Wargamer's Corner

Basically, you run a few scenarios in a row, then there is a branch based on performance in one of them. Better play gives you access to different scenarios.

Armoured Commander II is in early access on Steam, currently at $6 or so with the release discount. This is the gen 2 of a single-dev game that is inspired by Patton's Best and similar games. You have a tank crew, and you are given goals, which you need to stay alive to achieve. You play a week at a time, I think, on a hex grid with all sorts of terrain, enemies and as I recall sometimes allies as well. It's as much roguelike as it is tactics, in that tank combat is pretty deadly.

I played a lot of the first game, which was a free release, and enjoyed it very much. I understand he needs to charge to get it on Steam, and hopefully he'll make some money on this version. I'll dive into this one on the weekend, but I fully expect it to be at least as good. Note that it's old-school graphics; that does not mean that it is a haphazard or poorly done game, it just reflects the resources of the dev.

Take a look and see what you think.

I got AC2 as well. Can't wait to try it.

My first experience with ACII I was in a dinky pre-war German tank with a 20mm cannon and the enemy was in some armoured car with an MG. I couldn't hit him and his MG wouldn't go through my armour so we spent the entire day emptying all of our ammo at each other to zero effect.

That was amusingly futile.

Oh, yes, this is fun!

I started with one of about 10 campaigns, each a few weeks or so long (I think). This one had me as part of 3 Panzer, invading Poland. My unit role was Spearhead so I was on the leading edge. I had a choice of several vehicles including the Pzr 2, 38t, IIID and others, some of which would modify my overall victory points, presumably because they presented a difficulty increase. I took a 38t because I figured I'd run into a lot of infantry and few armored vehicles, and wanted to be ready for both. I was positioned at the bottom center of a map, maybe 5x10 hexes, with villages, hills, woods, fields, roads, etc presented in all their Roguelike glory. (Sounds are similarly Roguelike. 8 bit, essentially.)

I chose first to scout an adjacent village. 7 enemy units were in the area (supposedly). I advanced into the hex on the strategic map, and the map zoomed in on the hex, giving me a hex full of hexagons, each with its own terrain. I saw 4 enemy units; one Polish armored car and three trucks, presumably with infantry. One was ahead of me, in a village, so I headed that way. (I had to Spot to actually identify the units, that took a few minutes.)

As I moved, so did the enemy. I fired at the armored car a few times, then it became apparent that a truck was trying to move more troops into the nearby village! I had found a group of small buildings to lurk in, so I stayed there and tried to discourage the armored car. After a few more shots, it decided to exit the map. I turned my attention to the infantry in the village.

I put my crew to firing their MGs and pounded the village with HE. The enemy infantry tried to advance, and fired or threw grenades, but I was buttoned up and nobody was hurt. When they go close enough, I spent a while trying to over-run them, and that eventually scattered them. I then blew up their trucks. As I was doing that, an enemy appeared at the map edge on my left flank, but before I could identify it, a pair of Stukas came in and blew it up.

The enemy positioned more infantry outside the village I had taken, and called in a light artillery strike on me, but again, my luck held. I raked them with MG and HE fire, eventually taking them out, then had an exciting bit where three truckloads of infantry tried to pin me down and surround me. A lucky shot took out the one on my rear flank quickly, and the other two were eventually damaged, stilling them, and destroyed.

I had killed about 4 or 5 trucks with my 37mm and MGs, seen off a platoon or so of infantry, and run off several more units before I could really engage them. I used about a third of my HE and ran through my stock of at least one caliber of MG ammo (I think). I'd recovered from a jammed 37mm, was able to successfully take hull down in the fields several times, and was able to upgrade my commander's Perception skill. The one over-run action I'd tried was eventually a success, but it was dangerous.

The interface takes a bit of learning. There are a number of phases, and the WASD keys do different things in each phase, although the mechanics are the same (W/S is up/down, A/D is left/right). At the start of the turn, you select a task for each crewman - the commander may operate the gun(s) or direct movement, the loader might speed loading of the main gun or fire an MG or spot, the driver can pivot, move foreward or back, find hull down, or fire a hull MG, and the asst driver might perform first aid or spot or fire a gun. Then, in the firing round, the commander selects the ammo and weapon and fires at a target. (Later, more rounds might go out depending on how long the target has been engaged without interruption, that's outside your control.) The enemy also moves and fires at various times. Then the turn ends and everything starts again.

Firing is an abstract task once you pick the target; the more firepower you have, the better your odds of pinning, reducing or destroying the enemy target. Firepower is based on ammo type, target, distance, terrain, caliber, and number of weapons. First you check for hit, then effect. All odds are out of 100, btw. It's a surprisingly tense system.

