My Personal Least Liked #Wargames

Last week I gave you my Personal Top 10 Games. This week I am looking at the wargames I least like in my collection. This does not automatically mean they are bad games. The truth to the matter is these games have either not aged well or I have a very hard time connecting to them.

Ground Rules – I only have six games on my list. These are all games that I give a BoardGameGeek rating of 4.0. To arrange these in the order below, I compared my ranking to the BGG Geek Rating and arranged the list in decreasing order of the difference.

The RockyMountainNavy Least Liked Wargames

1. Birds of Prey: Air Combat in the Jet Age (Ad Astra Games, 2008) [My Rating 4.0 / Geek Rating 6.289 / Delta -2.289]

Billing itself as “The most realistic non-computerized flight simulator on the market” may be genius marketing, but I feel so stupid when I try to play this game. I tried to learn this one several times and just can’t wrap my head around it. Seemingly lots of promise that I am unable to connect to.

2. Manchu (3W, 1998) [My Rating 4.0 / Geek Rating 5.520 / Delta -1.52]

A two-player wargame covering the Taiping Rebellion in Manchu China between 1850 and 1868. Insert game in Strategy & Tactics magazine #116. A Richard H. Berg design means it “should” be decent (if not maybe a bit pedestrian). Maybe it was the messy rules that keeps me from enjoying this one.

3. Foxbat & Phantom (SPI, 1973) [My Rating 4.0 / Geek Rating 5.44 / Delta -1.44]

A real granddaddy of aerial combat games. Bought more for collection than to really play. Surpassed by more modern games (though Birds of Preyshows how one can go too far). The BGG Rating is 4.9…not that different from my 4.0.

4. Sixth Fleet(SPI, 1975) [My Rating 4.0 / Geek Rating 5.439 / Delta -1.439]

Another game bought more for my collection than to play. Looking at the rules I feel that the designer is trying to explain naval combat in terms that are more appropriate for  land warfare.

5. Operation Cannibal: Burma 1942-1943(Avalanche Press, 1996) [My rating 4.0 / Geek Rating 5.260 / Delta -1.26]

Maybe it is the hard-to-read rules and the impulse chit system that I just didn’t grok. Apparently I am not alone in my feelings about this game; the BGG Rating is 4.9!

6. Air War: Modern Tactical Air Combat (TSR Edition, 1983) [My Rating 4.0 /  Geek Rating 5.216 / Delta -1.216]

Another air combat game? Maybe I rank these too harshly? Or is it that making a good air combat game is hard? Realism vs. playability? Difficulty learning? I long saw Air War as realistic but very difficult to learn making it near-unplayable.

This is supposed to be easy! Birds of Prey (Courtesy
  • I find it interesting that three of my six least liked games are air combat games. Maybe I expect too much of aerial combat wargames?
  • Three of the games are from the 70’s (I count Air War as 1977 based on the SPI edition) and probably suffer from being “early” designs.
  • The presence of Manchu is not totally a surprise to me; I recently have been going through older magazine games in my collection – and not liking what I am discovering. Manchu could be joined by a few more titles in the near-future….

6 thoughts on “My Personal Least Liked #Wargames

  1. Air War was originally an SPI game. I tried to play this in college. Failed. Tried again. Failed.

    I was motivated because I wanted to be a military pilot. I eventually succeeded, ending up in
    S-3A vikings. I got to fly enough ACM in flight school to be able to testify that Air War was not really very close in terms of how air combat maneuvers work.

    Can’t blame them for trying, but hexagons aren’t really an appropriate substrate on which to simulate this.

    1. S-3A? At least my boat had -3Bs! Never have found a really good air combat game. Some are fun but not simulations.

      1. If you can go the cost of a moderately powered game PC, try DCS world. The base game is free, though you only get to fly the SU-25 and P-51 Mustang. Of all combinations.

        Other aircraft, additional maps, missions, and campaigns, are not free (That’s the developer’s money maker).

        I got one of the DLCs on sale on steam, which added F-15, Mig 29, SU 27, A-10.

        I think this is actually as good as it gets for PC simulation. Maneuvers work like they are supposed to. Weapons work BETTER than they ought to, in my opinion, but still a simulation that actually will give a non-pilot a good feel for what it’s all about.

        For WW II, try IL-2 Sturmovik – battle of Stalingrad. This is listed as being pretty pricey, but, again, I got a big bargain during a steam sale.

        Another good simulation. Maneuvers & tactics from the real world also work in the sim.

        Don’t know your level of computer geekery, but you’ll need a bit more than the consumer grade CPU and graphics adapter.

        (No, I DON’T work for them.)

        You cal also try War Thunder, which is very much less a true to life sim, but is fun. All your opponents are other human players.

  2. Hi,
    I think some of the games are because of the era they came from. back in the late 70s and early 80s, it was common to think that complexity=realism. It was also important to get the whole scale/rate of casualty/time thing down to the micron. Aerial button counting (heck any sort of button counting really) was the norm. That you judge them harshly is probably a testament for how far off the beaten path they wandered. I don’t disagree with any of your ratings either!

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