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From Joe Beard's outstanding MAP AND COUNTERS blog, his subjective list of the best games to be published in the pages of S&T magazine in the "golden age" of SPI:
S&T 29: USN
S&T 32: Borodino
S&T 33: Winter War
S&T 35: Year of the Rat
S&T 36: Destruction of Army Group Center
S&T 40: PanzerArmee Afrika
S&T 47: Wolfpack
S&T 49: Frederick the Great
S&T 50: Battle for Germany
S&T 51: World War I
S&T 53: The Punic Wars
S&T 55: Breitenfeld
S&T 57: Panzergruppe Guderian
S&T 60: Road To Richmond
S&T 61: October War
S&T 65: Cobra
S&T 67: Stonewall
S&T 70: The Crusades
S&T 74: Ney Vs. Wellington
S&T 82: Fifth Corps
For me personally, WINTER WAR, DESTRUCTION OF ARMY GROUP CENTER, and THE CRUSADES would go on the "also ran" list rather than this one as there are a few things about these games that don't make them quite "on par" with the others on this list. Good games these are, but not great. Every other one this list deserves to be there. I'd only add VICTORY IN THE WEST: SICILY, CONQUISTADOR, and MONMOUTH in place of the three I'd take off.
What is most interesting is the number of games that have seen reprints or major variants that are on this list. USN has been redone and published as USN Deluxe, but a lot of the original game is still there. PANZERARMEE AFRIKA, FREDERICK THE GREAT, and PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN were redone by Avalon Hill. WORLD WAR 1, COBRA, and BATTLE FOR GERMANY were republished by Decision Games. FIFTH CORPS is enjoying a revision with a variant retrofitting Victory Games' FLASHPOINT: GOLAN rules to that title and its sisters BAOR and HOF GAP. It's only been now a solitaire game on the U-Boat war has come along to replace WOLF PACK, and that's Compass Games' STEEL WOLVES, which is quite the monster compared to the SPI title.
A lot of us wish for the return of NEY VS WELLINGTON, STONEWALL, and SPI's MONMOUTH, even with newer games on the subject of the latter....
Great list, Joe!
What is your take on this list! What games do you think don't belong there and what would you pick? I didn't mention much about BORODINO, YEAR OF THE RAT, PUNIC WARS, BREITENFELD, ROAD TO RICHMOND or OCTOBER WAR...give us your thoughts!
I'll let you know when I get there. This is what I've played thus far:
Neither Goeben nor Battle of Moscow are on that list, but he also arbitrarily starts from USN.
I'd put Plot to Assassinate Hitler on there, for sure, though few would agree with me. Frederick the Great is a good game.
Odd that I don't see more kudos for OCTOBER WAR. I thought it was a superb game for it's time- a quantum level above the original MechWar '77 to be sure. In my Family, it was pretty much a required game.
Lot of people feel that way about this game, particularly because it introduced single vehicle losses with corresponding CRTs in a platoon-level game. I think it might have suffered in comparison with AH's ARAB ISRAELI WARS which came out at roughly the same time. The AH game covered more wars than just the 1973 one and had OOBs which didn't feel so "cookie cutter"...for some people, that was more important than the system innovations the SPI title made. Much a matter of taste, I would guess! Definitely more playable than SUEZ TO GOLAN which followed it!
Good points. SPI lucked out in that both sides were using 3-tank platoons, which aided the loss system tremendously over MechWar. I liked the Command and Control system 100% over the botch of MechWar, too.
Fighting Sail is the best age of sail naval game I've seen.
But, it's tough to convert scenarios from the bigger boys (like WS&IM) over to it, I think. Pity.
Think FIGHTING SAIL would be in there save for some other sailing ship games that just eclipsed it--and I don't count WOODEN SHIPS AND IRON MEN in that list, not anymore. FLYING COLORS is just better and--for those of us who are into it--CLOSE ACTION is perhaps the best sailing ship game ever made (although you can't play more than a four ships a side in a two-player game; it really works well as a massive multi-player game for fleet actions). There are a number of S&T games I'd still play today, but FIGHTING SAIL isn't one of them, sadly. Neither is USN, WOLFPACK, WINTER WAR, DESTRUCTION OF ARMY GROUP CENTER, ROAD TO RICHMOND, and THE CRUSADES, to be honest!
Flying Colors didn't impress me - it moved really slowly compared to FS, yet is supposed to be MORE of a fleet game. Indeed, I thought it bogged down worse than plotted movement from WSIM. Close Action's on my wishlist though. I think it's likely the best for individual ship action.
Issue #74 Ney vs Wellington was my S&T start. I enjoyed The War in the West Series as well as Great Battles of the American Civil War and the Central Front Series. I might add that I was stationed at NAVFAC Antigua when I subscribed to S&T and bought City Fight while there. I enjoyed it even though I played solitaire so I devised a method to do it in a way that would be as objective as possible. The other similar double blind game I bought was Task Force when I was stationed at NAVFAC Pt. Sur. I had previously been in the Marine Corps and being a Vietnam Combat Vet was part of my reason for City Fight and also my curiosity in the NATO-Warsaw Pact situation at the time. I bought task force because I was in SOSUS and saw in the advertisement of the game that there would be a SOSUS element. It was obvious that the designer Joe Balkoski (a great designer) had little to no knowledge of what the actual capabilities were. That was actually a good thing and not to be dismissive of Joe's talents as a wargame designer.
I will add one more note, when I was at Antigua I also bought GDW's Citadel. I did that because I was a Marine grunt combat vet and I always had a curiosity about the French Foreign Legion, the French Indochina War, and "Last Stand" battles in and of themselves.
I stopped my subscription because I don't care for anything from Ty Bomb or Joe Miranda. Dunnigan and the earlier contributors were far better than what is present.
Craig, the VICTORY IN THE WEST series sure seems to be making a comeback as that system shows up in other designs, such as IRON TIDE (the Ardennes in 1944), KILLING GROUND and its OPERATION OVERLORD expansion, and possibly in VCS SALERNO if that ever gets past pre-pub. I guess the subjects that S&T used the system for weren't terribly interesting for some folks (although I thought SICILY was terrific--the best in the series).
NEY VERSUS WELLINGTON was always (and still is) a favorite of mine. Liked playing it far better than it's bigger cousin, WELLINGTON'S VICTORY.
Sicily rocked. Grenade didn't impress me nearly as much.
I could never get my head around Ney v Wellington (so, of course, I picked up WV :P).
Enjoyed the derived game Monmouth though - didn't need to worry about the cav in it.
I enjoyed Borodino too, but Richard Berg seemed to think it was not up to much, in his words "It may be called Borodino, but Borodino it is not"
I also like Punic Wars.
I should also say I enjoyed Cobra. Both Cobra and Borodino I guess brought back a lot of good memories of playing Normandy and Napoleon's Last Battles, as these games were the first 2 games I ever bought.
I know these old games cannot compare to the graphics of newer games, but for me I find it good that the graphics are more basic, as some new graphics can be "over-done" and maps a little messy.
I feel alot of these older games still hold up well against the new ones, and even those that do not, they were probably pretty good in their day, and that needs to be taken into account.