When you clear the strategic hex you entered in the strategic map, you move back to the strategic map layer and decide on your next action, which will usually be to move into another hex. I guess you could probably rest and refit, too. You'll see that your other units advance or fail as you do, to a degree, so the better you do, the better your higher level units do. Lends a bit of weight to your decisions.

This game feels *very* tactical. For example, each inidividual main gun shot is individually taken. Crew members have different tasks they can take based on roles, and individual attributes and special skills. Hits to the crew are modeled down to the body part, and vehicle damage is similar. It really has that "Patton's Best" feel to it.

I strongly recommend it. For tactical grognard play, this is a winner. (BTW, playtime on this was about 40 minutes. It could have gone longer, I think.)

Mr. Bismarck, that fear was exactly why I chose the 38t lol! I imagine the 20mm would have been great against infantry, but I worried (rightly) that they'd be supported by at least one armored car. And that was a good bet.

Couldn't find it on Steam at first, because they'd spelt Armoured properly.

$6? Roguelike? World War 2? Armour, spelled with a 'u'?

In! Just bought it.

I'm also interested because I've been thinking of games to make, and this style/artwork/scope is perfect to generate ideas.

One update... On the strategic map, center left screen, the numbers 1-4 open up several info screens. 4 is your group; you have a *platoon* of vehicles, not just you. Which explains the extra shots that are not under your control... But they can also pull your ass out of a crack if you run out of ammo or break down or something.

3 is Travel, that's the default, where you decide where to move next.

2 is the Crew menu, where you can upgrade your crew with action points gained through combat. Note that each individual has his own pool, so check all of them in between fights.

And 1... 1 is Resupply. Golden, wonderful, resupply (but not repair, sorry). Oh, and you have to be connected to "your" mapside via allied hexes to get it. Otherwise, you're gonna drive back to get ammo. Not pretty...

Oh, and time of day is in the bar at the top of the screen. Hit the end of the day and I think you can stand down for the night. I hope...

Huge thank you to Robear for the most generous gift of Armoured Commander II! I'll be diving into this ASAP! It's surely going to steal time away from my new obsession with Combat Mission.

Thanks again!

That was you? Awesome! I never noticed your Steam name before lol.

It has a different feel to CM. You and your little platoon against the world. Great fun. I played some more today.

It's been a few days, but Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail has been updated with a large British Navy campaign. Like 38 battles.

This is turning into a real value.

The dev of ACII noted that he was looking for 200 copies sold on Steam this week, and got over a thousand, so more campaigns are coming! I'm impressed that such a niche game gets such good word of mouth. Steam is always a risk for small devs, given the costs to put a game up, so I'm really glad this is working out for him.

Robear wrote:

The dev of ACII noted that he was looking for 200 copies sold on Steam this week, and got over a thousand, so more campaigns are coming! I'm impressed that such a niche game gets such good word of mouth. Steam is always a risk for small devs, given the costs to put a game up, so I'm really glad this is working out for him.

You have my, uh, tank!

I messed around with the Canadian campaign - I went Canadian instead of US so I could use a Firefly. Clearly my crew are the luckiest men in Normandy. In one day they defeated two Panthers (and survived several 75mm hits!), several STuGs, multiple armoured cars, a 50mm AT gun, and a rifle squad; and for good measure shot up several lorries carrying supplies.

Going hull down at the start of battle seems like a good idea. If you succeed you end up in a much better position, from which you can safely stay put and shoot. Constantly moving around makes you a much harder target, but also makes it much harder to hit anything.

I doubt I’ll have the time to finish a full campaign, but I feel like I’ve already gotten my money’s worth.

I agree about hull down, but sometimes you just gotta overrun that AT gun.

With my relatively new crew (3-3-3-3 for most crewmembers) moving, even just to find hull down, in a Pzr 38t, yields a *60%* malus to-hit modifier. It's still worth the 3% shot to acquire the target, but then you need to stop for a turn or two and take your shots.

Remember, if you are using the "RR" - Ready Rack - and the Loader is loading, you'll get a chance to fire more than one shot per round. Worth doing in equal fights, or worse, to get rid of an armored annoyance.

The 17-lber in the Firefly was remarkably effective against Panthers and Tigers, so I think your experience reflects the value of that tank in the campaign. It's maybe the only one in relatively common use that could kill them reliably.

TIL that in the firing phase, MGs don't fire automatically. You have to use W/S to access each weapon and fire it individually. I am now doing a lot more damage more quickly.

Finally got the knack of supply in Unity of Command 2, and it's less of a puzzle game now. More a game of razor-edged operational choices and schedules. The objectives are there to keep you focused on both space and time. They've made tactical choices matter more, because delaying even a turn to deal with an unexpected unit (or reinforce a weak one) may prevent you gaining points by capturing a town on schedule. Very nice balance.