The fine folks at Eugen Systems, one of our latest greatest hopes for real time strategy, have been awful at thinking up names for their games since their debut with Direct Action, which was clearly not about fighting wars through proxies. I would be hard pressed to come up with a more generic and uninteresting title than Wargame: Airland Battles, their next game. All I can deduce from that title is that there won’t be any naval units.
The main bullet point for Airland Battles is the addition of aircraft (pictured) to the same basics from Wargame: European Escalation. Which is another awful title for how all it tells you is that you won’t have any battles on continents that begin with the letter A.
But for me, there’s something even sexier in Airland Battles than the sexy airplanes. European Escalation appealed to me partly as a collectible game in which you unlocked awesome Cold War units. But one of the problems with that game was the “deck building” that followed the unlocking. There were no meaningful rules about how to arrange your deck. You just chucked stuff into the box. There. Deck built! There was no incentive to use the less useful units. Of all the toys in that very generous toybox, most of them go unplayed with.
Eugen has a very different idea with the deck building in Airland Battles, which gives your deck bonuses if you restrict your cards — err, units — to certain themes.
For example, if you create a Marine infantry Deck from 1980 with 100% Russian troops, you will receive very high bonuses, compared to a Deck made up of little bits from all nations on your side.
Read more here, where the developers spell out in detail what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Airland Battles is due out this spring. It’s not soon enough.