Anglo-Zanzibar Award: The Anglo-Zanzibar war lasted between 38-45 minutes and is considered the shortest recorded war in history. The ‘Anglo-Zanzibar Award’ recognizes the best ‘small’ historical board game, including the following: magazine games, ‘lunchtime’ games, quick playing games, folio games, post card games, and other small format games. – 1815: Scum of the Earth – Caesar!: Seize Rome in 20 Minutes! – Flashpoint: South China Sea – Resist! – Saladin – Twilight Struggle: Red Sea – Conflict in the Horn of Africa
Most Innovative Game Design: The ‘Most Innovative Game Design’ is awarded to a game and design team to recognize excellence in creative and innovative game design. – Flashpoint: South China Sea – John Company: Second Edition – Lanzerath Ridge – Resist! – The Chase of the Bismarck: Operation Rheinübung 1941 – Undaunted: Stalingrad – Zurmat: Small Scale Counterinsurgency
Game of the Year: The ‘Game of the Year’ awards outstanding performance in all board game fields and recognizes the game that delivers the best historical, war, or conflict board game experience. – A Most Fearful Sacrifice: The Three Days of Gettysburg – Almoravid: Reconquista and Riposte in Spain 1085-1086 – Arracourt – John Company: Second Edition – Lanzerath Ridge – Point Blank: V is for Victory – Salerno ’43
We are very happy to announce that the annual Historical Board Game Awards are coming. The Historical Board Game Awards are annual awards for historical, wargame, and/or conflict simulation board games recognizing excellence in three relevant categories: the ‘Game of the Year’, the ‘Most Innovative Game Design’, and the ‘Anglo-Zanzibar Award’.
Initial Voting Committee will take place in January 2023 to determine category nominees and will be immediately followed by the public fan vote to determine the winners. The categories of the Historical Board Game Awards are as follows: Game of the Year: The ‘Game of the Year’ awards outstanding performance in all board game fields and recognizes the game that delivers the best historical, war, or conflict game experience. Most Innovative Game Design: The ‘Most Innovative Game Design’ is awarded to a game and design team to recognize excellence in creative and innovative game design. Anglo-Zanzibar Award: The Anglo-Zanzibar war lasted between 38-45 minutes and is considered the shortest recorded war in history. The ‘Anglo-Zanzibar Award’ recognizes the best ‘small’ historical board game, including the following: magazine games, ‘lunchtime’ games, quick playing games, folio games, post card games, and other small format games.
When it comes to playing wargames, I’m a big proponent of writing your own script, blazing your own trail and doing your own thing. There is no one size fits all approach to enjoying this hobby but I thought I would share a few tips to (hopefully) allow you to get the most out of this hobby.
Don’t Sweat Minor Details
Is it a wargame? Who cares. It is probably true of many hobbies but wargamers sure love to bicker amongst themselves over arbitrary details like, “what is and what isn’t a wargame” or “should we even call historical games wargames”. Sure, there may be some value to be gained by debating simulation vs. game under the right circumstance but I assure you that debate will have no impact on your play of Blitzkrieg.
So, someone online just lambasted your new acquisition as not a ‘war game’. Guess what? The game still works. Your enjoyment is unimpaired. You have lost no credibility and your copy of Imperial Struggle will not magically transform into a copy of Castles of Burgundy.
Don’t get bogged down quibbling over semantics. Don’t sweat the small, irrelevant stuff. Just sit back, clip a few counters, or not, and enjoy your games.
Do Follow the Sequence of Play
The sequence of play should never be ignored. At the very least, a good sequence of play will serve as checklist of the various game phases to make sure you don’t miss anything. A great sequence of play will be a step-by-step guide that allows players to work through the game in a very procedural manner. A shining example of this is the Next War series. There is no overt complexity to the advanced rules of Next War. If you stick to the sequence of play and become an expert at following every step, you will not feel lost in the sea of Next War rules crashing down on you.
Apply this approach to every war game that provides a sequence of play. Treat a good sequence of play as your guide and lifeline to tackling heavy wargames. It should become second nature to carry out actions and bounce right back to the sequence of play before moving on to the next part of the game.
