.imprimiryjugar.com/index.php?topic=14.0

You can find the English rules on BGG at:

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/64469/sinai-rules-in-engli...


Wt. Rating: 1.2
Primary Mechanic: Dice Rolling
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: mid 80's

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12. Board Game: Paul Koenig's D-Day: The American Beaches [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:6006]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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I haven't played this one yet but I strongly suspect it represents the best of VPG's litany of cleverly crafted war-games that are aimed for new recruits.

Probably the easiest war-games utilizing the chit-pull system where each player activates particular units by randomly drawing a counter, never knowing the order of the actions they will be taking.

Some call this a "beer-and-pretzel" game. I want to think it's another great initiation that will whet your appetite for heartier portions! ASL anyone?


Wt. Rating: 1.2
Primary Mechanic: Chit-Pull System
Period: WW II, Western Front
Year Published: 2008

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13. Board Game: A Blood-Red Banner: The Alamo [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:5403]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Finally, a superb solitaire game that you can play all by yourself and leaves you with a craving hunger for more replays! Victory Point Games has done it again with another successful battle simulation, this time focusing on the heroic tribulations of 115 defenders in what eventually became Texas' most famous shrine.

This is a fast moving game relying on your ability to draw cards that give you the most flexibility in planning your attacks. A great vehicle for sparking interest in learning more about the siege at the Alamo!


Wt. Rating: 1.2
Primary Mechanic: Action Point Allowance System
Period: American West
Year Published: 2011

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14. Board Game: Screaming Eagles [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:5773]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Remade into "Mission Command Air" in 2003. Refer to this game further down the postings.


Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Simulatenous Action Selection
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 1987

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15. Board Game: Les Rois Francs [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:5624]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Our first medieval wargame on this engaging Geek List! Translated from the French as "The Frankish Kings", this series of battles takes place during the period covering 841 A.D. to 888 A.D. when poor people had to rely primarily on barley to make bread, pancakes, and pizza!

Beautiful artwork and easy to play, this is yet another nice wargame to introduce to beginners who eventually will want to graduate and play Bitter Woods or Europe Engulfed. Only takes 30 minutes to read the rules, 10 minutes to setup, and 1 hour to fight a battle.

The rules are available in English on BGG on

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/72671/rules-in-english

The game itself can still be purchased directly from the publisher, Vae Victis #100 for 15 euros.

Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Hex-and-counter
Period: Medieval Warfare
Year Published: 2011

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16. Board Game: Mission Command Air [Average Rating:5.70 Overall Rank:6828]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Brings aerial dog-fighting to the board game! Aimed primarily to the puberty generation, there's no reason why geeks going through middle-age crisis won't find this game thoroughly enjoyable. You get to fly two jets with more tactical moves than "Screaming Eagles", its predecessor. Gorgeous components!

Still in print, you can easily find this game on Amazon for less than $18, a very cheap price for having your own air combat simulator.

Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Hand Management
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 2003

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17. Board Game: AirWar: Pacific! [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:7908]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Stunning set of beautifully illustrated cards of various WW II combat planes, this card game is fun, fast, and easy! One geek described it to be a little like Magic but with a WW II air combat theme with no need to spend a cartload of money for more cards.

Out of print and difficult to locate, you might be lucky to still find this on eBay with its expansion set.

Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Hand Management
Period: WW II, Pacific theater
Year Published: 2006
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18. Board Game: Morgan's A'Comin'! [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:8178]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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A postcard game from Against the Odds "Pocket Battle Series", this game reenacts the Morgan Raids during the Civil War in Ohio. It only takes 5 minutes to cut the counters printed along the top and side borders of the postcard and off you go! Along with the map, you only need a 6-sided die and standard deck of cards to activate your units.

This game is available for free from ATO magazine with any purchase you make.

Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Point to Point Movement
Period: American Civil War
Year Published: 2009
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19. Board Game: Rattenkrieg [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:8432]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Unlike most of the other postcard games from Against the Odds "Pocket Battle Series", this game, literally "War of the Rats" is a solitaire game where you are fighting for the Tractor Factory in the Battle for Stalingrad. You use dice to maneuver panzers, infantry, and elite troops to hunt down the Soviets!

