From: Burlington, Ontario
Hi Nils - its nice to welcome a SimCan veteran to the ranks!
1. The NATO and WP forces had a *lot* of engineers in their real life OBs and it just became cumbersome to keep dealing with them all the time. It gave the AI fits too. We looked at the essence of the engineering capability and ended up deciding to abstract them a little. At least one of the scenarios still has an engineering counter as I recall and it would not be a big deal to put some back in a little later. The only real loss as you note is that you do not have engineers to lay minefields during the course of the game. The scenarios play so fast so that we found that by the time the engineers had received their orders, moved and laid the fields (30 minutes for the latter alone) the game was often pretty much over. Once you get used to artillery delivered minefields (circa 10 minutes tops) then you get out of the mood of wanting to wait.... Building and blowing bridges are far more important and these we just streamlined.
2. Ah, the other unit orders. They were in the game originally but after a while they just did not seem sufficiently distinct from what else was in there to be worth the effort. Even when I studied the original source code is was hard to tell what the difference was. My recollection is that they were really aliases for different sets of unit SOP settings and these in turn drove the behaviour that you saw (or thought you saw). I deemphasized SOP in FPG for a while in favour of giving the player more direct control and so these other orders faded into obscurity. I am on an SOP kick again right now but I would still rather just let the player change SOP directly rather than collar him with my preset assumptions.
3. Group orders. After you give the orders you can click on each unit in the group in turn and drag the waypoints to just where you want them. (This does not cost you order points if you are playing with the limited staff rule.) This is how you should create your formations, etc. If this is not good enough then just create the first group waypoint and make that the center of your formation staging area. Then go back through the units and move their waypoints into a formation of choice. When all of these moves are complete then your forces will be ready for another group order to make their advance to contact or whatever. Sometimes it takes a little time and care to get these things right, but that is why we kept the unit density down (Steve Newberg of SimCan was adamant about this when we discussed FPG back at the beginning) and the games are pretty short anyway. As in many things, taking the time to set up the attack properly pays dividends later.
FPG is my first Matrixgame ever (and this is my first post in this forum, too...).
Being a big fan of the old school SimCan MBT games, I was eagerly awaiting the release of FPG. Bought it the very first day and, overall, I am impressed! The graphics are cool, the game play is challenging, and the cold war is one of my favourite wargaming subjects, making FPG a perfect computer game for me. A great new edition of a classic wargame!
Still, I was wondering why some of the features of the original MBT were dropped in the new edititon:
1. The original MBT had engineers that could lay bridges and especially minefields. They are gone now as individual units and I can't see how those are designed into other units (like dismounted infantry).
2. The order menu was simplified. Why did orders like advance, fall back and such get dropped? I always felt that they added a lot of tactical nuances to the game. Or are these choices modeled via stealth???
3. It seems the logic of formation orders has changed. I haven't played FPG enough yet to really make a comparison, but judging from the documentation, group orders in FPG helps units arriving in same location at the same time, without any regard whatsoever to tactical disposition of the individual units. Moreover, after giving a group order, you are not able to modify the waypoints of the individual units of the groups. I think that makes the coordination of large forces a lot more complicated.
Lastly, is there a way to print out the scenario maps? Pre-planning your battle is a big part of FPG and a hardcopy might help in this task.