Board Gaming · Wargame Garrison

Wargame Garrison – Three Medieval Introductory Wargames

I had a few board game resolutions coming into 2017. This blog was one of those, and so far this has been far more successful than I ever imagined it could be. Another was to play more new games, and I’ve played over 50 new-to-me games so far this year and have nearly half that number again just in those on my shelf, waiting patiently for me to play them. My third resolution was to start exploring wargames.

Apart from a review of Yeomen (which everyone should print and try that quick wargame out!) and a post discussing why I backed 878 Vikings on Kickstarter and Pendragon on GMT’s P500, I’ve been fairly silent in discussing my wargaming. And there is good reason for that.

My experiences had all been print and plays, and I hadn’t made the plunge into wargames yet. I’m still slow to get in there, but I do have a few on the shelf now and have played through one of them. A review on that will be coming at some point in the future. But I digress here…

The problem I ran into with wargaming was my own preference. I had no interest in WWI, WWII, modern warfare, or even Napoleonics. There are some excellent wargame manufacturers and also some very enthusiastic and dedicated wargamers, but most games fall into categories where I have no interest. In some ways, this is both a benefit and a problem. The problem is finding those games which fall into periods of interest for me, and in trying to sift down to which ones are good for introductory wargames. The benefit is that there are a small number of games that I’m even tempted to purchase, which helps the wallet.

So this is the first of four planned posts where I will be covering one of the areas of wargaming I’m interested in and sharing what I feel would make a good three games to start with.

And today we’re covering the period I am most interested in: Medieval, which can be defined as roughly 400 AD through 1500 AD.

1) We Happy Few: The Battle of Agincourt by Tiny Battle Publishing

I would place Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age here, as it is likely a simpler starting point, but there are two reasons I am choosing We Happy Few instead. First, I will be reviewing Stamford Bridge in the future, so I don’t want to spoil that coverage. Second, I think that Agincourt is an important battle to cover for any Medieval wargamer, and this serves as an excellent starting point.

This probably will not be the last of the Waaah! folio games you’ll see mentioned in these introductory wargames posts. Nor will this be the last Swords & Shields system game that will appear in this list. Having played one of the games in that system, I can attest to it being a great system for learning wargames. There are enough parts and pieces to get a good overall feel for wargaming, and this one in particular is excellent in presenting a dilemma that happens a lot in historical games: one side will appear to have a clear advantage based on numbers.

The game has an 11″ x 17″ map, 88 counters, and just 5 pages of rules. All of those equate to an excellent entry point to wargaming.

2) Invasion 1066: The Battle of Hastings by Revolution Games

This game was interesting enough to make my list of 10 games I wanted to play in 2017, and it is still one of the few I need to pick up, much less play. This is another game that comes in a ziplock bag, which is usually a good sign that the game is one the smaller side for counters, rules, and complexity (though not always). 1066 is just as important a battle to cover as Agincourt, and the two of these paired together will allow you to discover the impact that roughly 400 years had on warfare.

This one is larger than the Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age that I own. The map size is the same, but this has 140 counters, 12 pages of rules, and has a pair of player aids. All games should come with player aids, I think. While the one I have from Tiny Battle Publishing has two battles in the one bag, this one takes one of those battles and ramps it up to a larger scale. And I imagine that the Invasion 1066: Stamford Bridge does the same thing. Both of them are games I plan to own and play at some point.

3) The Grunwald Swords by Hollandspiele

I promised the Swords & Shields system would reappear in this short list, and there is a good reason why it should do so. After playing those first two games, you’ll be itching to play a game that comes in a box. And what better box game to start with than one that uses version 2.0 of the rules system from We Happy Few? That level of familiarity will make diving into this game that much easier, and while this one drops back on the counter number to 88, it contains a 22″ x 17″ map so you’re covering a lot more area in the battle. This also covers a battle that is unique: you don’t see many games on The Battle of Grunwald out there.

There are lots of horses involved with both sides of the battle, and it comes with a system-specific rule book and this battle-specific rule book. Altogether a manageable 12 pages of rules. After playing this game, you’ll be prepared to jump into some deeper and larger games, or maybe you’ll just want to explore some more of the Swords & Shields games put out by Tiny Battle or Hollandspiele. There are three in each of those, and I’m sure they will all be great additions to a collection.

So there is my brief overview and set of suggestions. What would you recommend for a new wargamer regarding this period?

Better yet, what are some games you’d suggest they consider playing after progressing through these three?

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