From: Denver Colorado
Listen, if you want to read posts in which someone says, essentially, that WitE was alpha-tested in house, and release in late 2010 to be beta tested by people who had to pay the highest starting price for any wargame, ever (name me another game that costs $80 on PC in the last 16 months), then you should track my IP address around, because I am certainly a vocal critic.
Now, you can argue that certain things like the first winter rules, or the armament and manpower multipliers were going to have to be adjusted later after realising how trends go. You can make a fair argument that the implementation of HQ Buildup distance limits (20 MPs or whatever it is) is a fair adjustment/patch after seeing how a broader group of players can exploit things unexpectedly.
But here are the kinds of things that are in this game that even a first-time game designer wouldn't have included in the game:
Originally, the change to 1942 TOEs for German units resulted in their experience dropping significantly even though they only changed OOB. That should have been caught in testing, and it was not. The game released with German units becoming conscripts in 1942 by fiat; how did that go through closed-beta in however long this game was beta tested (perhaps it was a bug that wound its way in after a patch as an unintended consequence).
The most egregious aspect of the game that should have been caught in design (let alone alpha-testing) was the manner in which ground combat sees all elements rush to 50-meter range regardless of the tactical blunder it creates for superior ranged weaponry. Anyone who knows anything about World War 2 combat should have known that this would create unrealistic combat outcomes. In point of fact, we all know this is one of the most problematic design decisions restricting realistic combat from being seen in the game. For those of you who are still fans of Matrix game design, you've found a way to look over this somehow. What I see in this mechanic is a company that wanted to get away with insulting my intelligence. That's not even how the first world war was fought; perhaps the American Civil War, but not world war 2 on the eastern front.
When I re-read the box cover on WitE, I see "strategic" and "operational".
Strategic to me means being able to allocate resources and spending resources on a national scale to better my warfighting capability. The Soviet side has the ability to create units (though not to allocate and spend resources) the German side has none. So I have to give WitE a "fail" rating objectively on that.
Operational to me means having constraints imposed on my side around the movement of supply and other essential strategic assets, such that I can't do everything because resources are not plentiful. The focus of an operational game concerns moving enough stuff close enough to where it's needed at exactly the right time it's needed, and not running out of stuff or wasting stuff on your offensive.
WitE attempts to be operational by virtue of rail lines and complicated supply expenditures within units during combat, but there is no meaningful supply constraint. There is only a distance inefficiency (i.e., how many MPs are you off rail). We all know the quote about logistics. Operational games are supposed to be about complicated logistics models. WitE has a supremely simple logistics model. I might be able to overlook that if it produced a better game, and it did produce a better game when Germany could double-up FBDs and make additional headway (with strategic tradeoffs), but that strategic option for Germany was forcibly removed.
It just doesn't take a genius to see that various WitE design decisions were either lazy (weather zones, as an example), unbelievably poorly thought-out AND unquestioned or unheeded in closed beta testing (impetus to close on 50-meter combat range), or just biased in favor of the Soviet side (brigades providing full ZOCs, the ability to create units and SUs, Soviet CP abilities and divisional change costs, no restriction on Guards cavalry, and this list goes on and on and on and on).
My complaints about WitE design aside, as a consumer, I think I was taken advantage of by virtue of the premium, $80 price (though I paid $90 which included $10 for a manual that shipped to me already incomplete and out of date, and I have never been offered a credit or a refund for wasting my money on this useless heap of pages), and by virtue of the fact that now some 15 months after release, they are still recognizing that they did some very a-historical, game-unbalancing stuff (like giving Soviet Armies the same CP as German ones, to cite only one example lately).
Even if I had confidence in the Matrix team to release a well-designed game, I would now be required to wait at least 12 months before I could buy it. In fact, this is what I advocate for people who are still fans of Matrix: don't give them your money right at release - let them sweat it first. Since we know that they will release a product when it still needs heavy user-conducted testing, we would be foolish to pay for the ability to conduct that testing. Moreover, given the principal of the time-value-of-money, by not buying for several months upon release, you can achieve the effects of a meaningful financially impactful boycott of Matrix's business practices and yet still get your game at a time when the worst of the bugs are likely to have been worked out.
On an hour for hour basis, I did get $80 worth of entertainment in my 14 months of playing, but it cost the company all the goodwill I had toward it and their strongly sympathetic element within the community. There is a small but vocal group-think of sovie-o-phile players that will bully anyone who disagrees with them about anything. They are hypocritical, inconsistent, and most egregiously, as convinced of their own superiority as the nazis themselves were, and they have done a very nice job of leading the game toward a point where people who might otherwise derive fun from playing Germany are slowly and steadily abandoning the title.
Spring 2018-Playing: Demyansk Shield: Frozen Fortress; Advanced Squad Leader,
Rulebooks: ASL (always ASL), Holland'44, Demyansk Shield: Frozen Fortress