Computer Wargame Picks — February 2014
There have been a great many computer wargames and expansions released over the past few weeks and months. Matrix Games especially seems to be on a roll and there is more still to come. It’s a good time to be a computer wargamer! Here are some of our favorites:
Battle Academy: Fortress Metz — A campaign add-on for Battle Academy. It covers the US 3rd Army in WW2 as it tries to encircle Metz in France. The iPad version of Battle Academy and all its campaigns also works great.
Combat Mission Battle for Normandy: Market Garden — The excellent CM: Battle for Normandy game expanded for Operation Market-Garden. One of our favorite games and favorite battles.
Command: Modern Air Naval Operations — The spiritual successor to the classic Harpoon series of games. We’ve had a tough time getting imto this one because there is so much there but it will probably reward the gamer who puts in the time. “Surface fleets, submarine squadrons, air wings, land-based batteries and even satellite constellations are yours to direct as you see fit – from the lowliest pirate skiff to the mightiest aircraft carrier, from propeller biplanes to supersonic stealth fighters. Every sensor and weapon system is modeled in meticulous detail. You are given the hardware; but you have to use it well.”
Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel — Conflict of Heroes is a great boardgame with a great computer version. “Storms of Steel is a stand-alone expansion to the critically acclaimed tactical computer wargame Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear, the official adaptation of the award-winning board game from Academy Games. Storms of Steel is set in the Battle of Kursk and brings an impressive new campaign, created in part by legendary wargame designer John Hill, to Conflict of Heroes. Storms of Steel adds rules for airplanes, snipers, and over fifty new units.”
Drive on Moscow — Follow up to the excellent Battle of the Bulge for your iPad, Drive on Moscow brings you Operation Barbarossa. The AI struggles in this adaptation far more than in Bulge but recent updates have improved it. Still well worth your time.
Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm — A complete remake of the original Flashpoint: Germany. This is one of the best Cold War/Modern era wargames available.
Lock ‘n Load: Heroes of Stalingrad — Five years in the making, this is Mark H. Walker’s boardgame brought to the computer. It is a very literal conversion and plays almost identically to the boardgame.
Panzer Korps – iPad — The classic Panzer General game redone and brought to the iPad. Works great. Still has the original problem of being too puzzle like but still a fun simple wargame.
Piercing Fortress Europa — A new operational level game about WW2 battles in Italy. It has a huge emphasis on supply. Looks very good.
Unity of Command – Black Turn — A great expansion for another of our favorite wargames. Allows players to play Operation Barbarossa. Also on Steam.
Battle of the Bulge: iPad Edition — First Look
Shenandoah Studio’s released their first iPad game from their Kickstarter campaign. Battle of the Bulge: The Simulation Game for the iPad is a light operational-level wargame about the Battle of the Bulge designed by John Butterfield.
The good news is the game plays as good as it looks and as good as all of the Kickstarter supporters hoped. It is definitely on the light side for a wargame but offers enough nuance in strategy that it keeps you playing as you try to see how different approaches will work. The game includes two scenarios, a shorter three-day Race to Meuse and the full campaign game. You can play both from either the Allied or Axis side and against two types of AI opponents. The AI is quite good and I lost dozens of games of Race to the Meuse as the Germans until I finally realized I should push in the North. Maybe it isn’t possible to win running down the center or the South but it sure is fun to try. The AI doesn’t seem able to successfully defend against a northern thrust in the Race to the Meuse scenario but does give a good account of itself. The campaign is challenging from either side. You may win an early victory but you probably won’t think it was easy. But if you tire of fighting against the AI you can play a real opponent face-to-face or go online against others.
The presentation of the game is outstanding and perhaps best of all the game includes all the normal wargame rules and charts that the game uses. It is quite easy to play the game without reference to the rules but if you are curious how things are working this is a very nice, and welcome, addition.
There is also nice historical detail provided on the battle day by day that is there for those who want to read it but does not get in the way of the game.
