From: Louisiana, USA
Not first impressions. I was a beta tester. Current impressions. Steam says I have 83.4 hours on the game -- the beta was run via Steam. So I figure that is 80-100 games at least. I know I've played each scenario at least once from each side, and most at least twice from each side. I also own Lock n Load, the whole thing, and Tigers on the Hunt, which I guess are the two games closest, as well as the apparently 'dead' Conflict of Heroes, which I wish would become undead, and a couple of other similar ones. I also have some of the real time games like Combat Mission Shock Force 2 and such, and enjoy them, though I really prefer turn based and hex based. I've done several betas, though I've not enthusiastically supported every game I beta tested. One in particular 2-3 years ago I did not like at all. So I don't get beta tester Stockholm Syndrome.
I like the game. A lot. I think a lot of the "shortcomings" are not shortcomings at all but features. Here is what I see.
A simple to learn tactical WWII game obviously based on the Squad Leader concept. I loved SL and ASL. Owned just about everything in that franchise. Finally sold it all. When I heard Avalon Hill was shutting down I actually called their order department to say thank you for all the pleasure you had given me over the years.
Back to simple. Simple to learn. Simple to play. Short scenarios. Limited number of counters. You can play a game in half an hour or less. Scenarios generally well balanced, some better than others, and some where playing as a static defender is boring. But you can expect an interesting game in most scenarios, especially if you are the attacker.
I like having a game with no fog of war, as something different. It is I think a novelty these days. It is a refreshing feature to me. There are no ambushes. No walking into unknown units. Everything is in front of you. You have to work out the best plan of action using cover, LOS/LOF, weapon range, and a decent idea about what the dice rolls will do. Though honestly I don't crunch numbers when I play and have turned off the dice rolls. I prefer that little bit of uncertainty, just looking at the results and not the combat results table. In that respect, the game is chesslike, with dice. I think no fog of war is one of the game's best features. I don't think I've ever felt that way about a computer game. It seems to work in this one.
I also think you can get good at the game without a huge amount of effort. I don't see it as "easy to learn, hard to master." But you do have to learn how to develop a plan based on the game board, your forces, and the enemy forces, and of course the game system. You can't just rush the enemy. In some ways it gets into the realm of a puzzle solver. Except of course the dice rolls mean that no solution is ever going to be perfect.
Some say the even odds between attacker and defender are a detriment to the game. But you have to figure out a way to get good 3-1 or so odds at critical points if attacking, or prevent the enemy from getting them if defending. That is part of the tactical puzzle you have to solve.
I have nothing to say about the editor or creating new maps. I never do that with games. If making that better helps sell more games, then the developer should put some effort into that. I asked before, and I bet Matrix knows, what percent of those who buy and play a game think that is important. I don't really know.
Thinking about some of the other things that have been discussed:
Artillery, OBA, mortars, air strikes. I think that the small, intimate size of the scenarios and short number of turns would make artillery and air strikes such a major game changer in any scenario that it would ruin the scenario. If you have to go in and try to take out that 88 position NOW, it probably means artillery and air aren't available NOW, or the barrage has already happened, and you've been ordered to make the attack NOW anyway. Mortars of the 60mm or so variety, I can see that.
More scenarios. Yes. But I do know the team is very, very, very small, and they spent a lot of time trying to work with the scenarios they had and make them good right up until the end of beta.
Music and sound effects. I don't like the music and musical effects and such and noted as much when it was added. But then I play all my games with music silenced and most with all sound effects silenced.
No control of opportunity fire. I like that decision. It can help you against the AI. You can send forward a half squad to draw fire and then work around that once you know the enemy won't be firing any more. But on the other hand, you can't control your own opportunity fire against the AI, so I think that somewhat balances out. It also greatly speeds and simplifies the game, which I think is a plus. I could see an option to turn off opp fire for units, but that would be an advantage for the solo player against the AI because the AI would not have that capability. But it would add another layer to player vs player games.
I've also argued for doing away with the elimination victory conditions and making all those scenarios objective scenarios, because as the defender you can just retreat and survive to win.
And the price is good for what's in the game.
So those are my current thoughts. I hope the game does well and that there are additions. I like that fact that I can set it up and play through in 30 minutes or so when I don't feel like launching on something longer.
< Message edited by jwarrenw13 -- 7/2/2021 2:06:21 AM >