March 26, 2020

​My top 5 War Board Games

1. Axis & Allies Europe

Wizards of the Coast Axis and Allies Europe 1940 2nd Edition Board Game

Quick board game facts

  • Deluxe version of Axis and Allies Europe originally released in 1999
  • Over 550 game pieces plus new models for tactical bombers and mechanized infantry
  • Stand alone game that can also combine with A and A Pacific 1940
  • Game board measures 35”w x 32”h and designed to join with A and A Pacific 1940 board

What we thought of this game:

The Axis & Allies series will already be familiar to most board game aficionados. The original version of the game has been re-released a number of times and has spawned a plethora of spin-offs and revisions. With the Axis & Allies Europe edition, the game is offered in its most refined form yet. The game is suitable for two to six players and can be combined with the Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 edition, which is sold separately.

In the box itself, you will find a 35” x 32” board - an impressively-sized board that only adds to the sense of scale that the game manages to produce. If you also add on the Pacific edition board, you get even more space to play with, expanding the board to a length of five feet.

In addition to the board, there are 610 individual pieces that comprise the six, including armies. There are also six dice, 155 markers for the board, and eighty chips.

If you have played any of the previous incarnations then the core mechanics will be familiar to you. There are a few changes, and the consensus is that those changes are for the better, but gameplay should still mostly feel familiar.

This edition of Axis & Allies is the culmination of four decades of evolution since the release of the first edition. This is widely regarded as one of the best World War 2 board games out there - and rightly so.

Wizards of the Coast Axis and Allies Europe 1940 2nd Edition Board Game

Wizards of the Coast Axis and Allies Europe 1940 2nd Edition Board Game

Wizards of the Coast Axis and Allies Europe 1940 2nd Edition Board Game

Pros

  • ​Adds France and Italy
  • ​Provides a truly epic experience
  • ​Potential to further expand with the Pacific edition
  • ​Exquisite details on miniatures

Cons

  • ​Be prepared for six-hour games
  • ​Needs more players for the full experience

​2. Twilight Struggle

GMT Games Twilight Struggle Deluxe Edition

Quick board game facts

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  • 2-player game
  • Great strategy game
  • Takes about 3 hours to play
  • Historical simulation game
  • 2-player game

What we thought of this game:

Twilight Struggle captures the historic tension between the USA and the USSR with a game that sees players compete not with infantry and tanks, but with their influence. Twilight Struggle does an excellent job of capturing the tension of the period, despite the fact that games can be completed in a matter of hours once you understand the order of play.

The box features a full-color map of the world, measuring an impressive 22 x 42 inches. The countries on the map reflect the states that existed at the time, each one is represented by a small rectangle that contains the flag for that country, along with a name and a number. That number represents the number of influence markers that can be placed in the country. The board also contains a number of ‘tracks’, which together represent how close you are to nuclear war.

There are no plastic pieces in the box, but there are 260 colored counters that players use to mark their influence level across the globe.

The mechanics of Twilight Struggle are what really set it apart from its competitors. Whereas most war-based board games involve the use of militaries and war, this is all about influence and strategy. The deep decision making will appeal to strategy fans, and the whole package is wrapped in an educational narrative that many will find fascinating. Both strategy and history fans will enjoy this one.

GMT Games Twilight Struggle Deluxe Edition

GMT Games Twilight Struggle Deluxe Edition

GMT Games Twilight Struggle Deluxe Edition

Pros

  • ​Potential for very deep strategic decision making
  • ​Game is different every time you play
  • ​The gameplay is both immersive and educational

Cons

  • ​Games can be long when you are just starting
  • ​The learning curve is pretty steep

​3. Inis

Inis

Quick board game facts

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  • A 2-4 player board game designed by Christian Martinez and produced by Matagot Editions
  • Based on ancient myths about Ireland's colonization and first kings
  • Innovative game mechanics unite card drafting and area control
  • Modular puzzle board creates a different landscape for every game
  • Gorgeous original art and highly-detailed plastic figures bring the setting to life

Inis is a Celtic theme strategy war game that is ideally suited for shorter gaming sessions. Players can win each game in one of three different ways. The first is to obtain the leadership role or have more clan figures than anyone else playing. The second is to be the first to claim at least six different territories. And finally, you can obtain a religious victory by having at least six sanctuaries in your clans’ territories

Each player is ultimately competing to be crowned as the king of Ireland. Strategy is, therefore, not always based around conquering your opponents, sometimes unity is desirable. By working together, players can achieve victory more swiftly.

