My father introduced me to chess when I was twelve. It took me five years to beat him, and by the next year, he was unable to touch me. While chess is a great game, it doesn't yield the flavor of wargames. I developed an interest in military history in high school, spending the next ten years studying battles, the who, when, and where, and playing games which simulated them. Eventually, I realized that all battles were pretty much the same, so I began studying Strategy & Tactics. From this I gained a much deeper understanding of what went into winning at any competitive game. There are three books which I highly recommend as the most comprehensive and enlightening;
My gaming over the years has covered much of the genre. Beginning in the seventies with boardgames, proceeding to computer games in the late eighties along with combat flight simulators, and adding ancient and medieval miniatures in the nineties.
When it comes to miniatures, there is only one name on my list;
Here is the web page for DBM;
The nice thing about computer games is that you don't have to rustle up an oppenent. The bad thing is that even the best Artificial Intelligence is not even close to competitive. Designers have to resort to handicapping the computer to make it a challenge. Still, it's better than nothing. In the past ten years, games have kept pace with the leaps that computer technology has taken. I've played a number of excellent games over the years, and it seems that the best overall company is Microprose. Here are the games I've played that were so good, I became engrossed in them for weeks until I mastered them;
For several years, I've been longing for games to play by e-mail. I've also prayed that someone would design a game that used a miniatures style battle system. SSI has just published a game titled Panzer General for which I am finding e-mail opponents. While several companies have attempted to produce a miniatures format, none have truly succeeded. England's Impressions has done the most in this field, but their early efforts were disasters. Their latest, Lords of the Realm, is promising, and actually made it onto the magazine Computer Gaming World's top 100 list.
Since most of the best titles are from Microprose, here's a link to them;
I expect when a great ancient/medieval miniatures game playable by e-mail comes out, they will be the ones to produce it.
Though I hardly, if ever, play boardgames anymore, in college I was with a group that played once or twice a week. The chief companies producing games at that time were Avalon Hill and Simulation Publications, Inc. (SPI). Most players agreed that SPI games were better detailed, but that didn't stop them from going out of business in the early 80s. Being young, I sought game that were incredibly detailed, wanting to know every aspect of war and combat. Games varied in scale from man-to-man combat to world's-at-war -- and in scope from the stone-age to the inter-stellar future. Of course, the greater the scope of the game, the larger was the rulebook. I soon found that monster games which had hundreds of pieces and rules over fifty pages long were too tedious to even learn, let alone play. I opted for games with no more than twenty pages of rules. After ten years, having learned the details of combat, morale, and command control, I sought games which were easier still, discovering that you don't need all the 'chrome,' as it was called, to make a good competitive game. My favorite boardgames became those that were relatively easy to learn and could easily be played in an evening. Here are some of my favorites;
If you can't tell, my favorite eras are Classical-Dark Ages-Medieval combat, World War Two European Theatre and WWII Carrier battles. Currently, my boardgames are all shelved as I spend my time on computer games and occasionally playing miniatures. But, if nothing else, here's a link to the Avalon Hill Game Company;
Avalon Hill future link
My favorite general is Belisarius. He was a Byzantine general in the 6th century (the same time that legendary King Arthur was in England) who was renowned as one of the greatest generals in history, overcomiong great odds with few resources. His Christian spirit and honor are equally superlative.
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