Below is a list of our favorite games. We have broken the selection down into major categories but otherwise we have listed titles alphabetically. Our criteria for inclusion on this list were simple, we think it’s a great game and, in most cases, it has also stood the test of time. All of the games listed are excellent titles and will be well worth both your time and money. We will expand this list over time and may even remove games if they fail to keep up with the competition and another similar game replaces it. In general we will keep the list limited to currently available titles and will only include out-of-print titles as an exception. There is nothing worse than to learn of a great game that you are unable to obtain.
World War Two
- Flames of War [Battlefront]
- FoW was essentially the first historical miniature ruleset that catapulted historical gaming into the mainstream of miniature gaming. Battlefront produced 15mm miniatures for years but the release of the Flames of War 15mm tactical WW2 ruleset put them on the map. FoW is certainly not the best simulation but it provides that nice mix of good game with good enough simulation along with luscious rulebooks and well done miniatures. Battlefront is also releasing more and more supporting material, such as terrain, that makes it even easier to get into the hobby.
- Naval Thunder [Steel Dreadnought Games]
- Naval Thunder replaces Victory at Sea on our list. With more play, and the basic death of VaS, Naval Thunder moves into the lead with a ruleset that is as good, if not better in many respects, than VaS. It does lack a bit of polish but more than makes up for that with solid rules, flexibility, and game support that includes spreadsheet files for ship data charts. If you want a good quick-play set of naval rules that doesn’t forget the history look no further than Naval Thunder.
- Test of Battle [Test of Battle Games]
- ToB began as Command Decision more than 20 years ago. ToB is the fourth version of the rules and it has been improved and streamlined with each generation. It is a platoon-level game where each unit is a platoon and players command battalion sized forces. It features excellent command and control rules and is probably one of the most realistic, yet still playable, historical miniature games out there.
Sci-Fi – Tactical Ground Combat
- Incursion [Grindhouse Games]
- With the 2009 release of Space Hulk being only a limited run it looks like it is basically dead. Fortunately Grindhouse Games released Incursion. It is a game strongly influenced by Space Hulk set in an alternate World War Two universe and is a fun game with great miniatures.
- Warhammer 40,000 [Games Workshop]
- It hardly seems necessary to describe WH40K. It is one of the grand daddies of sci-fi mini gaming and GW one of the juggernauts of the hobby world. The new 6th Edition has only reinforced its place. WH40K has never exactly been the best game but it has almost always had the best miniatures combined with an engaging background and, perhaps most importantly, mass. You can go almost anywhere in the world and find someone who plays 40K. As imperfect as it is that fact alone puts it here. And while the game has suffered over the years from the efforts of GW to seemingly price it out of reach of anyone not making more than $100,000 a year and making it harder and harder to support as a retailer, it is without a doubt in one of its best years due to excellent new products.
Sci-Fi – Tactical Space Combat
- Firestorm Armada [Spartan Games]
- Firestorm Armada kicks BFG off the list. Now in its second edition, Spartan streamlined FA a bit more and there are now tons of great miniatures with more than seven full fleets. Being a relatively new game certainly gives it an advantage because Spartan was able to draw on the best aspects of earlier titles and they did it very well. The miniatures are simply the best seen for any space combat game to date. If you like space combat you really do not need to look any further. You can get the core rules for free from Spartan Games.
- Full Thrust [Ground Zero Games]
- Full Thrust has been around for more than a decade. It was perhaps one of the first really successful fast playing starship combat miniature games. It has that great attribute that allows small and large scale games to be interesting. GZG has its own line of miniatures as well that has gotten better and better with each new generation — the NSL ships are our favorite. And, like BFG, the rules are now available for free.
- Starmada [Majestic Twelve Games]
- Starmada is certainly one of the oldest sci-fi starship combat games. Its strength has always been its flexibility. It is as much a toolkit as a game system. This is a bad thing for gamers wanting something they can open and play but rewards those willing to spend the time. The latest Nova version and upcoming products will only make a good game better.
Historical – Tactical
- ASL Starter Kits [Multiman Publishing]
- We thought about putting Advanced Squad Leader itself here but it is such a massively complex system that probably only appeals to a select group of die hard fans. The Starter Kits on the other hand are much more approachable by the average wargamer and enjoyable in their own right yet they still give you that taste of ASL. If you play them and get the bug then the expansive world of ASL awaits you.
- Conflict of Heroes Series [Academy Games]
- CoH: Awakening the Bear! was a surprise hit in 2008. The latest 2nd Edition was just released. The system uses a blend of game mechanics that create something truly new that works exceptionally well. WW2 gaming has never been so much fun and accurate. CoH strips away the minutia and focuses on what is really important so players feel like they are leading troops in combat. If that wasn’t enough, Academy has done an outstanding job supporting the game with new rulebook versions (available as PDF downloads) that address players’ questions and rules tweaks. There is even an excellent computer version available.