If you like operational wargames give the Battle of the Bulge a look. It is a great game and great example of how good the iPad can be as a gaming platform.
PocketTactics has a nice review of the game. Three Moves Ahead has an insightful discussion of the game in Episode 200.
Battle of the Bulge — iPad Edition
The folks over at Shenandoah Studio have decided to use Kickstarter to launch their first iPad game. Battle of the Bulge: The Simulation Game for the iPad is a light operational-level wargame about the Battle of the Bulge designed by John Butterfield. It appears that there will also be a printed version of the game as well and supporters at the $150+ level get both the iPad version and the printed boardgame.
We’ve been watching Shenandoah Studio for awhile now and are happy they chose to use Kickstarter. Considering the success of Ogre Designer’s Edition on Kickstarter it should be easy for Battle of the Bulge to reach its $20,000 goal. In fact it is already past $5,000 on its first day. If design is any indication of the quality of the game Battle of the Bulge should be a real winner. With luck we will see more iPad titles from Shenandoah Studio in the future.
Update: As an added incentive Shenandoah Studio announced the next game in the Crisis in Command Series, El Alamein. All those pledging $20 or more will get both games. There does not seem to be a boardgame version of El Alamein.
As of this writing they are just a few dollars shy of their goal so the project is certainly a go.
Update: The game reached almost twice its goal and is now live in the App Store. It is a great game.
Combat Mission: Touch — Now Available!
Well iPad wargaming is finally here! First we get Battle Academy and now Battlefront.com just announced and released Combat Mission: Touch for the iPad. It is a lighter version of the computer game but well done overall.
Combat Mission: Touch is the result of a collaboration between Battlefront.com, the critically acclaimed creators of the genre defining Combat Mission series of wargames for now over 10 years, and Dromedary LLC. Using Combat Mission’s unique WeGo turn-based play mode of simultaneous planning and execution phases, and a vast 3D environment, it combines the fun of fast paced action with the strategy of turns. Make no mistake, fun as it is, “Combat Mission: Touch” is a true wargame, with a number of mind-blowing features that were available, until now, only on the desktop. More…
A quick update: I’ve gotten in a few goes at two scenarios with it now and have gotten waxed by the AI. See our Twitter posts for some screen shots. The game is not the full PC/Mac version of Combat Mission (unlike Battle Academy) but it is similar. Movement seems sped up a bit and the graphics are not as good but still quite good for a tablet. Seven scenarios are included and if the game does well enough I suspect we’ll see lots of add-on packs for those. If you like CM you will like this game. If you are new to wargaming or tactical combat games it is a very good place to start. The tutorial is well done and quite funny. Get out your War Finger!
Another quick update: The quality of the game certainly centers on the scenarios. The Crossroads scenario we enjoy a lot but the speed of the German advance makes it hinge on the American initial setup. The Uncle Red Beach scenario disappointed us quite a bit and it is the first scenario in the game if one plays in order. The terrain is practically featureless. The tactical nuance comes from the folds in the ground. This is a strength of the PC/Mac game but on the iPad the slightly awkward map manipulation (and we are on the iPad3) and weaker graphics overall makes taking advantage of terrain more a nuisance than an enjoyable activity. Various bugs also became apparent with units getting hung up and there is an oddity at certain zoom levels where units suddenly bend over. We need more play but unit auto-reactions may be buggy as well but this may also simply be a line of site issue which, again, is more difficult on the iPad. The game is absolutely worth the $5 but it is also not a replacement for the desktop version of the game and probably needs some bug fixes.
Also see The Apple iPad3 and Gaming.
The Apple iPad3 and Gaming
Well we looked at the gaming significance of the original iPad and the iPad2 so we suppose we should look at the iPad3 as well. The new Apple iPad3, also known as the New iPad or officially as simply the iPad, is perhaps the first complete iPad Apple has released so far. Its improvements over the iPad2 are not huge but are nonetheless significant. A 2048×1536 screen is twice the resolution of previous models. Driving all those pixels is a quad-core graphics chip along with a 4G LTE connection for fast mobile connection speeds. Also new is a a much better outward facing camera (although the facing camera is the same). But ultimately it retains many of the traits of the iPad2.
