My first real monster game was HIGHWAY TO THE REICH. I'd seen others, of course...recalling taking gander at TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD (1st Edition) when I was a senior in high school and marveling that anyone could really play something that big. Until I got WAR IN EUROPE for Christmas in 1976. But I admired that game more than I played it. When I did, it was usually a scenario, or--if I was really bold and daring--I'd get as far into WAR IN THE EAST (2nd Ed) as I could. But that rarely lasted past the early days of 1942. But HTTR was something else. I played the scenarios and dreamed of the campaign game...

For those of you who know that game, you know the sense of horrible disappointment that comes when you realize the game will not live up to your fervent imaginations of what it could be if only you had time to play it. That was my reaction after a couple tries of the campaign game....

Yes, these games are incredible investments of time and energy. Yes it takes forever to set up and sometimes even longer to take down ("where does this counter go in these many trays?"). But the panorama of the maps...who doesn't thrill to the HTTR map, even now? Or to WELLINGTON'S VICTORY? KORSUN POCKET? Or dare I even suggest it, WAR IN THE PACIFIC (2nd Ed) with all those TACTICAL maps???? And to see the counters set up on such surfaces...thousands of them...oooohhhh....

Who cares if you lose. Just the vicarious and completely immersive experience of it makes playing them worth it. So long as you don't feel sold out by the system/lack of playtesting. And that is the drawback. There are many games out there that never got that kind of attention. The good ones/promising ones made it into subsequent editions...STREETS OF STALINGRAD, WAR IN EUROPE, EUROPA series, WAR BETWEEN THE STATES, TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD, DAK II, GUDERIAN'S BLITZKRIEG II, CASE BLUE, etc.

I'll never get to play all the monster games I own. But the promise of playing may just keep me alive well into my 90s...if I can even see the map at that age, much less the counters!

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My first monster I owned was GDW Crusader. A game we tried several times, but the plotted movement for thousands of counters was just too much. even set up permanently in my bedroom on a table specially designed to suspend over my bed so I could leave it set up.

Most of my monster gaming in the early years was at the local games club on sundays. even then, as a highschooler< iDidn't rate a permanent command and was a filler each week for no shows.

Operation Typhoon several times, but it played so easily it didn't seem like a monster.

After my hiatus from gaming....yes I was adrift in the darkness thinking gaming had died...a man with a lantern came out of the dark. His name was WALTERS!! We got together just as the first EFS game, Typhoon, came out. We studied the rules and when the time was right we played it four days straight over the New Years - Ahhh, Eric, when we going to do that again?

Tom
Of course, after we took ALL that time setting up, how far did we get? Seven turns into the game? I remember you as the German had ripped open some holes in my lines...but since we were playing the original edition without HQ activations (as was added to the other games in the EFS series and eventually included as optional rules for OPERATION TYPHOON), I was able to get nearly all of my Russians out before they got pocketed! Bet the game would go differently today!
The first monster game I ever received was actually my first-ever purchase from SPI back in the day -- Wacht am Rhein. I still remember my amazement at such a product to behold, given my exposure to gaming before that was the typical AH classic game. This was something completely different. And I was hooked.

The first monster game I actually played was Terrible Swift Sword. I had my own bedroom, so being a kid who didn't know any better, I moved the family ping pong table into my bedroom so I could set up the game and play it solitaire. I then ventured into playing a small scenario of Highway to the Reich, and I loved that experience. Unfortunately, there are few monster games I've ever played to completion, with the lone exception of SPI's playable monster, Operation Typhoon. I've played this game multiple times and wish there were additional games of this size, using that system.

If I had to pick a monster game that I haven't yet had the opportunity to play, but I'd like to, it would either be a classic La Bataille game (like Wagram) or any game from the Battles for the Age of Reason series from Clash of Arms. Sadly, my time is so limited to do gaming, I don't know if this opportunity will ever come about unless I can settle into retirement one day...but at least that is something to look forward to!
John,

I remember Wacht Am Rhein really well. We played it one summer when I was home from college and playing with guys at the Florida Tech (now University of Central Florida) wargame club. The game looked better than it played. I never was that impressed with the map...now, Wacht Am Rhein II sure looks a lot prettier and the rules seem thorough enough so that the game plays completely differently....