A good introduction to new war gamers for area/impulse, probability, and chaos management. Easy, fast, and simple. However, beware of the nasty Soviet snipers!

This game is available for free from Turning Point Simulations with any purchase of their games.


Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Area Movement
Period: WW II, East Front
Year Published: 2010
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20. Board Game: Showtime Hanoi [Average Rating:5.34 Overall Rank:9258]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Another interesting postcard game from Against the Odds "Pocket Battle Series". This one has you clashing over North Vietnam with F-4 Phantoms against MiGs over a 8x8 map grid! Quick filler and well balanced.

All you need along with the map and counters are a standard deck of cards and off you go to bomb some targets and destroy North Vietnam fighters!

This game is available for free from ATO magazine with any purchase.


Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Hex-and-Counter
Period: Vietnam War
Year Published: 2008
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21. Board Game: Anzio/Cassino [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:7025]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Pricey for what it delivers for $35 on Coolstuffinc.com, this Worthington game is my first real disappointment on this Geek List. Sure the large counters and game board are pretty to look at but the rules leave much to be desired. They are contradictory, vague, and at times incomplete. Worst yet, the Anzio Campaign (the first game within the box) is wholly unbalanced towards the Allies. Broken in fact once you discover how to steamroll immediately towards Rome as the Americans. The Germans have no way to stop this juggernaut.

A better choice if you are looking for a low-complexity battle simulation of Anzio, is Norm Smith's P&P "Anzio The Bloodiest Beachhead". Albeit this game surpasses the weight criteria set forth in this Geek List, the designer has prepared a nice video about his game on BGG and is in the midst of doing a more detailed video on game construction. You may follow his discussion on

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@@.1dd5bb06/0


Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Hex-and-counter
Period: WW II, Mediterranean theater
Year Published: 2010



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22. Board Game: Rorke's Drift: Tenir ou Mourir [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Reenacts Britain's most decorated single battle in history for Victoria Crosses. Eleven in total. With only 20,000 bullets, 150 British and colonial troops prevent 4,000 Zulus from overrunning their field hospital. Very fun and suspenseful.

Just 2 pages of rules, there are three scenarios included in the game.
It is still available from Vae Victis, issue #79. You can find the English rules on:

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/47238/rules-in-english



Wt. Rating: 1.3
Primary Mechanic: Dice Rolling
Period: Anglo-Zulu War
Year Published: 2008
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23. Board Game: Warmaster [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:6393]
Daniel Burkley
United States
Hillsborough
New Jersey
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Sometimes the best little games come free. This one was originally a free game in White Dwarf, and is a great simple game that you can finish in 15-20 minutes, where sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted. Players familiar with the 40K universe may also amuse themselves as they hurl back-handed comments about the opposing characters as they "role-play" during the game.
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24. Board Game: Nuclear Proliferation [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1879]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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A followup to the earlier and better known Nuclear War (Wt. 1.5) from 1965 this game adds a bunch of new items like Space Shuttles, Submarines, Atomic Cannons, Stealth Bombers, as well as Saboteurs and Spies to the battle. It's the most highly rated of the Easist Wargames on this list. Great opportunity to nuke the world if you get a kick out of wiping out 25 million people with a single bomb!

This is a simple card game where you basically draw cards and then attack with your appropriate warheads and launchers. It's mayhem all the way and a fun way to blow up your friends!

Wt. Rating: 1.4
Primary Mechanic: Hand Management
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 1992


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25. Board Game: Weapons of Mass Destruction [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:3511]
Alex N
United States
Metuchen
New Jersey
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Continuing with the theme set forth in Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear War this stand alone game differs from the others by offering new population cards featuring wacky characters! How's that for game improvement!

Backstabbing, cutthroat, and kooky it plays to 4 players giving you the glorious opportunity in eliminating your opponents, non-Euro style!

Wt. Rating: 1.4
Primary Mechanic: Hand Management
Period: Modern Warfare
Year Published: 2004

 
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