Author Topic: Barthheart's review  (Read 5900 times)

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Offline GJK

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Barthheart's review
« on: January 18, 2015, 07:33:41 AM »
Thanks for the review Barthheart, that gives a real good overall sense of the how the game is played. I'm looking to pick up a copy as soon as I've recovered from the holidays.  A couple of questions that perhaps you can help answer or if Ron checks in, he can answer:

1. Is there or will there be a scenario or unit editor available? 

2. In this combat example, why were the odds not 1:2?



3. From what I'm reading, you don't actually see the AI's moves or attacks but instead will read about what it did during its portion of the turn in post turn reports.  Did you find it hard to follow the flow of the battle like this and did that increase the time spent playing the turns significantly?

4. Speaking of turn length, with the multiple clicks that are needed to move and/or attack plus the reports at the end of the turn, what's an average length of time that you're seeing that it takes to complete a turn in a small scenario?  Is a large "grand campaign" scenario going to be playable ideally if it's a lengthy turn process?

Question for Ron -

Do you have any plans or interest in making a game using high levels of command only, say army/army group level?  I'm thinking something on the scale of Third Reich (Avalon Hill) with about the same unit count.  I'd buy that in a New York minute!

Thanks again for the review.

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Offline Barthheart

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2015, 07:52:41 AM »
Glad the review was of help.

1. Ron has stated that there is a planned scenario editor. Not sure about the unit editor

2. Not sure why it looks odd, I'll have to go back and check it out with the combat analyzer. It's a combat choice you have just to see the odds and calcs without actually fighting... forgot to put that in the review.

3. Once you get used to it, it doesn't take too much of your time and you can easily follow the flow. There are marks put on the map the show where all the combats took place so it's easy to find those. Tracking enemy movement takes a bit more work. To me, it really doesn't add that much time and gives a nice flavour of being a commander and having to deduce the enemy's actions from reports and map setups.

4. The smallest scenarios are Crete and Denmark. They take me about 5 minutes to do all the moves, but I'm really getting good at those ones. Poland takes me about 20 minutes as the Germans. D-Day takes about 30 minutes as the Allies. Which seems reasonable with the amount of units. The grand campaigns are going to take a long time no way around that. probably over an hour is what I see, maybe more. You can save part way through a turn so it might be doable.

Hope that helps.
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Offline Grim.Reaper

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2015, 08:47:30 PM »
It's been a long time since I have been really conflicted as to whether to pick up a game or not, usually I just do it.  But for some reason, this game keeps giving me pause everytime I reach to hit the purchase button.  I have read this review (good stuff), all the posts at the other two sites, and watched the video but still can't make up my mind.  A few things holding me back are the following:

- User interface, just about everywhere says it is unique and somewhat hard to get use to....if it is time consuming or difficult to efficiently make things happen, I have a feeling it will frustrate me, especially on the larger scenarios. 

- Seems like a number of people have concerns with moving around the map, especially in scrolling.  I know I have read you can turn off auto scrolling, but seems to defeat the purpose of easily getting around the map without using keys and such.

- Although I understand the concept of FOW and not showing the action directly on the map, with me not being an expert in these games, concerned it might be tedious to figure out what was going on.  I wonder truly if this was its purposeful intent versus just something hard for the developer to implement.  Seems like it should have been an optional preference if in fact it was doable.

- There haven't been many large games that have a ton of counters to move around that have lasted long for me.  For example, HPS operational games tend to have a lot of counters. Besides the Civil War games, I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around and enjoy moving all those counters around.

Probably the smart thing for me to do is just wait longer and see how future enhancements improve the game....but I will have to admit I am daily tempted to pull the trigger.

Offline Barthheart

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2015, 09:47:18 PM »
It's been a long time since I have been really conflicted as to whether to pick up a game or not, usually I just do it.  But for some reason, this game keeps giving me pause everytime I reach to hit the purchase button.  I have read this review (good stuff), all the posts at the other two sites, and watched the video but still can't make up my mind.  A few things holding me back are the following:

- User interface, just about everywhere says it is unique and somewhat hard to get use to....if it is time consuming or difficult to efficiently make things happen, I have a feeling it will frustrate me, especially on the larger scenarios. 

Once you are used to the UI it is actually very efficient to use and at all time consuming.

Quote
- Seems like a number of people have concerns with moving around the map, especially in scrolling.  I know I have read you can turn off auto scrolling, but seems to defeat the purpose of easily getting around the map without using keys and such.

I've not had the problems some have had, but I mostly just use the arrow keys to move around. If I need to move the map a very long distance I just zoom out and back in where I need to be.

Quote
- Although I understand the concept of FOW and not showing the action directly on the map, with me not being an expert in these games, concerned it might be tedious to figure out what was going on.  I wonder truly if this was its purposeful intent versus just something hard for the developer to implement.  Seems like it should have been an optional preference if in fact it was doable.

