War Games have a deep and rich history in the board game sphere. They are some of the most interesting historically because they started as training tools and very quickly evolved into games. They pit players against each other as if they had the full backing of an empire behind their every action.
The most well-known war genre to explore has been (and hopefully always will be) World War II. It is rich in history, human drama, tragedy, and heroism. It’s one of the darkest points in human history but also showed how humanity can perform incredible acts of sacrifice for the greater good.
Today we’re remembering those who have gone before us with the best World War II board games we could find. We hope you enjoy our list.
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best WWII Board Games
In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.
Best Historically Awesome
#1. Axis & Allies: 1942 (Second Edition)
It’s hard to think of World War II board games and not think of Axis & Allies. It’s not the oldest of the wargames but it had such a huge impact on the wargaming world and is a classic that has survived many of the original companies that produced it.
Axis & Allies: 1942 is the successor to the original Axis & Allies. It’s gotten the full makeover with an updated board, newer minis, and an overall sleeker look. There have been some power adjustments, especially for the Germans, so that they don’t get immediately knocked out by an experienced Russian player.
- For 2-5 Players
- 90 minute playing time
- This game builds upon the success of the first edition of 1942...
If you’re looking for an absolute classic wargame, this is the newest version of an absolute classic. It has everything you could want in a World War 2 board game.
#2. Memoir ‘44
Memoir ‘44 is one of the easiest entry-level World War II board games I’ve ever seen. It uses a card system that mimics the breakdown of communication on the battlefield and as a veteran, I can tell you that when things are going wrong, a strong line of communication can be the absolute difference between life and death.
Memoir ‘44 uses a card-based system that breaks up the map into 3 different sections: left, right, and center. Players use cards that allow them to move their units but only on specific sections of the board.
It’s another perfect example of a game that’s easy to learn but requires a fair bit of strategy and analysis to win. Normally when you think of World War II games, massive sprawling maps and tables full of miniatures come to mind. Memoir ‘44 manages to pack a lot of thematic flair and wargaming into a small and complete package that plays in about 30 to 45 minutes.
#3. Axis & Allies: D- Day
D-Day was one of the defining moments of World War 2. It’s been pored over historically and the incredible acts that were performed that day are why people are still fascinated with D-Day long after the war.
Axis & Allies: D-Day puts players on opposing sides. Hunkered down on the beaches of Normandy behind their near-impenetrable wall stands Nazi Germany, while the Allies gather their strength to storm the beaches and gain a foothold to launch their attacks inland.
D-Day is a fantastic WWII gateway game that lets players jump right into the fight. The board is very clear and is clearly marked for play. It’s one of the easier Axis & Allies games to get into. There are a lot of dice involved in D-Day, so if you’re opposed to dice and random rolls this may not be the exact game for you.
If you’re looking to get some friends together and relive one of the pivotal moments of World War 2 then this is a perfect game for you.
#4. A World at War
The title promises a lot for a board game. A World at War attempts to give players just that, the granddaddy of all strategic games in which every facet of global war is at your fingertips. I’m not kidding about EVERY facet, either. Players have control over supply lines, troop training, ship and vehicle construction, individual deployments to different theaters, and even diplomacy.
The scope of the game is one of the largest I’ve ever seen and has one of the largest rulebooks I’ve ever seen as well, and it’s constantly being updated and refined. It’s currently at 235 pages of rules and seems like it’s always in development.
If you can find a copy and want one of the most intricate wargames imaginable, A World at War will keep you busy. But be warned: if you play A World at War, that’s all you will play.
#5. Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!
Often, when you hit on a theme like WW2, it’s viewed through a lens of massive troop movements, multiple fronts, complex supply lines, and major events during the war. The Conflict of Heroes series takes a magnifying glass to the whole experience and puts players into the roles of individual squads, tanks, and units.
Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! takes place during Operation Barbarossa when German forces stormed across the border and attacked Russia in 1941.
The designers have currently the 3rd edition with an improved ruleset to account for muddled communication lines when orders don’t always get to troops. They also put great detail into the stats of each unit and vehicle based on historical data; armor thickness, the slope of tanks, ability in terrain.
- New 3rd edition - with simultaneous game play! Allows players to...
- Easy: teach a new player how to play in under 5 minutes.
- Historically accurate: portrays realistic forces and tactics
It’s incredibly impressive when it’s all put together, and each series in the Conflict of Heroes takes that same magnified look at various points of WW2.
#6. Combat Commander
In Combat Commander: Europe, players choose a scenario to play and face-off in capturing objectives and moving their units to their opponent’s side of the board (and beyond) for victory points.
To account for the scale of squads and platoons, Combat Commander uses a lot of cardboard tiles to keep track of the action on the board, but after about 2 games you shouldn’t need to refer to the rules very often. It does an excellent job of clearly laying out the rules.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Combat Commander series is the Fate card system that it includes. Throughout the game, each side will pull Fate cards that are either good or bad for your faction and these can really throw your battle plans for a loop.
#7. B-17 Flying Fortress Leader
B-17 Flying Fortress Leader is one of my favorite solo games. The theme, design, and gameplay are just fantastic.
In B-17, players take control of a bomber group in German-controlled airspace and attempt to run missions in the European theater. It’s not all about the impressive bombers either. Players will need to manage their pilots, escort fighters, and avoid German AA guns.
I’m always a sucker for campaign play and pilots start as newbies that will eventually advance to ace fighters… if they survive long enough.
A new version of B-17 was recently backed on Kickstarter and is now available with new and updated rules. You can check out the updated rules here.
#8. Victory at Sea: Battle for the Pacific
I may be biased because I was stationed at Pearl Harbor when I was enlisted, but in my opinion, the Pacific Theater is just fascinating.
Victory at Sea: Battle for the Pacific puts players in command of those mighty ships that fought it out for control of the Pacific. The game comes with some rather impressive models for an all-in-one box game and includes historical ships from both the US and Japanese fleets.
I like the movement system that’s built into the rules, which seems very realistic. You simply can’t expect your ship to pull a 90-degree turn or stop on a dime.
- Discover what it was like to be part of these battleship...
- Every ship in the game is defined by each of the ship cards that...
- Alternating between players, each turn moves through the phases...
If you’re a fan of naval battles, I think Victory at Sea does a fantastic job of showing the difficulty and evolution of naval warfare during this period.
#9. Axis & Allies: 1941
Axis & Allies is considered to be one of the foundational games in the wargaming sphere. It’s also known for being a massive time commitment.
Axis & Allies: 1941 solves that problem by simplifying the playing field. Instead of having to micromanage the entire theater of war, players will have a streamlined version that can be played in about 2 hours.
This game is for WW2 board game fans who want to try their hands at some war games without having to dedicate an entire day to a single game.
Since tabletop wargaming is a smaller niche of board gaming, a lot of the best games are produced as limited runs and made by some incredibly small companies. That also makes them a little scarce and hard to source.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best WWII board games. If your favorite didn’t make the list, we’d love to hear from you. We tried to include the best games that we could find that are also readily available for our readers.
Let us know what you think! Which ones have you tried? Drop a comment below. Happy gaming!