I apologize in advance for the length of this; brevity is not my strong point.
Triumph of the Reich is a 1941 WWII scenario. This scenario was originally intended for an audience of two – my war game buddy (WB) and me. We had played board war games for over 30 years until we moved too far apart for the travel to be convenient. Favourites games included various versions of Third Reich, World in Flames, Totaler Krieg, with a healthy dose of Advanced Squad Leader in there as well.
With face to face play no longer an alternative, a computer game was sought that could fill the void. What we wanted was a game similar in scope to the strategic board games we so enjoyed, but configured to our tastes and starting sometime after the fall of France (my opponent was sick of me getting lucky in the defence of France). Advanced Tactics Gold was decided on, and it proved a great choice.
Since I am the one with the patience for scenario building, that task fell to me. Unfortunately, during the time the game was being developed, WB’s eyesight deteriorated significantly and long sessions looking at a computer screen were no longer possible. He also has just been diagnosed with another, potentially serious medical condition. With any luck, operations later this year will restore his health and eyesight enough to play again.
In the meantime, as I had the free time, I continued to work on the game, designing it in line with our preferences. Those included a large, visually attractive map, lots of units and some strategic depth.
The scenario uses monthly turns on a map of just over 19,000 hexes at approx. 25 miles per hex. It is obsessively detailed: all the cities, rivers, mountain ranges, seas, and factories have colour-coded labels. For neat freaks (like me) it is possible to quickly add the correct label to your newly built factories, or remove labels from any that are destroyed.
Smaller scale maps for the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand occupy otherwise empty sea areas around the edges of the map.
There are a few new terrains: rough plains, hills and mountains, wooded hills and hedgerows. Subtle retextures have been applied to plains and desert terrain to give them a little contouring.
The scenario starts in May 1941 when each Regime (including Britain, US, France, the Commonwealth, Germany, SS, Italy, Axis Minors, Finland, Russia) can set up their production. In May Germany alone can reposition its ground forces and rebase air units to add unpredictability to their opening moves.
Because its target audience was ageing board gamers, it cannot hope to compete with sophisticated, diplomacy-orientated designs like GD1938 and to some extent it is a return to simpler times.
The units are standard AT types and WB prefers counter graphics rather than NATO (which probably rules it out for some players). There are a few additions to the counter mix – heavier paratroopers and convoys for example. Consideration was given to adding historical unit types but there are already several scenarios that do that and they do it far better than I could.
Air and land movement rates have been adjusted in accordance with the map scale. Ship movement rates are greatly increased – in a turn they can move about the distance you would expect them to be able to travel in a month.
More emphasis has been placed on using factories for production, so Major Regimes start with several, along with an industrial centre (a new LT) or two. Major Regimes can also recruit new troops from a limited number of Recruitment and Enlistment centres. I found doing it this way allowed more subtle balancing of production capacity. Production is ultimately limited by a Regime’s ability to provide supply to their forces and provide the oil to move them. Raw resources will limit how much heavy equipment you can build per turn. Capital ships require very substantial amounts of raw to build. Cities do not have inherent ship building – you can only build ships in shipyards. Germany has several Synthetic oil plants (a new LT) to help them generate the oil they need.
To mitigate the “rich get richer” effect, Russia has a couple of “Scorched Earth” options to slow the Axis from quickly converting all their conquests into productive assets.
Events. Much of the flavour of the game comes from the use of action cards and events. Events are intended to be subtle, while adding variety and interest. There is quite a lot of event code in the scenario (over 6,000 lines so far). Some examples:
Atlantic warfare allows German submarines to try and interdict US oil being shipped to the UK. British destroyers can contest their operations. Once naval units are assigned to North Atlantic duty the process is completely automatic, generating a report each month showing oil and destroyer/sub losses. Losses are determined by the ratio of Submarines to Destroyers. Neither side can see how many ships the other side has committed.
Murmansk Convoys are less abstract than in some games. When the US enters the war it can build Russian-people units in one industrial centre. Convoys (cargo ships on steroids) can be used to ship the units to Russia, with Murmansk offering the closest port. There is an Allied PP bonus for convoys getting through, while the Axis receives a PP bonus for convoys they scatter.
