In this Let's Play I'll be playing Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge, the latest in a series of excellent wargames on the Command Ops engine developed by Panther Games
and published by Matrix.
This newest addition to the series builds on improvements in past titles, and adds improved AI and scenario, map, and estab editors. With these tools it is now possible to model practically any action in WW2, and probably WWI and Korea as well. There are already scenarios in the works for the American landings at Anzio and other battles in the Italian Campaign. Theoretically we now have the tools to make scenarios from the East front to the South Pacific.
The past titles are also very good and you can probably find them for pretty cheap.
Airborne Assault: Red Devils Over Arnhem is the first game in the series. It covers Operation Market Garden, specifically the British airborne drops to seize the Arnhem
The next game, Highway to the Reich, still covers Market Garden but expands the scope to the 82nd and 101st airborne drops to secure the Eindhoven and Nijmegen bridges, as
well as 30 Corps advance and rescue attempt. This game adds more sophisticated supply modeling.
Conquest of the Aegean deals with the little known German airborne invasion of Crete and other operations in Greece. This one adds more objective orders and numerous
The AI in the game is really superb. This is the only game out there in my opinion that gives a realistic simulation of the command experience at this level. There are lots that do the tactical level well, but none that cover division and corps level command like this. The basic premise is that you give orders like a real commander- 1st Battalion, take this town- and the AI acts as your staff, works out the best route to the objective and comes up with an attack plan, then issues the orders to the subordinate units. This leaves the player to focus on the big picture, logistics, and enemy intentions. If you choose you can take direct control of the smallest units, but if you do this too much your staff will become overloaded and orders will be increasingly delayed. Letting the AI take control of subordinate units is not a unique concept, but what is special in this game is how competent the AI is. Basically it's what Paradox tried to do in Hearts of Iron 3, but this game does it right."Wait,"
you might ask, "Is this one of those turn based hex games with a 300 page manual and stats that make your eyes bleed?"
NO! SHUT UP!
No hexes, pausable real time, and you don't ever have to look at stats if you don't want to. And besides, the manual is only 200 pages."But I get to control lots of guys, right? I want to send mans to pew pew and blast nazis!"
Yes most scenarios give you control of tens of thousands of men, and hundreds of tanks, armored cars, and artillery."Dude, that must look epic! I bet I need a sweet new computer to keep up with all that directx 11 shit."
Well not exactly, because your units look like this:"But... that's a square with numbers on it!"
That's C company of the 318th infantry battalion. They've got 150 men and loads of rifles, machine guns, and bazookas. And there's lots more where they came from."Where are my mans?!
It's ok, you get tanks and stuff too."Well... tanks are pretty rad I guess."
"FUCK!"I suppose there aren't even any nazis to pew pew?"
There's totally Nazis, hordes of them coming at you from all directions. They attacked on Christmas during a snowstorm to achieve total surprise and deny the Allies use of air support. It will take all you can do to hold them back."That sounds pretty good, as long as I can blast nazis!"
So this isn't a game you play for amazing graphics, and the sound effects are utilitarian as well. But the maps are easy to read, they are based on scans of historical maps of the time and are accurate to 10m. The graphics convey a lot of information at a glance. The little icon in the upper right corner of the counter can cycle through all sorts of information displays, from morale to ammo, to combat status.
This game just came out, and I've only played the tutorial. I'll be learning as I play, hopefully any mistakes I make will be hilarious. There are 30 scenarios to choose from, and some of them get pretty huge. I'll probably choose a smaller one to start with, and if enough people are interested I'll do more after.
I wanted to do a let's play of this game because I loved the previous games, and presenting a clear plan and documenting the execution makes the game more fun for me. But also this game is different from many of the games we talk about on these boards, so I wanted to let people unfamiliar with wargames know what they are like and how much fun they can be.