Classic Wargames and Other Titles You Can't Stop Playing

I was conversing with Wittman over his observation that there really hasn't been all that much real innovation in board wargaming of late. I remember having a similar conversation with Jon Compton not that long ago. We hearkened back to Tom Cundiff and his OLD SOLDIERS magazine, breathing new life into old titles with variants and magnificent variant counters. The AH GENERAL Project is also accomplishing much the same thing, again with components for those beloved old games. There's a lot of old SPI titles on HEXWAR.COM and people have been busy creating VASSAL and CYBERBOARD versions of old wargames.

It made me think--what titles do you consider "classic" and why? Do you still play them? What other old games do you play--whether or not they deserve "classic status"--and why? What old games do you wish you could play but can't--either because you sold the game or otherwise don't have a copy?

I always have issues with the term "classic," but would put these games into that category--yes, I still play them:

SNIPER! (and PATROL, and HETZER SNIPER, etc)

Other "non-classic" old games I still would play:

MBT and IDF
ASSAULT series

Old games I wish I had because I think I'd play them, but I don't own them:

WAR IN THE EAST 1st Ed (using some homegrown rules to fix the game)
SEARCH AND DESTROY (want to see if it's better than GRUNT!)

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Comment by Jim Zoldak on May 23, 2010 at 9:46pm
I've played Richthofen's War, but I made up my own rules, because the game was so well done graphically. The rules set is going to be published soon in Old Soldier's Magazine. for some reason, PGG never caught on with me. I own it now, but I just found it frustrating. A matter of personal taste I suspect. Maybe an Eastern Front game has to have mud or snow to work for me. I loved Flight Leader, but I'm not sure if that's a classic. It doesn't seem to have caught on very well.
Comment by Jim Zoldak on May 23, 2010 at 9:39pm
That's an interesting list. I like Sniper! by SPI and would play that one. I really like Hue and Jerusalem by Mayfair. I still play those occasionally. I played a lot of Squad Leader in the past, but haven't played it in a while. What about Tobruk? I still play taht occasionally and really enjoy it. I've only played the 3 tank scenarios, #1, #4 and #7 lately. I used to own Avalanche by GDW and I think it wasn't really very playable. It was a simple game mechanically, but there were a lot of counters. I seem to remember that the victory conditions were disastrously simple. Finally, I've recently played 3 of the scenarios from Red Star White Star and had a blast.
Comment by Eric Walters on May 18, 2010 at 4:42pm
I think of the original SQUAD LEADER with a lot of fondness, but the ASL Starter Kits are just so much better overall, especially regarding the defensive fire mechanics. I'm not sure I'd ever need to go beyond the Starter Kits now. And I love ASL! Still, who can beat "Streets of Stalingrad," or "Hill 621?" I can relate.

TACTICS II--sigh. How 'bout playing with those nuclear weapon rules!

Rex, you are right about those bizarre games like SIXTH FLEET and SIEGE OF CONSTANTINOPLE. For those of you old enough to remember, I'd put SCRIMMAGE and CHICAGO! CHICAGO! in that category as well. And who could forget DIXIE? Sorry, I might want to play them for amusement, but classics they definitely are not! Oh, and PLOT TO ASSASSINATE HITLER...how could I forget!
Comment by Wayne Rotella on May 18, 2010 at 2:38pm
OK I have a couple of classics. The first is Tactics II. I mention this one because of the hours I played it as a new gamer and now have "rediscovered" it as I teach my 9 year old son to play wargames. I know this is not a sophisticated game by any stretch, but it's great to see my son break out the board and set up a solo game in his room.

Second classic game for me is Squad Leader, the original. Sure ASL has taken it to a new level but really this is the game that started it all. I will eventually work my way into the world of ASL but the original is still a great experience.

New classic for me is Conflict of Heroes. I absolutley love the boards and the pieces. I have not played it much so far, but the quality they put into this game is outstanding.
Comment by Rex Brynen on May 16, 2010 at 1:33pm
How about those old games you want to play again simply because they were so bizarrely mis-designed they were amusing?

Sixth Fleet (SPI 1975--not the VG game) is one such example--naval units usually retreated rather than get sunk, and you ended up with bizarre "snakes" of DDGs trying to encircle each other in the Med. It's rather as if SPI tried to find the game system that least simulated being hit by a Harpoon or SS-N-2.

I have fond memories of SPI's The Siege of Constantinople--beautiful hex map of the city, but only the 3-4 hex wide strip around the walls was at all relevant to game play most of the time.

Finally, there's SPI's War of the Ring (SPI). In this case, it is not a case of bad design but rather of bizarre die-rolling the one and only time I played it. Frodo walked in a pretty much straight line to the Cracks of Doom and threw the One Ring in without ever being spotted. Game over!
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on May 16, 2010 at 10:58am
Freedom in the Galaxy is a great game, one of the better simulations even of asymmetric, revolutionary warfare. I won't give up my copy, and I might give the Line of Departure treatment too.
Comment by Eric Walters on May 16, 2010 at 10:54am
Rex, you are quite right FREEDOM IN THE GALAXY is a marvelous game. I still have my copy! Before that game, I was playing IMPERIUM and BATTLEFLEET MARS (two games I still like). I could play any of these games! BLOODTREE REBELLION wasn't too bad either....of these, I'd have to list FREEDOM IN THE GALAXY and IMPERIUM as classic games because they've gone through revisions/updates (particularly the latter!)
Comment by Rex Brynen on May 15, 2010 at 9:07am
It's hardly a classic, but Freedom in the Galaxy (SPI/AH) has always been a favourite. Yes the game play was a bit unbalanced, and full games could take a very long time--but it did a great job of integrating the role-playing/tactical and strategic levels. The political mechanics, especially the way domino effects worked, gave perhaps the best "feel" for spreading insurgency than any other game system I've played.
Comment by Eric Walters on May 14, 2010 at 8:44am
Jim,
Yeah, we play IRONCLADS a lot at our Tidewater Area Naval Gamers (TANG) club. SUBMARINE I'd pick up in a heartbeat, and NAPOLEON'S LAST BATTLES is always something good to play. PGG would be there for me except I'm now so enamored with A VICTORY DENIED. Maybe after a beer or two I could be readily talked into a game! I'd play WINGS over RICHTHOFEN'S WAR (even with the maneuver cards variant), although the latter game is still so damn beautiful....Oh, and I'd list IRONCLADS, SUBMARINE, RICHTHOFEN'S WAR, PGG, and NAP'S LAST BATTLES as classics...for sure!
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on May 13, 2010 at 9:22pm
For me:

MBT/IDF
Ironclads
Submarine
Starship Troopers (1st Edition)
Richtofen's War
Panzergruppe Guderian
Napoleon's Last Battles Quad

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