Evolution of a wargamer
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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When I got back into gaming, it was because of thematic games and how they implemented some themes I like into great board games.

As time passed, I got in touch with more and more great Eurogames and my opinion about 'dry Eurogames' began to change up to the point where mechanisms have become so important for my perception of a game that I no longer mind when a game has a rather uninteresting theme as long as it has interesting mechanisms.

What's that to do with wargames? Somewhere along that way wargames started to trickle into my collection. This is the attempt to make a chronicle of my evolution as a wargamer.

This list is sorted chronologically by the time I purchased the game or the time when I first played the game if I don't own a copy myself. The only other criterium by which I went was if a game was listed in the wargame category. If it was, then the game qualified for this list. So if you want to complain about some odd or questionable additions: Blame the database!

Due to the chronological order some of the first entries can hardly be considered as wargames but bear with me... the further the list goes, the further we venture into 'true' wargame territory.
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1. Board Game: Warhammer 40,000 [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1989]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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Well... what can I say? I grew up in the 90ies and several guys in my class got into Warhammer 40K during the shiny, colourful era of the second edition and so did I. I loved the minis and I absolutely loved the thematic background.

Personally, I would rather think of this as a miniature game and not a war game but the database lists it as a wargame so this would be my first early contact to wargaming.
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2. Board Game: Crimson Skies [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:3088]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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Another miniature game which I wouldn't have considered as a wargame myself.

I only picked it up because I really got into the storyline when Microsoft published the computer game and I wanted to read more of the fluff of this universe. I haven't even played this game and with games like X-Wing on the market it's also highly unlikely that I ever will.

It's a shame that nobody dusted off this theme during the wave of steampunk games of 2013.
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3. Board Game: Horus Heresy (2010) [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1201]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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I was surprised that Horus Heresy is listed as a wargame and I was even more suprised that it is ranked as high as it is in this category.

As I mentioned above I love the Warhammer 40K-universe. So when Horus Heresy was on sale at Spiel '12 (30-35€ if I recall correctly) I had to get it.

Granted, the coffin box is a pain in the neck to store and the 3D-terrain is less than functional. But I really enjoy this game. The initiative system and the possibility to place strategic orders on the board in order to activate them later for lower initative cost are both really neat concepts.

I can definitely see why the game failed though. Too huge, too expensive and an audience which was way too narrow for such a big release. But being part of this narrow target audience, I'm glad I have it in my collection.
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4. Board Game: Doom of the Eldar [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:5526]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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After playing and enjoying FFG's Horus Heresy, I learned that it was based on an old game from Games Workshop's wargame series.

Wait... Light wargames based on Warhammer 40K? I had to hunt these down!

Doom of the Eldar was the first one I added to my collection.
 
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5. Board Game: Tide of Iron [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:643]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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So now we have finally arrived at WWII. I was browsing through some offers on amazon when I stumbled across Tide of Iron. Another coffin box, another ton of plastic and another thick rulebook. But I was intrigued and I started to look into the game.

A lot of it sounded really interesting. I had been thinking about getting an entry level wargame anyway and while Memoir '44 looked too light for my taste Tide of Iron seemed to offer the right combination of visual appeal and interesting gameplay.

While the setup can be a bit fiddly and takes a bit longer than I would like it to, it's still a game I enjoy playing. The scenarios from the base game are not the best example of balance but I hope that 1A games managed to fix these issues with their release of the second wave.
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6. Board Game: Tide of Iron: Days of the Fox [Average Rating:7.74 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.74 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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When I played Tide of Iron for the first time I enjoyed it a lot.

I knew that there were several expansions for the game and after reading a bit about those I learnt that many considered Days of the Fox the best of the expansions but that it was out of print.

But I had seen a copy at my FLGS and since I liked the game I thought that I should probably get it before it becomes impossible to find a reasonably price copy. So I went over to my FLGS and picked it up.
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7. Board Game: Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition) [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:512]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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After getting and enjoying Tide of Iron I heard about the second edition of Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear. Being another tactical wargame with a bit more meat and at the same time less fiddliness this seemed like a good next step up. And so I got my first hex-and-counter wargame.

Unfortunately I still haven't been able to get this to the table yet. But I'm looking forward to the solo expansion.
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8. Board Game: Battle for Armageddon [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:4469]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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Battle for Armageddon was the first title of GW's wargame series and the second one I could add to my collection.

