You knew it as soon as you got halfway through the game--this thing is a "dog" and you never wanted to play it again. For me, my first one was Avalon Hill's KRIEGSPIEL. It was a traumatic experience for a teenager brought up on the glories of PANZERBLITZ and could a wargame company do this to me? But there were more to come....

Which ones are yours? Why?

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Gosh, there are definitely categories of games that go "woof" in the middle of the night:

Underdeveloped Magazine Games: You know which ones these are. These graced the inserts of STRATEGY AND TACTICS, THE WARGAMER, COMMAND, and others...even today we see these from time to time in AGAINST THE ODDS and other mags. Some of the most heinous games ever to see print:

-- STRUGGLE OF STALINGRAD (The Wargamer). Hideous map, terrible didn't want to play as soon as you opened it up. I nearly got angry when I got that issue.

-- ARMADA (Strategy and Tactics). I think the errata for the game took up more text than the rules for it. There was a second edition, but I never wanted to play it.

-- CONSTANTINOPLE (Strategy and Tactics). Boring. Moves magazine included some counter designs and rules for a naval game to spice it up, but it really didn't work. Sigh.

Poorly playtested/underdeveloped box games. These really got to me. I have a fairly high tolerance for experimentation in magazine games, but boxed games really ought to be more polished. My list here is more extensive:

-- GDW's THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR. Designed to be an introductory game, it just didn't work. There are 2nd Edition rules which I'm told help the game a great deal, but my experience with this particular title was so bad I just couldn't pick it up again.

-- SPI's ATLANTIC WALL. No way for the Germans to win. And while the system held my interest in Wacht Am Rhein (1st Edition), it didn't in this game.

-- SPI's DESCENT ON CRETE. An attempt to springboard off the popularity of HIGHWAY TO THE REICH. Slow-paced through most of the game (boring), fiddly, and--interestingly enough--skewed in the interest of play balance, which the designer admits to in his notes. Argh!

-- SPI's GLOBAL WAR. Could never figure out how the Axis could lose. Typically the Germans would meet up with the Japanese in India around late 1943. I ordered extra counters for this game (we always ran out in 1941) and still there were never enough to play! Horrible.

-- GDW's STAND AND DIE. Great system, great graphics, terrible execution. This game had such promise. Very fiddly and you quickly saw the Germans just had no chance to replicate history in this simulation of Borodino in 1941.

-- GDW's BLOOD AND THUNDER. One of the FIRST BATTLES series spinoffs for WWII and horribly underdeveloped. Another game with such promise that suffered from a rush job to get published. Eminently forgettable!

What are the games you hate--or love to hate?
There was Flying Buffalo's Berserker. It was, of course, a game version of the Saberhagen science fiction series. In it, once side is a Berserker, and the other side is the defending Earth fleet (sort of "Ogre in space"). The board was a long and narrow corridor, with little room for maneuver. The earth ships had all the kinds in the books, including C+ cannon that skipped a projectile in and out of real space (devastating when they worked, but hard to score a hit), boarding ships to deliver marines to fight mano-a-manipulator with the defending robots, and ordinary space cruisers. The main trouble was that the space cruisers had a sweet spot in their ranged fire, where they had a chance to hit the Berserker, but it couldn't hit them. Once you figured that out, it was a matter of the Berserker lumbering forward while the cruisers danced out of range and plinked away. Eventually, they wore the enemy down, with no loss to themselves. It wasn't quite the desperate battle to the death portrayed in the books.
"Moves magazine included some counter designs and rules for a naval game to spice it up,"

The original design included all of that originally . . . the naval game, which was most of what fun there was in this rock-throwing contest, was excised to bring the rules in at 12 pages. Penny-wise, pound-foolish in excelsius.
I actually liked Constantinople as is. I mentioned it somewhere, on "games you'd like to see reprinted" type list. To each his own!
Kriegspiel? Why was that a dog? :-) I played it once but it just didn't interest me to play more. Here's a few more bowsers:

Combined arms: boring generic counters and game system. It was one of SPI's ponticification series where "we're going to prove to all you wargamers a basic principle of war- combined arms". No kidding...combined arms DO work better and I blew how much to find that out?

Dixie: Another re-hash of the Kurk/France '40 system melded to "alternate history" of a Second American Civil War. I felt ripped off when I got this issue of S&T and almost cancelled on the spot. What a waste. Ty Bomba tried a more complex re-hash in Command some 20 years later and my reaction was similar. What's really sad is that Decision Games is trying to revived this POS- of all the games out of the old SPI stable, WHY this one? Jeeze!

