Judd Vance is a master of GeekLists on BoardGameGeek and his lists have inspired many game purchases over the years. His analysis of games is always insightful and I am anxiously awaiting Judd’s 2022 Top 100 games. He’s been making lists for years and if you’re interested you can check out his past lists, including Judd’s 2021’s Top 100 Games, here. Although there isn’t as much crossover as I thought there might be, we thought we would still pit Judd, master of lists, up against the list. Here are Judd’s thoughts on and how he ranks the EWE entries that he has played:
1. Empire of the Sun (Our rank at time of posting: 10) – 3rd best game in my collection. Washington’s War is my favorite Mark Herman game, but I think this is his greatest design.
2. Men of Iron Tri-Pack (30)– I love Richard Berg’s tactical system. He used it, or variants of it, in a lot of games, and I enjoy them all, but this is my favorite. The tri-pack is an exceptional value. You get a LOT of game for your money, and it has one of the finest rulebooks ever.
3. A Few Acres of Snow (50) – I am sick about the talk of the Hammer. I never tried it. Nobody ever tried it on me. I don’t play tournament level players, so in my groups, it is a whole lot of fun when you have 60 minutes to play a game. Plus, without this, we don’t have Hands in the Sea (my personal #2 ever).
4. SPQR Deluxe (31) – Like Men of Iron Tri-Pack, you get a lot of game for your money. So far, I have only played with the Simple Great Battles of History rules. If I jump into the full rules, this may be even higher.
5. Memoir ’44 (48) – Because some days, I want to push around my plastic soldiers and be awesome. My ranking here incorporates the base game and the major expansions (Eastern Front, Pacific & Mediterranean Theaters, New Flight Plan, Overlord, Breakthrough, Campaign books).
6. Sword of Rome (25)– I don’t really play games that require 3+ players because it is too hard to get that going, but on the rare occasions that I have, this game stood out head and shoulders above the rest. I love the asymmetry of the game, the custom decks, the alliances, the non-player forces you can activate, variable victory conditions. Just a whole lot of chaos and fun.
7. Labyrinth the War on Terror (40): I have only played the base game and that is enough for me. The two card mechanic is a breath of fresh air to the genre. I consider Volko Ruhnke the king of rule books and this is a fine example. Also, one of the best player aids ever.
8. Washington’s Crossing (35) – I personally geek out to this topic (read Fischer’s book of the same name!). The game has a lot of detail and chrome — maybe too much for the player who has not heavily into the topic, but I love every touch. Borrowing the idea of expending less movement points before attacking results in a stronger attack is beautiful. The one thing this game desperately needs is a phone app for tracking troop levels and calculating battle odds. If it had that, this game would probably be #2.
9. Ottoman Sunset (52)– This is a good, solid States of Siege game. It is not nearly as good as Dawn of the Zeds, Malta Besieged, or We Must Tell the Emperor, but I think this is the best representation of the series: it captures all of the main ideas while staying somewhere in the middle of detail/complexity (Israeli Independence and The First Jihad are the games at the ends of this complexity spectrum).
10. Operation Pegasus (32) – Next to Star Fleet Battles and Federation & Empire, this is the best game Task Force Games ever turned out. It sounds weird, but the helicopter logistics is probably the most fun part of the game. It has a decent amount of paper/pencil book keeping that takes off a little luster. This could be fixed if it were a block game or if you use my Vassal Module, that puts the troop level number directly on the counter.
11. The U.S. Civil War (1)– I dabbled with it early on with a short scenario and then planned on playing the whole war. I put it away when I learned the naval rules were a mess. I put in on the backburner and bought the 2nd and 3rd edition updates. I have heard it fixed the numerous questions on the message boards, but have not heard if it is an acceptable fix for game balance. Once I get some confirmation, I’ll get it back in the queue. From that one short game, I was very impressed and the map is one of the best I have seen.
12. Holdfast Korea (47) – The game is a real blast the first few times you play it. They pack a lot of game into a rulebook that takes 10 minutes to teach. As the North, I came a single die roll away from scoring the auto victory. As the U.N., I came within 2 hexes and a failed Chinese Intervention die roll away from scoring the auto victory. After that and in every other game, it becomes a slow game of attrition near the 38th parallel, which is what happened in reality, so no fault of the game. After about 10 plays, I got what I wanted out of the game. I got my money’s worth, but don’t have any desire to play an 11th time. I made the Vassal module for this one, also.
By the way, if you missed it, HAMTAG recently held a reunion live stream.
Judd’s ranking was based on the Every Wargame Ever list as it stood on October 20, 2022. If you are a war game designer and want to submit your own take on the Every Wargame Ever list, please get in touch.