So, just finished my first full game. (I did about 10 turns of a game before that, to get a feel for logistics and command.) Played Germans on normal difficulty against "slow" AI (ie, the best AI setting), with all the decisions turned on including ethical.
I won with a minor victory on October 16, having taken Leningrad and Moscow, and getting close to Rostov. I think the game ended because I grabbed Gorky... losses were about 300K for the Germans, and 2.4 million for the Russians. The Russians were beat in the north, but still very strong from Tula across to Gomel, and south to Zaporozhe.
A few thoughts:
1) I've been war gaming for 35 years. This is, without reservation, the best war game I have ever played. Yes, I feel confident saying that after a single game.
What makes it so good? Quite simply the brilliant and seamless integration of the "command" layer with the "operational" layer. The command layer is unparalleled in its tackling of the real world considerations that drove real-world military decisions and outcomes. Eg, in this case, politics and logistics. And somehow it models these things in a fun and engaging way - I was always feeling the need for more of everything - but not more panzer divisions. I mean more political power, more trucks, more time, more fuel, more cooperation from that train guy who thinks armies serve trains and not the other way around.
You really get a sense of the actual pressures on a commanding general. Yes, the fighting, but more so the logistics. Scarcity and impatience are the enemies in this game as much as the Russians.
Timing is everything - you have to coordinate moving your supply bases and airfields forwards, with the need to rest and refit, and the limited focus of artillery and air support, and all of that while being painfully aware of the growing strength of the enemy and the need to advance quickly.
2) The AI is good, even very good. It pulled off more than a few successful local counterattacks, and even succeeded twice in rescuing substantial pockets of cut off troops. In defence, it builds credible lines, in the rights places; evacuates untenable positions (sometimes); and counterattacks when it can. The AI made me think and plan carefully, and punished many of my missteps.
The AI is not really up to the large-scale challenge of force allocation across the whole front. Even as I approached Moscow from the north, it didn't rush reinforcements to the city in anything like the needed numbers, and I ended up taking the city almost without a fight. And several times it left off holes in the line, which I rushed my tanks through.
And I didn't see it mount a strategic counterattack with larger forces, as opposed to opportunistic local counterattacks. It could be more aggressive, as I was stretched very thin in places.
3) The decisions are, on the whole, wonderful and very immersive. On occasion, I started to find them repetitive - it seemed the "captured truck" decision was coming up every other turn. Maybe that gets triggered when I capture a city? And every so often a decision didn't actually fit the game context. For instance, I had a decision option to start shipping convoys to Tallinn, but the navy was nervous because of the Red Fleet at Kronstadt. Thing is, I had already captured Leningrad, so the Russian Navy shouldn't have been a concern. On the whole, I found myself wanting even more decisions to make...
4) The user interface is acceptable. Takes some getting used to, especially the daunting number of reports and where to find all kinds of information. Better use of right clicking, and improved roll-over info would be nice.
5) The asymmetry of the game design is fantastic. That's asymmetry not as in a few different units on the two sides, but asymmetry as in the two sides are literally playing entirely different games at the command layer. I look forward to playing as the Russians, and learning a whole new game in the process.
6) If I had to pick a few things to improve in the game... (a) the map, which is state of the art circa 1993. I really love a good map... unity of command, shendandoah series, AGEOD, and EU (before it went 3D) are all good examples. Accepting that the map is built of individual hexes, still it would be great if one could overlay a nicely crafted single-image map on top. (b) A replay feature, so you could watch your whole campaign in some summarised form after its done - perhaps even comparing it to the real campaign front line as it unfolded! (c) a really great editor, this game is so inspiring I would actually put real effort into doing a "Mediterranean Front" game from 1940-43, with all the politics that entails! and (d) More use of the map. If engineers are working at fixing a bridge or blasting away at an enemy fort, show it on the map. If I'm being asked to approve a commendation for a division commander, take me to the division on the map. If partisans are the big problem for my trains at the moment, show me on the map. There's a lot more than can be done with graphical presentation of info that is currently buries in reports.
Finally, my goodness keep up the great work Cameron and Vic!!!
< Message edited by ChuckBerger -- 12/6/2015 3:36:00 AM >