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#1. GW's/CONSIMWORLD PRESS's BEDA FOMM. Quite an asymmetric puzzle for both players. The game feels like Space Invaders--the Italian forces come down in droves from the north and the British mobile forces have to mow them down AND NOT ALLOW "leakers!" If you want to move and shoot, blasting away, you can do it. If you want a very cerebral experience, you can have that, too!
#2. AH's silver box edition of NAPOLEON, the block game on the Waterloo Campaign. Plays really fast; one can get a couple or three games done in an afternoon. Simple rules, some real nuance in play, and quite tense for the players (you can play up to three!). Sure, there are later editions by Columbia Games and I do play them, but I still love this!
#3. AH's edition of the old SPI game, FREDERICK THE GREAT. You can play the whole Seven Years' War in yearly scenarios, so the scenarios themselves don't take long to play. So much friction and uncertainty in the game; the rules are relatively simple but do a good job in capturing the essence of the style of warfare of the era. Granting (or refusing Honors of War when winning a siege, calculating advantages and drawbacks of prisoner exchanges, the agony of watching your marches fall short, etc., all of these things really make the game so much fun!
#4 AH's AIR ASSAULT ON CRETE game. A lot of people liked it for the little mini-game, INVASION: MALTA, that came with it, but I was addicted to the base game--a real nail-biter Simple rules and very tough for both the German and the Commonwealth player. Both sides will swear they are losing throughout most of the game! An under appreciated gem.
#5. SPI's best title in the "Divisional Series" operational-level games--TURNING POINT: THE BATTLE OF STALINGRAD. The game covers the Soviet Operation URANUS offensive that encircled Sixth Army and continues through to the failed German relief effort, Operation WINTER TEMPEST. But there are other German OOB variants you can fool with to get them a bit of a chance, as well as foregoing the "Hitler Idiocy" rule freezing Sixth Army in place for the first turn. Played the hell out of this game until other more complicated games came along on the subject. Still like it, even to this day!