Games to teach WWII history
Nicola Marangon
Italy
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Please, indicate a game that I could use to teach WWII history to someone who knows little or nothing about it.

Update 6 Aug 2004 :

I'd better specify that I'm essentially interested in showing:
- the theater of operations
- nations involved
- the chronological sequence of events

I'm not particularly interested in tactical aspects.
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1. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:146] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Board Game: Memoir '44
Joltin' Joe
United States
California
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The scenarios included give historical background of the battles.
 
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2. Board Game: Ambush! [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:931]
Board Game: Ambush!
Gary Webster
United States
Littleton
CO
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The scenarios in "Ambush" have good descriptions of where they fit into the overall war, more or less, and give some feel for the individual soldier's plight, with things like guns jamming, random artillery strikes, and panic. Takes some of the "Audie Murphy wannabee" out of a player, as his guy gets whacked over and over again while running up a road straight at an enemy gun emplacement!
 
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3. Board Game: Europe at War [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:13243]
Board Game: Europe at War
Christian Killoran
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Without knowing more about you and your friend, it's almost impossible to make an intelligent recommendation. Most WW2 games I know of have educational value as enrichment, rather than a survey quality.

If you can find a copy of this game (which might be hard), here's what it offers:

-Short, easy rules.
-A broad scope.
-Short playing time for a game of its scope (about 2 hours.)

What you can expect to learn:

-The geography of the european theater, how and why it affected the sequence of events.
-The major leaders/generals of the european war.
-Some strategic options that each country faced.
-Some sense of the differences between infantry, armored, airborne, etc. forces.

Most of the other games I can think of are either too focused on a small part of WW2 to be of much use, or are so complex that learning how to play will trump how much you learn about WW2.
 
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4. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1483] [Average Rating:6.57 Unranked]
Board Game: Axis & Allies
Thomas Phinney
United States
Portland
United States
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It gives a good overall feel for the war, and has some of the same strategies as the real war. The issues in the Pacific and Russia are vaguely accurate. Yet it's still a fairly light (though moderately long) game.
 
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5. Board Game: Europe Engulfed: WWII European Theatre Block Game [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:1473] [Average Rating:7.48 Unranked]
Board Game: Europe Engulfed: WWII European Theatre Block Game
Darren M
Canada
High Level
AB
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Europe Engulfed would be my personal choice of WW2 teaching tool. Like many have said...games may be imperfect teaching tools...but at the same time they can also be quite dynamic and interesting at teaching some of the factors of a complicated war such as WW2...and can give some insights into the events that occured and issues that were considered on BOTH sides of the war.

The blocks design of Europe Engulfed and the ability of the game to cover the entire scope of the war...at least on the European front would give a tactile and visual idea of what went into the War in Europe. I think there is something to be said for a game's tactile and visual representation of a battle...over reading about the war in a book or watching a war documentary on tv.

At it's heart a game is meant to be fun...but there is no reason that insights on the actual war can not also be gleaned while playing the game and making decisions...especially when you get to take alternating views of both sides in the battles over several sessions.
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6. Board Game: EastFront [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:2082]
Board Game: EastFront
Daniel Harrison
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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This one will teach them the significant factors that influenced operations - stretched supply, limited intelligence and the dreaded Russian winter.
 
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7. Board Game: A Bridge Too Far: ASL Historical Module 6 [Average Rating:8.20 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.20 Unranked]
Board Game: A Bridge Too Far: ASL Historical Module 6
Pierce Ostrander
United States
Los Ranchos
New Mexico
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Advanced Squad Leader is the best -w ith hundreds of scenarios covering all theaters and all participants. Each scenario has an introduction and an aftermath on the card. Most are very thoroughtly contexted and historically researched. You can play your way throught the entire war... one village at a time... or island at a time... or city at a time... I can think of no other game that has as long a list of "historical modules" just type ASL in the search and see what comes up...
 
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8. Board Game: Axis & Allies: D-Day [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:2762]
Board Game: Axis & Allies: D-Day
With this game (nice game with easy rules and 2-3 hours playing time) you have a good view of the theater of operations: on the board you see the locations of the beaches where the allied forces landed. You can also see the location of the dropzones of the airborne units.
Furthermore, beside the nations that were involved in D-Day, you see also the names of the divisions (on the re-enforcements charts).
Talking about the chronological sequence of events: they also handled quitt well in this game. Altough not 100% ofcourse, it gives a good "historic" feel on what happened on D-Day and in the hard an fierce fighting on "the battle of Normandy".
 
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9. Board Game: Advanced European Theater of Operations [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:7556]
Board Game: Advanced European Theater of Operations
Nicola Marangon
Italy
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Could this be a "teaching" tool?
Opinions?
 
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10. Board Game: Pacific Fleet [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:9439]
Board Game: Pacific Fleet
Johan Johannesson
Sweden
Malmoe
Skane
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If you want a good history lesson as well as a good game I really recommend Pacific Fleet by Hobby Japan. This gem of a game was actually designed by Hiroaki Sato to show his younger countrymen that the japanese position was doomed from the outset. Games with history simulations in mind does not always give a good gaming experience (Devils Horsemen anyone?) but this does. It has a superb game system and the victory points system make the game tense often until the very last turn. This game is sadly out of print, but can be purchases on ebay from time to time.
 
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