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.

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This is supposed to be easy! Birds of Prey (Courtesy BGG.com)
  • 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….

Book Finder – February 2017

Visited the Friendly Local Model Shop today. They are (unfortunately) going out of business following the death of the owner. As part of their end-of-days, they put all their items up on a great fire sale.

img_1351Among the many models were more than a few books. I picked up a few. As you can see, they were mostly Osprey and cover some eras I really love, like the Falklands War, and aircraft I admire (Tomcats Forever!).

After playing Wing Leader: Victories and Wing Leader: Supremacy, I realized I don’t know as much about Japanese fighters as I thought I did. The Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45 book is the usual Osprey-fare with many pictures and plates and just enough depth to make it interesting. The Japanese War Machine is a 1976 publication and is what I call “coffee-table history;” i.e. an oversize book with many pictures and maps and not too in-depth text.

Air War in the Falklands 1982 looks to be an updated version of an earlier Osprey publication. Glancing through it I noticed many more Argentinian pictures and related text. It is good to see “the other side” of this war.

Iranian F-14 Units in Combat is another “forgotten war” book. As much as the US flew the F-14, it was Iran who flew the Tomcat in combat during the 1980’s. There are many little snippets in here that make good scenario fodder for Flight Leader or Air Superiority or Birds of Prey.

I am also very blessed in that my boys are interested in history and are voracious readers.  They too will read these books and we will likely have several long discussions about them. Although I didn’t pay much for these book, the real payoff is in the talks with my boys which are priceless.