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.
Rimworld In-Process Review
I’m a sucker for a game where I can lay the groundwork and watch the chaos run. In years past I loved making a stable SimCity and then watching as it slowly grew from one disaster to the next. The pace was nice, it was my pace, I could control the growth, and at some level, the chaos.
Lately I’ve been thinking about wargames. Particularly the design of wargames, not so much layout, but how we actually receive the information from the game. I’ve realized that a great deal of what we deal with today is simply an effort to use the hex-and-counter of the 1970’s and 1960’s. Is this ideal or is it just a relic from when the granularity of the information was relegated to cardboard?
First it’s a matter of scale. At the top end we have a game like Risk that models scale on an almost continental level. Russia for example is one space. The United States is two spaces. Maneuvering of any sort is out of the question, you’re shifting assets on a global scale. Who cares if you can envelop that flank, it’s abstracted in the scale.
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.
Total War : Warhammer drops you into a realm of magical and martial violence without much of a tutorial on how these units actually fight. That Orc warband should be easy, those undead should die, hell, the little orange bar says so. Then, lo-and-behold you get stomped.
Well we’ve got some options. Lets go over the hows and the whys of using your formations.