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Subject: New HAMTAG video: Top 5 wargames that made me the Grog I am today. rss

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Judd Vance
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A trip down memory lane.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2FBEFt4hA

So what are your 5? The tough part of this exercise is limiting it to 5.
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Eric Walters
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My #5 would be Midway -- the first true wargame I ever played. Bought it in the summer of 1974. I used to build plastic model ship kits and never did another one after I discovered this particular title.

My #4 would be Richthofen's War -- this was right after I played my #5. I got it for Christmas in 1974 and loved tooling around in red plane counters on that gorgeous map. Sure, the system was pretty primitive. But I didn't know any better!

My #3 would be PanzerBlitz -- need I say more. Got it with my #4 that same Christmas. It was this game that got me to discover World War II tactical ground combat as well as the Russian Front in particular.

My #2 was Rise and Decline of the Third Reich -- how was I supposed to know I wasn't ready for it when I got it that same Christmas. I was 15 years old. We played the hell out of that game, and not necessarily accurately for a number of years.

My #1 would have to be The Fast Carriers received for my birthday in 1975. Never mind it was a broken game. I didn't figure that out for years. Through this game, I discovered SPI (Simulations Publications, Inc.) and eventually bought myself a subscription to STRATEGY AND TACTICS--

-- and the rest was history!
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adam wilson

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1. Hammer of the Scots- first block game I ever played and I still like it the best. The mechanism's are a perfect fit for the theme which is the main reason I like it so much. Alba gu brath!

2. 1775: Rebellion/Birth of Nations series- My favorite card driven wargame system.

3. Risk 2210 A.D.- The best of the Risk series in my opinion. Fix's most of the problems with the original.

4. Valor & Victory- Free pnp game that captures the WW2 squad level tactical experience.

5. Risk- What started it all. I only play it online now, but back in the day it was the bee's knee's.
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Nick Wade
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Victory in the Pacific - first game I owned, a gift while sick at home, played it heaps.

Rise and Decline of the Third Reich - first serious wargame I received (12th birthday) and first massive one I played all the way through (but not until five or so years later when my neighbour taught me the rules).

Operation Typhoon - fond memories of playing the campaign - a 3-map monster - on my bedroom floor as a teenager.

The Last Success: Napoleon's March to Vienna, 1809 - the game that got me back into regular board wargaming this year.

Operation Battleaxe: Wavell vs. Rommel, 1941 - the game that re-opened my eyes to the enjoyability of non-hex wargames.
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Joe Miner
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1. The Rise and Decline of the Third Reich - 11 years old, and the guys next door call me up around 7PM, saying "we need a 5th for a game..."

2. Afrika Korps - Right after Christmas break, guy in Chemistry class starts talking about this really cool game he got.

3. Squad Leader - Was published soon thereafter, and we played it all the way through CoD, including the scenario modules and all the ones in the General.

4. Up Front - In college. Wargames club advisor asked if anyone was interested in playtesting a game for Avalon Hill. This was a big hit at the house, and probably got in 1000 games in college. Grades be damned.

5. The Third World War: Battle for Germany (and the other three games) - just in time for my military career. Learned to look at other companies for games.
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Buck Lee
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5.Midway.
Miss the days with no responsibilities and a gaming partner down the street. (Alex, Randall, Mark; where did you guys go?)




4. Bar-Lev: The Yom-Kippur War of 1973.
I discovered there are other game companies besides AH. Fantastic!




3. Richthofen's War.
Who needs realistic flight modeling when your 13, this baby was fun!



2. Luftwaffe.
First wargame purchase. Hooked for life.



1. Rise and Decline of the Third Reich.
More butt hours on this one than any other.

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Judd Vance
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Midway was my 2nd game. I loved it more than Battle of the Bulge, but I gave the nod to Bulge because it was the first.