Don’t Feel Like You Have to Follow a Script
There is no set path to finding enjoyment in wargaming. You do not have to cross games A and B off your play list before you dive into games O, C, and S. I am guilty of, from time to time, labeling games we discuss as great intro games or beginner games. While valid statements on those games, I think that unintentionally creates an implication that other wargames can’t be your introduction into the hobby. I just don’t think that’s true. Any game can serve as an introduction to the hobby.
Yes, I think it’ll be much easier for someone new to the hobby to learn to play a game from the Standard Combat Series than the Operational Combat Series. Flashpoint: South China Sea is a very basic game that can serve as a great introduction to the Card Driven mechanic. But they are not prerequisites to finding joy in this hobby. Don’t feel like you must be shoehorned into playing a bunch of games that don’t interest before you tackle the game that really catches your eye. Just know that some games require more work and more preparation than others. Speaking of…
Do Read Rules Before Hand
There seems to be an unwritten expectation in wargaming that both opponents approach the table with an understanding of the game, unless explicitly stated. So here I am, writing it down.
As someone who came to the wargame world from the Ameritrash/Euro/card game side of the hobby it was commonplace to just show up to game night with no rules preparation and a good chance that someone was going to do a full rules teach. For many historical board games, this just doesn’t fly.
When I first started playing wargames, we tried the one person read the rules and teach the other approach. Sure, that may work for wargames with smaller rule sets, but it stopped working when one player was bashing their head against The U.S. Civil War or Fast Action Battle rulebook. As I played more wargames and met new opponents, I found that a lot of wargamers will show up prepared and ready to play with some kind of rules preparation under their belts. Sure, everyone’s circumstances, free time and availability are different but the burden of heavy wargame rules should not rest on one player. You will find your games more enjoyable, more approachable and maybe even find your play more strategic if you don’t show up to a new game completely cold on the rules. In the year 2022 there is a wealth of resources out there ranging from custom player-aids, rules summaries, to full video teaches. If you can, come prepared.
Don’t Get Bogged Down
Obviously playing a game correctly and executing rules properly, is all very important. But sometimes you don’t have to spend 15 minutes diving into a rule book to find an obscure die modifier. Let’s say you’re playing Advanced Squad Leader, and you’re progressing through a juicy ‘to-hit’ calculation and a question comes up. Sometimes, you may want to consider chucking the dice first instead of immediately turning to the rule book to find the exact ruling on some obscure circumstance. Roll ‘em up. If you roll boxcars, does it even matter if you have +2 or a +3 modifier? No.
Don’t let this be a forever excuse for not understanding rules. It is however an effective approach to not getting buried in the rulebook all game day. Technically speaking, you should also pass your bog checks in ASL.
Do Enjoy What You Enjoy
This pains me but The U.S. Civil War does not have to be your favorite game of all time. You don’t even have to like the game. And whatever your tastes are, you don’t have to defend your interests at all. There are wargamers that will never play anything other than a Commands & Colors title and they will be perfectly content. There are plenty of Advanced Squad Leader players, and far fewer Advance Tobruk System players, who will never touch another wargame. More power to them.
Play what you want to play. Enjoy what you enjoy. Our hobby time is limited and should be spent doing what we like. So, you do you. There is no application checklist to being a war gamer, there are no pre-requisite courses, and, despite this list, the best way to play wargames is how you like to play wargames.
For the past six months members of the History on the Table Discord server have been ranking every wargame on the every wargame ever list (as the list stood at the end of 2021). Using a forced ranking tool from PubMeeple members of the Discord ranked the entire list by considering 2 games at a time. After 6 months of voting, here are the final results:
Dice based combat resolution and worker placement may not seem like a nice pairing but that’s what you get here and it is tons of fun. Champions of Midgard is like many worker placement games where you collect various goods to build neat things and feed people. Here the people are Viking warriors and the cool things are warships and supplies to protect the village from monsters. Glory (victory points) are earned by venturing out and killing monsters. Still ranks as one of my wife’s favorite games.