Ron says this was design on purpose. It does frustrate lots of folks and will definitely be a deal breaker with some. Again once you play a few scenarios it becomes second nature.

Quote
- There haven't been many large games that have a ton of counters to move around that have lasted long for me.  For example, HPS operational games tend to have a lot of counters. Besides the Civil War games, I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around and enjoy moving all those counters around.

This game is going to have some HUGE scenarios in it when it's complete. So this may be the biggest reason that the game may not be for you. Even some of the mid-sized scenarios have a couple of hundred units per side.

Quote
Probably the smart thing for me to do is just wait longer and see how future enhancements improve the game....but I will have to admit I am daily tempted to pull the trigger.

Not trying to sell you the game. I like it. Some don't. It is definitely not for everyone. But it does give that old monster boardgame feel with the PC doing all the rules and calcs for me.

I'm not a fan of John Tiller's Panzer Campaigns. There's just something about them I don't like... mainly it's the fact that there are NO factors on the counters so I can't get a quick overview of where my strengths and weaknesses are by just looking at the map. I have to click in each hex and look at the side bar to see what's there... for every hex.

I have a PBEM match going with Cyrano in JT PC Normandy 44. While it is more interesting to play someone else with this system... it feels to me that there is so much hidden that I have no idea how to play it properly... but it's probably just me and how I am perceiving the game.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 09:53:10 PM by Barthheart »
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Offline spelk

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2015, 05:49:55 AM »
It's been a long time since I have been really conflicted as to whether to pick up a game or not, usually I just do it.  But for some reason, this game keeps giving me pause everytime I reach to hit the purchase button.  I have read this review (good stuff), all the posts at the other two sites, and watched the video but still can't make up my mind.  A few things holding me back are the following:

- User interface, just about everywhere says it is unique and somewhat hard to get use to....if it is time consuming or difficult to efficiently make things happen, I have a feeling it will frustrate me, especially on the larger scenarios. 

Once you are used to the UI it is actually very efficient to use and at all time consuming.

I'll add my two penneth here also.

Its a quirky UI, it does things logically, but more towards the end of a 2d desktop application rather than a 21st century gaming interface. If you can fumble around Tillers offerings without too much frustration, you *should* be ok with this.

Quote
- Seems like a number of people have concerns with moving around the map, especially in scrolling.  I know I have read you can turn off auto scrolling, but seems to defeat the purpose of easily getting around the map without using keys and such.

I've not had the problems some have had, but I mostly just use the arrow keys to move around. If I need to move the map a very long distance I just zoom out and back in where I need to be.

On my old laptop, the map chugs a bit at the lowest level when scrolling. I found a significant performance increase when I turned off the UI assisted cursor option (which basically locks the cursor into the next in-context action). However, with a modern PC the scrolling shouldn't pose much of a problem at the lowest level of zoom.

As Barthheart says I use the arrow keys at the lowest zoom ( I think the higher zoom levels load more or the map in memory and are a lot better for mouse scrolling). You can also Hold down Ctrl and left click on a hex and it will center on that hex. So if you have a long distance to scroll, I use that over the cursor keys.

Quote
- Although I understand the concept of FOW and not showing the action directly on the map, with me not being an expert in these games, concerned it might be tedious to figure out what was going on.  I wonder truly if this was its purposeful intent versus just something hard for the developer to implement.  Seems like it should have been an optional preference if in fact it was doable.

Ron says this was design on purpose. It does frustrate lots of folks and will definitely be a deal breaker with some. Again once you play a few scenarios it becomes second nature.

Yeah design choice I think. I'm not usually fussed at watching the AI do its thing on most wargames. I just want to see where my situation is, with some indication of what has happened. All the details are available, if its important to you. It makes your part of the game process come around quicker without waiting. If you like the wait and see reveal then this will probably go against your expectations, but if you like the reaction/planning phase of your own forces you'll be fine with it.

There are some unnecessary dialogue box popups, that I think could be more incorporated into the existing UI, and not be thrown up in your face. Ai planning notifications and supply status checks that require a click of an OK button for each side.

Quote
- There haven't been many large games that have a ton of counters to move around that have lasted long for me.  For example, HPS operational games tend to have a lot of counters. Besides the Civil War games, I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around and enjoy moving all those counters around.

This game is going to have some HUGE scenarios in it when it's complete. So this may be the biggest reason that the game may not be for you. Even some of the mid-sized scenarios have a couple of hundred units per side.

Stack moving is essential in some of the scenarios. Although I'm not sure whether you can do mixed unit type stack moving. Using the shift select feature, allows you to move all of the same type from the stack. There is also a mechanism for jumping between the last used hex and the one you are in, but I haven't quite nailed that down yet.

