Where to Start with Wargames: 5 Recommendations for Beginners

No Wargames in the Library? Why not try these?

I recently went to a friends house…a novelty after nearly 2 years of the Covid-19 pandemic. While I was there, browsing through the shelves containing , literally , hundreds of board games, I noticed there wasn’t a single game that I would consider a ‘wargame’. This in spite of the many thousands of wargames that have been published over the course of the decades since the heyday of publishers Avalon Hill and SPI.

That got me thinking: if I was to recommend a wargame to someone who was new to wargames…where would I start? Which games would I recommend and why?

Where to start with wargames…a few suggestions

Wargames: they’re a bit difficult, aren’t they?

Wargames are, almost by definition, not beginner friendly. Rule books containing 40-pages of densely space two column text are far from uncommon. Although many wargames are built upon a certain ‘playbook’ of mechanics – line of sight, terrain effects, supply to name just three – every wargame has some new spin on this playbook. Gaming ‘chrome’ added to give shine to a game for players with plenty, often many years, of wargaming experience.

Sadly this ‘chrome’, and the minutiae of historical accuracy that follows behind, does, in my experience, hugely complicate the task of learning a wargame.

If I say that, with almost half a decade of increasingly complex wargaming behind me, how must it feel to the new player just starting out?

Wargames for Beginners

Should the new player start with the COIN series, with Great Battles of History, with Advanced Squad Leader or any of the other titans of the wargaming scene?

No, probably not.

So where should they start? Well, the video above has my suggestion for 5 possible starting points. Each one introduces certain mechanics or concepts common to many more advanced wargames. They call all be played in an evening, once familiar with the rules, and each acts as an introduction to the world of wargaming.

Wargaming Gateway Games, if you like.

I hope you enjoy the video. Remember, these are just suggestions. For every game featured there are at least 10 others someone else may suggest. Listen, reflect, check out what catches your eye. Most of all, have fun.

Happy wargaming!

Many of the PnP games I play, including some in this video can be found here.