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Voros

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A passing remark by Jon Peterson on a YT video interview on the history of wargames led me to the boardgame Labyrinth which looks intriguing.

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Then I realized this is the same company that did Twilight Struggle, one of those games that you hear a lot about but also look a bit intimidating. But I do love me some Cold War era history...

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Looking over their site I discovered this game which looks fascinating. One issue I have with a lot of 'historical' gaming is how parochial, even naive their approach is to the dense complexities of real history. Very cool.

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And this reissue of an apparent simulation classic: Vietnam 1965-1975.

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Anyone played these?

I know my FLGS has Twilight Struggle in stock even if I find Labyrinth the most intriguing in terms of historical context.

What has been your experience with them? How extensive is the set-up? How long to get a handle on the ruleset, etc?

Any other GMT games or games in this ambitious mode you'd recommend?

With my backlog of unplayed games I think I'll hold off diving into these but will be keeping an eye out for them online and in the shops.
 
Yeah, GMT Games is awesome. Their Command & Colors series is my most played boardgame of the past year.
Mostly Napoleonics
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We have the base game and all 7 expansions, which adds up to around 130 battles to fight. We've played about 30 so far.

I also got Medieval for Christmas.
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Same base system, with some fun rule changes. No expansions on this one yet, but the Crusades expansion is on the way and I've already preordered.

Another GMT addition to my library recently is Pendragon.
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This is the same COIN series that the Ghandi game above is from. It's an absolutely fascinating game. Quite asymmetrical, it sets up very complex situations between the factions. I've only got about a dozen hours with this game and need to dig in more, but I'm really liking it so far.

The quality of all of these games is extremely high and I'd have no hesitation to try anything else from GMT out. Twilight Struggle has been on my wishlist for a while.
 
Just found Labyrinth online for $30 CAD + shipping and could not resist! lol
 
Yeah, GMT Games is awesome. Their Command & Colors series is my most played boardgame of the past year.
Mostly Napoleonics
View attachment 27827

We have the base game and all 7 expansions, which adds up to around 130 battles to fight. We've played about 30 so far.

I also got Medieval for Christmas.
View attachment 27828
Same base system, with some fun rule changes. No expansions on this one yet, but the Crusades expansion is on the way and I've already preordered.

Another GMT addition to my library recently is Pendragon.
View attachment 27829

This is the same COIN series that the Ghandi game above is from. It's an absolutely fascinating game. Quite asymmetrical, it sets up very complex situations between the factions. I've only got about a dozen hours with this game and need to dig in more, but I'm really liking it so far.

The quality of all of these games is extremely high and I'd have no hesitation to try anything else from GMT out. Twilight Struggle has been on my wishlist for a while.

Ooh I see Richard Borg did Command and Colors, I love Memoir 44' and the cardgame Thunder and Lightning by him.
 
Ooh I see Richard Borg did Command and Colors, I love Memoir 44' and the cardgame Thunder and Lightning by him.
Yeah, if you like Memoir 44, you'll love any of the C&C games. It's the same base system throughout, just each one gets a unique spin for the setting. I think the Napoleonics is the best edition yet, but that doesn't stop me continuing to play Memoir and Medieval (and there's an American War of Independence one from Compass Games I'm probably gonna have to buy).
 
Several quite different types of games under discussion here. First, the C&C games are sort of a hybrid between (what might now be called) “traditional” wargames and something more like a “Eurogame” aesthetic. That’s not to say that card-based activation and events haven’t been used in more hardcore wargames such as We the People (which is the ancestor of Twilight Struggle and I believe Labyrinth), or Up Front. And even M’44 represents aspects of warfare in a manner more connected to reality than Chess or Battleship.

The COIN games are a family and...that’s about all I know about them. Based on the name I think they originated in a system designed to represent counterinsurgency situations.

Vietnam is an old-school simulation with many counters. I own a copy from when it was published by Victory Games but I haven’t gotten into it. So speaking in generalities you can expect it to use factor counting and odds tables for combat, and to have subsystems for supply/logistics. Movement is on a hex map, unlike many more “modern” strategic/operational games, which tend to distill geography in streamlined “chunks” (point to point or area-based movement). But, perhaps unlike the Paleolithic era of wargaming, I believe it does include some clever subsystems representing the interplay between the battlefield and politics.

GMT kind of took over the mantle from Avalon Hill/VG when AH was taken over by Hasbro and became little more than a name. A fair amount of their catalog includes reprints from VG including Pacific War and Peloponnesian War (which I can vouch for). They also republished and expanded the Panzer series of tactical games by James Day. And as suggested by the above examples, a lot of their games are continuations of the card-driven system that was originated in We the People, Hannibal, and Paths of Glory. I’ve enjoyed WtP (reprinted as Washington’s War) and Hannibal.
 