Quote
Probably the smart thing for me to do is just wait longer and see how future enhancements improve the game....but I will have to admit I am daily tempted to pull the trigger.

Not trying to sell you the game. I like it. Some don't. It is definitely not for everyone. But it does give that old monster boardgame feel with the PC doing all the rules and calcs for me.

I'm not a fan of John Tiller's Panzer Campaigns. There's just something about them I don't like... mainly it's the fact that there are NO factors on the counters so I can't get a quick overview of where my strengths and weaknesses are by just looking at the map. I have to click in each hex and look at the side bar to see what's there... for every hex.

I have a PBEM match going with Cyrano in JT PC Normandy 44. While it is more interesting to play someone else with this system... it feels to me that there is so much hidden that I have no idea how to play it properly... but it's probably just me and how I am perceiving the game.

I've played Russo-German War ages ago and was very surprised at just how involving the game can be - everything is up front and available at the map level - with reports there to be data mined if you want them. Obviously the interface has evolved into what it is now, with more options available and a better look and feel, but at the heart of the Schwerpunkt system is an "easy to use/understand" Operational boardgame made flesh on the PC. The UI can be a barrier, until you get used to the shortcuts and limitations of it (it certainly isn't a polished gaming experience like Unity of Command). But the game mechanics are sound, and give you an immense amount of operational freedom in the different phases to plan out multi-discipline attacks and entrenched defenses.

The unit counters are brilliant, once you have grok'd the system. Like having a row of LED's that blink on top of the chit to tell you almost everything about the unit. The only item of information that isnt on the chit is the OOB heirarchy. And that can be set to highlight on map at your request. I suppose Decisive Campaigns system is quite close to it, and is a bit more UI friendly and nicer to look at. But it doesn't quite have the boardgamey feel of this title. WWIIE is the rougher diamond, but it still is worthy of a look-see if operational wargames are your thing.

I suppose my fascination with the Schwerpunkt system came about because I was not a board wargame enthusiast at all, my road to wargaming was most certainly computer based. This gave me a taste of that world, without the cardboard and large dining table.

Pull the trigger if you want something a bit Vassel-like but with an AI, or if you want a smoother ride there are titles out there that do it a lot easier to play, but without the boardgame sensibilities.

Offline Grim.Reaper

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2015, 06:59:45 AM »
Thanks for all the details, really have to say that you guys have provided a ton of details to help us potential buyers make our decision.  From what I read here, seems like I could likely overcome the UI and map movement issues so not as big of a concern anymore.  As for the FOW and not showing movement being by design, seems like an odd decision to not at least make it a user preference so both types of gamers could get what they want and probably get a few extra sales.  Even like it is, might be something interesting to try and likely wouldn't be the only reason I wouldn't purchase it.  I think it really comes down to now is if this game is too much of a monster for me to handle with potentially 100's of counters to manage.  Part of me says that sounds like fun and would keep me busy for a long time, the other part of me thinks I'll look at it and be overwhelmed and it will become shelf-ware.  Just a matter of which side of me wins the argument:)

Thought I would ask this question as well, even though might make me look stupid:)  I often see it mentioned that people are looking for a "Board Game" type game on the computer because they enjoyed board games so much and want that same experience.  In my life, I really only owned a couple of board games, but never really got to play them since people in my circle didn't play them...so I just usually unboxed them set them up and awed at the great looking map/counters included.  So my question is, what is the excitement of playing a board game on the computer (besides having a computer opponent)?  Why do people like that better?  What about a game on the computer makes it a "board game" type game and how different then the other wargames on the computer?  Is it because you see the map counters and all the combat tables?  Or more than that?

I have to admit Spelk struck a chord with me in the fact I always wanted to play board games but just never had the opportunity so if this game really provides that atmosphere and its a good one, maybe a reason for me to try it.

Offline Barthheart

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2015, 09:26:22 AM »
Really, if I had a choice I'd play board games and not computer games. Over the years space, opponents and time became the killers of that dream.
Having the board game experience on the PC allows me to play when I have time, gives me an opponent who is always ready when I want to play, and doesn't take up any table space.

The "board game experience", for me, is being able to understand everything that is happening in the game. Most PC monster games now days include so much minutia that it's near impossible for the player to have an idea of how it all works together. To look at the counters and know exactly what they can and cannot do at a glance. To know what the combat model looks and acts like.
I'm not explaining this very well because I'm a bit rushed but here's more to it than what I've blurted out. 40+ years of board war gaming gives one a certain love for the "feel" of the game.
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Offline GJK

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2015, 11:17:05 AM »
I concur on the "boardgame experience", I feel the same way.  It's about having control over the game by having to manually do everything involved with it.  I feel more connected to the game.  If I play a boardgame solitaire, I have to play both sides, which isn't optimal but if I play an opponent, then we are both engaged in the game and have to roll the dice, look up the odds, move the pieces, etc. 

