Unity of Command: redo history

, | Game diaries

There’s no undo button in Unity of Command. If I move a unit accidentally, I can’t take it back.
The developers say they’re working to add this feature. In the meantime, I can always redo the
scenario. I’m starting to understand how that’s part of the appeal.

After the jump, wargaming’s relationship with history

I’m not a wargamer (yet) but I’ve been trying to find out what makes them tick. Some wargamers use the genre as a laboratory for history. For example, what would happen during the Fall Blau
campaign if the Germans had moved troops down another flank? It’s a fascinating question.

To answer it, a wargame needs to model reality well enough to test alternatives. Unity of
Command does so to some extent. The game systems reflect the significance of time, the agony
of bad weather, and the importance of watching my flank. I saw all that in an after action report
for the Case Blue scenario. The author, ComradeP, raced unsupplied troops toward the objectives, using airborne supply drops for critical divisions before linking up supplies at the last moment. I don’t know whether the operation played out like that in history, but it’s appealing to think about it.

I posted a question on the forums to ask wargamers directly why they like the genre. Some of them
approach it from a military history angle. The real-world story and history of each division lend
weight to the simple icons and numbers. It also works in reverse, providing context to history
by playing the game. The developers encourage this by placing units in historically accurate
locations. In the Operation Uranus scenario (pictured), each division roughly matches its location
on a real battle map. I’d need more detailed maps to judge how well the developers did. Either
way, I appreciate that they tried.

This type of simulation may be the ultimate appeal of wargames for me. I want to see the battles
play out like they did in history. Then I want to do better. It’s the same reason I enjoy racing
sims. I have real-life experience driving a car at the limit, and it’s thrilling to see sim racing work
the same way. Unity of Command doesn’t try to reach this level of fidelity. It balances realism
with elegant mechanics and attractive looks. It’s a challenging and rewarding game, but it’s only
a gateway. Now I’m ready to step through it.

Click here for the previous entry.

Tim James is recovering from Mass Effect 3, which he reviewed here, by exploring wargames after decades of curiosity.