Santa’s Suggested War Games for 2008
I’ll Be Home for Christmas . . .
Because I’ll be playing the niftiest war games of the last couple years! If you’re stuck for what to buy the gamer in your household (or if you’d like a list to leave lying around where your family will see it), this list of board and computer games will make your shopping easy! Click on highlighted items to read Armchair General’s review.
COMPUTER WAR GAMES
Civil War Battles: Campaign Chickamauga (HPS) for 200 MHz PC, 98/ME/XP OS
Chickamauga was a confused and violent battle, the ideal subject for a computer-moderated war game, and this is an excellent entry in HPS’s Civil War Battles line. The simple map and unit graphics give a quaint period flavor to the game, rather than detract from it. The game itself covers all of the combat arms and the necessity (and difficulty) of using them in concert to craft a victory.
Kharkov: Disaster on the Donetz (Matrix Games) for 800 MHz PC, 98/ME/2000/XP OS.
This is the latest and much-anticipated Strategic Studies Group-developed turn-based WWII strategy game from Matrix. It incorporates some good new wrinkles, such as the front broken down into discreet Areas of Operation, which imposes more realistic command restrictions on players without lots of complication. It also features a very good AI which seems to beat players with good play instead of suspiciously “lucky” die rolls. As with many Matrix games, the interface is good once it is mastered, but mastering it can be hard work at first, but worth the effort.
Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms, (Sega) for 1.5 GHz PC, XP/2000 OS.
Yeah, this one’s been around for awhile, but Total War remains (in this reviewer’s opinion) the best computer war game out there, combining a great turn-based campaign system with very cool real-time battles. This expansion adds lots more campaigns and playable factions – just the thing to keep you going until Empire: Total War hits the shelves in 2009. Then life will be complete.
Napoleon’s Campaigns (AGEOD) for 1.8 GHz PC, XP OS
This is the newest release using the same turn-based strategic/operational game system previously introduced in the highly-rated American Civil War and Birth of America, but with the locale switched to Europe. It boasts one of the most beautiful maps ever done for a computer game, as well as great attention to detail – perhaps the only drawback of the game is the sheer volume of detail it requires the player to master. Still, Napoleon was a master of detail himself, not just a “point at the horizon” guy.
Strategic Command 2: Weapons and Warfare (Battlefront) for 1 GHz PC, XP/Vista OS.
Strategic Command 2 is a popular WW II turn-based strategic/operational game and this expansion adds detail and depth without weighing it down.
BOARD WAR GAMES
Field Commander Rommel (Dan Verssen Games)
Ingenuity and simplicity without sacrificing historical accuracy are the trademarks of this solitaire game. Three scenarios give you command of Rommel’s forces in France, May 1940, in North Africa, and in the face of the Allied D-Day invasion.
Napoleon’s Triumph (Simmon’s Games)
A thick fog of war and elements of bluff make this game based on the Battle of Austerlitz a nail-biter, though they preclude solitaire play. Easy to learn and fast-playing, its diceless combat system does a good job of reflecting Napoleonic tactics.
Conflict of Heroes: Awakening The Bear, Russia 1941-42 (Academy Games)
This is another board game getting a lot of favorable buzz. It is a traditional counter and hex map tactical game, but with a distinctly “European” flavor to the components and the game sensibility. The programmed instruction approach means you can be playing the first scenario in ten minutes, and the rest of the system builds on that. The series is intended to cover modern squad level combat from WWII up through Bosnia. Keep an eye on this one.
The Devil’s Cauldron: The Battles For Arnhem and Nijmegen (Multi-Man Publishing)
This new monster game (over $100.00 retail, seven maps, 1700+ counters, etc.) of the Nijmegen and Arnhem battles in the Market Garden campaign is causing a big stir in the board gaming community. Although it’s a huge physical package, the many small scenarios included allow players to pick up the rules and get playing easily. Only the combined grand campaign game is truly daunting in scope. The maps and counters are beautiful and the game system plays quickly and smoothly. People will be talking about this one for a long time.
Hold The Line (Worthington Games)
A great new tactical game of the American Revolution, the attractive, hard-mounted modular hex map and separate terrain tiles allow a variety of battlefield setups, and the game includes thirteen historical battle scenarios, playable in about one hour each.