Over the past decade the proprietor of Asymgames.com has crafted around seventy computer wargames. All are free, equipped with competent AIs, and playable online, and many explore the kind of relatively obscure conflicts, ops, battles, and historical events that bigger devs often ignore. Assuming you can live with utilitarian graphics, and are willing to learn the ins and outs of Alex’s various self-built engines (there are eight families of games), his Aladdin’s archive is well worth a visit.
Videos like the one above, together with brief integrated tutorials and abundant tooltips, aid acclimatisation considerably.
I recommend starting with a Bobcat-engined hex-and-card title – Gazala for example – as these are, mechanically speaking, fairly conventional. Don’t expect fog of war, leaders, or subtle damage/morale/cohesion modelling, but supply and fortifications are influential, and the artificial Auchinleck puts up a good fight.
Chockablock with neatly abstracted sensors and weapon types, Vikrant vs. Shandong, the first of a naval battle series that may one day include a Russo-Ukrainian War instalment, is a more intimidating creature.
Used to simulate history like the anti-apartheid struggle, the Flint sit-down strike, and the Mexican Revolution, the card-reliant, resource-sprinkled ‘Rhino’ titles are Asymgames’ most abstract offerings. Boards are a made up of a network of linked boxes. AI opponents generally start on the edges of the board, and attempt to advance to your ‘capital’ box in the centre via judicious card plays.
If Alex’s creations came with zoomable boards and prettier art, I’m certain they’d be much better known. I wonder if he has ever been approached by Matrix/Slitherine’s talent spotters.