Wargamer's Corner

So, I set up my new account for Wargame Design Studio, using the same email I used for JTS. And when I got confirmation, they had all my games listed with serial numbers and downloads already! Painless. Didn't need to actually download anything to get that done.

If you've been looking at Lock n Load Tactical Digital but haven't pulled the trigger yet, its on sale for $0.99 for Black Friday on Steam.

I thought the base game was free?

Robear wrote:

I thought the base game was free?

It's usually $5.

All of the DLC is on sale too. Lots of good stuff there. Highly recommend the Battle Generator & Editor for $8. Basically, unlimited replayability with that.

Note that each module adds specific rules, terrain and units that can be used with the other modules. (Terrain will be useful for the Battle Generator). So the first module you buy with the enhanced tank rules makes them available to all the modules you own.

This is a great tactical system that's fun, fast-playing and challenging. If you like ASL or other squad-level systems, this is your jam.

I picked up Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes last night after scoping the detailed pictures from it while chatting with Hockosi. I've almost finished a first small (7 turn) scenario, playing cold without looking up the rules, since I have played all the other. It seems to be the real deal. I'm going to dive back in this evening and do some reading to answer questions.

In short, the game reminds me of The Operational Art of War, but seriously updated. You can add and remove units from attacks, and it automatically decides whether the attack will be just a bombardment or involve an assault. You do a probe, recon in force, attack, or full-on assault, each with it's own implications. It's usual to encounter an adjacent unit that is a mystery, except maybe for a note like "mortar fire is reported". Then you take a tank unit and probe, and you find out what kind of unit you are dealing with. Put some artillery fire on it to degrade physical defense like bunkers, trenches and buildings, then send the infantry in to attack. All in one turn. It feels right.

He's removed his usual political layer, but kept "political points", which add every turn, and the system of gaining cards each turn that showed so well in Shadow Empire and his other games. These let you call in reinforcements, new units, extra supplies, air strikes and so forth. The terrain and weather are clear and well noted so it's easy to factor those into movement and attack, and he uses heat maps for things like HQ influence, supply and so forth, so you can at a glance see how far you can push your combat units without bringing up support.

The game is mostly at a divisional scale with units being battalions, but each one is comprised of platoons and modeled to the individual soldier. The combat system plays like an enhanced version of Shadow Empire's combat, just adapted for WW2. This means that you can operate intuitively with divisional boundaries, but also use your battalions and support units to conduct reconnaissance by fire, tactical encirclements and successive assaults to wear down an enemy. Armor can be used to support infantry (and vice versa), or to provide remote bombardment from a few hexes away, or to conduct breakthrough attacks and fast, distant assaults. Surprise and ambush are built into the system. Engineers can build stuff and fix bridges (just site them adjacent to the broken bridge for a few turns and they will accumulate the needed points). So a division is like 3-5 combat units with some artillery and engineering support, and an HQ.

It really does feel like an even better version of his game system, this time concentrating on the tactical and operational challenges unique to the fighting of the time, without a player-managed conference-table layer where you beg or threaten or cajole your commanders into giving you stuff. I suspect that moving from a small scenario to the full-scale campaigns (there are two) will be very interesting. But I need to learn more. (There are several small and medium scenarios to play, some not set in the Ardennes, to sharpen your skills). The game has both map and unit editors, but I'm not sure if the scenario creator is done yet.

What surprised me is that this plays like Panzer Campaigns, but faster, better and more exciting. Not nearly as dry but at least as detailed. For the first time in a while I was falling asleep thinking about the game and what I want to do next with it.

Hard to believe but his games get better every time. Except Case Blue. That was boring.

Yeah I picked up DC: Ardennes as well. I agree this is the best of his games so far, at least in my limited playing time so far.

Robear wrote:

I picked up Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes last night after scoping the detailed pictures from it while chatting with Hockosi....

Great writeup Robear! Adding to the wishlist now! Thanks!

I'm sure there are more details I don't know yet. This is just a first impression.

Game I was playing hung up on me on the last German turn. But I'm pretty sure I took the Germans a point past "Minor Victory", so as the Americans I'll take that for a first try. Learned a lot. Definitely play Arrancourt, then the other small scenarios, then the medium ones, then take on a Campaign scenario. Diving right into the big ones, you'll miss a ton of useful subtleties like officers effects on cards and combat, or the use of recon, or, say, transferring trucks from one unit to another that has lost them. It even has partial attacks, where some sub-units have run out of APs but others are still good to go. Learn those things small, then you're ready for the big show.

Vic has done it again. A game that can play as fast or slow as you like it, with an easy interface (left-click select unit, right-click move as in Shadow Empire) that yields a ton of detail when you pop the hood on a unit. This is, dare I say it, more focused and easier to handle than Shadow Empire or the other DC games.

Given mods, this game could be the next TOAW.

Robear wrote:

I picked up Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes last night after scoping the detailed pictures from it while chatting with Hockosi. I've almost finished a first small (7 turn) scenario, playing cold without looking up the rules, since I have played all the other. It seems to be the real deal. I'm going to dive back in this evening and do some reading to answer questions.

This looks quite good, yes! Thanks for the writeup. I have Barbarossa in my Steam backlog, does that one hold up well? I'm tempted to wait on Ardennes until it hits Steam.

On another note, has anyone played some of the SGS games? I just got Afrika Korps, Winter War, and Halls of Montezuma today. I played a short scenario in Afrika Korps and got my butt kicked. I really need to look at the (rather large) rulebook it would appear.

Is Doorkickers a wargame? Because I've been watching a BUNCH of videos about it online and I am kick-curious.

Robear wrote:

In short, the game reminds me of The Operational Art of War, but seriously updated...

Love hearing the impressions in this thread

GB, Barbarossa is the current high point for his system of involving command politics, although Shadow Empire extends it beyond just the military command structure. So maybe Shadow Empire is better for those who like it, but it's more than just a wargame.

But Barbarossa is a classic Eastern Front game with the difficult twist of modeling politics, so it's a great challenge.

Ardennes will show up on Steam in late January, most likely. If you buy now, you'll get a Steam key when it gets there.

Ardennes is a different scale from Barbarossa and so feels... Faster? Tighter? Definitely more tactical than Barbarossa.

Mind Elemental, about a third of the Ardennes manual seems to be on breaking open the combat process. The thing that caught my eye is that combat actually occurs at the level of individuals against individuals. The game builds results up from those thousands of interactions.

You can just push battalions around, or you can add in terrain and leadership to your calculations, or you can crack open the box and watch all the dozens of different systems interact as the little dudes fight it out. Vic is a master at hiding complexity without getting rid of it. Some of the tweaks you can do for units go all the way down whether the troops ride or walk, and where the vehicles come from. It's very cool.

Robear wrote:

GB, Barbarossa is the current high point for his system of involving command politics, although Shadow Empire extends it beyond just the military command structure. So maybe Shadow Empire is better for those who like it, but it's more than just a wargame.

But Barbarossa is a classic Eastern Front game with the difficult twist of modeling politics, so it's a great challenge.

Ardennes will show up on Steam in late January, most likely. If you buy now, you'll get a Steam key when it gets there.

Ardennes is a different scale from Barbarossa and so feels... Faster? Tighter? Definitely more tactical than Barbarossa.

Awesome, thanks for this! I'm thinking I might lean into Shadow Empire a bit over break then. I picked that up a while back, started in on it, but decided I would need to focus on it deeply to learn it. That time might be now.

Depends on whether you want the kitchen sink (SE), the famous Eastern Front with extra sycophantic goodness (Barb), or a tightly focused, almost Grand Tactical look at the Ardennes.