Shipping of air units: It is possible to build some types of air units, crated up for shipping. The Allies can use this method to ship air units to the Mediterranean or Russia using convoys. When the cargo is offloaded the receiving Regime can play an action card to unpack and ready the aircraft for action. The aircraft assume the nationality of the people receiving them.
Research has been overhauled, with costs increasing more gradually, rather than doubling for each level advance. Tech advancements are linked to the game year. Certain key technologies cost more if researched early in the year and decrease gradually to normal levels by June (the research screen shows both the current and standard costs for these items).
To provide a method for increasing PP income over time (other than purely by location capture) major Regimes begin with a couple of research facilities. Randomly, Regimes may receive a Scientist card. The Scientist card can be played on a research centre and a scientist unit will appear on the map, adding to the PP output of that Research centre while he is stationed there. If your research centre is threatened, you can move your scientists to safer location.
Alternatively a scientist card can be played in your home country thus founding a new laboratory. Laboratories are little less productive than Research Centres, but they can be built in locations distanced from enemy units or air attack. Adding more scientists to a laboratory will increase its productivity (up to a maximum of 8 levels). For a quick instant influx of PP, a scientist card can also be played on a capital (even one belonging to one of your Allies, allowing you to gift PPs). Germany only has the option of assigning one scientist to Synthetic oil research; success will increase the productivity of his Synth oil plants.
Major naval powers can build minelayers, allowing them to place a naval minefield at sea. Naval minefields are invisible to the enemy unless their ships end their turn inside of one, making them susceptible to mine attack. A small display area in the top right hand corner of the map reminds players where they have a minefield active and will display the location of any known enemy minefields. Your own minelayers can remove enemy minefields if their location is known. You can remove your own minefield with minelayers, or simply by laying a new naval minefield in a different location.
The Allies can attempt to bomb the Axis rail network. This is very ineffective early in the war, but its success rate improves in the latter years.
Germany can build a V-weapons facility. Once built it draws a small amount of PPs per turn, with V-1 weapons becoming buildable at the location after 12 months. It then will continue automatically researching V-2s and ultimately V-3s. My WB likes to play the Axis and likes V-weapons, so the V-2+ is a little more like the wonder weapon that Hitler envisaged. However because production only comes from one location their numbers are limited.
Gifting territory: A small bug was uncovered in AT version 2.20c that allowed Regimes to gift resources to allies so that all allied players could gain the benefit of the same resource in the same turn (not ideal in a 2-player game). Gifting territory has been disabled, and action cards now control a fairer gifting process for resources. Similarly, liberated major cities and capitals (Paris for example) can be assigned back to the original owner.
Standard features. You can expect to see snow and mud in Russia. You will also occasionally encounter storms at sea. Partisans can appear in France and Russia. The British player can spend a small amount of PP per turn to provide aid and encouragement to the French resistance, while the German player can spend a small amount of PP to try and supress them. As well as being a nuisance, partisans may blow a bridge or destroy a rail line.
SFT’s, Terrain and location types have had their descriptions rewritten to provide quick and useful information at a glance.
As my WB has limited experience with AT Gold, a Player’s Guide was put together. This 32pp pdf provides hints and information to an inexperienced player familiar only with the basic game mechanics. It provides full information on the specifics of this scenario’s special rules and a myriad of smaller changes and features that are not mentioned here. I also use it to keep track of what I am doing or have done. The pdf is currently being updated to make it accurate with the latest game version.
Although initially intended for 2 players, the scenario would work with 3, 4 or 5 players.
When I commenced working on this project I knew little about the game and nothing about the editor. The game as it stands now is recommended for players who like big – but hopefully not boring – games that prioritize playability over historical accuracy.
Solo play testing has so far concentrated on testing features and bug hunting; play balance and victory conditions still require attention.
Although I am not finished working on it yet, what would really be helpful would be for an experienced player to have a look at what I’ve done and comment on whether it has merit. [Edit 25/5: Sorting the graphics into the scenarios folders has been done]
If you have got this far, thank you for reading. I have provided a few screenshots in the following posts.
< Message edited by icym -- 5/25/2015 4:03:47 AM >