Jon recently posted a request for me (and others) to recommend some Historical War Games to be come part of his Library's collection. This seemed like a worthy subject so it got me thinking about criteria.
1) in print so the library can obtain it at a reasonable price.
2) Complete as far as possible it should be a set or rules that you do not need a bunch of extra supplements or specialized tools for.
3) Are books only... I don't think the local library want to go into the business of lending miniatures.
4) Games I actually play!
Flames of War 3rd edition bundle: I know lots of people have strong feelings about FOW but hear me out. For $80.00 the library gets the rule book, a force book with US, UK, USSR and German forces for late war and last but not least a basic painting guide. Young "Johny" can borrow the rule book while he learns to play with his buddies and then get Open Fire Set with his lawn mowing money and can borrow the force book and Painting guide to get him self started. Its a win all around as any one who really gets into the hobby will quickly out grow the force book and painting guide. Full Disclosure I do not own this set though I did look at it when it came out last year. I Play Flames of War often and love the game.
Volley and Bayonet: Road to Glory: The primary rule book focuses on the Napoleonic period and provides a number of scenarios and full lists for building custom armies for that period. The rules are written to work a number of period form 1700 to 1900. I have used them to play many games set in the age of reason and they work well. The Mechanics are simple, no formation changes, command rolls or extensive list of modifiers to deal with. The emphasis of these rules is on you as a general commanding an Army. There is an excellent website supporting this game and (free) variants extend the period back to the late 1600s and forward to the First World War. The negative of this game that there is an assumption that a unit of a certain type is the same as every other unit of that type. This makes the game easy to play but some players may find the flavor lacking. Full Disclosure I have this rule set and love it.
Black Powder: This rule set is similar to V&B in that it covers a period of time from 1700 to about 1900. The game Mechanics are more complicated but still fairly easy to learn. Units can be customized with a number of different traits adding complexity and flavor. The Main rule book includes a number of scenarios form across the period covered so there should be some thing to inters everyone. The company Warlord has a great website and an active forum that provides lots of support to gamers. The main rule book has info on individual units but building a proper army is not really discussed. Full Disclosure I have this rule set and I enjoy playing it a great deal.
I would not recommend a library pick up both V&B and BP they have enough in common that one or the other. If pushed I would pick V&B but that's a matter of taste both are good rule sets.
Honorable Mention: Maurice: These rules cover a specific period and do it really well. that period form approximately 1715 to 1783. This is the Age of Reason par excellence my favorite period when it come to warfare and history in general. The book includes rules on how to build armies and national traits give you the option to customize those otherwise generic troops. No specific armies are listed thought the active community on the website can help with that. The goal is to let people build simple armies that are period correct and suite their own game play desires. The game requires Cards to play(hence an honorable mention) but most of these are available for free on the game's website. The simple campaign system is the gem of this rule set. It is very focused so it does not have the same broad appeal of the games above. I think this game shines for War of Austrian Succession period battles and does other wars of this period well. Full Disclosure I have this rule set and am still feeling my way with it but have relatively few games in.
So what Historic War Games would you suggest a Public Library carry on its shelves?
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