WWII (SPI): Another "so what?" Pretty basic rules and a game system and scale that just doesn't work. AH's Third Reich came out not too long after and the difference was like and night and day- the choice was easy for me.

Guns of August(AH): How to take an interesting subject and make it BORING with uninspired rules, dull generic counters, etc. Definately AH not at its best.

That's just a few. :-)
Gee, I sort of like Kriegspiel. I even bought an extra set of map boards and counters to expand the made up some variant idea's. Back then I thought Origans of World War II was the turkey but now find it's ok.

If you has bought any game from Attack International or Taurus Ltd back in the 70's theey would have put anyone right out of the hobby. I did find those game were perfect for new house.variant rules and added counters- only way to help them out.
Taurus and Attack International? God, those bring back memories- I remember receiving promotional fliers from these outfits. The games looked good but I heard so many negative things that I never actually ordered anything (which was probably for the best). I've never actually seen their products "in the flesh" but I'd love to one day- I need a good laugh!
Ugh! I actually bought and tried to play two Attack "games" from that era: Lam Son and Operacao Littorio. Neither was good for anything except looking at and trying to figure out how to turn it into something playable.
I also like KRIEGSPIEL. It has been played a lot here.

pax, smn
A few hate magnets for me:

Fighting Sail (SPI): Why did they publish this game? Wooden Ships & Iron Men was so much better, and such a standard, that the only way that SPI should have done an age of sail game was if they could do it better.

Plot to Assassinate Hitler (SPI): An überdog, a kind of Nazi gang fight without much resemblance to the historical event.

War and Peace (Avalon Hill): It should have been a good game, but then someone decided that the Dnepr was the only x-shaped river in Europe. One devotee of the game actually tried to convince me that the malformed stream simulated the terrain better than an accurate rendering would have been. From there everything went down hill, including rules that made the Russian convert client armies into Cossacks.

Borodino: Doomed Victory (3W): Any resemblance to Napoleonic combat was purely coincidental. The Borodino game published in S&T by Decision Games is far, far better, and should not be confused with this design.

Everything Ever Published by FGA: Dreck, dreck, and more dreck, and for the people who do like like dreck, we have more dreck. A friend called this the "dumb blonde company," as the games were really nice to look at, but don't try having a conversation with one.
I remember all of these titles and had much the same impressions. I will say we did find a use for PLOT TO ASSASSINATE HITLER--we did a parody of it called PLOT TO ASSASSINATE WALTERS as I was the esteemed President of our high school Strategic Games Club. Our game was much more fun to play--various factions were in play and certain distractions such as football players who hated geeks and cheerleaders who liked them were simulated. I could go on.

WAR AND PEACE was personally a huge disappointment for me after I played some of the scenarios and liked how it felt. But the campaign just didn't work for me, plus I really wanted something multi-player after THIRD REICH. Oh, and I won't go into that horrible geography in are quite right...

I remember that Borodino game--the graphics screamed "play me!" but when you did...well...sigh. Another magazine game turkey. There were so many of them.

FGA just got me mad. Besides retread SPI games such as BASTOGNE and REMAGEN (and were those game THAT worthy of redoing? REMAGEN???), everything else was horrible. OPERATION CRUSADER and FORTRESS HOLLAND showed the most promise if you were basically willing to invent your own rules to play them. BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER and EAGLE AND THE SUN basically gave you sharper components to play SPI'S WAR BETWEEN THE STATES and VICTORY IN THE PACIFIC, but that was it. You certainly could not play the games as they were provided to you in any sort of "stand-alone" way. I also recall a CLASSIC PACIFIC BATTLES (Vol 1)game that was a nothing as well. No Volume 2 ever came out. Sigh.

FIGHTING SAIL? Another magazine game I never even punched out the counters to. But I never punched the counters out to FRIGATE either. Not after WS&IM. Now I play CLOSE ACTION and can never go back....
SPI certainly published some excellent games, a lot of real classics, but still warrants its own wing in the Wargame Hall of Shame. Of the Westwall Quad, Market-Garden was a terrific game, but Hurtgen Forest was not just awful, it committed the cardinal sin of being boring. That was the only game to give me a migraine all by itself.


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