For Rise and Decline of the 3rd Reich, a buddy bought it and tried to teach it to me. He wasn't a very good teacher and he was ultra-competitive, so he conquered my French in a turn or two and then proceeded to crow about how awesome he was. Wow. That killed that game for me for almost 30 years until another guy taught it to me and I found it was really fun. I still hate that rulebook, though. I'm like Captain Kirk in Star Trek II: I don't want reading glasses or reminders that I'm old.
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Roger Hobden
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The Avalon Hill games that came out in the sixties when I was a teenager:

Tactics II

Waterloo

Battle of the Bulge

Afrika Korps

Guadalcanal

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Etien
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My older brother introduced me to Battle-Cry during the 1960s followed by all of the other Milton Bradley American Heritage series. I was something like 9 or 10 years old. Then one day we walked into a game store in another town and spied a few The Avalon Hill Game Co (TAHGC) hex & counter simulations. While he made a few negative comments about the cardboard counters and a lack of miniatures, my jaw was dropping to the floor. Too young to drive and not a cent to my name, I would have to wait a few more years until I came across an SPI (Simulations Publications, Inc.) ad for a subscription to Strategy & Tactics. It was December 1972, so I was somehow able to talk my mother into a 1-year subscription which began in January 1973 with issue #36, and that's how it all began.

What follows are the Top 5 of my favorite/most played early games which hold a special nostalgic place for me:
Destruction of Army Group Center - my first subscription issue to Strategy & Tactics
Gettysburg - my first of several early AH games; it cost me about $7
Stalingrad - an ingenious yet simple reinforcement mechanic that makes this one of my favorites.
Khalkhin-Gol - a favorite from my SDC (Simulations Design Corporation) CONFLICT magazine subscription, while it lasted.
Diplomacy - I didn't know wargames could be so different; played the heck out of this in high school.
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Will Marrero
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5. Axis & Allies
4. PanzerBlitz
3. Rise and Decline of the Third Reich
2. EastFront
1. Advanced Squad Leader

Honorable Mention: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
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Gary Logs
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I think Greg pegged the difficulty level of what feels like Schindler's List. Judd added good logic to help look for experience impact. Bart provided the real aspect of looking back in an honest perspective.

From that, these are mine with reference credit per above:

5. Kriegspiel - Never played it, just watched my older brother play the neighbor's game for the first time and win it in an opening para-drop on his capitol. Wow, what is this? (Greg)

4. Rise of the Luftwaffe – Late in my gaming, this opened me up to actually playing the other genre world of games (blocks, M44, for example). UpFront was on my shelf, benched for years partly because I was not keeping up with the hobby during my military years - I didn't understand the play strategy after first tries, it was a SL gamette so of course I had it. Came around to it strong later after my eyes opened. Card wargames are awesome. (Judd)

3. Rise and Decline of the Third Reich - The same brother talked me into buying this game with him then faded away as it was too complicated (it was my second owned game after Luftwaffe which my other older brother talked me into buying first). I played it and played it and was all-in but don't think I ever completed a game. I don’t shy away from rules though. (Greg)

2. PanzerBlitz - After TR and moving the pink and blue Battle of the Bulge units around, this was quite an eye opener of real weapon units! I love this tactical stuff with armor types and ranges! (Bart)

1. Tobruk – What no SL/ASL? This was the tactical seed for me for individual tanks and squads. SL/ASL took it from there and may have consumed my wallet and time in the end, but this birthed my tactical detail passion. [edit extra: that detailed armor top view was so unique to me at the time] (Bart)

PS - I reserve the right to change my mind on all of these. (me)


[edit: Sorry Greg, the double "ttg" in your last name planted a double "gg" in your first name in my aging mind. Or...we could just blame Judd and his double "dd". I do find you align with most of my gaming perspectives but I really enjoy the those other guys in between your wisdoms. ]
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Gary Logs
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ericmwalters wrote:
My #5 would be Midway -- the first true wargame I ever played. Bought it in the summer of 1974. I used to build plastic model ship kits and never did another one after I discovered this particular title.

My #4 would be Richthofen's War -- this was right after I played my #5. I got it for Christmas in 1974 and loved tooling around in red plane counters on that gorgeous map. Sure, the system was pretty primitive. But I didn't know any better!

My #3 would be PanzerBlitz -- need I say more. Got it with my #4 that same Christmas. It was this game that got me to discover World War II tactical ground combat as well as the Russian Front in particular.

