Tonight I ran my monthly pizza and game night for my high school students here in San Jose. For the first time since I've worked here, a student walked up to me and asked if I didn't have any military strategy games that were more complex than castle risk. I said," You mean like those cardboard counter and paper map board games?" "Yes" responded the student.

This is a rare moment for me. I actually get to recommend someone's first wargame. In the old days, I could rattle off some of the AH classics or a SPI quad (or magazine game). But today? I've tried the DG mini games and VPG games, and I don't think this is what he's looking for. Any suggestions?


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Comment by Curtis H. Baer on March 28, 2016 at 3:54pm

Any Standard Combat Series game, The Gamers, by MMP.

Comment by Timothy J. Smith on February 29, 2016 at 10:45am

Roger about the DG folios/minis, at least from the p.o.v. of a grognard historian/mil theorist.  For purposes of introducing young people to the hobby/discipline, however, they have potential.  Even bad models offer teachable moments (sometimes precisely because they're flawed).

   Battles #10 is available only by subscription (impressive 'zine!).  However, in #9 Sabin dinged Patton's First Battles for faux historicity (as he had earlier dinged rigid ZoCs).  BGG reviewers lament the deletion of artillery units from the OBs of the DG reprints of the old WWII Quads, a valid complaint.  I've purchased several, however, and they look about as good for introductory work as any.

Comment by Dave Smith on February 28, 2016 at 11:48pm

I've tried some of these myself and have found them lacking..... See the excellent review in Battles Magazine #10 which, I feel, really hit the nail on the head regarding these games.

Lock n Load is giving out free Demo games; I might try one of those.

Comment by Timothy J. Smith on February 28, 2016 at 11:45pm
Comment by Dave Smith on February 28, 2016 at 11:26pm

I agree about the quads and the old AH classics.....   There were some real gems amongst those games.  If I can find a cheap copy of NaW, I'll buy that for him.

Comment by Timothy J. Smith on February 28, 2016 at 11:13pm


   I run an historical strategy gaming club for youths.  We do mostly plastic-piece games but I am gradually grooming them on hex-and-counter wargames.  I concur with your first thought: go with SPI's old Napoleon at Waterloo (NaW).  It allows you to teach three kids at once, of different ages (the Prussian mostly watches).  It allows you to teach basic concepts (left-right-center, the objective, screening, interior vs exterior lines, attrition, rout).  DG redid it, of course, and both versions are available via BGG.  Next: SPI/TSR's old Blue and Gray.  Antietam is a great scenario for teaching.  Be the Union and use the McClellan rules.  Then be the Confederates and let the lads play the Union without any such rules.  They'll enjoy the experience thoroughly!  Shiloh is a good tough fight.  Cemetary Hill -- play the Union using 'attack effectiveness' (ugh!).  Again, available cheap on BGG.

     VPG used to have intro games available cheap (e.g., Dunnigan's Drive on Metz/'DoM'), and still has Chadwick's Battle for Moscow for $20 (  You can also get the bland old GDW version on BGG.  Look also at Strike Force One for younger kids.  I spy a cheap copy of DoM on BGG; it's a neat little tactical problem.

     I'm a crusty old dinosaur, so roll your eyes; however, I'd consider getting a dirt cheap copy of AH's ancient Afrika Korps.  Antique graphics (pink Panzers!) but simple game and highly accessible.

    Some of the other recommendations in this thread have merit as well.   

    In any event, only once you've given them the intro experience would I move to larger games.

Comment by Dave Smith on February 9, 2016 at 10:39pm

I think I'm settled on Tide at Sunrise (MMP). Comments?

Comment by Wayne Rotella on February 6, 2016 at 12:40pm

Then I think Revolution games is the best bet. Low counters, nice graphics, minimal rules, fun topics. Most games in the $20 to $30 range.

Noble Knight is great for deals you just need to know what to look for and a beginner would have trouble navigating that realm. BGG always helps me with reviews and pictures when I see a title I like but don't know enough about it. It has saved me much money as I research a title/topic I like for sale.

Saw an old General with an add for games in the teens the other day. Where did those halcyon days go?

Comment by Dave Smith on February 6, 2016 at 11:34am
OK. Thanks for the suggestions. I'm looking for a game with six to eight pages of rules, 100 to 200 counters, lots of interesting decisions to be made,hopefully colorful and well produced, and not expensive.

MMP once offer a great free-with-shipping introductory game from their International series on Arnhem, but it's OOP and now goes for a stack of cash. (Remember SPIs Napoleon at Waterloo... Oh, where are you now that we need you?) I wish GMT would do the same. Even their C3i games are expensive; I saw that Noble Knoght has Battle for Moscow for a hefty amount of money.
Comment by Wayne Rotella on February 6, 2016 at 8:34am

This gave me a big grin and a little chill! 

I would recommend any Mark Simonitch but GMT currently has Normandy 44 and Ukraine 43 available. I don't think they are overly complicated but have chrome that make them fun and more advanced. Also they work well if you want to adapt rules for simpler play before applying all of them to a game. My favorite right now is France 40 but I do not think it is available presently.

Revolution games has some nice little games like Road to Cheren or for area movement Operation Battleaxe. Small maps limited counters, a great introduction to the hobby, in my opinion.

Multiman produces a fun set in their Standard Combat Series. Reminds me of the old AH and SPI games. Graphics are not comparable to GMT but I still like them.

I hope this was helpful.

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