Over on boardgamegeek someone started a thread listing the top five wargames they would keep if they had to get rid of the rest of their collection. Boardgamegeek is talking about board wargames of course, but it made me consider which rules would make an 'essential five' list.
1) Lost Battles. This is THE big one for me. I don't play it as often as I used to, but to me it's still the game that feels most similar to the surviving accounts we have of ancient battles.
2) Commands & Colors: Ancients. A fine set. As a game it is very good; it rewards study, allows people to formulate their own playing style and, once learned, has you playing the situation, not the rules. It may lack a little bit as far as being able to recreate the history goes, but sometimes you just want to play a game.
3) Modern Spearhead. I've been lucky enough to play this a few times with Luke U-S, and while I find the endless rolling for artillery strikes tedious and time-consuming I do need a set of rules to play hypothetical Cold-War-Goes-Hot scenarios with. I have nothing else that comes close to it, so Modern Spearhead gets the nod.
4) Spearhead. Again, a WWII game is required, and this is probably the best of what I have, though Crossfire would run it close if I had a chance to play it more often.
5) Johnny Reb II. Only played once, but a brilliant game. The order counters are a great touch and the whole thing was very atmospheric.
How about for you? Which five would you have on your keeper list?