Several quite different types of games under discussion here. First, the C&C games are sort of a hybrid between (what might now be called) “traditional” wargames and something more like a “Eurogame” aesthetic. That’s not to say that card-based activation and events haven’t been used in more hardcore wargames such as We the People (which is the ancestor of Twilight Struggle and I believe Labyrinth), or Up Front. And even M’44 represents aspects of warfare in a manner more connected to reality than Chess or Battleship.

The COIN games are a family and...that’s about all I know about them. Based on the name I think they originated in a system designed to represent counterinsurgency situations.

Vietnam is an old-school simulation with many counters. I own a copy from when it was published by Victory Games but I haven’t gotten into it. So speaking in generalities you can expect it to use factor counting and odds tables for combat, and to have subsystems for supply/logistics. Movement is on a hex map, unlike many more “modern” strategic/operational games, which tend to distill geography in streamlined “chunks” (point to point or area-based movement). But, perhaps unlike the Paleolithic era of wargaming, I believe it does include some clever subsystems representing the interplay between the battlefield and politics.

GMT kind of took over the mantle from Avalon Hill/VG when AH was taken over by Hasbro and became little more than a name. A fair amount of their catalog includes reprints from VG including Pacific War and Peloponnesian War (which I can vouch for). They also republished and expanded the Panzer series of tactical games by James Day. And as suggested by the above examples, a lot of their games are continuations of the card-driven system that was originated in We the People, Hannibal, and Paths of Glory. I’ve enjoyed WtP (reprinted as Washington’s War) and Hannibal.

Can you tell us more about Peloponnesian War game? Long interested in it because of classic history of it.
 
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It’s been quite a while but I’ll try.

The original edition (which I have) is designed as a solitaire game, although it has an intriguing scenario for multi-player play. That’s probably not very suitable for most audiences, though, as the breadth and detail of action for each player is very unbalanced. (E.g. the Persian has no units, and just gets to disburse money as a diplomatic tool and to try to keep either Athens or Sparta from unifying Greece.) I think it was described as suitable for a classroom. I don’t think it came with a two-player option. (But read on.)

Anyway, the solitaire version has you playing either the Athenians or the Spartans, with a sort of flowchart-based AI controlling the other side. If you get the advantage, then in some circumstance, you will be forced to “switch sides”. Should you achieve a victory with the side you currently control, you win the game, I think provided Greece as a whole hasn’t been too destroyed. If that happens or I think if the game goes on too long, then Greece is exhausted and presumably the Macedonians or the Persians step in.

The reason the solitaire play works even for the AI is that on a given side’s turn, the fundamental action is selecting the target for an offensive operation, assembling a force to send, and executing the attack. There isn’t any complex defensive maneuver. Units aren’t very detailed IIRC, just hoplites and cavalry. Maybe Sparta gets some bonus for their hoplites. Combat is correspondingly simple and broad-brush, with a role for cavalry in harassing retreating units.

I don’t remember if it had random events but I think it must have had due to the importance of such events as the plague that took out Pericles and the bizarre episode of the desecration of the Herms before the Sicilian expedition. Speaking of that, as with most—but not all—games on this topic, there are special rules for handling it, but it’s not a forced or scripted event. I think there’s also an Alcibiades special rule to deal with that rascal’s repeatedly switching sides.

As I understand, the new edition has a more fully fleshed out set of two-player rules. I expect it also fills in some questions or holes in the original. Like I remember an issue with some line of communication on the map that I had to ask Mark Herman about. (It probably was an extreme edge case in actual play.) And there was a commentary somewhere that gave a “perfect plan” to win the game on Turn 1, that may have led to some revision. I would like to own the new edition but I don’t have time to play it right now, so it’s not worth trying to sell off my old copy and buy the new one.

I’ll note that GMT and Mark Herman have a completely different game on the same topic called Pericles which seems fascinating as it covers the war more from the perspective of the political maneuvering within each of the two city states. It’s designed for 1-4 players.

GMT has yet another game on the topic called Hellenes which is more traditional though it seems to combine the use of Columbia-games style blocks and WtP/Hannibal style cards.

Meanwhile, Columbia Games themselves produced a game on the topic but from the little I read, it didn’t appeal to me. I remember Stephen Newberg, another game designer (very opinionated) criticizing it for not covering Sicily, which he believes was critical to understanding the evolution of the war, and not (as I had thought) a bizarre over-reach followed by a series of unlikely events.

