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My thoughts on AT after a couple of days

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My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/14/2007 5:53:25 PM   


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I posted my thoughts over on my favorite general gaming forum, but I'm also posting them here.


I picked this up Wednesday. In the first few hours I played the Tutorial and the Training scenarios and started the Africa '41 scenario. The game seemed, well, interesting, but it didn't really grab me.

Then I tried my first random scenario and that was what made the game click for me. The game system is rather abstracted and it cannot be as exact a simulation of many WW2 battles and campaigns as are the games from HPS and others. TOAW3, for instance, really does a better job if you are looking for a gaming system that duplicates the historic situations as much as you can in a computer wargame.

Where the game really shines is in the way it can integrate research, production, supply and operations. And it really goes to town when you play a random scenario where you start off with just a few basic units researched and only one production center. You have to balance military expansion to build a formidable force with the need to send out speedy units to seize the neutral towns. Throw into that mix the need to research new unit types, produce political points to enable you to create HQs and Units (the containers that hold the sub-formations where the actual troops reside).

As the turns unfold, you explore the map. The map can be shrouded a la Civ so that you have to discover what the heck is even out there in the way of terrain, or you can just have fog of war so that all the terrain is visible but not the enemy. Or you can have a game where everything is visible to everyone.

When you start bumping into the enemy you might get a surprise, because perhaps he's researching and building types of units (actually called SFTypes, or sub-formation types) that you haven't bothered with. Imagine my surprise in one game when the AI suddenly started attacking with divebombers and I hadn't even bothered with any flight units or AAA.

Throw in engineers to build roads and bridges and other stuff, a whole naval aspect including surface ships and subs, aircraft carriers and troop transports, and did I mention there are paratroops and air supply? Sheesh, the whole supply infrastructure is really something too.

So, it there don't seem to be a lot of battles included, it's not a problem. Like winSPMBT/winSPWW2 and some other game systems, you might fine you have more fun just playing random encounters.

Did I mention that there can be up to nine sides (called regimes) in a game? There are.

Oh, and there is a full editor and lots of tutorials hosted over at the developer's site. And a quickly growing number of new scenarios. Cool.

I guess you can see I like the game. Honestly I wasn't sure I was going to, and this was kind of an impulse purchase for me, but I'm glad I did.

Post #: 1
RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/14/2007 6:31:39 PM   


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Temple - you mention that the game can't recreate historical scenarios well - however I feel quite differently. I've played the Russia 41 scenario PBEM (am in 2 games now) as well as against the AI and my feeling is that it's probably the best simulation of the Russian front that I've ever played on a computer.

I've played computer games since 1980 with my favorite genre being turn based strategy. I've played Grigsby's War in Russia (or whatever the name was) by SSG, War in Russia by SSI, Eastern Front by Chris Crawford, Clash of Steel, Strategic Command, Strategic Command 2, Commander Europe at War, The Big Three, and other assorted WW2 or East Front games that I can't recall the name of right now.

I've also spent thousands of hours playing boardgames including several playings of Fire In the East/Scorched Earth, Drang Nach Osten/Unentscheiden, Russian Campaign, and a TON of other boardgames covering the Russian Front. This scenario in my opinion is very historical at least as far as I've gone with it so far - into I really disagree that this game can't simulate historical situations or campaigns.

FYI - I'd certainly consider myself a grognard since I've played a LOT of monster board games (Clash of Arms napoleonics, Terrible Swift Sword, World in Flames, ASL, Phoenix Games Stalingrad boardgame, etc, etc) thousands and thousands of hours as well as bought every possible turn based strategy game ever released for the PC that slightly interested me. I've also spent thousands of hours playing miniatures, micro armor, 15mm napoleonics, etc etc. I've also read very extensively on several periods of history (Mellenthin's Panzer Battles, Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon (3 times!), etc)and majored in history in college.