My #2 was Rise and Decline of the Third Reich -- how was I supposed to know I wasn't ready for it when I got it that same Christmas. I was 15 years old. We played the hell out of that game, and not necessarily accurately for a number of years.

My #1 would have to be The Fast Carriers received for my birthday in 1975. Never mind it was a broken game. I didn't figure that out for years. Through this game, I discovered SPI (Simulations Publications, Inc.) and eventually bought myself a subscription to STRATEGY AND TACTICS--

-- and the rest was history!


Your list hits home with me also, I almost put "Dixie" on my list as my introduction outside of AH games with S&T.
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Claudio Hornblower
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From #5 to #1 (it's been very tough to establish a hierarchy and/or exclude other classics, but those were the ones that ignited the burning zeal, IIRC!
[#5] terrain, LOS, multiple weapons, progressive damage, firing has a price
[#4] solo campaign play, I must *expend* weapons?!, we made it gents we're cardboard heroes, GMT first love
[#3] coordinate "large amount" of chits with ease, sticky ZOCs, nappy!! Zucker!!
[#2] best sailing model, details do matter, wargames are simulations not just another euro, no need for hexes to have fun
[#1] think about the long term consequences of your actions, use your brain and embrace complexity, reality bites
).



... as always Long Live Hamtag Gang thumbsup
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Colin Raitt
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I think the first 5 games had the most effect because I had so much to learn. Wargames gave me a context to understand Clausewitz, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu. The lessons learned in a game don't always transfer to others but with enough of them under your belt some will. Please do a HAMTAG on opponents who've made me the grog I am.

Right, here's my 5.
5th was SFB, nice surprise to see it on HAMTAG, speed lets you choose facing.
4th was 2nd fleet game, the lesson was to spot or die.
3rd was Panzerkrieg, use of defensive reserves.
2nd was Fulda Gap, I learnt not to push into dangerous positions and wait for the enemy to make a mistake.
I started with squad leader, it taught me to suppress the enemy before closing.
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Rosecrans man
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5) The American Heritage Series of games from Milton Bradley, specifically Dogfight, Broadsides and Hit the Beach. Also, Risk and Stratego

4) D-Day and Midway (both the board game and the computer Midway game).

3) In Their Quiet Fields. I had just watched a Civil War reenactment for the first time, the next day I was playing with my first honest Civil wargame. I was sold on The Gamers products after that. Just a couple years after that, I was playing This Hallowed Ground, This Terrible Sound and A Fearful Slaughter with Dave Powell.

2) Afrika, Matanikau and Bloody Ridge from The Gamers.

1) Most recently, the Battles of the Age of Reason series from Clash of Arms, the Musket and Pike series from GMT, the Indian Wars series (specifically Adobe Walls) from Legion Wargames, the Herman Luttman Civil War series and finally Mike Rinella's area movement games especially Not War, But Murder and Last Battle: Ie Shima.

Edit: Looking forward to adding VCS Salerno, Reluctant Enemies and the Island War series (Legion Wargames) to my list of grognard experiences.
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Steven Mitchell
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In roughly chronological order:

First up for me is Jutland, which was my first wargame. I found it in my grandparents' attic; it had originally been my uncle's. Introduced me to Avalon Hill and the entire genre. It also introduced me to the concept of Basic and Advanced Rules. I never wanted to play with anything less than the Advanced Rules, plus all the Optional Rules.

Second up is Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader. After also finding a copy of Midway in the attic, I soon became completely captivated by wargames. I eventually found a copy of Dunnigan's The Complete Wargames Handbook in my local library and pored over that for so many hours as a kid. One of the things that really piqued my interest in that book was a peek at the index for an expansion for a game called Squad Leader. The game had rules for mud and motorcycles and so many other cool details. I had to have this game. So it became the first game I ordered directly from AH. I never got any of the modules for base SL but soon jumped directly into ASL. Thanks to VASL, I spent many, many hours playing this online. Even though I haven't played a scenario in years, it definitely pushed me in a certain direction in wargaming.

