One of the greatest problems with wargames is the perfect knowledge issue. I see the entire battlefield while you also see the entire battlefield. The fog of war is, for the most part, non-existent. Card Driven Games add a new element as you may not know what abilities your opponent has or whether or not he can activate a unit. PC games are able to act as a moderator, a referee of sorts, and give you that blind issue. But still, you are (usually) an omnipotent commander who relays orders.
Lately I’ve been working on a few new games that are pushing my strategy gaming boundaries. Yes, the Decisive Campaigns Barbarossa campaign is done. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I binge played through to the end of the war. I had a few sudden breakthroughs and, well, I kind of ended the war. So I took a brief hiatus, played a few less groggy games, and at the same time beefed up my boardgame collection. Like, seriously beefed it up.
But first, Command.
The first month was definitely the goldilocks days. We had plenty of fuel, short supply lines, a steady blitz, and the encirclements were epic.
My son asked me, “Dad, why do you like to play games with guys in grey jackets fighting guys in brown jackets?”
Which I thought was pretty observant for a 6 six year old. And I really didn’t have much of an answer. So I explained it that he likes to play trains, I like to play wargames. Simple enough I guess, but it kind of stuck with me.
Here we are! Turn three and our Panzer divisions are finally starting to show some wear and tear. Plus I have to define some cards, as my Aide de Camp is proud to remind me of.
The Assault Begins
Hello and welcome back to Turn 2 of our invasion of Russia. Our first turn had us encircling Brest-Litovsk and also making pocket big enough to trap a whole bunch of Soviet units around Bialystok. Up North things are heating up and on the Romanian front we are just getting moving. For the moment our supply situation is looking good. This will change quicker than an M5 Stuart crossing an open field.
First off we’ll set out some ground rules for the game. The first round will be a single turn. After that each of these posts will represent two (2) in game turns or eight days. If this pace seems too slow then we’ll bump it up and see how it feels.
As far as strategy I don’t intend to differ much from the game layout. But this will depend on what is my main objective. I may swap a Panzer Corp from one theater to the next if it’s necessary. Ideally I’ll make strong headway into Leningrad, Moscow, and Rostov. But if it comes down to it, I’ll focus on the main objective.
As far as political guidelines, I’ll try to focus on keeping everyone in supply and moving along happily. Since I’m not an expert by any means it’s likely I’ll support Hitler and get the extra political points. Pissing off the Train Nazi is to be avoided, the same with the Truck Nazi. In a perfect world one of the Panzer Corp Commanders will like me. Past experience tells me that no one will like me come October. But hey, that’s the fun of it.
The track is a monstrosity, each section is roughly three foot by three foot, dense MDF, routered lines and copper wires. At each joint is a meticulous melding of wood and slots. I’m staring at the largest slot car racing track I’ve ever seen. Sweat pours off of us as each piece is carefully positioned into a basement. The man overseeing it all, John, is in his early 60’s, a bit plump, and man, he’s really into slot cars.
I’m, well, not. We work side by side for hours but never really seem to click. This guy is into his slot cars, like REALLY into them. So after awhile we talk about the disconnect. Why am I not into them?
Decisive Campaigns : Barbarossa is VRDesigns take on the War in the East. Actually, it’s not, it’s just Barbarossa. That’s a huge distinction we need to get out of the way right now.
This is not War in the East.
This is a different game on the Eastern Front. It models not only the movement of troops and supplies as we’d come to expect but more interestingly it models the political in-fighting and clash of personalities that nearly crippled the German Army in 1941. I recently read Brian Fugate’s book on Barbarossa and I was amazed at how often the Germans almost tantrumed themselves right out of the war. Literally like a bunch of angry school children. There were egos, prejudices, and of course rivalries.
After listening to Dan Carlin’s latest Hardcore History podcast on the Persian Empire I had a hankering for some phalanx’s and good old fashioned ancient battles. This is an era that gets overshadowed by, well, just about every other genre. How many games do we really need about World War 2 Tank Battles? The niche for ancient battles is pretty narrow, but luckily HexWar has a few offerings for those ancient gods of war.