69. Food Chain Magnate
My first and only Splotter Spellen game (to date). Food Chain Magnate is a very smart and ruthless design where you can easily get left behind. It’s a great balance of developing your own board state while needing to keep an eye on what your opponents are up to. Unique theme and a great look. A recent play reminded me how strong of strategy game this even though I was playing terribly.
68. 18MS: The Railroads Come to Mississippi
18MS is my change of pace 18xx title. It won’t be my only 18xx entry either. It’s very straight forward and doesn’t have the same depth of play as other, more robust 18xx games but it’s still very fun to play. A fixed number of rounds makes for fast playing games and the privates offer fun one-time abilities.
67. The Castles of Burgundy
Mechanically straight forward but deep enough for continued rewarding and strategic play. The Castles of Burgundy is a great dice/action selection game and a go to couples’ game for my wife and me. Like Kingsburg, I prefer to play with the variable player boards to add some spice to each play.
66. Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles
If you want to read more, check out this Top 5 list with Judd Vance. In short Samurai Battles has some very fun power cards and a very interesting meta currency that sets it a few notches above other Commands & Colors titles.
I didn’t play Innovation until 2021 but once the pop was topped there was no going back. Innovation is sometimes chaotic but always fun race to the end. Multi-use cards, take that capabilities and limited actions come together in great way here. The group I play this most with has developed a great meta that only adds to my appreciation of the game. Oars!
64. Operation Pegasus
Judd is getting named dropped twice in the same chunk of my top 100 games. Here it is for spreading the good word about Operation Pegasus. This a 42 year old war game covering the Siege of Khe Sanh that holds up surprisingly well (unless you can only play your wargames solo). Hidden counters, helicopter management and logistics and very fun gameplay. Combat is a little murky but certainly worth working through.
63. Axis Empires
Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg! & Axis Empires: Dai Senso!, either separate or as a combined game, are great WWII sandbox games that really give a lot of agency to each faction. The political tables and the outcomes from various political event rolls are the highlight of these games and can make for some very interesting and unexpected game states. Combat is fun but pretty shallow but at the army scale it works. Definitely worth looking into if you want WWII: What If in a box.
62. 1832: The South
Until I get a chance to play 1817 in person (spoiler, 1817 doesn’t crack this list, yet), I think 1832 is around the top of my 18xx complexity interest. There are plenty of levers to pull in 1832 for my taste. It was my first experience with price protection and the creation of Systems and the clever game play that develops from their use. Doesn’t have the harshness of 1817 but certainly a robust 18xx design.
61. Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Crusades
Game play experiences and the memories we develop while playing play a huge role in shaping our perception of games. My first play of Onward, Christian Soldiers was enlightening and incredibly memorable, in the best of ways, and now O,CS lives rent free in my head. The game certainly has its flaws and could use some additional development that will probably never happen but I am convinced that the workings of a wargame masterpiece are here. If you could assemble a group of 7 experienced players and hash out a couple, but not many, rule ambiguities you could have an unforgettable wargaming experience. Factions have to act out of their own interests but also must work together towards their side’s common goal. Brutal attrition, deadly combat and no reinforcements for the Crusaders really make for a tough nut to crack.
Welcome to the first of hopefully many in our series of guest Top 5 submissions. Following some recent plays of Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles and Commands & Colors: Napoleonics I thought a Top 5 list of the the series would make a fun exercise for the new year. Memoir `44 was one of my first wargaming experiences and it was only in the last couple of years that I discovered just how different each Commands & Colors (“C&C”) could play out.
I’m very happy to have Judd Vance kick off our Guest Top 5 submissions. Judd’s regular posts on BoardGameGeek.com were instrumental in bringing about my passion for the wargaming hobby. I asked Judd to tell us a bit about himself before we get started.