Third is Advanced Third Reich. (To this day I've yet to play base 3R.) I found it and a copy of The Russian Campaign in a bin of a discount store one day and snatched up a copy of both. TRC I played a bit, but it never really caught on with me. A3R, on the other hand, was simply the best. It was my introduction to strategic games. As with ASL, I loved the complexity of it all, particularly the fact that so many aspects of the war were featured. When this eventually transmogrified into AWAW, upping the ante on basically everything that A3R involved, that became my personal gold standard for strategic games, particularly WWII. I know its almost absurdly bloated, but I love it for that.

Fourth is Korea: The Forgotten War. By the time this game had come out, I was heavily involved in the online wargame community at CSW. One of the things that CSW had done was introduced me to all sorts of companies who were linked to off of CSW's main page. One of those was The Gamers. A lot of their games intrigued me, but nothing really, really grabbed me like it should have. I don't know whether it was the site design or a lack of content on the site or what, but nothing really grabbed me. Then along came MMP, the stewards of my favorite game system at the time, ASL. News came that MMP would be acquiring The Gamers. Suddenly their renowned series would be front and center for me. I immediately pre-ordered Korea, mostly for the subject matter, and was enamored by the system, OCS. I soon had a copy of every title, and it remains one of the few series whose games I'll automatically order without knowing anything else about the game. Any operational game I play inevitably gets compared with OCS, no matter the era. What I want to know these days with an operational game is whether good play will require me to plan an entire operation, from start to finish, and make the necessary preparations and juggle the complexities of mounting an offensive? Few do, I find.

Finally we have a Empire of the Sun. This was the game that finally got me looking at CDGs. But more importantly, it got me into PTO games. I was never one who had a strong attraction to naval or air games, despite the fact that both of my first two wargames were naval games. They were just too 'technical', in most cases, and always seemed to be more the object of specs fetishes than the sort of things I liked about military history. But EotS, by breaking down the Pacific theater into logisitically and operationally divided chunks, introduced me to a whole other side of the Pacific. Through that game I saw the combined-arms aspect and understood the complex logistical problems that the the theater had. Pacific War would eventually further the lesson at a different scale, but it was EotS that soon made me want to grab up every [good] PTO game I could, to get different angles on the same conflict.

The funny thing is, even though all of these games are 20th-century conflicts, these days I usually favor pre-WWI games. I still am always on the lookout for a new PTO game and will never say 'no' to OCS, but aside from that, I think a lot of the broad concepts that these games introduced me to got me to look more closely at everything before even the 19th century, and in certain ways, I think the manifestations of those elements there are more attractive to me. (Also, my own personal interests, aside from wargaming, lie mostly in the pre-modern era: medieval through early modern.)
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Joshua Gottesman
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Mine would be Tactics II, which I never owned. However, seeing it set up at my cousin's house was my first exposure to "real" wargames, and without seeing it I might have never joined the hobby. He was never a big wargamer, however his college roommate was Brad Hessel who went on to work for SPI, and Brad would get him to play sometimes. Without that, I might have never become a grog.

Then there's Afrika Korps, which was my 1st game. I loved the story cover. It was a fight to get this, as I'm Jewish and my parents were against anything German, especially Nazi. For instance, I was never allowed to own games like PanzerBlitz, Luftwaffe and The Game of France, 1940: German Blitzkrieg in the West for the blatant German images on them. I got AK from a local gift shop. The 2 games they had on the shelves were AK and 1914. I loved the 1914 map/cover and liked the story and seeing lower complexity of AK more. Had I bought 1914, would I be a grog today?

Early on in my purchases (I never remember whether it was #2 or #3), I purchased Richthofen's War. I already loved airplanes, my dad used to take the kids to the airport to watch planes take off and land, and RW got me to love air games. Reading a bit about it, I tried to design scenarios before I got the game. I was a bit confused. In my mind, spotting artillery meant "spotting where the artillery is located", not "spotting FOR artillery." Hey, I was young.

Alexander the Great was the 1st game I ever played with odd shaped counters. I was fascinated by them and the battle, and it created a love for ancients games in me, and also in learning more about Alexander the Great, who is now my favorite historical figure.