I recall AGW/RGW being very much boardgame like - maybe more than any other pc game that I've played that had an AI.  I don't recall the FOW thing being an issue before; was it like that in RGW/AGW?  If so, I guess it's not that big of a deal because it didn't bother me when I wrote a review for AGW though it would seem that WW2E is a boardgame where you have to leave the room while your opponent does his moves and combat and then he tells you what he did and rolled once you reenter the room.  That's some heavy FOW (with a lot of trust!).
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Offline Barthheart

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2015, 11:22:33 AM »
...  I don't recall the FOW thing being an issue before; was it like that in RGW/AGW?
...

It was the same in AGW, I never player RGW.
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Offline Grim.Reaper

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2015, 11:48:44 AM »
Thanks for the additional details guys....off to ponder.

Offline spelk

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2015, 12:29:38 PM »
As I said before, I'm not a board wargamer (or war boardgamer) at all, so I come to it all without expectations. But the thing for me that sets it apart, is that it is straight forward, and you see the die rolls and combat resolution tables, and you see the results - all laid out for you. Plus, its amazing to me how Ron's set of rules gives rise to so much operational flexibility.

You can do as much or as little naval/air and reinforcement/entrenchment as you want in the first phase. Each discipline has a number of options attached, but they all just involve setting a particular chit somewhere with a set method (either offensive, defensive, or even supportive). I think it was RGW where I first saw the likes of air supply, mixed amongst tactical bombing, combat air patrols, search and destroy sea patrols all on the move of one chit. Plus you have ground movement of different types, with layered amounts of move and readying for combat. For a computer based operational wargaming, these sort of mechanics seem quite new and refreshing. Well to me at least.

The chits themselves have everything you need on them. You can scan the map and assess a situation without ever leaving your area of attention. They are an evolution of the boardgame chit, you couldn't have enough glass counters or chit modifiers in the paper version to track everything that is on display with the PC game. But, the PC game does use simple understandable mechanics, coupled together in phases, to provide quite a dynamic experience - even without sound effects and visually seeing your opponents units move about and perform their actions.

Its hard to explain for me, simply because I don't have the depth of knowledge in boardwargames, but theres just something about the coupling of simple elegant mechanics and the step up to useful chit display that makes it an attractive game to play. The UI needs a little wrestling with, but its worth it, if you can grok the system.

Offline Killjoy12

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2015, 12:33:46 PM »
Can you elaborate a little more on how this compares with the Decisive Campaigns engine?   I really liked WtP and would like to know how WWIIE compares with that engine.

I suppose Decisive Campaigns system is quite close to it, and is a bit more UI friendly and nicer to look at. But it doesn't quite have the boardgamey feel of this title. WWIIE is the rougher diamond, but it still is worthy of a look-see if operational wargames are your thing.


Offline Barthheart

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2015, 01:13:30 PM »
Can you elaborate a little more on how this compares with the Decisive Campaigns engine?   I really liked WtP and would like to know how WWIIE compares with that engine.

I suppose Decisive Campaigns system is quite close to it, and is a bit more UI friendly and nicer to look at. But it doesn't quite have the boardgamey feel of this title. WWIIE is the rougher diamond, but it still is worthy of a look-see if operational wargames are your thing.


Welcome to Grogheads!

I alpha and beta tested on Warsaw to Paris with Vic. It's a great game too. Very polished and plays very well. I love the card mechanic for the leaders. The Poland scenario is one of my favourites and I have played it ALOT.

First thing I did with WWII-E was fire up the Poland scenario and play it to compare. First off is the time scale WtP is 1 day turns, WWII-E is 1 week turns. So right there you are going to be playing differently. in WWII-E the scenario is only 6 turns (weeks) long! You have a lot to do in 6 six turns or 4 if you want to do as well as the Germans did.

I guess the feel of WtP, to me, is more a tactical game. The units are smaller and the time scale is smaller. There's also a lot going on "under the hood" in WtP in terms of combat. And the combat tracks more losses that WWII-E. WWII-E use combat factors where WtP uses men and guns and tanks to make up it's combat routines.

Both are great games. They both present the subject very well but very differently. 
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Offline spelk

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2015, 02:19:51 PM »
Yeah, my flippant novice comment about WWIIE being similar to DC:WtP was based on similar operational goals and the chits in both games having a lot of information on them, and you being able to decide/assess the situation just from the map and counters. Nothing deeper than that.

Offline Grim.Reaper

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Re: Barthheart's review
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2015, 02:57:52 PM »
You guys are making it very hard to resist......maybe this will make a good birthday present for me this week.