Wargamer's Corner

Campaign Viet Nam is good so far. A lot more depth than I expected, even for a Campaigns game, but easy to play. Tons of units, the graphics have been greatly upgraded, and the game in general feels like it's not a pushover.

Working on the second tutorial scenario for C:VN. Finished it once, got wiped out (largely I think because the directions were a bit... vague? But that's cool because it preserved the surprises.)

I have never before, in any wargame, had to secure an area (that was the first tutorial) and then work to build a firebase. Everyone pitches in with setting up a protected area - digging out bunkers and such, laying claymores (and mines if you have them). Then you, the player, have to guide a convoy of trucks with an artillery battery, ammo and supplies, engineer platoons and a construction company to the site, then they can enhance the primitive protections into an actual defensible rabbit warren to get the firebase functional. While infantry and others can contribute to basic fortifications, sandbags and holes and such, only engineers can do the more technical stuff, and only construction units can then uplift the defenses. The specialized units can speed the initial work, of course. So infantry gets you foxholes and small bunkers and sandbag structures, engineers and CBs can add in trench systems and comms and the like, and CBs can speed everything up. Very cool.

Then you defend it lol.

Won't say much about that, except that I'm super glad to see the AI use assembly areas properly. Also, the game has day, twilight, night and dawn, so you get the experience of your LOS dropping into nighttime conditions over several turns. Amazing.

This is a very tense scenario once the stakes become clear. Also, you'll see it in the first tutorial, the game models changing goals. So there are VP locations that have point values, and others that don't. As you progress through the scenario, meeting or missing goals, you can be assigned new ones, and the VP points for locations will change! Also, there are morale-based points awards when something happens. Like if you manage to make the first kill in your engagement, you might get an award, or if you lose your first unit, you might get hit with negative points. These points are factored into the final score. This is also how dealing with civilians is handled, and it's brutal in that regard.

This is an amazing move forward for the system and not what I expected at all. And these changes are being worked into Modern Campaigns: Middle East, which should breathe new life entirely into what was an old, creaky, even bland game.

There are things here that Wargame Design Studio really needs to take note of in their code base. I'm very impressed. I mean, separate communication nets for different organizations? Differentiated supplies (carried vs provided by HQ vs on-map depots and units)? Morale hits for leader losses? Huge variation in road types and other terrain types that makes choice of paths really seem realistic? All sorts of interesting stuff has been squeezed out of the system and damn is it fun. And dauntingly difficult.

Sounds awesome Robear, thanks for the writeup! I'm probably going to have to grab it now. Definitely some systems that I've never seen implemented in a wargame before.

(Also, I'm going to grab the Valor and Victory Stalingrad expansion. The scenarios included look incredible!)

I will warn you that folks are still complaining about V&V's AI. Have not been able to do more than dip my toes in so I can't verify, but it's a frequent complaint for games, so...

Permit me a dark joke, but I am mildly surprised that Battlefront hasn't changed the page for CM: Black Sea to read "THIS GAME CAME OUT ALMOST A DECADE AGO. WE TOTALLY DIDN'T KNOW IT'D SUDDENLY BECOME SO GODDAMN RELEVANT"

Prederick wrote:

Permit me a dark joke, but I am mildly surprised that Battlefront hasn't changed the page for CM: Black Sea to read "THIS GAME CAME OUT ALMOST A DECADE AGO. WE TOTALLY DIDN'T KNOW IT'D SUDDENLY BECOME SO GODDAMN RELEVANT"

Dang.

So Wargames Design Studios is currently still migrating orders from JTS, HPS and the original store, dating back to about 2010. They have done the JTS accounts, are mostly done with HPS, and then the 2010-2012 ones will be next. This lets you log into your account and re-download your games without involving Support.

Also the first tranche of 4.01 updates is out for the Civil War games. Now they dig into the other series. These include high DPI accommodations for fancy monitors as well as a complete re-org of the button system to make it more differentiated and easy to find the one you want.

Their new website and system is turning out to be really easy to use, in spite of the media front end.

Matrix Games Spring Sale goes until Monday. Up to 90% off.

A good content creator really can change how you look at a game so fast. I hadn't played CM in almost two years, down partially to thinking I didn't have enough time and also wholesome intimidation (I have a longstanding problem in RTS games where I try way too hard to end with 0 casualties, so I move like a extremely conservative slug and never win unless I have a colossal advantage), but Hapless here does a great job of presenting CM in a way that gets me to think more realistically about the game and is super approachable.

Plus, a forum thread I checked out had the best possible advice for terrified newbies. Start small. Try a platoon-level fight before you try managing an entire battalion.

I mainlined a ton of CM:BS and CM:SF2 this weekend, and good LORD I'd forgotten how much more lethal modern warfare has become. As horrifying as the MG42 is, the automatic grenade launcher is just such a horrific, day-ruining invention if you're on the other side of one.

I had a ton of "fun" trying this one mission where NATO forces and the Syrian army are rushing to occupy this town. It's genuinely a bit infuriating because, while your infantry is obviously better trained and equipped, they're tooling around with a a bunch of BTR-60s rocking 12.7mm guns that'll tear right through your men and the APCs they came in.

Took me ages to get a decent-ish result, at which point, I went into the scenario editor and decided to see how much of a difference a single Marder would make. (Answer: We absolutely stomped them into oblivion.)

All of this is a long way of saying I'm all the way back in on CM, and fairly annoyed because now I need to blow a comical amount of money getting all the most recent releases from the current engine.

As I recall, deploy your infantry outside of BTR-60 range, then cover them with your Strykers… You’ve got 40mms too, if I remember.

I can't play CM in RTS mode. It's too much for me to micro and think about. I like to play in the Wego mode where you give orders and just play 1 min at a time.