Soldier Kings might seem an odd choice, especially for a game I never played. However, I left the hobby when I moved out of Baltimore in 1995, thinking that computer games were going to kill the boardgaming hobby. I had a steady gaming group in Baltimore, and not one in New Jersey, where I moved. When I moved from there to Las Vegas, I didn't want to schlep everything, so I sold off most of my collection short of a maybe a dozen games which were favorites. Fast forward to 2004, I go to GenCon with my ex-wife and some friends. I see a few wargames there, and remember how much fun they had been. I'm not sure if I have opponents, and the subject matter of Soldier Kings grabs me, so I pick it up. I read the rules a few times, find BGG and Avalanche Press' website, and realize there's more out there. However, life intervened and I didn't do any real gaming again until 2007, and at that point it was Euros. And one of the guys who played Euros was also a wargamer, and we started talking and that rekindled even more interest. After my divorce, I realized I wanted to play these games again and slowly started purchasing a few. That went from a trickle to a steady stream (some days a river) and now, while I still don't play as many wargames as I'd like, I do actively play them and seek them out to be played. Without seeing Soldier Kings, that might have never happened.
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B Rod
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airjudden wrote:
A trip down memory lane.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2FBEFt4hA

So what are your 5? The tough part of this exercise is limiting it to 5.


Is there a HAMTAG forum? Or do you just post in the war games forum?

What I´d like to see is a list based on much tougher parameters.

Top 5 war games from wars/battles you´ve never heard of?

Top 5 war games that are better with 3 players?

etc. etc.

I feel these would be very interesting to watch.
 
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Judd Vance
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There's not a forum. Since it's wargame-centric, we always post here for the target audience.

Keep the ideas coming. When we first started, we put our heads together and made a list of ideas. Some of the most fun vids are the ones that are not on your normal topics (Top 5 WWII, Top 5 of the year), and instead tackle those outside of the box like this one, the games you might not have heard of, and non-historical wargames.

The hardest part of finding a topic is finding one where 3 guys have at least 5 games on the subject. Tastes vary from user to user. That is why, for instance, we don't have the Top 5 games on the War of Jenkins Ear.

But keep them coming, because we add them to the list and try to figure out, "Yeah, we can do that."
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Greg Sager
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First would have to be the MB games, as mentioned previously.
Then, chonologically:
Gettysburg (1964)
PanzerBlitz
Wooden Ships and Iron Men
Panzer Group Guderian
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Mike Szarka
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Suggestions:

- Top five games that took years to get to the table (but glad you did)
- Top five games on obscure wargaming topics
- Top five games from non-mainstream publishers
- Top five SPI games (or other vintage wargames) still worth playing
- top 5 scifi wargames (have you done this?)

Of course the Top 5 shtick will run its course eventually.
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Steven Mitchell
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mcszarka wrote:
Suggestions:

- Top five games that took years to get to the table (but glad you did)
- Top five games on obscure wargaming topics
- Top five games from non-mainstream publishers
- Top five SPI games (or other vintage wargames) still worth playing
- top 5 scifi wargames (have you done this?)

Of course the Top 5 shtick will run its course eventually.


That's what they told Letterman. And The Dice Tower.
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Mike Szarka
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Oh, as for my Grog heritage:

I would start with The Battle of the Bulge, because like so many of us, that's where it started. You have to start at the beginning.

I'll put as second The Fall of Rome, the first really good game we got with our S&T subscription (we'll pass over the first two, CA and Scrimmage). My brother and I played it over and over. Our S&T sub was a portal into the hobby.

The 80s were a darker period for me, as my university years were devoted to sex, drugs, rock and roll (and studying very hard). I did get back into playing a few games when I met some wargamers during my PhD towards the end of the decade, but few and far between.

I'll say EastFront which was the game that showed that blocks could be used in a "serious" wargame, and I had fun with it at a time when I wasn't playing a lot. Early 90s when I was still figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I will say Alexandros which would have been one of the first games I got from Command magazine, which really helped me stay at least peripherally in the hobby when money was tight and I was a new father. The ironic thing was, with a newborn I actually started wargaming more. Playing solo was a great hobby for a guy who was housebound a lot of the time. Plus it was the advent of GEnie and on-line networks of gamers (I built my collection a bit during this period as there were good deals to be had).