But what does the iPad3 mean for gamers? Well probably quite a bit actually. The increased resolution increases the capabilities of the iPad significantly. For example, on my home 24″ LCD display I am running 1920×1080 resolution. That means the new iPad actually has more screen real estate. Now of course everything will be smaller but you start to get the significance of the new display. This fact got brought home just recently when Matrix Games and Slitherine released Battle Academy for the iPad. Not only is this perhaps the first real historical wargame for the iPad it is identical to the Windows version and even compatible for online PBEM gaming. In fact there are now a huge number of euro game titles in the pipeline for iOS including Le Havre, Eclipse and a number of titles from GMT Games including Nightfighter, Manoeuvre, and Space Empires. The new screen resolution and horsepower may very well bring a whole lot more gaming goodness to the iPad soon.
- Games: With the new iPad out it is probably time to update our previous list of iOS games.
- Apache Sim HD is a nice AH-64 Apache simulator for the iPad.
- Aliens versus Humans. We have not tried this one yet but it looks like the old XCom game on iOS.
- Alien Menace is a card game adaptation that works well.
- Bang! is an excellent port of the classic card game. The app is now updated and supports full play.
- Battle Academy is the first historical wargame for the iPad. All the capabilities of the desktop version.
- Caylus is a faithful reproduction of the board game.
- Crimson Steam Pirates is a fun steampunk naval game with a mild Dystopian Wars feel.
- Great Little Wargame HD is perhaps the first wargame before Battle Academy but is much lighter and without the history. The AI is ok but has trouble with naval and air use.
- Hunters: Episode One and Hunters 2 are Space Hulk-esque top down, turn-based tactical combat games.
- iBomber Defense Pacfic is a nice tower defense game with a WW2 theme that adds a few twists on the original.
- Legion of the Damned was the first wargame we found in a sci-fi setting. The AI is quite good as well.
- Operation: Eradicate is essentially Pandemic with a Zombie theme.
- Starbase Orion is almost a direct port of the classic Masters of Orion 4x game.
- Ticket to Ride is a perfect port of the boardgame and expansions. You can play against the AI, pass and play or play online.
- Zombie Gunship is a nice simple shooter where you take the role of a gunship gunner to take out zombies. Brrraaaaiiinnnsss!
- Game Reference: Not a lot new here unfortunately.
- GoodReader continues to be the best overall file manager and reader. PDF support has only gotten better.
- Notability We dumped Simplenote for Notability. It syncs with DropBox and supports a lot of basic formatting that is much more useful than the plain text of Simplenote.
- I Ain’t Been Shot Mum TooFatLardies released the new version 3 rules as a PDF/tablet version that was available before the print. If only more publishers would do this.
The Apple iPad and Gaming — A Look Back
With Apple’s announcement of the new iPad2 on March 2nd we thought it a good time to look back at our year with the original iPad. We wrote about a number of game related functions for the iPad when it first came out and for the most part all of those have remained solid to one degree or another. Read the rest of this entry »
Apple iPad Review — A Gamer’s Perspective
With the release of the Apple iPad we thought we would break a bit from our usual gaming coverage to give a gamer’s eye review of the new tablet. We have had the iPad since Saturday (3APR10) and have been using it quite a bit. So we have had time to find most of its faults and enjoy its benefits.
We will not repeat what you can read in a hundred other iPad reviews by now. Suffice it to say the hardware is gorgeous, the display vibrant, the performance amazing, and the battery life really is 10 hours (if not more). The WiFi-only model is available now and the 3G model will be available at the end of April. But what does the iPad mean to you as a gamer? Well it has a number of applications (no pun intended), some obvious and some not so obvious.
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