This is a unique board game in many ways. One thing that is immediately striking about it is the board itself, which contains some absolutely gorgeous artwork. However, the rules of the game and the gameplay itself are also fairly unique. While this delivers an in-depth strategy experience, it is also a game with simple rules that it is well suited to quick sessions.

Pros

  • ​Games can be played quickly and easily
  • ​The board looks unique and the artwork is incredible
  • ​Every game is different, so the replay potential is infinite
  • New players can get into the game relatively quickly

Cons

  • ​The Celtic theme could be a bit more prevalent
  • ​Best played with 4 or more players, which isn’t ideal for everyone

​4. Rising Sun

CMON Rising Sun

Quick board game facts

​​​

  • For 3 to 5 players. 90 to 120 minute playing time
  • Unique battle system : Eric m. Lang has developed a completely innovative battle system that forces players to bluff their intentions and outthink the competition
  • Fantasy art : artwork by the legendary Adrian Smith Will transport players to a fantastical version of feudal Japan that retains all of the beauty of traditional legends
  • Breathtaking MINIS : the miniatures in rising Sun are some of the most intricate and highly detailed that have ever been produced
  • Eric m. Lang has developed an innovative battle system that forces players to bluff their intentions and outhink the competition

The result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Rising Sun is a Japanese themed strategic board game that has proven to be a runaway smash hit. Unlike most board games, this one requires a minimum of 3 players for each game and supports a maximum of 5. Players compete for supremacy in feudal Japan using a variety of tactics.

In the box is a detailed game board, with each territory of Japan clearly marked out. In addition, there are 53 miniatures, which are among the most beautiful miniatures we have ever seen in a board game. The results show a collection of different colored coins, which are used by each clan to represent different events that occur throughout the game.

The game is divided into three seasons, each of which consists of four phases. The phases are set up, alliances, politics, and war. Players will need to consider all of these when they are playing; they cannot afford to focus on just one.

Rising Sun has proven to be incredibly successful since smashing its Kickstarter target. Anyone looking for a Japanese-themed strategy war game should check this one out.

CMON Rising Sun

CMON Rising Sun

CMON Rising Sun

Pros

  • ​Provides a truly unique gaming experience
  • ​The focus is on strategy over raw power
  • ​The miniatures and artwork are both beautiful
  • ​The overall production quality is fantastic

Cons

  • ​Some people will find the gameplay too slow

​5. War Of The Ring

Ares Games War of The Ring 2nd Edition, Multi-Colored (AGS WOTR001)

Quick board game facts

​​​

  • For 2 4 players
  • Takes about 2 hours to play
  • A massive 70 x 100cm Game Board in two sections, 16 Action Dice, 5 Combat Dice and 76 Cardboard Counters
  • Also included are 110 Event and Character Cards, Game Rules and 2 Player Aids
  • 204 Plastic Figures representing Armies and Characters (more than 30 different sculptures)

Over the years, we have seen an endless procession of Lord of the Rings-themed board games, but very few, if any, have been able to capture the epic scale and storytelling prowess of the original books. War of the Ring proves that it is possible to have both in a single game. It is a game that is rich in narrative and which sees players progressing through the entire journey depicted in the Lord of the Rings story.

The board consists of Middle Earth, divided up appropriately, according to the numerous canonical maps that exist. There are more than a hundred plastic miniatures and another hundred event cards, as well as five combat dice.

The gameplay closely follows the narrative structure of the books and sees the players progress through the same journey. Technically, players can opt not to sneak into Mount Doom to destroy the ring, as happens in the story. Instead, they can face the Shadow Armies on the battlefield directly. Only experienced players can realistically pursue this victory path. However, the fact that the game’s designers allow for this is very cool.

War of the Ring deserves its place as the most highly-regarded Lord of the Rings based board game out there. Fans of the series should definitely give this a go. But it is a great war board game regardless.

Pros

  • ​Gameplay is asymmetrical but still balanced
  • ​High-quality miniatures and pieces
  • ​Players can deviate from the original narrative if they wish
  • ​Highly replayable

Cons

  • ​Setup can be annoyingly long
  • There is a steep learning curve for newer players

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About the author 

Randy Collerman

My name is Randy and for as long as I remember my family and I have played board games, card games, video games and all sorts of games, and I always loved them. As soon as I was old enough I got my friends interested and for the last 20 years we have enjoyed gathering together and playing a variety of different games. We have played so many that I decided to start a website where I review what I think are the best ones based on my experience.

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