Card Driven Wargames Redux
Brian Morris
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I used the term redux in the title for this as I did a geeklist on the card driven wargames 2 years ago. However in just the last two years there have been a number of new titles released as well as in the works. The system is being used more and more in different themes and situations. Like the block games it's now seeing the designers pushing the envelope to see what the system can be used for. Enough so that I felt it was worth taking another look at CDGs two years on.

Definition: Ok, now here's the tricky part. What defines a card driven game? The term card driven wargame is generally used to define a game that uses card mechanics similar to the one created by Mark Herman for his game For The People. The cards in these games have several features that are considered standard for the system. The cards should have multiple purposes i.e. the card can be played as an event, played for operation points (OPS) and perhaps even more. Here's an example of cards from a card driven wargame.





In the above cards you can see the two main features of the card driven wargame system. The OPS points are the number located in the upper left while the event is listed in the middle of the card. In the case of Paths of Glory which is the picture on the left, it has two additional features. The first is the second number on the top left which is the number used for strategic redeployment. The second is the bottom which is the reinforcement number. Basically cards in Paths of Glory can be used for operational points OPS, an event, to strategically redeploy SR or to add points for reinforcements at the end of the game turn.

Thus some games that look to qualify as a card driven wargame don't. These would include such titles as Pax Romana which while a fantastic game uses the cards for events but not for things like OPS. Also not qualifying are Memoir '44, Combat Commander: Europe or Grand Imperialism. Yes they are wargames and they use cards but they do not use the card driven system created by Mark Herman.
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1. Board Game: We the People [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:625]
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Since this is about Mark Herman's system it is only fitting that his game that started it all be first. The game used the cards not just for ops and events but also combat. Released in 1994 by Avalon Hill it took a while to catch on simply because it was so unique. Like the early block games I think many wargamers were slow to warm up to it.

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2. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:69]
Brian Morris
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However warm up people did and here's an example of how far the game system came in just 2 years. Hannibal use to be considered by many to be the holy grail of game collecting. That is until Valley Games got the right to reprint it. I hear the game is selling like hotcakes in terms of pre-orders. I can't help but think back to the guy who posted last year about how nobody cares about the old Avalon Hill titles and even if Hannibal were reprinted it wouldn't sell well.

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3. Board Game: Successors (second edition) [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1682]
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This one from the minds of Richard Berg and Mark Simonitch. Considered today to be a classic and soon to see a reprint via GMT (Yes, I pre-ordered it). I think this might be the first 4 player CDG.

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4. Board Game: For the People [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:493]
Brian Morris
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Perhaps my favorite CDG. What I love about the card driven system is how at a strategic level it draws in the exterior political and social events surrounding the conflict and makes them an important part of the game. For example the events you see on the cards in the picture, the New York Draft riots, Confederate railroad degradation and the Confederate ironclad program all had significant effects on the conflict. Yet few games if any do these factors have an effect on the game. Here they do and it adds so much to the flavor of the game.

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5. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:45]
Brian Morris
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Use to be the highest rated card driven game on BGG. Is it the best? Well like Puerto Rico that is a matter of opinion. It sure is a hell of a good game. I'm hooked on it. I think it's a good example of how well the system works for games of large strategic scope. You will notice most games on this list are at a high strategic level.

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6. Board Game: Shifting Sands [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:1204]
Brian Morris
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One of the newer CDGs. This one uses a system very simular to Paths of Glory and Barbarossa to Berlin. I think this is the first card driven game from MMP. They did a fantastic job on it. The art on the back of the cards is fantastic and the linen cards was a nice touch of quality. If you like Paths of Glory then you likely will like this one too.

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7. Board Game: World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:807]
Brian Morris
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Sharing the same system as Paths of Glory and Shifting Sands. Haven't played this one yet and I am in the process of trying to trade for a copy of the second edition if I ca.

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8. Board Game: Pursuit of Glory [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:1004]
Brian Morris
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Coming to a GMT P500 list soon. Using the same system of Paths of Glory and taking place in WW I as well but this time covering just the Ottoman Empire and Middle East.
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9. Board Game: The Halls of Montezuma [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:3634]
Brian Morris
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Another in the works title. This time the Mexican American War. I pre-ordered this one on the GMT P500 list.
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10. Board Game: Sword of Rome [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:562]
Brian Morris
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Another great 4 player game. I like the fact that each player has their own card deck. I didn't pick up the 5th player exansion as it's already a long game and thought that a 5th player might be a tad to much.

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11. Board Game: Wilderness War [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:372]
Brian Morris
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One of the easier and more popular CDG titles but one I didn't care much for.

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12. Board Game: Wellington [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1455]
Brian Morris
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Raytown
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One of the not so popular titles with some. I liked it myself. Much lighter than most CDGs with a larger variance in the numbers for OPS than other games which I think is what some didn't care for.
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13. Board Game: Kutuzov [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:2907]
Brian Morris
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Uses the same system as Wellington but this one covering Napoleon's invasion of Russia.
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14. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Remember when I said up above that Paths of Glory use to be the highest rated CDG on BGG? This is why it isn't anymore. Very popular title and a good introduction to the system as it's one of the easier one to pick up. However like most great games it may be easy to pick up but it's hard to master as the strategies are so wide open.

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15. Board Game: Empire of the Sun [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:639]
Brian Morris
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Raytown
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One of the few CDGs with a hex map. Definitely one of the more complex games in the list. I have a copy but haven't played it yet. I plan to remedy that situation however and I have heard great things from a few folks who have played it.

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16. Board Game: Unhappy King Charles! [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:784]
Brian Morris
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There are a lot of CDGs on the GMT P500 list. An example of just how popular the system has become.
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17. Board Game: Triumph of Chaos [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:1515]
Brian Morris
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Not one of my favorites and yet a game I really tried to like. The game looks really good but the game plays very slow.

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18. Board Game: The Napoleonic Wars [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1208]
Brian Morris
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Everybody's favorite Corsican. I have not played this one but it would likely take someone 5 seconds to talk me into it...ok maybe 4.


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19. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:83]
Brian Morris
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First time I played this game I was the Papacy. I opened up my first turn by excommunicating the King of France. I was hooked. How many games are there out there where as part of your game turn you can literally tell another player to go to hell.

Definitely will be a Charles Roberts Award nominee and could very well be a winner.

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20. Board Game: Thirty Years War: Europe in Agony, 1618-1648 [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1692]
Brian Morris
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A game I haven't played but one that also gets compared to Paths of Glory a great deal. Saw it played once. Thought the map was a bit bland while the counters looked very sharp.

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21. Board Game: Clash of Monarchs [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:2053]
Brian Morris
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One of the latest to be added to the GMT P500 list. 4 player game featuring the Seven Years War.
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22. Board Game: Assyrian Wars [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:5578]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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This one definitely qualifies - it's based on TNW, but, alas, made more complicated than I like and it doesn't work with two players very well.
 
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23. Board Game: Free At Last [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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This one definitely qualifies as "card driven" - it's very close to Twilight Struggle in its feel. There may be some debate about it being a "wargame," though. I think it is, but I'm old enough to remember many of the events depicted in this game.
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24. Board Game: Spartacus [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:3810]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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“The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop, As it raced along the road. Who was it steered it into a pond? Ingenious Mr. Toad!”
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This one's still in the playtest phase, but looks very promising. Similar to Hannibal in feel!
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25. Board Game: Stalin's War [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:2944]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Completely forgot this upcoming title.
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