Did anyone get Command Ops: Highway to the Reich yet? How is it?
I used to have some nice map mods for CotA, but I can't seem to find anything similar for BFtB. Are there any mods that make the map prettier?
I was just about to pop in here and mention CotA and BftB. One of them's probably going to be my next long-term community-play sort of thing after the Arsenal of Democracy game I've got going at the Dwarf Fortress forums; the detail they go into is simply awesome.
I wonder if we'll see CotA scenarios ported to BftB? I haven't gotten very far along in CotA, and only just started on the manual for BftB, but the improvements in the latter seem like they'd be great to have.
Just purchased and downloaded Making history II: The War of the World. I read the thread about it here, but it wasn't very substantial. Anyone here play it? I'm about to read the manual, that's as far as I've gotten.
I think the project to convert the HttR scenarios actually started back when CotA came out, with the intention to port them to that engine. After some time passed, it made more sense to wait and port them to the BftB engine. I also recall there was some talk that it would be a lot easier since there was a lot more overlap in unit data, since all the American units would have to be created as they weren't already in CotA.
I haven't seen any talk of CotA scenarios being converted, and knowing how long it takes Panther to do things it would be years before you saw them, so don't hold your breath <g>.
They're working on a new game, though, with an eastern front setting.
Hmm. I wonder how much work would have to be repeated to pull CotA scenarios over. I'll have to poke at the editor manuals and see if there's anything about importing from previous games. It's probably more involved than just copying all the estabs, but at the same time, I'd love to give Crete and Malta a go with fancy new features...
For the lazy, what are the new features in BFtB? I talked myself out of buying BFtB last night and instead re-installed CotA, although I haven't had a chance to dive in again.
One of the big quality-of-life improvements is the fact that you can specify when the actual attack begins in an attack order, so coordinating an assault isn't so much of an effort in frustration provided you leave adequate time for forces to get into place.
Well, it doesn't appear that there's any facility whatsoever for importing maps, scenarios, or estabs, which I suppose shouldn't surprise me unduly.
I'm slowly working my way into this genre. I've been reading commentary about wargames, especially from Bruce. I'm starting to understand some of the themes and difficult issues in the genre. Leaving aside the various problems with wargames, I'd like to know more about why people like them.
There's one thing I hear a lot from Bruce and others: that wargamers enjoy the history behind the game. (Stop me here if I'm oversimplifying.) What does that mean? Do wargamers read for fun a lot of historical accounts of battles and cultural conflicts, and then enjoy seeing that happen in the game? That sounds like my appreciation of race sims. I understand basic vehicle dynamics, and it's thrilling to see that play out in the sim.
Furthermore, if a wargamer were to play Korsun Pocket, for example, does he go watch a documentary on it first? Or does he simply "care" about the setting in a general sense, and then leverage that historical context into the epic and engaging moments that other games provide for us directly? One reason I ask is this archived post I found from 2003:
I'm just curious about the mechanics of wargaming's link to history appreciation. How does it work for most people? Let me know if I'm missing an appropriate article or TMA podcast on this subject.
I'd probably come from the other direction. I really like history when I encounter it, but I'm never compelled to seek it out independent from a movie, fiction book, or game. One poster said he developed a lifelong enjoyment of history after playing some early wargames. Did that happen to anyone? If so, what was your first step? Did you go from Steel Panthers to reading eyewitness accounts in a famous division in World War II?
If you erased everything but the ruleset so that you were just moving abstract tiles on a hexgrid according to a rulset it'd still be a "game" but...
That sounds about right. Some of the fun comes from seeing how you measure up to history.
Not exactly a hardcore wargame, but let me give you a specific example. I recently played Twilight Struggle for the first time. The game would have been fairly pointless and stupid to me (as a glorified area control game) if I had no knowledge of the historical era in which it occurred. Not much intellectual relevance to taking over Cuba with the Castro card if I had no idea who Castro was.
So I knew about the historical period (having lived through part of it), which made me interested in the game. But I don't pretend to know the history in detail, and there are certain cards in the game that reference doctrines or events that I don't know that well (though if I recall, I had at least a basic knowledge of all of them). At some point, when I magically get a bunch of free time, I intend to go read up on some of the individuals/events, because playing the game triggered an interest.
I think that for most people, it probably nominally starts with the history. You're unlikely to really get into Advanced Squad Leader if you have no idea who the major combatants were in WWII. But playing Advanced Squad Leader, and ruminating over scenarios, nationality characteristics, scenario blurbs about particular leaders, etc. may also drive an interest in delving deeper into the specifics of those various topics by reading more.