While I mainly got it for collector's reasons, I'd be really interested to give this one a try at some point.
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9. Board Game: Battle for Armageddon Expansion Set: Chaos Attack [Average Rating:6.23 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.23 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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When I got my copy of Battle for Armageddon is was not only complete and in good condition: It also included the rare Chaos Attack expansion.
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10. Board Game: Horus Heresy (1993) [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:5729]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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With Horus Heresy I completed my collection of the GW wargame series.

Due to its bigger brother from FFG it's unlikely that I will play this too soon.
 
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11. Board Game: Warmaster [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:9062]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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Originally included in some edition of GW's White Dwarf magazine, I got it in my copy of Horus Heresy. Honestly, I have never really been interested in the game but as it doesn't take up any additional space and I got it for free, it will probably stay anyway.

This one solely made it to the list because it is also ranked in the wargame category.
 
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12. Board Game: D-Day Dice [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:942]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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D-Day Dice... I think the reason how this game found its way into the wargame category is pretty obvious. But other than the theme it has really no similarities at all to wargames. Yet it made it into the category and thus into my list.

But that doesn't mean that it isn't a good game. Actually I like it quite a bit. A fun dice roller which can be perfectly played solo which was one of the main reasons for me to buy the game.
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13. Board Game: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:71] [Average Rating:7.78 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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The name already suggests my opinion about the game. It's a miniatures game, not a war game. But obviously enough gamers think otherwise.

I actually haven't quite understood the hype. I first played it in March 2013 and I must say that I was at least very curious about it at that time. But then I played it and while it was fun... there wasn't that much to it and especially not enough to invest a lot of money in the minis.
I'll wait and see how good or bad Sails of Glory will be doing but if Sails of Glory fails, then I'd argue that the Star Wars license is pretty much the only aspect selling this game.
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14. Board Game: Tide of Iron: Designer Series Vol. 1 [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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When I saw that the other expansions for Tide of Iron slowly began to share the fate of Days of the Fox and become out of print, I decided to do a little shopping.

First one the list was the Designer Series scenario book: Lots of new scenarios for the base game and Days of the Fox from well known wargame designers... What's not to like?
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15. Board Game: Tide of Iron: Normandy [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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D-Day, weather influence, campaign mode and more tanks. I didn't need any more reasons than that to pick up the Normandy expansion for Tide of Iron.
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16. Board Game: Tide of Iron: Fury of the Bear [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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The decisions for getting the Designer series book and the Normandy expansions were fairly easy.

But Fury of the Bear was much more expensive and with the very recent additions of the Designer series and the Normandy expansion I probably wouldn't play it too soon anyway. I hesitated and thought about delaying the purchase.

But finally the completionist in me won. I searched until I found it for a reasonable price and completed my Tide of Iron collection (for the time being).
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17. Board Game: Pocket Battles: Celts vs. Romans [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2390] [Average Rating:6.45 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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The German versions of Pocket Battles were on sale in Summer 2013. Until then I had dismissed them and I think the main reasons was the graphic design. It just didn't catch my interest.

But for a couple of euros I was willing to look closer. And what I found was a nice little tactical battle game which plays a bit like a miniatures game (without having to spend loads of cash for the minis and a lot of time for painting).

Great fun for a couple of bucks!

Edit: Sold for lack of opportunities and interest to play again.
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18. Board Game: Pocket Battles: Elves vs. Orcs [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2621] [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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As both were so cheap I got both German versions.

I have yet to play with the Elves vs. Orcs version though.

Edit: Sold as well.
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19. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:13]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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Is War of the Ring only a thematic game or also a wargame? I'd say it's both. Mechanically it's a light wargame at best, but when I'm playing it, it still feels like a wargame to me. I've seen that the second edition is no longer ranked in the wargame category but the first edition still is so I figured it's still a valid addition.

Now to the game itself... I had been interested in the game as soon as I heard of the upcoming release of the German version of the second edition. But first I hesitated and then the first printrun of the second edition had sold out. When the second printrun made it to the stores I picked it up immediately, played it and loved it. This is such a great game... It has a lot of flavor, eye candy, great components and also a lot of luck. And while I usually don't enjoy too much luck in a longer game, I don't mind in this case because it feels right and the game creates such an amazing narrative that I'd even be willing to forgive the game some flaws.
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20. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:110]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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At the end of August 2013 a friend of mine asked me if I was up for a wargame. As I had never really played a game which I would have considered a 'real wargame' I thought I should give it a try. So I went over and he had set up Paths of Glory. He explained the game and then we started and played, made a break to eat and played, and played, until I got too tired to go on at half past 5 in the morning. But boy, was that an amazing gaming experience!

