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Monster games!
Brian Morris
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We call ourselves wargamers and sometimes grognards. We play wargames. There's the politically correct term of course of "Historic Simulation Board Gaming" that gets used but that's mostly to avoid the people who like to go "You play wargames? I'm against war so I never play those games". Like if you play a wargame there's something wrong with you.

One thing wargamers tend to like is big complex games. We want to not just have fun playing a game but in the end have a greater understanding of the conflict we are recreating. As designers in the 70s began to create bigger and more elaborate games, they became so big that they began to be referred to as monster games.

Monster games are big and they are pretty much solely wargames. Don't ever expect to find a monster game version of Balloon Cup or Formula De. They in general have 1,000+ pieces and can sometimes take weeks or even months to play full campaign games. It's a game you set up in your basement where the cat can't get to it and play hockey with the pieces because it's going to be set up there until next spring.

Many wargamers actually own monster games with no illusions that they will ever really play them. For them it's a research tool to be used to learn about the battle or it's simply fun to set it out and fiddle with a few turns of it. It's the game version of the guy who owns a Ferrari that rarely leaves the garage but when his buddies come over he starts it up for them to hear and maybe take them for a spin around the block in it.

So without further delay, here are some of the hobby's biggest games. The monster games.

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1. Board Game: Summer Storm: The Battle of Gettysburg [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:4520]
Brian Morris
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This is the game that I just purchased and made me think of this list. This game features 3 maps with the main tactical map being 51x44", 980 counters and takes many many hours to play. Even as big as it is, it barely qualifies as a monster game and is one of the smallest on this list.

I bought this game simply because I have been studying the Battle of Gettysburg for years and want to be able to replay the game on a grand scale if not just by myself in my basement. You'll find the Battle of Gettysburg is a popular monster game topic as there are four Gettysburg monster games on this list.
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2. Board Game: Terrible Swift Sword [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:2018]
Brian Morris
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From 1976 by Richard Berg. This game is one of the first monster games. The game's campaign scenario is suppose to last a full 60 hours. This game set the standard for many monster games to come.
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3. Board Game: The Three Days of Gettysburg (second edition) [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:4442]
Brian Morris
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Berg returns to Gettysburg to create a sequel of sorts to his 1976 game. This one for GMT. I have never seen this game played but I hear the 2004 rule updates did a great deal to smooth over the cumbersome rule booklet.
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4. Board Game: Wellington's Victory: Battle of Waterloo [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:2282]
Brian Morris
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Want to see what Waterloo was like to command? This game is so big you might want to borrow the neighbor's kitchen table for a while. It says it takes 15 hours to play but I doubt many people have played the full campaign scenario in that amount of time.
 
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5. Board Game: Atlantic Wall [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:4204]
Brian Morris
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Another 70s era monster game from SPI. This monster featured 5 map boards and 2,000 counters. WW II and the American Civil War are probibly the two conflicts that get the most attention from monster game designers.
 
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6. Board Game: The Longest Day [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:1732]
Brian Morris
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This game clocks in at 1,500 counters and 7 maps. I have actually played the full campaign game of this. It took a long time but it sure was fun and gave me a much better understanding of the actual battle itself.
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7. Board Game: This Hallowed Ground [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:2705]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Our fourth Gettysburg monster game. This one feature 2,240 counters and 5 22x34" map sheets. I almost went for this game over Summer Storm. These monster Gettysburg games actually make good multiplayer games as each player can take command of a Corps or division.
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8. Board Game: Bloody April: The Battle of Shiloh, 1862 [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:5444]
Brian Morris
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The actual sequel to Berg's Terrible Swift Sword. This one deals with Shiloh. This game wasn't as well recieved by people as his previous work but still is a must for wargamers who prefer the Western Theater during the Civil War.
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9. Board Game: A Fearful Slaughter: The Battle of Shiloh [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:3190]
Brian Morris
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A more recent treatment on the battle of Shiloh. This one is sort of a sibling to This Hallowed Ground, featuring 1,400 counters. I've heard good things on this game.
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10. Board Game: Pacific War [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:1210]
Brian Morris
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Mark Herman's monster game on the Pacific Theater. 2,340 counters. This game is a real masterpiece. I've been fortunate to play it twice and enjoyed every minute of it.
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11. Board Game: River of Death: Battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863 [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:4499]
Brian Morris
United States
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Richard Berg may be the most prolific monster game designer on the planet. Here he recreates the Battle of Chickamauga down to the regimental level.
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12. Board Game: Barbarossa: Army Group Center, 1941 [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:2846]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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GMT is at this moment the king of Monster Games. They are putting out some real quality work and this is another example.
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13. Board Game: A World at War [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:1930]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Here's another example of GMT's monster games and a fine one it is. This game is actually a combination of sorts of the games Advanced Third Reich and Empire of the Rising Sun. It also has very cool box art. How big is this game? Here are the stats from the BGG summery of the game.