Judd: I gained infamy riding with the rogue gang known as HAMTAG and working as the unpaid PR man for Mark Herman. Interests include history, wargaming, and all things related to the Matrix. Find me at: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/airjudden
Here are our Top 5 C&C games:
Judd:Commands & Colors Medieval. Inspired Action tokens and Leadership provide more command flexibility. The parthion shot allows bow-armed units to evade AND fire at the same time. The fact that the game has so many cavalry units and so many bow-armed units in the game creates a whole new type of tactics from other games in the system.
Matt: Memoir `44. Mind blowing when I first discovered it but trending in a direction away from me. If you keep game play short and sweet it is still tons of fun and looks awesome on the table. I’m looking for a lit bit more meat on the bones in my C&C games these days.
Judd:Battle Cry: 150th Civil War Anniversary Edition. It has the best looking plastic of the Borg games. It has a lot (30) of scenarios and it is flexible: you can use the rules as written to have a fine introductory game or you can use the fan-generated rules on BGG to have a more complex game that is more in the spirit of Commands & Colors games.
Matt: Commands & Colors: Ancients. After years of only playing Memoir `44, Ancients is the title that showed me there is more depth to C&C gameplay than I thought. Ancients rewards sound tactical decisions, like keeping units in formation, something that isn’t really present in Memoir. If someone was looking to move from something like Memoir `44, Risk, or wanted to try our wargaming, Ancients is the place to look. Oh, it also has elephants.
Judd:Commands & Colors Tricorne. I think this is the best overall design, but it lacks the raw number of scenarios to be #1. It is the most complex game in the system due to the dice calculations and the routing rules, but it also has the best dice calculations of the various games, especially in terms of dice reduction as it pertains to casualties. The routing rules perfectly capture the history making leadership and mutual support far more important than the other games. Finally, it’s the best looking and highest quality product in the family.
Matt: Red Alert: Space Fleet Warfare. If Memoir `44, is the equivalent of playing with your army men on the table, this is that but with a bunch of awesome space ships flying around. Red Alert is a weird entry in the series but it’s one I enjoy the heck out of. It feels more like Memoir than Ancients but ships that feel different and have different consequences if lost is rad. It unfortunately is expensive and only comes with 8 scenarios. Additional ships are sold in separate ‘escalation’ packs, adding to the cost. I’d love to see other factions with even more unique ships and, more importantly, feel get introduced. Potential here but needs some support.
Judd:Commands & Colors: Ancients. This is my most played wargame ever. It captures ancient combat ideas, such as screening, while keeping a relatively low rules overhead as non C&C games. The best part of the game is the pacing: it moves more slowly and deliberately which forces you to consider your card combinations more carefully.
Matt: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics. My new C&C hotness. The direct impact taking casualties has on your strength really sets Napoleonics apart from other C&C titles. In addition, French and Ally forces have different strengths in combat which means factions feel different. In terms of C&C, Napoleonics offers really deep gameplay that will certainly punish you if you charge forward without much thought. Forming squares also adds a whole new level to gameplay.
Judd:Commands & Colors: Napoleonics.Napoleonics wins because of two factors: The La Grande Battles scenarios are sick fun and because the various army expansions create enough differentiation to force different tactics for each one. The dice reduction is ok, but too punitive, but combined arms and squares were brilliant. The Epics maps and rules look like most double-map Richard Borg games, but La Grande is on an entirely different level from its peers.
Matt: Commands & Colors: Samurai Battles. Samurai Battles rocks. It does so through this sort of meta-currency (Honor & Fortune) and the Dragon Cards. Dragon Cards are powerful cards that require an Honor & Fortune cost be paid as you play them. But you need to monitor your Honor & Fortune because if you lose honor (which you will), you can start losing forces. Out of the box Samurai Battles comes with 40 scenarios in the box so you’ll be plenty busy even without the tons of boxes you can grab for the other titles. I’m hoping that GMT continues to do cool things with this one.
Another thank you to Judd for taking the time to share his top 5 (HAMTAG!) Commands & Colors games.
If you are interested in submitting a Guest Top 5 list, please contact Matt at HistoryTablePodcast@gmail.com and please let us know what your top 5 C&C games are below in the comments.