- Storm Over Stalingrad [Multiman Publishing]
- SOS is the latest release in the series that began more than 20 years ago with Avalon Hill’s Storm Over Arnhem. It is an area movement game that covers the assault on Stalingrad in WW2. New card mechanics replace many pages of rules from the previous titles and create an easy to learn and fast playing game that keeps players on the edge of their seats. What more could one want from a wargame?! Here is a nice video overview.
- World at War/Nations at War Series [Lock 'n Load Publishing]
- The WaW/NaW system manages to combine the best of board and miniature gaming into a whole that is fun, exciting, fast playing, and provides realistic results. Both systems are expanding but the World at War series really has a huge array of games available.
Historical – Operational/Strategic
- Bitter Woods [L2 Design Group]
- You can’t swing a water stained wargame without hitting a Bulge game. Bitter Woods, in both its 3rd and deluxe 4th editions, is one of the best. Tuned to perfection it provides a balanced game enjoyable for both sides. The L2 version is also a wonderful example of printed board game lusciousness with a large map and counters.
- Breakout: Normandy [L2 Design Group]
- The classic Avalon Hill game Breakout: Normandy had been out of print for awhile. Thankfully L2 Design Group did a deluxe version with slightly larger components and just barely tweaked rules. Breakout: Normandy is a game as balanced as any wargame can be and provides a great challenge for both sides every time.
- Command & Colors: Napoleonics [GMT Games]
- We’ve always had Memoir ’44 listed under our general games but thought it was a bit too light for inclusion here. C&C: Napoleonics brings the Commands & Colors system to the Napoleonic era. It is still a very light game but the mechanics and presentation work exceptionally well for the Napoleonic era and the game is simply fun and challenging and does not take days to play. If you have any interest in the Napoleonic era or just want a good competitive game look no further. Upcoming expansions will only increase the fun.
- East Front 2 [Columbia Games]
- A classic block game that provides one of the best strategic-level East Front games. This game can be played in one sitting and gives a great sense of the massive task of invading/defending Russia in World War Two.
- FAB Bulge [GMT Games]
- A block game that doesn’t play like a block game. It is fast moving, provides limited fog-of-war and forces players to make tough decisions. It also has a unique combat support mechanism.
- Ogre/G.E.V. [Steve Jackson Games]
- It took a record breaking Kickstarter campaign but 2013 is finally the year of Ogre Designer’s Edition! The new game is weighing in at something like 20lbs so it was probably worth the wait! Amazing to think this game series is now over 25 years old. Deceptively simple, Ogre and its somewhat more traditional follow-on G.E.V. are wonderfully tactically challenging games set in an interesting near-future era where huge cybernetic tanks and ground effect vehicles dominate the battlefield. They are truly classics in every sense of the word. Largely influenced by Keith Laumer’s Bolo series, Ogre was the first game in the line and came out in a small pocket box with cardstock counters you had to cut out. Over the years various versions, expansions, and even miniature games of Ogre and G.E.V. have been produced — all with the same basic, solid game play. Will the ogre reach its destination before you can wear it down? How best to utilize your fast moving G.E.V.s against the enemy’s heavy armor?
- Federation Commander [Amarillo Design Bureau]
- First came Star Fleet Battles more than 20 years ago, a nice little pocket game of spaceship combat in the world of Star Trek (the original series). A few years later it had turned into a 300 page monster that only a dedicated few could comprehend let alone truly enjoy. To bring back the fun and fast play that SFB used to have ADB produced Federation Commander. They got it right. The minutia has been stripped out and just enough detail remains to capture the flavor and tactical options of SFB. Plus, ADB produces their own line of miniatures that allows you to play FC as a traditional miniatures game or as a board game with large hexes.
- Carriers at War [Matrix Games]
- A great simulation of the early carrier battles in WW2. You’ll quickly see how tough the Allies had it in the early days.
- Combat Mission Series [Battlefront]
- The new version 2.0 of Combat Mission brings the classic game up to modern standards. The Commonwealth expansion as well as Fortress Italy expand the action. [Note: CM:Afrika has an update that allows it to run just fine on Vista/Windows 7.]
- Strategic Command 2 [Battlefront]
- Certainly one of the best strategic WW2 games. The game AI uses scripted actions that you can easily edit. This allows for more realistic feeling play as well as actions that you can tailor to your own desires.
