I have decided that one of my goals in life is to become a hardcore kriegspieler. I know, hardly a common goal, but I have always been eccentric. How to do start, what should I focus on? What games should I initially purchase (either specific titles, or series, or game mechanics), and what should I work my way up to? What books should I read to get in the wargaming mindset, what films and documentaries to watch?

Currently I am more interested in tactical wargames like Combat Command Europe, and Conflict of Heroes Kursk. Their smaller scale seems more accessible than operational & strategic tabletop games. The Panzer game recently published by GMT sounds very interesting but it is out of stock already and prohibitive expensive when you can find it for sale 2nd hand. Could anyone suggest Operation level games or series to start with, that are affordable and have scenarios that can play in under 4 hours. Monster campaign games that take day to play currently terrify me, like Terrible Swift Sword, EuroFront, Code Blue, Fire in the East, War Without Mercy, World in Flames. Plus we own a cat, so leaving games sitting overnight on a table is courting disaster.

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My advice is to start with some folio or magazine games on battles or subjects you're interested in.  They're generally not all that expensive, but include some good play value.

Tactical games are attractive to new players, but I think you should try something operrational or strategic.  Get a really good game, and learn it really well.  By that I mean learn the strategies in the game.  That's the real core to wargaming - the most enjoyably part.  Try one of Simonitch's games in the Normandy 44 series, or one of Mark Herman's card driven games, like For the People.  I'd suggest Herman's Empire of the Sun, but a really difficult game, and I suggest something of moderate weight.  If you really want to stay tactical, get an ASL starter kit (or dive right in and get the rulebook, and Beyond Valor).  ASL beats the pants off of any other tactical game out there.

Another piece of advice - learn to enjoy the defense.  Don't be intimidated by complexity.  Takes a few readings and solo plays to learn some of these.

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