Designer Mitchell Land delivered an early Christmas present to the History on the Table Discord server by taking on the Every Wargame Ever list. Check out Mitchell’s own EWE ranking below and a couple comments on his top games.
You will find the HotT ranking in parentheses after each listing.
Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble (12) Mitchell on Dien Bien Phu, “It’s a game that captures the feel of the situation from both sides’ perspectives, goals, and capabilities. Each side plays very differently, and that makes for interesting game play. It almost always turns out to be a tight contest.”
Red Storm (6) “Red Storm is a very close 2nd. Primarily because the planning aspects off such rich detail after which watching how well your plans unfold is fascinating and fun.”
Next War: India-Pakistan (7) “I should probably have left NWIP and Silver Bayonet out of the mix, but, oddly, I actually enjoy playing them!”
Silver Bayonet (9)
SPQR Deluxe (26)
Atlanta Is Ours (4)
Holland `44 (14)
Stalingrad `42 (8)
Empire in Arms (21)
Sword of Rome (22)
The U.S. Civil War (1)
Beyond the Rhine (5)
Here I Stand (11)
Axis Empires: Dai Senso (19)
Last Hundred Yards (24)
Roads to Gettysburg II (3)
Normandy `44 (25)
Labyrinth: War on Terror (31)
Thunder in the Ozarks: The Battle of Pea Ridge 1862 (13)
Blitzkrieg Legend (17)
Battle Hymn Vol 1: Gettysburg and Pea Ridge (15)
Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg (18)
Onward, Christian Soldiers (16)
None But Heroes (2)
Operation Pegasus (27)
Washington’s Crossing (28)
Ardennes 2024 (33)
Memoir 44 (38)
Empire of the Sun (10)
Holdfast: Korea (37)
1754 Conquest – French and Indian War (29)
Imperial Struggle (23)
Twilight Struggle (34)
Few Acres of Snow (40)
Pavlov’s House (30)
Ottoman Sunset: Great War in the Near East 1914-1918 (41)
Time of Crisis: The Roman Empire in Turmoil (39)
Bloody April, 1917: Air War Over Arras, France (36)
Brave Little Belgium (32)
Zeppelin Raider (43)
Mitch used the Pub Meeple Ranking engine found here and his ranking was based on the Every Wargame Ever list as it stood on December 20, 2021.
If you are a war game designer and want to submit your own take on the Every Wargame Ever list, please get in touch.
The following is a list of the selections from History on the Table’s ‘Best of 2021’ episode. If you don’t want to be spoiled, check out Episode 33 of the Podcast first. Games that were published in 2021 or played new to us in 2021 were eligible for ‘Best of’ consideration.
Wargames: Ancients Era to Pre-American Revolution
Nevsky: Teutons and Rus in Collision 1240-1242
Bayonets & Tomahawks
Sword of Rome
Prague: The Empty Triumph
Empire in Arms
Sword of Rome
Wargames: American Revolution to Pre-WWII
The Civil War 1861-1865
Hood Strikes North: The Tennessee Campaign, Fall 1864
Panzers Last Stand: Battles for Budapest, 1945
Wargames: Post WW2
Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?
Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble
Korea: The Forgotten War
Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?
Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble
High Frontier 4 All
Wargames:Magazine and Small
Battle for Galicia, 1914
Wargames Best Game of 2021
Panzers Last Stand: Battles for Budapest, 1945
Wargames: Expansions/ Modules
Last Hundred Yards Volume 2: Airborne Over Europe
Forgotten War: Korea 1950-1953
Board and Card Games
Magic the Gathering – Commander/EDH Play
Pandemic: Fall of Rome
18xx and Train games
Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944 by Antony Beevor
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Valley of the Shadow: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Kevin Boylan
Normandy ‘44 by James Holland
Washington’s Immortals by Patrick O’Donnell
Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides
Strugatsky Brothers Science Fiction: Roadside Picnic, The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn, Definitely Maybe
The Ocean at the End of the lane by Neil Gaiman
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
Call of Cthulhu
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Fear Street Parts 1 and 2
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The Haunting of Hill House
Old Gods of Appalachia
Old Gods of Appalachia
The Lowest Plan – The Perfect Pair
Fleet Street – Dressed in Red
Let us know your best of 2021 in the comments below!
