It is October 1973, and the state of Israel is in mortal danger. To the north, Syrian tank columns have overwhelmed the handful of Israeli defenders on the Golan Heights. To the south, Egyptian troops have crossed the Suez Canal and are advancing through Sinai.
You command the Israeli forces desperately mobilizing to meet the Arab onslaught. Will you concentrate your troops against the Syrians or the Egyptians? Will you order them to counterattack aggressively, or time your counterstroke until after the Arabs have battered themselves against your defenses?
What are you going to do?
It is easy to critique the mistakes made by the Israelis in the near-defeat of 1973, or Napoleon at Waterloo, or Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. It is even easier to assure yourself that you would have done better than them if only you had been in command.
Here is your chance to find out.
We don’t have time machines to take us back to Waterloo or Sinai. But we have war games, a sort of paper time machine that puts you into the shoes of the historical commanders. More complicated cousins of chess and Risk, war games are board games typically consisting of maps ranging in size from a kitchen table to an entire basement, hundreds or thousands of dime-size cardboard chits that represent military units, dice to resolve combat and rules that can range from two pages to nearly 100.
(War games are also played online, but most of the real war titles are board games because online developers typically focus on “shooter” themes rather than complex historical topics.)
Thousands of wargame titles have been published over the last 50 years on every conceivable conflict, from the wars of ancient Greece to the Napoleonic Wars and World War II, to science fiction universes like Star Trek.