From: Out of the Silent Planet
I bought WBTS upon first release, and enjoyed learning the rules and playing the first few turns. The Tutorials were very well done. It is still installed on my HD.
I own all 3 of the strategic Civil War games published by Matrix, and I would summarize them as follows:
1. WC's "Fields of Fire": The American Civil War by way of Harry Turtledove. The tactical battles are great fun. The R&D/production system lapses into science-fiction/fantasy outcomes towards the end.
2. AGEOD's ACW: A "Hot Mess". Like a former model I used to know, incredibly beautiful, and incredibly high-maintenance. Very impressive, and gorgeous to look at, but requiring such an attention to detail almost all strategic perspective is lost.
3. GG's WBTS: A good balance of military and industrial concerns. Focus stays strictly on the strategic conduct of the war.
The initial AAR's presented here (when the game was in development) are what drew me to consider purchasing the game. I hope further ones are forthcoming from those still actively playing it, as they are an excellent way to learn how to play it.
I believe WBTS suffered somwhat in relative popularity (vs. the other 2 titles) due to:
1. The rather occlusive importance (and property) of supplies.
The depot rules affecting initiative changed noticeably throughout the successive patches. Combined with the need to play the game a fair number of times to acquire a true appreciation for the importance of supply to initiative, and having this "masked" behind the inter-related factors of Army & Leader command ratings, made the game daunting to comprehend for a new player.
2. The failure of the tutorials to keep pace with the changes made in successive patches.
This made it very difficult for beginning players to orient themselves successfully to the design. Progressing through the tutorials gave them not only a huge amount of information to process (some of the tutorials introduced too many new concepts at once; they needed to be broken up), but some of the information proved to be completely wrong (e.g., the advice to Southern players re:not needing depots as much as the North).
3. The imbalance attendant to historical hindsight.
The Union ability to immediately pursue an off-coast blockade/garrison strategy, and the Confederacy's learning to building multiple factories for domestic supply production straight off the bat, both hurt the "balance" of the game.
Also, the limitation of Confederate "heavy production" to certain regions, and the ability of an experienced Union player to go through the map (database) region-by-region and "cherry pick" the necessary Confederate regions off, hurts it as well.
I have enjoyed WBTS, but not played it as much as some of my other purchases from Matrix, or Gary's other titles. It was released at about the same time as SSG's excellent update of their DBoWWII system (Kharkov: Disaster on the Donets), and that captured more of my attention. I do look forward very much to Gary's next game.
< Message edited by Def Zep -- 5/15/2010 4:15:52 PM >