TSS (1st Edition) had so many problems, as did Highway to the Reich (2nd Edition) as campaign games, but they screamed to be played. Who could resist it.

I've been relatively lucky. I've played campaigns of Atlantic Wall (never will do that again and sold my copy of the game), Korsun Pocket (can't wait for the 2nd Edition...sure, the campaign game had its issues too, but I still loved it), War in the East (2nd Edition) (will never do that again), War in Europe (1st Edition) (will never do that again either), and The Longest Day (one of my favorites with a number of the German variants in play). Like you, I loved the old SPI Operation Typhoon for all the reasons you've mentioned (shortest monster ever) and Tom Meier and I attempted the GMT campaign game of the same name. Done a little Europa gaming (Fall of France, Marita Merkur, and Case White) and a few marathon sessions of HASL Red Barricades, Kampfgruppe Peiper I, Kampfgruppe Peiper II. Didn't care at all for SPI's old Global War (really a horrible game) but I loved Third Reich and 1776 full campaign games. Still, there's so many more games I am simply dying to play...sigh.
I used to play out at UCF too. 1975-1977, I was just in high school but got in a few games. I always wanted to play Ancient Conquest, man that looked cool!
I've played 6 or 7 games of War In Europe to completion, and several other partial games. I've got most, if not all, of the SPI monsters and want to play all of them at least once too. I have to agree, that playing these games is mostly just to experience them - the journey is more important that the destination.

I have one ping pong table, slightly altered, in the basement that has a pretty much permanent WiE setup, and another used for playing other long-term games.
Jack, I never realized you had so much monster gaming experience. I'm both impressed (and jealous) at the same time. Do you have a particular favorite monster...I'd have to guess War in Europe given how committed you have been to play the game so many times!
Heh. That's one reason I play so much Down in Flames at the Expo - I've done the Monster Mash a lot! Actually, WiE, a few games of Terrible Swift Sword (and quite a few games of Totaler Krieg, more of a "mini monster") are the majority of my monster experience. I do have most of those SPI monsters (Highway, Wacht, War in the Pacific, War between the States, Objective Moscow, Global War) but haven't played them, or have just soloed a few turns after reading the rules. I also have A World at War (and a group of guys here that want to play - we just don't seem to have the time to wade through the rules!).

So yes, WiE is my favorite, although I really want to play all of them at some point. I guess if I had to pick what I'd like to play next it would be War Between the States. Right now our WiE game is on hold as one of the guys is dealing with some important personal issues, but we hope to resume at some point. I do have AARs of the last few games up on CSW.
Oh, yeah, I have Operation Typhoon too. Another one I *really* would like to play, probably right after WBTS (how could I forget?).

So make sure there's plenty of table space in the CSW Retirement Home.
Anybody who has played 6 or 7 games of War in Europe...all I can say is that I am not worthy! Wrote that I won't play WIE (1st Edition) again, but I did buy the DG version because it had so many fixes (Allied Production! Allied Production!). Among other things. It's still unpunched on my shelf, however. I dream...I dream....

What do you like best about it?
I have both the original and the DG version (we play the DG version now, one of my two originals is literally worm out to the point that some counters are not readable!).

I like the fact that it's very easy game to learn the rules, but not so easy to decide what to do and when to do it. Each side has plenty of problems. Also, other than not guarding the Ruhr factories early on, any mistake is usually not a game breaker like in some games.
Yeah, I remember that stunt vaguely...the French mount something like a 2:1 attack on a hex in the first turn of the 1939 campaign game in hopes of getting an exchange and then exploiting with a small armored unit to take the factory hex...ooooo...
While the German always takes it back, the loss in Political Points was irrecoverable. Of course, this tactic usually only works once against an opponent that's never played before--
Did I get that right? Been so long I barely remember....last I played was in 1981...

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