Today, I return to one of the original games from my channel: Advanced Tactics Gold. This is a brilliant World War 2, operational-level strategy game with production management. (That's a mouthful.)
But this game remains one of my favorites of all time, and I'd love to take a moment to share with you the brilliance of combining a somewhat-contrived resource management system with both random map generation and the hex-based combat that remains satisfying for me to this day.
NOTE: This is an older game, and I'm not sure screen resolution will play nice for us. Technical difficulty advisory warning!
In today’s video we return to the final edition in the Sid Meier’s Civil War collection, Sid Meier’s South Mountain. South Mountain was a free add on for owners of Sid Meier’s Antietam and looked at the historical battles of the passes in an around South Mountain on the eve of the Battle of Antietam. Antietam itself was the sequel to the 1997 wargame classic, Sid Meier’s Gettysburg. In this video we fight the Battle of Crampton's Gap and hope for a decisive result against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia which will allow a breakthrough to liberate the forces near Harper's Ferry..
A fairly by-the-numbers week, with a healthy dose of announcements and cool stuff happening in our corner of digital gaming. I've been jonsing to play something wargame-y or even just strategy game-y recently, as I haven't had much opportunity to game on my own time. Closest I've come is that me and my wife randomly decided to check out World of Warcraft. That counts, right?
We’ve had a good range of content go up this week, from my quick breakdown of Military Operations new gameplay test, to Bill’s review of an excellent Hex-and-Counter wargame from GMT Games. We also launched the first part in a new mini-series from one of our new contributors. Bruce is a big fan of CMANO and a regular player and is going to be writing up some short & sweet guides looking at various aspects of Air Command in the game.
Meanwhile, in the world of wargaming…
Armored Brigade Beta
It’s a good thing we were paying attention as this doesn’t seem to have been advertised via Matrix Games’ RSS/News feed (although it was shared via Twitter, at least). Armored Brigade’s Beta is now live, and you can sign up to participate here.
We’re actually quite excited for this Close Combat-esque WW3 game. You should check out the official page If you want to know more, they’ve given it a serious face-life since the last time we checked.
Advanced Tactics Gold
Something that did go out over the Matrix news feed though is an announcement the Advanced Tactics Gold community is both awesome and ridiculous.
After years of hard work, a dedicated group of modders have finished the final release of their GD ’38 mod, which is a PBEM scenario that spans the entire globe, clocking in at 400 hexes.
… with Burden of Command’s latest ‘tactical teaser’ video, as well as a shiny new Steam page. If you’ve forgotten what this project is Burden of Command describes itself as a ‘tactical leadership RPG’. It’s less a wargame, and more an exploration of the trials of command via tactical scenarios. It’s set during WW2 and will cover plenty of historical battles from Morocco to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. As Company Captain, you have to try and lead your men to victory while keeping their morale up and your forces intact.
Now, if I were to put my game critic hat on for a second, this trailer does rely a little bit too much non-game footage to drive a sense of drama that may not actually be there. I did find myself wanting just more raw-gameplay, as opposed to a bunch of documentary clips that don’t actually have anything to do with the game. Still, it’s a teaser, it’s purpose is to generate hype and oh hey look, I got hype.
Victory at Sea: Pacific
The developers of Victory at Sea’s much anticipated sequel dropped another bombshell on us this week. They didn’t really announce anything specific per se, but they did publish a video showing off nearly an hour’s worth of gameplay.
It does a good job of showcasing various aspects of the game, although I don’t think it really showed off much of the land-based mechanics. Granted, this is a game about the naval war, but the main purpose of the Pacific theatre was to clear the Japanese off the Pacific islands, so they could threaten the mainland itself. Some more details as to how that stuff happens would be good to know.
If you’re a member of the Quarter to Three forums, or generally know of/follow Bruce Geryk on his Wargame_[Spcace] blog, you may have seen he recently dug into a claim made regarding the number of physical wargames published in a year.
Admittedly, he only used BoardGamesGeek’s database as the data pool, but then the claim he was trying to debunk also used the same database, so it evens out. The full story, as well as Bruce’s workings and ultimate finds are detailed in this blog post. Tl;dr - the BoardGameGeek's 'wargame' category sucks, and there's not many wargame releases in a year (depending on your criteria).
It’s fascinating stuff, and it makes me wonder what the landscape is like for computer wargames. Probably not much better, If not worse.
That’s all for this week’s round-up, enjoy your weekends and happy wargaming!
Command Modern Air/Naval operations (CMANO) is a complex game, but it is one that rewards study and a bit of trial and error. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing the game, but I still learn new things every single time I have a look on the forums. A big part of the infamous learning curve is finding the best way to use the mission planner to launch air strikes. In first in a short series of short articles, I will be looking at different parts of the overall strike plane.