Finally I will say World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin which was the first CDG that I really played deeply (had tinkered with some others but not really got the hang of them). Now they are pretty well my favourite genre.
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Benny Bosmans
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Napoleon's Last Battles started it while I knew nothing else but ... Risk.

Richthofen's War put me through campaign modes (Bloody April 1917)

War In The East (Second Edition) started a Monster and a long term record holder in time played.

Ambush! made me a solo-er

Rise and Decline of the Third Reich gave me the taste of epic strategy games within a manageble time frame.


500+ followed (numbers 4 and 5 on that list still reside in my top 10).

OOOOPS: I forgot The Russian Campaign ! of which I have 4 copies. 2 played , one in shrink and one 4th Edition DE LUXE. Most playable campaign game eva (of course also on my top 10 of all time).


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Daniel
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Top 5 wargames that made me the grog I am today.

1. Memoir '44. This was the first boardgame I bought as an adult that brought me back into tabletop gaming. To pre-empt the objection, I classify it as a wargame. It's a game with a war theme and rules that attempt to restrict movement and fire. It has terrain modifiers and rolling dice for combat resolution. It was obviously simple and limited, but I can honestly say I would not have pursued any other game if I had not seen M'44 on the shelf in that hobby store. I do tire of game snobs who put down designers or categories of games. Ask anyone outside the ivory tower of Grogdom what you are playing with Memoir set up on the table and they will say it is a wargame. Everyone likes what they like in games. Not everyone wants to play Case Blue or Advanced Squad Leader.

2. Advanced Squad Leader
My cousin taught me this. This is the only wargame he plays regularly. He carries his rulebook like a Bible to the local ASL meetups and he has a giant tub filled with counters and modules. When I say "taught", I mean to say I have an understanding of the sequence of play and generally how infantry, AFV, and guns do the things they need to do to play. Mostly, I have been more comfortable at the ASLSK level. Truth be told, this game is a little too much commitment for me to my cousin's dismay. But more than any other game, it got me excited about counters and hexes and to demand more "realism" and attention to detail in wargames.

3. Julius Caesar This was my first exposure to block war games. I fell in love with all block games. The bluffing. The hidden information. The adaptability to so many different historical conflicts with just a few tweaks to the rules. Hexes, area, or point-to-point movement. Battle boards with flanks and reserves. Reinforcements coming from neighboring towns who make it late to the battle. Castle rules with sieges. Blocks that can switch sides. Columbia Games will always be one of my crushes and Julius Caesar is one of the easiest entry points. Worthington Games has been putting out quality block games too.

4. Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles. This is my sweetspot when it comes to tactical WWII. Infantry, tanks, and guns in a minimal ruleset. It seems the most realistic to me of all the tactical games which seem to have a tendency to err on the side of overwhelming detail, and unmanageable rules or playing time. BoB is easily the most playable. The morale/proficiency/suppression system just seems to work right. Every game I play goes right down to the last die roll. The abstractions that are in the game just make sense to me: I don't need to model a tank's turret turning 180 degrees if it wouldn't normally do this anyway. Normally it would fire facing forward with its bulkiest armor toward the enemy. These abstractions probably render the game unplayable for the diehard ASLers but I appreciate why they are there and how they make the game more playable. My cousin won't play this, for example, because the Americans should have a 3 smoke exponent.

5. No Retreat! The Russian Front. This game sets the standard for elegant rules and the feel of recreating an entire front of the war. Supply rules, counterblows, historical results. It is awesome to set up the Barbarossa 1941 scenario and see the Germans get within miles of Moscow, only to have the crushing winter and thinning supply lines get the better of them most of the time!

6. Notable Mention: Twilight Struggle. This introduced the card-driven game mechanic to me. The ability to play a card for OPS points, or for its event, and also needing to minimize the effects of enemy events through careful card play make this game a home run. I went out and bought Washington's War because I loved the mechanic and flow of gameplay in TS so much. It's a game about political influence and the COLD war so it makes sense that it is not going to fit in some people's definition of a WAR game. To me it is a COLD WAR game.

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