Perhaps it works like a spiral: I can enjoy Panzer General with a minimum of interest in history. (Obviously, since it doesn't try to be very historical.) Then maybe I can move to Unity of Command and Steel Panthers and still enjoy the game for its own sake. Perhaps that will drive me to read a book on the Eastern Front. Maybe that has a chapter on the Korsun Pocket, and then I can go play the game. Whereas if I had sprung from the womb as a history buff, I could've jump in right away.
I guess my question is how much history one needs to bring to the table. Even Bruce's quote helps build the scale: I don't know who von der Heydte is, but I know in a general sense that weather plays a huge role in some of these campaigns. I'd feel that tension and frustration even without watching a documentary on the battle. But I suppose if I'm staring at counters for hours on end, I need to infuse the game with a little character. (From the anecdotes in real-world historical accounts?)
One other reason this came up: I heard Crusader Kings 2 links to Wikipedia entries on a lot of the major characters. That sounds awesome to me. That's probably a good sign.
In fact, many if not most wargames define winning / losing a scenario based on performance vs. history, regardless of scale. In a tactical wargame, this will be holding a particular hill / crossroads / whatever longer, or capturing said objective earlier, than your historical counterpart did. In a strategic US Civil War game, it's often not possible for the Confederates to "win" in the classic sense, so your goal is to survive into 1866. The Union side will be trying to win in 1864.
Since many battles turned out the way they did due to some gross stupidity on the part of the participants, they're hard to balance well for a game. It's tricky to keep things historical while also keeping the "game" part. Allow too much freedom for the player to avoid some of the historical mistakes and the ensuing gameplay doesn't resemble history much, especially if the player is familiar with what the Old Guys did wrong in real life. Confine the player to history too much, though, and there really isn't much "game" there as the designer tries to keep you on the straight, narrow, and possibly stupid path.
I think spiral is a good word for what happens with me often with wargames, and their subject matter. Ditto simulations. Sometimes I get a game I'm not familiar with due to it being about a familiar subject, sometimes I get a game that's getting good word of mouth about a subject I'm not that familiar with. In either case the game usually sheds some insight on things, I want to learn more from books or other sources, then I put that new info to use in the game. Repeat.
I grew up reading military history, and when I found out, in the early 1970s, that there were games where you could recreate the battles I was reading about, I was hooked. I played most of my wargames solitaire, for the thrill of seeing the forces laid out on the map and having a framework for seeing how things interacted, more than for any competitive urge. Later I got into wargaming clubs and such, but solitaire play was always my first love with these things, particularly the complicated or large games, where getting people together to play them was a logistical nightmare.
I also love RPGs, and to me the fiddling with inventory and stats and stuff is very similar to managing things like, from Bruce's example, division integrity or combined arms bonuses, or upgrading from an M4 to an M4A2E8 or whatever.
Ultimately though it is the history that gets me, either with actual history or hypotheticals grounded in history--NATO/Warsaw Pact games back in the day, for instance. And yes, I would usually (and once in a while still do) go get a book or re-read a book or two on the battle when I got a new game.
Tim just PMed me a link to this - sorry, I'm very sporadic in my forum reading, and have been for a long time. But the fundamental question was about how best to appreciate wargames. I think that's a question everyone has to answer for himself. I can tell you exactly how I appreciate or experience them, and that is that when I read about something interesting in military history, I'm immediately curious as to how that could be simulated/gamed. Often, the question is more important than actually playing the game. I love systems, and simulation, and Tim's F1 analogy just about perfectly describes my reaction to watching or reading about military history.
People gave great answers here, and each person's answer is absolutely true for them. I have an acquaintance who is very interested in history, but has absolutely no interest in gaming it. He's a big Civil War buff, and one day I showed him some Civil War computer games, from Battleground Gettysburg to Sid Meier's Gettysburg and Frank Hunter's strategic-level Civil War game. He was fascinated by the idea that there were these meticulous recreations (he kept calling them "recreations") but had absolutely no interest in playing them. (He's not a gamer in general.) He toyed with Sid Meier's Gettysburg a bit, but had zero interest in figuring out any fire strengths in Battleground Gettysburg, or playing a hex-based game. In the end, nothing about playing a "game" interested him, even though the game was about a topic he enjoyed. On the other hand, he liked battle re-enactments, and I don't have any interest in that. It's just a different way of appreciating history.
