About two weeks ago I had a chance to present my selection of top wargames suggestions for Christmas 2022, focusing on newly released titles. Today my idea is to recommend to the Dear Readers 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. I am not focusing on individual titles but series / genres which I like, appreciate and play often.

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

Previous years materials:
2021 new releases
2021 all time classics
2020 new releases
2020 all time classics

A COunter INsurgency (COIN) game

This is one of my most played game series, be it multiplayer or solo. It currently covers approximately 15 titles, some of them still in production. This series features Volko Ruhnke’s game system presenting guerrilla warfare, asymmetric warfare, and COunterINsurgencies around the world – in both historical and contemporary conflicts.

The victory conditions are constructed in such a way that pure military power does not necessarily means you will win. The backbone of COIN game is usually the same – with two event cards visible, one current and one for next round and all eligible factions taking specific actions, specials or events. However the beauty lays in those small differences between volumes which made the system perfect for various epochs.

Which are my favorite COINs? Let us see:

Falling Sky – my first game in the series, and so far the top one. I love ancient themed games, especially featuring Rome and Caesar conquest of Gaul is a perfect setting for asymmetric title. If you hesitate where to start with the system, I would not go anywhere else.
Fire in the Lake – a true masterpiece of Volko Ruhnke and Mark Herman. This is definitely high on complexity spectrum but to be honest – I never seen such a great depiction of the War in Vietnam on strategic level. Highly recommended once you are familiar with the system – and to prolong joy and fun, make sure to get the expansions!
If you would like to try something pretty unique and different in COIN system, go for Gandhi. This is first volume which feature No-Volient factions – namely National Congress (Gandhi) and Muslim League. It also tell the incredible story of the India gaining independence – and was a great learning material for me.

More about the series:

Valiant Defense Series Game

This time something for solitaire titles lovers but David Thompson series games can also be played in multiplayer mode (with one valid, exception). The Valiant Defense series allows you to play amazing stories of courage, with small forces holding the line against unimaginable odds – and this is by no means overstatement. Games in the series focus on the individual defenders and are deeply rooted in history, while providing a quick play experience with a light complexity ruleset.

As historical wargamer I of course did a lot of digging about the stories the games depict and I strongly recommend you guys to do the same – you would not believe how much you can learn from past events. This is also great proposal for all wishing to test / try wargames and hesitate if the genre will be too heavy for them. Go for any of the titles from Valiant Defense – choose based on theme preference and try to survive against the odds!

Now, couple of my personal impressions about each game:

Pavlov’s House is first game in the series from the publish date perspective. It tells the story of the Stalingrad Battle and defense of the title house. Using three dimensions – strategic, tactical and operational – it creates very interesting, interdependent narrative. Also, it even has great digital implementation (some more info in above material). Enjoy!
Castle Itter probably tells the most mind-blowing story of all in the series – the defense of the prison for French Resistance Members by Allied soldiers and Wehrmacht Units (!) vs attacking SS troops. To be quite honest, when I heard about it I immediately get the book about this situation to learn more (strongly recommended!). From the game mechanics, we need to survive multiple rounds of enemy attacks, using combination of our troops, Besotten Jenny (Sherman tank) and French Resistance inspiration capabilities. Probably the easiest entry into the system.
Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms (aka SIPU) is a special, personal installment in the series for me – as it tells a story which happened in Poland. In the game you take control of the valiant defenders of Polish Postal Office No. 1 in the Free City of Danzig on the first day of the Second World War. Under your command, the defenders must fend off relentless attacks from the Danzig Schutzpolizei and two German SS units. The game develops series further, as it adds new dimension of height of the building as well as melee / close quarter combat. That one is the only which cannot be played multiplayer – author, rightly, stated that he sees this as completely inappropriate to allow player lead the side which decided to burn people alive.
Lanzerath Ridge is the newest part of the series and is vividly different from other installments, mainly in area of graphics (thanks to Nils Johansson!). The Battle of Lanzerath Ridge was fought on December 16, 1944, the first day of the Battle of the Bulge. During a day-long confrontation, the Americans (only 22 of them!) inflicted dozens of casualties on the Germans (over 500!) and delayed the advance of the entire 1st SS Panzer Division. Mechanically, we have much more stress put here on various weapons, ammunition, line of sight aspects. Due to disparity in numbers the game is very brutal and challenging. But you will enjoy that challenge!

More about the series:

A Commands & Colors game

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

I hope you are not surprised – my recommendation without Commands & Colors game would never be full or complete! The system, by design not overly complex, is so vast and interesting that it will serve all the tastes. In each title in the series we of course have the deck of Command Cards that drive movement while creating a “fog of war,” and the battle dice that will resolve combat quickly and efficiently. The stylized battlefield scenario maps emphasize the important terrain features and highlight the historical deployment of forces in scale with the game system.

You can play individual scenarios, campaigns, regular, overlord, breakthrough or even larger formats. You can move as far back in time as ancient Greece (C&C Ancients) or as close to our times as WWII (Memoir’44). During one evening, it is easily possible to play 2-3 scenarios – sometimes important if you want to switch sides and compare scores with your opponent.

Which titles I especially like and appreciate? Let us see:

C&C Ancients – one of the to most versatile and broad title – or should I say group of titles – in the series. Literally each fan of ancient warfare will find expansion or army he would love to play. The rules, while not overly complex, creates fantastic tactical experience which one loves to repeat over and over again. If you never played Commands & Colors your start definitely should be here.
A spiritual successor and natural continuation to Ancients – we talk of course about C&C Medieval. It adds completely new mechanics to the series of Inspired & Battlefield Actions. It has brutal and devastating cavalry and we all wait for its reprint and further expansions!
C&C Samurai Battles – probably the largest single volume in the series as it encompasses 40 (!) scenarios. Another variation with the system as we have two decks of cards and Honor&Fortune markers. Not so bloody as Ancients or Medieval, much more tactical and requiring cunning and planning. Good second or third step in the series.

More about game:


Christmas always supposed to be time of joy and happiness. The today situation is far from it – first COVID, then war in Ukraine. Still, I hope you guys will find good time to spend with your bellowed ones. Merry Christmas!