When you run a blog about boardgames – with a heavy focus on wargames – your friends and family look at you curiously and wonder what is it that you spend so much time on and write about. The most brave ones even approach you and ask to show them – in practice – “those games”. That is of course a fantastic moment for every boardgame hobbyist because you can present the object of your fascination to the ones you care about / who are close to you.
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Recently I had more and more such questions / asks to show “those games”. That of course requires some thinking – what to start with? The game cannot be too complex, should have appealing narrative but also has to look good. What I am showing below, is my personal and subjective list of three light / entry wargames I am using to introduce the new players to the hobby.
I am a big fan of Commands Colors series – regardless of the publisher and title. But there is one special position for me here – Ancients. It has personal meaning because thanks to that game I actually come back to the wargaming hobby and decided to start the blog. Since then I played that title over 500 times (crazy isn’t it?) and use it every time I have a person who would like to test a “wargame”.
C&C Ancients has pretty straightforward rules, with cards activating one of the three sections of the battlefield. The combat is resolved pretty quickly and efficiently by the set of dices. What is important, thanks to amount of the expansions, you can play virtually any ancient battle.
The game appeals to new players not only due to simple rules but also beautiful components – yes, I am fan of blocks! – and a very deep and tangible historical feeling. The system just feels right for the Ancient Warfare and everybody with whom I played underlines that this is not mechanical moving of units but a real battle.
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Surprised? You should not be! Julius Caesar brings to the new players additional factor – very high uncertainty in the battle (do not confuse with randomness). With the strength of units hidden, one can be really surprised by what the opponent prepared for you.
The game again is driven by cards, but much fewer types then in C&C Ancients. Map shows whole Mediterranean area and the historical topic is very attractive – Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great. New player really likes the battle mechanic – with faster units – like leaders and archers – and much slower but more powerful – like legions or navy. Julius Caesar also force the players to think more strategically but on the other hand has enough easy rules for everybody to quickly grasp them and enjoy the game almost immediately!
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When introducing new players to war-gaming hobby, you cannot avoid counters-based games. Still, they are usually pretty complex, with tons of rules. However, I am finding CoH: Storms of Steel as a glorious exception here.
First and foremost, the game introduces the rules gradually – you can play mission 1 & 2 with minimal set of them. Then, even as you progress with the game and sessions, the new chapters are added gradually, in small chunks and always with some scenarios where you can use them and tests.
Secondly, you have a very attractive and interesting topic – the Kursk battle. Not only you have large panzer engagements, but also the so-well-known units like Tigers, Panthers or T-34 on both sides. Last but not least, the game has a superb components quality – both maps and counters – which is pretty important to get the new player hooked.
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I am proud that through last years I managed to introduce and convince pretty many casual players to wargaming hobby. Some of them stopped on level of above games, but there are few who went further. For them I had to find more challenging positions – and I will write about those more complex game in next article. And let us be honest, the time you invest to show and explain the games to your buddies pays off as then you have a group to play with!
Feel free to share your stories of how you were introducing wargaming hobby to newbies and what tittles you used. I am really curious. Thanks!