I think I was actually one of the first 3 to download the game when it came out. pressing the refresh button like crazy before release
I started playing the Germans first, than switched to the Russians and then played about even. At the time I had two passions, IL2 Sturmovik flight sim and WITE (or wargaming in general). I've played numerous hard core wargames over the years including boardgames and I have about 5000 15mm hand painted Napoleonic figurines.
Anyway, I didn't stop playing because I was tired of the game but rather because I was deeply involved in the IL2 Sim world including campaign design, and when I got the opportunity to design a Mediterranean 4 map multi sector campaign, I couldn't refuse. The challenge was to great to pass up on. It took 6 months to setup (creating maps, sorting out which air/ground/naval units were involved, writing the rules, getting the participating squads to agree, etc...) and a year to run. More than 300 "pilots" participated. I build a custom "server" based on the then latest I7 with a watercooling kit and overclocked it to 4,5GHz (IL2 is old and can only use on CPU), upgraded my internet connection to 10Mb up and for the first time in IL2 campaign history we could fly 45v45 humans, with 2 missions a week, it was a fulltime job. Off course it proved impossible to please everyone. Endless discussions about play balance, the rules (which they all agreed too before the campaign), the planes, the ground units, etc... turned that year into a nightmare. Well, after that I was done with IL2. If things can get a bit rough on these forums rest assured, it's pinots in comparison BTW, this forum is a place of Zen in comparison to when I left.
My main purpose of doing this AAR is (besides that it's fun) is to get help with the new rules and keep note of the changes. Perhaps it will be helpful for other players out there as well.
Feel free to comment, make jokes and give advice or just lurk.