And not only did I have great fun playing the game, I also learned quite a bit about WWI and realized how shockingly little I knew of WWI (which led to the purchase of a book about WWI to close some of the gaps).

I haven't got a copy of my own yet but it went straight to my wishlist and I hope that I get to play it online some more until I manage to get a copy.

Edit: Fast Forward...

In September 2014 I gave the game another shot, this time playing over VASSAL over a couple of sessions. Having already played the Allied once in my first game I swithced to the Central Powers side. I didn't do too well. Somehow I didn't manage to gain enough ground in the beginning of the game and in the late game I finally lost by a collapse of the Near East.

With the reprint on the horizon I was able to get a copy of my own, which most importantly included the Players Guide.

Shortly after we started a new session, again I played the Central Powers. I did better. But due to my very poor start on the Western Front, I tried to beat the Russians into capitulation. But I focused too much on the East which ultimately led to a breakthrough on the Western front and its subsequent collapse. Still, I enjoyed it very much.
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21. Board Game: D-Day at Omaha Beach [Average Rating:8.26 Overall Rank:490]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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Every now and then I enjoy to play a solo game. When you are asking for recommendations on a great solo game, there are some names which tend to always come up (sooner or later) like Mage Knight, Friday, Ghost Stories and D-Day at Omaha Beach.

That session of Paths of Glory had sparked my interest for wargames in general and so I investigated a bit and I stumbled across the reprint of D-Day at Omaha Beach in one of my local gaming stores. I didn't need too long to convince myself that I had to buy the game.

I'm excited to play it at some point but I haven't managed to yet. But there were also two important lessons I learned from this purchase:

1. Not every wargames' counter sheets are of such high quality as those from Academy Games in Conflct of Heroes.

2. Wargamers need plexiglass.
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22. Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:453]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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One of the aspects of Paths of Glory that amazed me was the card-driven-mechanic. While it's of course an entirely artificial decision, I think it's a great way of tying in historical events.

Spending a lot of time on BGG I knew that Twilight Struggle uses the same mechanic and that I should probably get a copy of it. There had been a German release of Twilight Struggle with a lot of tranlation issues so this version wasn't of much interest to me. But a German version of its successor 1989 had been released in a very limited edition without translation issues. So when I had the chance to pick it up I decided that I could still get an English copy of Twilight Struggle later.

The problem was that I wanted to play Twilight Struggle before playing 1989. So 1989 had to wait...

Edit: Then I did play it. And I'm not sure if I like the game as a whole. The theme is great of course. And the gameplay is mostly the same as Twilight Struggle. Except for those Power Struggles... Maybe I'll appreciate them more with repeated plays. But the chance of entirely losing a country due to a bad card draw just felt wrong for me. Of course this can be mitigated but I didn't really like that aspect as much.
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23. Board Game: Conquest of the Empire [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1226]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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Conquest of the Empire was brought to the table in one of my bigger gaming groups. Unfortunately they had already played with the newer ruleset and decided that they'd like to play by the classic rules.

This game became an example for me why player elimination has mostly been eliminated from modern board game design. I got Rome as a starting position and got smashed from two sides fairly early in the game. While I didn't find the game too interesting to begin with, it got even more boring when the only thing you could do is watch the others roll dice over and over again.

Conclusion: Not every classic needs a reprint.
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24. Board Game: Heroes of Normandie [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:770] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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I kept an eye on the Kickstarter campaign for Heroes of Normandie but ultimately passed on it as it would have cost me too much money as I would have gone for a higher pledge level with all the extras.

At Spiel '13 I then had the chance to play a demo copy of the game and I must say that the guys from Devil Pig Games did a great job. It's a really nice, well looking tactical game which uses a cool block system for the activation of the units on the board.

I thought about preordering it again when they told us that a German version was in the works. But then I thought about my collection of Tide of Iron stuff and the fact that with Conflict of Heroes sitting on my shelf I already had another tactical wargame which I hadn't even played yet. So I made a rational, but difficult decision and decided not to get the game. But still I would really like to have it and play it again...
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25. Board Game: Cuba Libre [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:486]
Kai Mölleken
Germany
45147 Essen
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After Spiel '13 I was on holiday in Cuba. And while we were travelling across the island and learned about the country's history and the revolution I thought: "Man, that could make a great wargame!"

Back home I found out that GMT obviously agreed with me in that regard.

So when one of the local stores gave a discount on all items they had in stock before starting to take inventory I used the opportunity to get Cuba Libre.

I still need a bit of preparation and a learning session but I'm already excited to play it with the full compliment of players.
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