First off, if you are unfamiliar with GMT Games’ P500 system, I would start here: The Details of P500.
Second, I feel like we need a disclaimer for this post. As of the November 23 Update from GMT there are nearly 175 items currently working there way through the P500 program in some shape or form. In addition, there are several factors that I am sure GMT takes into consideration in prioritizing, timing and developing the games on the list. Most of the factors have probably never entered my brain space.
That means that this is not a list that may make the most business sense but it makes the most Matt sense. By that, I mean here is a list of my Top 5 games currently* on the P500 list that I, personally, for my own selfish reasons, would push through development to get into my hands ASAP.
I’ve left a few games off the list because they are close enough we can almost taste them push their counters around. These are: the US Civil War reprint, Salerno `43, Last Hundred Yards: Solomon Islands, and Vietnam: 1965-1975. Make no mistake, those are some of my most anticipated games but it didn’t feel as exciting to make a list of games that may be here as soon as early 2022. (By the way, for a full list of our most anticipated 2022 games, make sure you listen to January’s History on the Table episode!)
With enough delay, here are my (Matt’s) Top 5 P500 Games.
Status: Made the Cut Orders to Date: (Numbers unavailable at time of post)
It took a handful of plays before I really began to appreciate Sekigahara‘s fantastic game design but now I thoroughly enjoy the game. Sekigaraha offers straight forward yet rewarding game play, thoughtful tactical decisions, and gorgeous art and components. I’m anxious to see if its spiritual successor can do all of the same while offering a unique experience.
Bear Trap: The Soviet-Afghan War, 1979-1989 will use some similar elements but claims to be a more asymmetric design. Could that mean more unique faction decks?
I am very interested in this title. Bear Trap is building off a great skeleton and is covering a historical topic that I haven’t seen covered very much in the wargame sphere.
We are reaching our ultimate destination (The Battle for Sicily) in a round about way and it’s not through George Strait. Don’t get me wrong, The Battle for Normandy, Deluxe Edition is a monster game that I can’t wait to see in action but The Battle For Sicily is what I really have my heart set on.
Unfortunately, The Battle for Sicily was temporarily pulled from the P500 list back in 2019. Hopefully, with The Battle for Normandy in hand, progress can resume on Sicily.
Nevsky, the first entry in the expanding Levy & Campaign series, reigned supreme on my pile of shame for far too long. Now that I’ve been able to play the game I am very excited to see where this series is heading. So much so, that I’d print them all!
As things currently stand, the projects are all in different stages of development but Volko Ruhnke, series desiger, has mentioned that “some 20 projects” are in progress!
For the foreseeable future, all Levy & Campaign titles are auto P500 for me.
It’s a game on Finland which should be enough of a reason but you might still be asking, “Why is a 2012 game on this list?”. Well it’s a game on Finland that I have still completely missed out on.
It was first published before I started pushing counters around maps and the reprint has been a long term resident of the P500 list. I made a GeekList back in 2017 tracking the games I had P500’ed. This was the first entry and the one I was most looking forward to it. It’s been over 4 years.
Company scale. Finnish Ski Troops. Winter War. Great Art. Print it!
Status: Well about that… Orders to Date: It’s complicated?
I am jumping the gun here and thus cheating on my own list but you can’t really blame me. This is the final entry in the late Richard H. Berg’s Ancient Worlds series and it now sits in the hands of Alan Ray and Mark Herman. Rise of the Roman Republic and Carthage are gorgeous, impressive monsters and according to Alan Ray, Thunderbolt will incorporate the previous titles, “Adding the scenarios from those two volumes to Thunderbolt required only 1 1/12 additional counter sheets, a number of display cards, and some additional pages of rules.”
I’m hopeful that Thunderbolt makes a P500 appearance soon. Don’t miss it.
Leave a comment below with your most anticipated P500 entry, looking forward to hearing responses.