I've been a longtime fan of the CC series with CC IV as my favorite (due to the subject matter). Like every other CC player of the original games, I've been disappointed with the downright terrible AI and some other issues. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, it's difficult to find a human to play against and I prefer games with at least passable AI for this reason.
Additionally, I remember the original game as being too constricted, unbalanced and unchallenging in the campaign mode, so I was hesitant to pick up CC:WaR.
Taking the plunge, I bought it last week and have been pleasantly surprised and pleased with what I've seen so far. While I've only been playing off and on for a few days, some things that stand out:
1) Enemy armor generally won't advance past infantry support. During a German attack (forget which zone), I managed to hose most of their attacking infantry with MG fire and the StgIIIs stopped short of moving any further. In another battle, a Hetzer did get a little more aggressive, but only because there were numerous infantry targets available, but did not move closer to known infantry that could hurt it.
2) The AI will reinforce victory locations that are in danger of being taken or just have been taken. I took a location and found two squads bearing down on it in short order. A downfall of the AI is that it didn't shift to a crawl when approaching (within 40 meters or so). In fairness, I did advance forward past the objective before ambushing those troops.
3) Mortars vs. AT guns is still too effective, I think, for gameplay purposes. Seems like it's too easy to light an AT gun up. (this isn't just an AI versus human thing...AI AT guns are vulnerable, too)
4) LAWs seem oddly inaccurate or ineffective in the game. I'm thinking this was a design choice to tone down what could potentially imbalance the game, especially since armor is already hindered by the terrain.
5) Tactically, on offense, it seems like the AI has a plan and tends to stick with it, not making ridiculously piecemeal attacks. It will make for an objective with some forces and when that's taken, those forces will be recommitted elsewhere. I've read other users state that it's predictable, but when the difficulty is adjusted appropriately, it'll provide a challenge.
6) On defense, the setup generally makes sense, albeit the AI is a little less "forward" in its deployments than I prefer to use.
7) 15 minutes per battle seems like a good time limit so far. If it's not over by then for the AI, it's probably not going to happen. This'll also force the human player to be a little bolder on the attack. Not sure what the time delay for air and artillery support are. I remember in the old game, if you didn't have a 30 minute time limit, you would likely not see air support. Is this tweakable or different for WaR?
8) I played the opening turn of the Grand Campaign on opposite sides and found that I was able to break through in the same two sectors as the AI was able to break through (the ones with mechanized battlegroups). Where the AI got stopped, I got stopped as well. That was very interesting to me.
9) Six man teams for rifle squads "feels okay" to me, although I thought it wouldn't at first. To be blunt, this game is an abstraction of real battle and it's not a sin to make changes that make gameplay more effective. (think: more processor cycles devoted to fewer soldiers == better results in a program, especially in an AI-heavy app like this)
10) Equally, 15 units per side doesn't seem like a bad compromise of space vs. CPU power. This is enough to allow a reserve, provide for a little maneuvering and not make the player feel like there's a tank under every rock. Some of the best ASL scenarios were also relatively unit sparse and allowed some breathing room. (anyone remember "Revenge at Kastelli?" -- one of my favs)
Overall, I've so far found it to be a positive gaming experience and don't have a lot of complaints. I'm looking for something challenging, where I can lose sometimes but eventually win through competent play, and there are some nail-biting moments in every game. Equally, it has to keep my attention and not bore me. It definitely passes on those counts. The game's not perfect, as no simulation is, but I think it does a good job and is a good update of the original.