Seriously - this game recreates historical campaigns very well.....perhaps if you use a microscope and look at the unit names you won't be happy but for the overall feeling and flow of campaigns it does a fantastic job recreating historical situations and putting you in charge. Supply, interdiction, air, combined arms, terrain, weather, fatigue, experience factors, research - all of these are well modeled.

Anyway this is just my opinion but it's not an opinion coming from no experience w/ computer games, boardgames or history.

I just don't agree when people try to dismiss this as a beer and pretzels game that can't model historical campaigns - it certainly can in this man's opinion. :)


(in reply to Temple)
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RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/14/2007 6:39:18 PM   


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Same here. Russia 1941 gives a good feeling. And it simulates Barbarossa not so bad i think.
But i must say i do not care so much about unit names etc. It has a good unit balance.
When i played this the first time i had immediately the "War in Russia"-feeling back.

You can simulate accurate battles and OOB´s, you just can´t have the unit structures you probably want.
Abstraction....but that doesn´t mean you can´t create a realistic OOB.

< Message edited by seille -- 12/14/2007 6:45:51 PM >

(in reply to jjdenver)
Post #: 3
RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/14/2007 6:41:12 PM   
Captain Cruft

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AT is a turn-based RTS which can also do a pretty good job of simulating historical conflicts in a "non-grognard" manner. Though, there are some of us who will doubtless be trying to make it a bit more "groggy" as we go along. Even if that's just along the lines of changing "Medium Tank II" into "PzKpfw IVg".

(in reply to jjdenver)
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RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/14/2007 9:06:42 PM   


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I have come to the realisation that this games greatest strength will be the grand strategy games.
4-9 player scenarios like Great War, Euro Diplomacy shows where the greatest potential lies in getting the large player base
I hope more games like that is created. Personally I would like to see attempts at Mideaval, Age of Muskets etc.
Why not a game set in same era as Europa Universalis? Shogun? Romance of the three Kingdoms, potential is endless.


(in reply to Captain Cruft)
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RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/14/2007 11:06:44 PM   


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I agree with Temple regarding AT abstracting the detail in comparison to TOAW, and I also used the Africa campaign as my point of reference. Bob Cross made an absolutely awesome scenario for TOAW dealing with Rommell in the desert. I haven't played the Russia campaign because, like Temple, I found the joys of the random game and haven't looked back.

Of the two, I much prefer AT because of the abstraction and the fact that you don't need to get bogged down in the detail.

(in reply to marcusm)
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RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/15/2007 2:41:18 AM   


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Maybe some of you missed it, but I was being very complimentary to the game. I, like jjdenver, have a long background of wargaming in board games as well as computers. And a lifelong interest in military history. I find AT to be more like SPI's Strategy I where you had an abstract nation and forces, but it was based on WW2-type weapons systems. My point was that the game can only give a feel of an historic campaign like North Africa because of several reasons. As seille notes, there is a lack of unit structures matching the real world situation. I can rebuild and reassign sub-formations without any political considerations. And there are other reasons as well. My point is that this really doesn't matter, because the game is really like the old AH Blitzkrieg. It is suggestive of WW2 campaigns, but not slavishly tied to them. I think that's a good thing. 

(in reply to Das123)
Post #: 7
RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/15/2007 2:50:04 AM   


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Personally I am thinking of the old SSI Wargame Construction Set done right.
WCS was a good idea but a bit flawed. Ok, AT can't do tactical nor unit centric but almost everything else is possible it seems.

This game has huge potential, hope everyone sticks with it.


(in reply to Temple)
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RE: My thoughts on AT after a couple of days - 12/15/2007 3:55:22 AM   


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I don't actually like hte random game - IMO specialised 4-X games do it better.

But AT does give a very good high level strategic game - ie at a level where individual unit makeup did vary considerably - so Barbarossa/Russian front scenarios are good at an army/front level.......but the Nth African one less so IMO - Nth Africa is at a level where it could do with a more rigid unit organisation model - you've only got a dozen or so divisions on each side & we know pretty much what was in them and htey were organised along fairly rigid lines.

(in reply to marcusm)
Post #: 9
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