To start with we’re going to look at something simple: delivering the weapons to a target. It’s much easier to demonstrate this than just talk about it, and so I’ve set up a simple scenario in the game editor.
In the scenario a flight of four Tornadoes from RAF Lossiemouth are making a simulated attack on RAF Leuchars. The primary targets for the strike are the eight aircraft hangars at the airfield (six on the west of the base and two on the north-east corner) and each Tornado is loaded with 8xM18 retarded bombs (these have airbrakes to let the aeroplane get away from the blast circle and so can be dropped from low altitude).
Now, it is possible to micro-manage strikes by manually setting courses, altitudes, speeds and weapon allocations, but this is pain in big scenarios and I kind of feel that it’s cheating a bit. I prefer to use the mission editor, spend a bit of time planning the strike and then letting it run its course. To set up the strike on the base I’ve selected the base and then chosen ‘Add a new mission’ from the ‘Missions and Ref Points’ menu. I’ve called the mission ‘Strike’, assigned all four Tornadoes to it and deleted all the targets I don’t want (everything other than the hangars) from the target list. The mission planner screen now looks like this:
As the strike approaches the target all four of the Tornadoes head for the same hangar (the first one in the target list). The lead two aeroplanes reach the launch point nearly at the same time and launch sixteen bombs at the first hangar:
The hangar is obliterated, and the third plane targets and destroys the other nearby hangar. The fourth aircraft, which has been trailing the others now has no target on its flight path as the other hangars are on the opposite side of the airbase. This aircraft now turns around the airbase on a big arc and then targets one of the hangars on the opposite side of the base.
Once again, the targeted hangar is destroyed, and the last Tornado joins the others on their way home. The total kills on the strike are three of the eight targets. Also, if the airbase had air defence it is virtually certain that the last aircraft would have been killed while making its second pass. This strike really hasn’t been well planned – let’s see if we can do better.
The first problem we have is in weapon allocation. The default setting is for ALL the planes to drop ALL their bombs on a single target – if the aircraft in the attack had been closer together then all 32 bombs would have been dropped on the first hangar. This is obviously a bit of overkill. The target hangers have 600 damage points, and each bomb can deal 270 DPs. Not every bomb is going to hit, but in a low level attack the scatter isn’t going to be too large – four bombs per target should do the trick. We can fix this by setting the ‘Weapon Release Authorization’ for the 1000lb bombs in the mission doctrine. It’s also possible to set the authorization globally, but for strike planning it makes sense to adjust things to suit the targets. In this case I’ve set the ‘Weapons per Salvo’ for both soft and hardened land structures to 4 rounds:
The next thing we need to do is make sure that the aircraft have a flight path and target list that will allow them to hit things on a single pass. The six hangars on the western side of the base make a good target group and are in a line. The other two hangars are north-east, but should be reachable from a strike line that runs west to east. There is a problem with adding the two eastern hangars immediately after the mission is created however. If we do this the medium hangars are placed at the top of the target list and become the primary targets of the mission. This will cause the aircraft to head for those two hangars first and then double back to hit the western targets. There is, unfortunately, no way to reorder the targets on the list.
However, there is a ‘fix’ for this that seems to work. You need to set up a strike with only the western hangars as a target. The strike line is adjusted by moving the initial point (IP) and exit point to give a line over the western targets, and the mission is ‘fixed’ by running the simulation for a few seconds. You can see the strike fixing when the exit point moves onto the last target. The other two hangars can then be added as targets without affecting the bombing paths.
The ‘fix’ works, but isn’t ideal. It would be nice if the target order could be adjusted, but this isn’t possible at the moment. Another solution would be to create two missions: one for the group of hangars in the west and one (with a single aircraft) for the group in the north east.
This time the strike goes brilliantly. All eight hangars are destroyed and all of the aircraft make only a single pass over the target.
There might seem to be a lot of work involved in setting up a strike in the mission editor, but for me this is where a lot of the fun in the game lies. There is nothing better than watching a well-planned strike dealing simulated death and destruction!
Bruce is one of Wargamer.com's brand new contributors - we're reaching out to people through-out the digital wargaming community and offering them a platform to talk about their passions and expertise in war games.
Another HITS video, this time covering Gerard's initial assault on the town of Ligny with two divisions of his 4th Corps. This video is actually the first time Ive achieved a major victory playing HITS for this scenario. Hope you guys enjoy it.
Sometimes superior fire support makes ALL the difference in a battle. Shock and awe my friends, shock and awe. Make sure to like, comment and subscribe for more strategy! Also make sure to add us on discord and Twitch, we'll be using both quite regularly as we move into the future. https://discord.gg/fKVTEdrhttps://www.twitch.tv/agrippamaxentius