(Video Version of the material: https://youtu.be/Zd60j0l8a0M)

Two weeks ago I had a chance to present to the Dear Readers my selection of top 3 wargames suggestions for Christmas 2021, focusing on new releases. While those new titles are really great and refreshing, some of them were in such a high demand that could not be easily obtained.

This time my idea is to recommend some of the all-time classics with which you will never go wrong – and which in most cases are readily available for order, be it on publisher websites or in retailer shops. And this time instead of individual game titles, I focused on 3 game groups and my favorite titles within them. I have played all proposed positions multiple times and can vouch for each and every choice.

Without further delay, let us have a look at those impressive wargames!

A Commands & Colors game

To get more details, please read my article about Commands & Colors games.

C&C Samurai Battles by GMT Games

Commands & Colors Samurai Battles is a great re-implementation of this classic title from Zvezda company. The game allow players to portray important engagements of Japanese history – mainly 15th century AD – with as many as 40 scenarios collected in that installment! What I really like is grouping some of the scenarios into the linked, chronological and logically connected sets. This usually means some particular battle being separated into couple of phases and much detailed analysis of them. 

On top of the thick scenario booklet, we get also Dragon Cards which spice-up the game as well as very important dimension of Honor & Fortune tokens. Last, but not least, the game is simply beautiful and breathtaking. I would say that the pastels board with vivid red and blue armies make for the one of the most graphically striking Commands and Colors games.

More about game:

C&C Ancients by GMT Games

That was my first C&C game, the one which was a true cornerstone in my come-back to wargaming. When you look at the sheer number of sessions, this is definitely my most-ever-played-game-of-all. I can’t express enough how I like it and appreciate the design. The game is very elegant, has simple mechanics (rules) which gives numerous possibilities on board (strategies and tactics). With 6 expansion you are getting mind-blowing number of 177 official scenarios, not to count all the fan-made. This jewel among Mr Borg creations hit 15 birthday in 2021 but is still as fresh as on release day. Highly recommended – forever and ever!

More about game:

The Great War by PSC

When PSC announced World War I themed game, many players thought it is impossible to create an engaging, interesting and dynamic tactical level game about that seemingly static conflict. Well, they were wrong and another spark of genius of Mr Borg was unveiled to us here. Still, the beginning was not easy as the basic version used very hard plastic (easily broken when assembling figures) plus limited number of scenarios. However, with Expansion 1 (Tanks) and Expansion 2 (French Army) the game developed enormously and proves to be a tremendous product. When considering, make sure to get the new printing with French expansion!

More about game:

  • BGG page
  • Game Review
  • The strategies article: STRATEGIES
  • Session reports from my blog: ARTICLES
  • How to get: available on publisher website (Tanks and French expansions) and BGG Market (Base Game)

A Card Assisted Game

To get more details, please read my article about Card Driven games games.

Imperial Struggle by GMT Games

During the last 18 months I wrote a lot about this title. Not surprising, as we waited for so long for this spiritual successor to the Twilight Struggle. And when it hit our tables – it proved to be a great product!

This two-player game depicts the 18th-century rivalry between France and Britain. It covers almost 100 years (from 1697 till 1789), touching war, political, economical and diplomacy aspects. It uses some new, creative mechanics which clearly differentiate it from other Card Driven Games and Twilight Struggle itself – more can be found here. Thanks to variable set-up, event and investment tiles, it is enormously replayable – not two sessions are alike, although some tips and strategies are of course already known.

Sounds like a fun, and completely different from Twilight Struggle? Indeed, it is. Make sure to use any occasion to try this game!

Close-up on Europe

More about game:

Sekigahara by GMT Games

Sekigahara – who has not heard about that famous engagement in the history of Japan? The story told here is of the battle fought in 1600 at a crossroads in Japan, which unified that nation under the Tokugawa family for more than 250 years. The game allows you to re-contest that war as Ishida Mitsunari, defender of a child heir, or Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan’s most powerful daimyo (feudal lord).