Newberg himself designed one of the earliest games on the topic, Pelopennsian War, by Simulations Canada. There’s also a relatively recent (2014) game in S&T that looks nice on BGG but seems to have been butchered in editing. One comment over there suggests there is a version of the rules that works, if you know where to look. Also of note, Warhorse/Clash of Arms made a “monster” game called Epic of the Peloponnesian War. While waiting for it to appear, I bought Empire, a game of fictional ancients-style empire building that was supposed to test out some concepts for the later game. It seems moderately interesting but half-baked. The final game, which I’ve never seen in person, has a decent but not stellar rating on BGG.

There are at least a few other games on the topic, some newer, some older. The only one I know at all is “Strategos” from Imperial Governor and Strategos. At a glance it seemed like a nice little game at about the complexity of a Metagaming microgame, but some of the comments on BGG are quite savage.
 
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Another GMT addition to my library recently is Pendragon.
View attachment 27829

This is the same COIN series that the Ghandi game above is from. It's an absolutely fascinating game. Quite asymmetrical, it sets up very complex situations between the factions. I've only got about a dozen hours with this game and need to dig in more, but I'm really liking it so far.

How is Pendragon for solitaire play? That's about the only way I would be able to play it, these days.

Does anyone have an opinion of the GMT Navajo Wars game? As I understand it, it's essentially a solitaire game in which you play the Navajo dealing with various incursions, from the 1500s up to 1864.
 
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How is Pendragon for solitaire play? That's about the only way I would be able to play it, these days.
I've only played it solitaire so far.
The game has four factions: the Dux (what remains of the Roman military), the Civitates (the Roman citizenry in Britain), Saxons, and Scotti. The Dux want to generally fight off barbarian invasions and maintain some control over the Civitates, but don't have any more military coming from Rome, so they often have to hire mercenaries, which of course leads to more barbarians in Britain. It's a hard balance to walk. The Civitates want to maintain their lands and grow their wealth in Britain, hoping to eventually throw off the militant control of the Dux, but also have to work with the Dux to fight off the barbarians. They just don't have the military strength themselves to handle them. Both of the barbarian factions want to pillage the Civitates wealth and settle lands themselves.
For solo play, you can either pick one faction and run all 3 with the AI charts, which would be a very long, epic game, or do a shorter game where you run both of the Roman factions or both of the barbarian factions. This is what I've done so far and it's been a lot of fun.
 
Every GMT game I've played is pretty good. Some are extremely complex. Others are less. Space Empires 4x is one of my favorite games they've got. It's far more approachable than it's theme and hex & chit presentation would suggest. I've also played a good amount of Dominant Species, which is a very cool asymmetrical strategy game.
 
Does anyone have an opinion of the GMT Navajo Wars game? As I understand it, it's essentially a solitaire game in which you play the Najavo dealing with various incursions, from the 1500s up to 1864.

I have their similar game Comancheria: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire. I've yet to actually get it played, but based on attempting a turn or two, it seemed like it was going to be both playable and fun. (Note that my experience playing historical wargames is barely above zero).

I really like the sturdy boxes that GMT games come in.
 
A good company. I have several of their COIN games. I find that A Distant Plain is an easy access point for people interested in asymmetric wargames, while Liberty or Death adds a lot of nuance to the American Revolution (at the cost of great complexity by having mass battles) as a four-party conflict.

Here I Stand's take on the Wars of Reformation is of great interest to me but it will be a long time before I get enough people together to play the full six-person conflict. Oh well.
 
I can second Dominant Species as a good game. We've played it a few times virtually during lockdown and it's been a good time each play.
 
GMT are great.

Personal favourites:

1960: Making of the President. Has a designer in common with Twilight Struggle and has some design similarities. I actually prefer it. In particular, it's less reliant on deck memorisation which always pulled me out of the theme with TS.

Virgin Queen. Absolute monster of a game and really wants the full six players, so I don't get it to the table that often. But when I do it's stunning. Piracy, war, marriage, patronage. It has absolutely everything. It's also asymmetry done right. Each country plays very differently.

While we're doing wargames I'll take the opportunity to plug wargaming's best kept secret Rick Heli. He's pretty much the king of the political game. If you like Republic of Rome, he should be right up your street.
 
Big fan of the C&C games here as well, with Ancients possibly being my favourite.
 
Labyrinth is a good game but the recent expansions have been a little Too Real for me. Having a status for Trump Tweets is so contemporary it borders on self-parody.
 
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