This is a snapshot of my favourite games as of December 2021. It's biased a bit towards what I've played this year. I post this as a geeklist on BGG, but thought non-BGGers might appreciate it as well.
Last year: NR
I know, a game from 1985 at the top of my list. Terrible! It's been surpassed by more modern games! Dinosaur!
I love it.
I played a ton of ASL from 1985-2000, and then sold it all off as it had become a lifestyle game for me. I wanted to spend less time with it and play other games. But last year I could not resist the siren's song and dove back in. Loving it. It's still the system I judge other WWII tactical systems by. And while I enjoy other systems, this is my favourite.
2. Nemesis Burma 1944
Not enough people know about this gem. It has several mechanics that make it superb. It's chit pull, the but the chits aren't for units, they are more for sequence of play phases (i.e. supply, reinforcements, attack, assault), the supply rules are subtly sublime, troop quality affects everything, and the VC are unlike anything I've seen. Play it.
3. Unhappy King Charles
The more I play, the more I like it, despite my lack of prowess. It's unlike other CDGs. Your troops are constantly melting way, it doesn't help to assemble a large army as it becomes unwieldly to move, and winning the battles does not equal winning the war.
4. Bayonets and Tomahawks
If Wilderness War left you a little mystified about what exactly you were supposed to do, this might be the game for you. It's not a light wargame, but it feels a little more straight forward than WW. It has an interesting combat system where only Light units can fight Lights and only Brigade can harm Brigades. Seems counter-intuitive at first but makes sense once you get into it. And it's fun.
5. Amateurs to Arms
Despite my one opponent ghosting me this year (or perhaps he thinks I ghosted him, sometimes you just lose touch), this game remains a favourite for both the giant deck (meaning no two games will feel the same) and the giant map- so much room to mess around.
6. Rommel in the Desert
This rating would be higher if my sole opponent wasn't so good at the game that be beat me roughly five times this year. I kept coming back for more even though he could clearly beat me in his sleep.
7. The US Civil War
Two years in a row without a playing, that has to change this year. If you still feel Victory Games The Civil War is tops for you, give this a try.
8. Up Front
Only falling due to lack of play. Give me a few games of it and it rockets back up the list.
9. Caesar: Rome vs. Gaul
Just got started with it last year. Now I have three games under my belt. Still too few to comment on whether things are hopeless for Caesar here. I hope it turns out to be balanced as I enjoy it much more than the Hannibal game.
10. Turning Point: Stalingrad
No play last year, but hope springs eternal. Still love this one. I'm happy to play either it or Verdun on the Volga, but have their own charms.
11. Hands in the Sea
Just one play this year, but enough to remind me that I love this game. There just feels like there is so much more to do here than A Few Acres of Snow.
12. Imperial Struggle
A game that is filled with marker counters when played on the table becomes much less fiddle with VASSAL.
13. Stalingrad: Verdun on the Volga
Still love this game. Perhaps a bit surprising to see it drop below TPS. The attrition in this game is way more realistic than TPS, but TPS is still a smidge more fun to play.
14. Blue vs. Gray
Perfection in a card game. Unlike any other ACW grand strategic game you've played, but it's the war and it's amazing.
15. Washington's War
Would be higher but for a lack of plays. A refinement of the first CDG, and still a joy to play.
16. Return to the Rock: Corregidor 1945
Still playing this, still enjoying it. Best played with the optional rules, I think.
17. Guns of Gettysburg
No plays. Did have a few aborted plays of Napoleon's Triumph, but I still prefer this.
18. Victory in the Pacific
It's been on the list in the past, just not last year. An ancient game that finds itself on my table from time to time, even if just for a solo run.
19. Fighting Formations
The chit pull for damage, the strange activation system...make me love it.
20. Atlantic Chase
I played through all the tutorials and then some of the solo scenarios. I've yet to play it opposed which will be the real test. There is so much new here, particularly the trajectory system, I want to like it. I'm trying to figure out how much it runs on rails and how much input I have. Definitely worth more play.
21. Combat Commander: Europe
Played a ton via PBEM this year and enjoyed every game. I love the random events in this game.
22. Scheldt Campaign
Despite having my opponent bow out, I still love this game. A Hollandspiele game that deserves more love.
23. Last Hundred Yards
I'm still not sure about this one, but I've got a good opponent and that keeps it moving forward. We're playing both the base game and the Airborne expansion. Like so many modern tactical games, I hate how it concentrates on certain divisions rather than being a sandbox for an entire nationality.
24. Shifting Sands
I played a ton of this last year against an excellent player who made me better, though not good enough to beat him. A slightly scripted feel for sure, but plenty going on to forget about that.
25. Monty's Gamble
Two Rinella games in a row. Hard to say which one I like better. I guess Monty loses out if only because I find that if the Allies don't do everything perfectly in the opening turns, the outcome is never in doubt. Sure, that's Market Garden, but it's not a game.
26. Wilderness War
I really like this game, but there's something about it that leaves me feeling like I'm not getting the most out of it. That said, I just keep playing it.
27. This War Without an Enemy
OK, I haven't got an opposed play under my belt yet, but I've played it solo and attended a great demo and talk by the designer at the online San Diego HistCon. Really itching to try this.
28. Hannibal and Hamilcar
Fell off my list last year and no play this year. I chalk it up to not really liking the most recent Phalanx version of the game. The minis have me constantly having to look up who is who, and the dice are stupid. There is an update kit, but it seems it was only made available to backers of the KS for Successors. What a mess. I'd really like the new rulebook, dice, and redone Hamilcar. Still, on my list cuz I really like the game.
29. The Shores of Tripoli
I've only played this solo, but can't wait for an opposed play. I wanted to get it on the list to get it some exposure and hope more folks discover it so I can find an opponent.
30. The Battle for Kursk: The Tigers are Burning 1943
Game that came in C3i mag and then got a deluxe boxed treatment. Good old hex and counter goodness.
31. Absolute War
Another that I've only soloed this year, but it looks interesting. It's going to get a lot more play and either fly up the list or drop off.
32. Commands and Colors: Tricorne
Still my favourite in the Commands and Colors family.
33. Undaunted Normandy
Now that there's a VASSAL module in place, I've been testing it out with a fellow VASSAL fan and the game works great. The module still needs a few tweaks but it will get there.
34. Brief Border Wars
Another that I look forward to an opposed play as it's not great solo.
Comment below. Like these? Hate these? Something rated too high or too low? Have your say.