- Unity of Command [2x2 Ganmes]
- Unity of Command was an instant classic. Its unit icons initially gave diehard wargamers some pause but its clean interface and elegant supply mechanics quickly won over anyone who tried it. This is the computer wargame so many other games strive to be. The AI is also very challenging and will generally not let you get away with too many mistakes. If want a great game, and especially if you have any interest in the Eastern Front, give UoC a shot. There are also two expansions that add to the fun. Available on Steam.
- War Plan Pacific [Shrapnel Games]
- War Plan Pacific was an instant classic. It is essentially a point-to-point based strategy game of the WW2 Pacific Theater. It is one of those games that makes you want to play ‘just one more turn.’ The game is very well balanced and fun to play as either the Allies or Japan. Various victory conditions keep the game interesting and the game is easily modified through xml files so you can tweak it to meet your own desires.
- Battle of the Bulge: iPad Edition [Shenandoah Studio]
- An amazing classic wargame for the iPad. Battle of Bulge is a tour de force of presentation. The game is extremely solid. The two scenarios will certainly limit re-playability over time but hopefully some updates or certainly the new games in the series should take care of that. If you like WW2 wargames you must get this game. There is even a boardgame version coming out soon.
- Battle Academy [Slitherine]
- As a computer game BA was perhaps a bit light but it is pretty hardcore for the iPad. Lots of expansions bring lots of campaign choices so you are sure to have plenty of play.
- Hunters and Hunters2 [Rodeo Games]
- Space Hulk is not on this list because it is out of print. Hunters and Hunters2 are the closest thing to Space Hulk on the iPad — At least until actual Space Hulk arrives later in 2013! Both Hunters games are very fun top-down, turn-based tactical shooters.
- Battlestar Galactica [Fantasy Flight Games]
- BSG the board game is a co-operative game where the players are all on the same side playing the humans against the game, which is running the Cylons. The twist is that one, or more, human players are secretly Cylons and are secretly working against the players! Let the mayhem unfold. Battlestar Galactica is great fun and playable by those with no knowledge, or interest, in the show.
- Formula D [Asmodee]
- An update to the decade old classic Formula De. It is tough to take a sport as fast and dynamic as Formula 1 racing and make a boardgame out of it but Formula D hits the mark. While simple enough to teach almost anyone, Formula D will still mostly appeal to racing fans. The new street circuit rules and tracks add an interesting twist and the new cards take the pencils out of the game. Even better, all of your old track boards can still be used.
- Memoir ’44 [Days of Wonder]
- A bit too light and generic to be considered a true wargame, Memoir ’44 is instead probably one of the best introductory wargames. It is a WW2 hex-based game played with small plastic miniatures and features a variable scale. Your units might be squads in one scenario but then divisions in the next. It introduces many of the core elements of wargaming in a simple and slick system that is fast playing and fun. Its many expansions and new campaign system only make the game that much more enjoyable as well as far reaching. It is great for newcomers to the hobby as well as a quick, fun game for veterans.
- Samurai [Rio Grande Games]
- Not a true wargame but Samurai manages to capture the wargame feel in a quick playing and easy to learn game that is truly hard to master. Even better, it scales from 2-4 players with no trouble and great components only add to the enjoyment. This is a great game when you want something a little lighter but not simplistic. There is also an excellent iPad version.
- Zombicide [Guillotine Games]
- Zombicide was one of the first boardgame success stories on Kickstarter (finally eclipsed by Ogre). It is a cooperative game about, well, zombies. Basically a simple game, the cooperative nature pits the players against the game system and a whole lot of zombies. The varied maps and missions keep the game fresh and regular gamers and newcomers alike will enjoy it. Braaaiiinnnsss!
- The D6 Generation
- The D6G podcast is now one of the older gaming podcasts still around. Russ and Craig have managed to improve the show again and again. They provide extremely detailed and entertaining reviews as well as interviews with industry notables. All is done with no hate and high humor. Please note they do have a regular opening segment that their fans either love or hate. But it is easy to fast forward five minutes to get past it. If you enjoy gaming at all you will not want to miss The D6 Generation. If you wonder where to start Episode 70 was very good.
- The Independent Characters
- The 6th edition of Warhammer 40,000 got us looking at WH40K podcasts again. Thankfully we found The Independent Characters. Carl and Geoff do a truly outstanding job of presenting an informative and entertaining show. They bring a great level of both intelligence and professionalism to the world and hobby of 40K. Episode 36 – Imperial Armour 4: The Anphelion Project is a great episode.
- What Would Patton Do: News from the Front
- The WWPD podcast has certainly stood the test of time and really grown into a great show. The show is largely dedicated to Flames of War but they cover other games as well. Steven and cast deliver solid reviews, excellent gaming advice, as well as useful interviews on FoW and historical miniature gaming in general. If you wonder where to start Episode 6 has a great look at the new D-Day set.
[Last Updated: 20FEB13]