Historical Games & War Games – Can You Change History?

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What if you were in charge of the American Army during World War II? What if you were rebuilding a small city in the town of Carcassonne, France? How would you build it?

Historical gaming has always fascinated gamers because of the concept of recreating a moment in time and changing history. We all know we can’t actually change history, but we can recreate exactly what the opposition faced. We can see what hardships and strategies they used? We can also learn what they could have done differently.

There are some great games out there that teach a little history while you play. There are some things you learn as you play these games that you would have never know unless you played them. One of my personal favorites is Memoir ’44. This game comes with nine different scenarios, so the game can change each time you play. It’s still a game, so there is a lot of fun and strategy, but it makes me appreciate the odds the opposing team faced as I play the corresponding scenario. Most the times I have played, I carry the scenario with me in my head thinking about the “What if’s”. I can honestly say I have never walked away from Monopoly and said “Wow!” afterwards.

Win or lose I always have fun playing historical war games. Try and find something that you like. Here is a list of war games I recommend you try.

  • Memoir ’44 – Staged in World War II for 2 players. The game lasts about an hour. It does take time to set up the scenario, though.
  • Tides of Iron – Also a World War II game, but a little more depth. The tiles can be changed to play different games.
  • Axis and Allies Miniatures-Battle at Sea – You select your battleships and roll the dice. Although there aren’t any scenario-based games here, you learn about the strength of the ships, the advantages of having heavy armor vs. speed. Or see how even a wounded opponent can get a good shot in.
  • Risk – There are many different varieties available, but the concept is the same: Where do you place your armies to prevent being overrun.

If you are not into the idea of a large war game, but like the idea of historically-oriented board games, here are more ideas on the lighter side…

  • Carcassonne – This game is more fun than historical, but the town forms as players try to capture Castles, Farms, and Roads. It is a very good and light introduction to Historical gaming. You might even decide to use Google and find out a little about Carcassonne, the famous town.
  • Settlers of Catan – The core game does not have scenarios, but understand how the resources of wood, iron, bricks and food, affect settling the countryside. Another fun element is that you can trade resources with other players, which is what I imagine settlers actually had to do.
  • Ticket to Ride – Build railroad lines from one US city to another. The further the distance, the more points you get. Other railroaders may even try and block you. This is a great game for geography. It also introduces very light strategy, which all ages can play. There are many varieties of this game, (Europe, Switzerland, Germany, and a US Card Game) to learn about other countries as well.
  • Puerto Rico – You encourage the growth of the island based on your role, which changes every turn. You need to incorporate the development of goods, build manufacturing plants to turn those goods into products, and then you actually have to sell those goods for a profit. And you can’t do this without workers, so you need to get them also. Oh, and your opponents are trying to outsmart you while they develop their own version of the same island. The most productive Governor wins.

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