The game have some very interesting and unique mechanics – for which is known and appreciated. First, it utilizes no dice! Secondly, the cards used for game represent loyalty and motivation. Without a matching card, an army will not enter the battle! And thirdly – the actual engagements of forces. These are a series of deployments, from hidden unit stacks, based on hidden loyalty factors. You really can defeat much more powerful opponent whose forces refuse to fight! Definitely highly recommended classic!

More about game:

Empire of the Sun by GMT Games

This is one of the wargaming hobby classics but also a fantastic simulation of strategic & tactical warfare in the Pacific during WWII. We have here a really breath-taking scale, with comprehensive campaign and – in my humble opinion – much more digestible and accessible scenarios, be it from the base game or GMT C3i magazine. So far I have not found better game with that theme – despite the fact, that entry barrier might be slightly too steep for some players.

Thus, this is not surprising that in order to cover whole four years of Pacific War, including main theaters as India, Burma, China, Japan, Australia and all the Islands, a really comprehensive rulebook was needed. Still, with every session played the game become more and more accessible and joy from it grows! The good entry points will be 1943 scenario or C3i South Pacific set-up. Enjoy!

More about game:

A Solitaire Game

To get more details, please read my article about Solitaire-friendly games.

D-Day at Tarawa by Decision Games

This classic is not only the high in wargames ranging on boardgamegeek but also in the top solitaire games of that type. And it is fully deserved! D-Day at Tarawa is based on John Butterfield’s D-Day at Omaha Beach system and presents fighting at platoon and company scale in solitaire mode. You command the invading American forces against dug-in Japanese defenders, which are controlled by the game system – pretty scripted and procedural, as in case of this author, but very well presenting the actions of defenders.

Tarawa covers the landings on Betio Island in November 1943, and the operations of the US 2nd Marine and 27th Infantry Divisions to clear it – the first heavily contested landing of the Pacific War. It brings many new elements in comparison to its predecessor – and mainly due to them, gives me personally much more fun – a brutal and unpredictable close combat, LVT landings or Japanese counterattacks. If you ponder where to start with this series, check Tarawa!

More about game:

The Mission by White Dog Games

The Mission: Early Christianity from the Crucifixion to the Crusades is a “grand strategy” solitaire game covering 1,200 years of Christian history on a map of the ancient Mediterranean, Near East, Europe and Africa. Your missionaries spread the Christian faith and convert areas of the map to your new religion. Each turn covers decades, and the flow of play will teach players about the expansion and doctrinal battles of early Christianity while you build institutions to educate, heal, and inspire the societies you touch.

The game takes you by hand and leads you through six different epochs in the Christianity development, each having its specific rules but very much interdependent of what had happened before and influencing what will be possible in the future. You can play the whole campaign or much closer scenario. The constant feel of encroachment and fight for survival is what makes this game so interesting and replayable – highly recommended!

More about game:

Pavlov’s House by Dan Verssen Games (DVG)

In Pavlov’s House, we take control of the brave defenders of a Soviet strongpoint in Stalingrad as they hold out against constant German attacks for almost two months. We also control the key leaders throughout the Soviet 62nd Army that made the defense of Pavlov’s House possible. The goal in Pavlov’s House is to last through all the German attack waves, inflicting in the process as many casualties on attackers as possible. In the game, this is depicted by playing through a deck of cards representing elements of the German 6th Army.

If you finish the game on normal level, the Veteran and Elite difficulties awaits. You can also try to get additional points with Operational Support missions. all in all, deep, multi-level and engrossing solitaire position!

More about game:

Summary

Christmas is and always was supposed to be time of joy and happiness. Today’s situation is not the most optimistic one – with roaming pandemic, widespread lock-downs and disease spreading everywhere. Still, let us try to find a spark of hope and positiveness. Our common hobby and great titles associated with it for sure can help in this time. Enjoy!