Robear wrote:

As I recall, deploy your infantry outside of BTR-60 range, then cover them with your Strykers… You’ve got 40mms too, if I remember.

The problem with the scenario I was doing is that it's pretty much a meeting engagement, there is very little cover between your starting point and the village you have to control, and again, all we've got are Fuchs, which have useful but not nearly useful enough 7.62 mm guns. So you have to get aggressive, or they'll just take the town and then turn you to swiss cheese.

Slitherine wargaming sale for 30% off, including many titles that haven't been on discount previously (War in the East 2, Warplan Pacific), and Fanatical has a good Slitherine sale going as well, with some discounts bigger than those over at Slitherine itself.

I may have spent some money...

Prederick, thanks for the link to the content creator for the CM games. Liked his narrative approach.

Any thoughts on War in the East 2? It's tempting me, being 30% off and all. But it's so big, and complicated, and still a good bit expensive.

It's big, and somewhat complicated - less than what you'd expect, but still requires study and playtime. The good part is that it contains a number of small/medium scenarios to learn with, and enjoy. The downside is that you really need to understand the principles of the game systems (logistics, airpower, HQs, movement hierarchies, etc) to win the game. Of course, you can just push pieces and have a good time, too.

If you like War in the West, this is a natural follow-up.

Robear wrote:

It's big, and somewhat complicated - less than what you'd expect, but still requires study and playtime. The good part is that it contains a number of small/medium scenarios to learn with, and enjoy. The downside is that you really need to understand the principles of the game systems (logistics, airpower, HQs, movement hierarchies, etc) to win the game. Of course, you can just push pieces and have a good time, too.

If you like War in the West, this is a natural follow-up.

Hmm. This does sound like it would be fun, and I'm telling myself that it'll be a while before it goes on sale again.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Any thoughts on War in the East 2? It's tempting me, being 30% off and all. But it's so big, and complicated, and still a good bit expensive.

To augment Robear, I think it is a masterpiece of strategic wargaming. I played a lot of the original, which was really really good, and all the additions have made this a much better game. For 30% off I think it is well worth it - I was happy to give them the $80 MSRP.
It is dense but you can go as deep as you want and still have fun, from smashing stacks into one another down to parceling field artillery battalions out to your infantry divisions. The smaller scenarios are great and even the shortest (7 turns I believe) is quite good. If you like WWII strategic/operational level wargames, this is one of the best.

As for the price, now that it has been on sale once, it will be again, possibly for a deeper discount, later this year. Usually Matrix keeps "new" titles out of their various sales for 12-18 months then after that will put them on sale. They will have a winter sale almost for sure around the holidays; they may have others too.

One last thing: if you are looking for a good wargame with a smaller focus, check out Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes Offensive, it is fantastic too. And a bit cheaper as well.

It's definitely streamlined from the v1; more automation and much of the logistical and air systems moved into the background. There are a ton of QoL changes from v1. But one of the most interesting changes is the VP system. In the smaller scenarios, it's what you'd expect; kill stuff and capture cities, with bonuses to one side to reflect their advantaged position at that time in the war. But for campaigns... In the early war, the Germans start with "initiative". This means that only they can earn VPs. This incents them to grab cities quickly, take cities that were not historically taken, and hold cities longer than historical. After a point in 1941, when the German victory score drops to 10% below it's high water mark for that game, the initiative flips. Now the Soviets also earn points, but they earn bonuses for getting farther faster than was historical. Once the Soviets take the initiative it never turns back to the Germans.

So the game is very much dedicated to measuring the players against historical performances, which of course has knock-on effects like allowing a more focused AI. It means that strategies won't be wild and crazy, but will involve intelligent use of resources and capabilities that were within the limits of the time. This produces a more historical feel and avoids the issue that plagues games like Hearts of Iron, where the further you get from the start, the weirder the games become.

In this way the first and second games really feel different.

Thank you both! This is very helpful. This all does sound excellent.

I'm going to get this game, but ... not on the current sale. I've got a sizeable chunk of games to play now, so waiting feels like a good idea, and the idea that it'll go on sale again seems like a reasonable expectation. I have plenty to play for the next 6 months.

I have a couple of the other Decisive Campaigns games, so those would also be something to dig into more.

I did pick up Warplan Pacific, Field of Glory II: Medieval, and the last expansion to Fantasy General, so I have a lot to work through in addition to what was already in the pile.

That's wise, GB. You'll know when you're in the mood to read the manual and give it a shot, and it will be very enjoyable at that point. It'll be around for a long time.

If you want to read the manual, it's available here. You know, just to peruse until the winter sale.

tboon wrote:

If you want to read the manual, it's available here. You know, just to peruse until the winter sale. :)

OMG. It's 520 pages.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:
tboon wrote:

If you want to read the manual, it's available here. You know, just to peruse until the winter sale. :)

OMG. It's 520 pages.

Like God intended.

Only about 500 or so are really important, though.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:
tboon wrote:

If you want to read the manual, it's available here. You know, just to peruse until the winter sale. :)

OMG. It's 520 pages.

You mean it's f*cking glorious.

It's got to be the largest manual for a wargame (PC or tabletop), right?

Pacific War came with about 150 pages of rules spread over 3 rule books, that's the largest I've seen previously. I can't think of anything else remotely close to 500 pages.

Edit: ASL documentation (digital rulebook) is 708 pages.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:
tboon wrote:

If you want to read the manual, it's available here. You know, just to peruse until the winter sale. :)

OMG. It's 520 pages.

Something to read between now and the Matrix Winter Sale

I was going to say, ASL is always larger. Especially since the pages are large format, while the GG manuals are small page sizes.

War in the West comes in at 251.

ASL, to be fair, is a multi-game system more than a single game.