* 2,800 full-color die-cut counters.
* Four 22"x30" full-color mapsheets
* 12 Player Aid Cards
* 196-page Rulebook
* 72-page Status Sheet booklet
* 24-page Research and Diplomacy booklet
* 24-page Scenario booklet
* 8 six-sided dice
 
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14. Board Game: Empire of the Rising Sun [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:3517]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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More cool box art on this game of the Pacific Theater. This game features as well a staggering 2,800 counters. I love some folks who give games like these bad ratings here on BGG because they take to long to play. They're suppose to take a long time to play!

This game by the way actually can be played in combination with another monster game. It's sibling Advanced Third Reich.
 
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15. Board Game: Advanced Third Reich [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1792]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Ok, so you combine this game on the European Theater with it's counterpart Empire of the Rising Sun and it's 2,800 counters and you get....well unfortunately, I actually wasn't able to find out how many counters this game has. However I think it's fair to assume it's likely close to the same number as it's sibling. If that is the case (and I am sure someone here can give us an exact count) that means when you combine the two you are looking at something in the area of 5,000 counters. Now that's a monster!!!!
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16. Board Game: Typhoon! [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:3541]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Ok, after listing a number of games with 2,000+ counters and maps the size of New Hampshire, it almost seems anticlimactic to list Typhoon which has only 960 counters and 3 22x34" maps. GMT is working on a new edition of this game which is currently on their P500 list.
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17. Board Game: War Galley [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:2253]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Yes it's Richard Berg again, hooking up with Mark Herman. This time they've done something unique in monster games. It's a naval monster game!

This nautical monster game is based on ancient naval battles. It has 560 warship counters and another 560 for transports, leaders and so on. This game isn't so much a monster game as it is 13 different games rolled into one as it recreates 13 different naval battles in the era pre-BC.

The game is currently on GMT's P500 list waiting for a reprint. It at 462 at the moment....well 463 I guess as I just pulled the trigger and put myself in for one.
 
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18. Board Game: Empires in Arms [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:599]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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BGG summery lists this game as lasting 132 turns with 100-150 hours of play time for the full campaign game. At that point I think you've stepped beyond just gaming and are entering the area of historical research.
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19. Board Game: This Terrible Sound [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:3209]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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The Battle of Chickamauga with 1960 counters and 6 maps!
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20. Board Game: World in Flames [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:613]
Brian Morris
United States
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Missouri
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I love this picture because it's obvious this game is set up in the basement. Only 1,200 counters (like 1,200 counters is something to sneeze at). I haven't played this one but it's likely one of the more popular monster games out there. It rates well here on BGG.
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21. Board Game: Highway to the Reich (first and second editions) [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:3290]
Jeffrey D Myers
United States
Los Ranchos
New Mexico
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A favorite of my younger days, and I still crave more Operation Market-Garden games. Now on the P500 list at Decision Games, so please sign up!
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22. Board Game: Wacht am Rhein [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:3476]
Jeffrey D Myers
United States
Los Ranchos
New Mexico
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Well-regarded monster on the Battle of the Bulge.
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23. Board Game: Streets of Stalingrad (third edition) [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:2722]
Jeffrey D Myers
United States
Los Ranchos
New Mexico
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And a new version of the Battle of Stalingrad. 5/8" inch counters, so you can stash your trifocals.
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24. Board Game: Drang Nach Osten! [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:5727]
Darrell Hanning
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
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As far as I can tell, the first true monster game (1973).

Division-level Operation Barbarossa - Invasion of Russia, 1941. Five map sheets and 1800 units.

Re-released as Fire in the East. The original's add-on for 1942-on, Unentscheiden, was re-released as Scorched Earth. Between the two of them, you'll end up with about thirty square feet of map, and over 7,000 counters.

I played FitE and SE a lot in eighties. I may never play them again, but it would still take a great deal to pry them from my hands.
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25. Board Game: Fire in the East [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:2097]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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By popular demand. Featuring 2,800+ counters and a map that could cover most New England states.
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