But everyone here is obviously a gamer, so I think that games and history are appealing in a complementary way. As Tim is interested in history and is trying to get into wargaming, I would just recommend finding a game that interests you and then picking up something about the battle. If you're playing Command Ops: Highway to the Reich, just read Cornelius Ryan's A Bridge Too Far or read Anthony Beevor's book about Stalingrad when you're playing the drive on Stalingrad scenarios in Unity of Command. I know that when I was reading John Keegan's Civil War book last year, I immediately pulled out some old Civil War strategic-level games to see how they addressed certain aspects of the war.
Last edited by Brooski; 02-20-2012 at 10:24 AM. Reason: Wrote "The Longest Day" when I meant "A Bridge Too Far."
I bet the same thing will happen with wargames. I know it's possible based on your Eagle Day series. But I don't think it will hit home until I see it for myself. I'd love to read about a clever flanking maneuver in an operational scenario, then try it in a wargame that matches that history. I believe even the Unity of Command guys bragged about this, didn't they?
Perfect, thanks....or read Anthony Beevor's book about Stalingrad when you're playing the drive on Stalingrad scenarios in Unity of Command.
This reminds me: I think I actually read a book on Stalingrad! It was probably a decade ago. It might have been Enemy at the Gates by William Craig. Maybe it was after I saw the movie of the same name. I wasn't compelled to play a wargame afterwards, but that's because I wasn't following the genre at the time.
It's still not clear to me how history and wargaming complement each other. Will Beevor's book directly translate to strategy I can use in a game? Or will I see the same units and divisions, remember their real-world stories, and hope they complete their mission safely? Or do the game and book merely complement each other in terms of appreciating the context? I realize everyone will appreciate different things, but I don't understand what those things are yet.
I'll be able to answer this myself when I finally get time to play. I'm just curious in the meantime.
Tim, the answer to your question on how the book will relate to the game (and vice versa) depends a lot on the game itself. Is it a tactical or strategic game? How detailed is it (e.g. is it so detailed it includes supply disruption such as resistance blowing supply train rail tracks?)
For me, there are two levels in which the historical knowledge and the gaming tie together. I'm one of those who will get into a battle or theater, such as Antietam or Arnhem, and then I will read books, articles, etc. and immerse myself in it, then find a good game on the topic. On the one level, if the game is really good, I test out the "what ifs" - what if the commander had decided to take a different approach, made a different decision, etc.? Does the game simulate the battle well enough to provide reasonable results as to what might have happened? Which is why I'll play a game a few times using the historical approach first, to see if it simulates the actual results well. Understanding that there should be some variability in the action and results, the whole "for want of a nail" syndrome. Then I'll try the variations.
But the other aspect of researching a battle or theater first is just providing some context in your mind as to what is going on when you play the game. If you realize how the Russians threw masses of men into the major battles, in complete suicide attacks that required Russian machine gunners behind them to shoot them if they didn't press forward into certain slaughter, then those counters on the screen or board taking huge losses become something more than calculations.
Okay, sounds like I'm on the right track. I bet it'll be right up my alley. I feel like I'm already halfway there. I just need to see it work in a wargame, like I saw flight maneuvers work in a flight sim.
Dear the grognards: Note that Unity of Command now has a Mac Beta (and is on sale):
PS: My description of UoC to a friend of mine: "It's just like Hearts of Iron, except for the thing where it doesn't suck."
Wasn't sure where to put this and didn't want to start a new thread so I put it here, since I think it touches on a lot of the points just discussed. The Hunters is a solitaire board game about the U-boat campaign coming out from Consim Press (through the GMT Project 500 system) which seems to approach the subject from the perspective of a historical role-playing game.
This seems like a very tactical game as opposed to the other "well-known" solitaire U-boat board game, Steel Wolves. I'm interested because the designer posted some interesting designer's notes about it. I know that if I want to play a single-player game about being a U-boat commander, I can play Silent Hunter III. But for some reason, I'm more inclined to play this.
Game page is here.
Pre-order price is just $28.
Disclaimer: I have no involvement with this game - I just find the topic very interesting from a "touching history" standpoint.
Matrix has released an expansion to War in the East, called Donau to the Danube. I wasn't even aware of any plans of making an expansion, so this is pleasant news to me.
It's basically just a collection of 10 new scenarios, but since the game is kind of lacking in shorter scenarios, that's quite welcome. Also, the digital version is only $15, which isn't a bad price, especially compared to the price of the full game. :)
Here's a link.