27 November 2014

PC Game Preview: Panzer Corps

James Cobb gives us a glimpse into the Panzer Corps beta, a spiritual successor of the classic Panzer General series.

Published on 30 MAY 2011 12:55pm by Scott Parrino
  1. world war ii, air combat, ground combat, turn-based, armor combat, strategic, europe, naval combat

Panzer Corps

Developer: The Lordz Studio

Publisher: Matrix Games/Slitherine


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When Panzer General was released in 1994, a new audience was attracted to computer war games. The game’s simplicity of mechanics and historical concepts freed the genre from the “grognard” stuffiness of earlier games while keeping an acceptable veneer of accuracy. The multiple ways of gaining prestige points within a scenario and the branching campaign system created the ever-popular “just one more turn” hook. Many other General games followed but the first never lost its allure for gamers. Unfortunately, attempts to port the code from DOS to newer systems never quite worked all that well. Matrix Games/Slitherine and The Lords Studio are re-creating an embellished version of this classic with Panzer Corps, keeping the flavor of the original while making it compatible with the latest operating systems.


No Frills Needed

Panzer Corps’ graphics are simple but informative. The 2-D unit icons aren’t fancy but clearly differentiate between type and model, e.g. a Pzkw Mark II is clearly different than a Mark III without going into minute detail. A health bar and numbers show units strength and supply. Using a hotkey brings up a more detailed picture of the selected unit along with its twelve attributes. The purchase screen and the unit’s entry in the separate library yield even more detailed looks. Illustrated collapsible sidebars facilitate play. Deployable units or a complete list of players units can be seen with their present strength and attributes.

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Terrain shows cities, towns, hills, forests, mountains, rivers and fortifications. Although not elaborate, these graphics get the message across well. Terrain affects movement and defense as usual but cities and airfields have other decisive roles in the game. Capturing specific cities, shown on a strategic map, is key to winning a scenario. Other cities may not count towards victory but provide prestige points, the coin of the realm in the game. Airfields provide bases for air units and paratroopers. The zoomable tactical map switches from ground to air mode with a touch of the TAB key


Don’t Mess with Success

Panzer Corps’ mechanics remain turn based and simple. Selecting a unit for movement takes a left click and shows reachable hexes. Hexes with a dot indicate that units will arrive combat-ready while those with a truck symbol indicate infantry and artillery will arrive mounted in vulnerable trucks. A right click sends the unit to the spot unless a hidden enemy pops up. Some units such as paratroops can mount and dismount transport. Naval movement and combat work the same as ground and air.

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Units can move and fight or shoot than move. Combat is with adjacent enemies marked with red crosshairs. A bar with expected losses for both sides appears and right clicks intimates combat. Artillery can fire from a range but aircraft must be on top of a ground target. Units exchange fire during a fight so losses are simultaneous with artillery and adjacent friendly units ganging up on the attacker. Units cannot be stacked although one air unit can be in the same hex as a ground unit.

The game is played through five campaigns – tutorial, 1939, 1941, 1943 East Front, 1943 West Front – or 25 scenarios. The campaigns are played as German through 1945 and are branching, i.e. if a scenario is lost or isn’t won decisively, the player is sent to a series of scenarios that don’t lead to the attack on Washington, DC. Levels of victory are determined by how quickly the player accomplishes the objective. Yet, capturing only the strategic cities can’t be the player’s single aim. Other cities provide prestige points. The points can be used to buy replacements, elite replacements, new units, re-supply units and upgrade units. Feeding and care of units are vital in any battle and essential for the player’s core units that will be carried along throughout the campaign. Prestige point functions are done through buttons or hotkeys and use a full turn.

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The scenarios represent battles throughout the war and can be played either as Axis or Allies. Like battles in the campaigns, terrain scale and unit size vary by scenario. The eight levels of difficult assure replay possibilities and the scenario editor seems easy to use. A PBEM mode allows for the annihilation of friends and family.

Re-making a classic is always a risky business and is seldom really necessary. However, Panzer Corps may give war gaming a sot in the arm as its predecessor did.


About the Author

Jim Cobb has been playing board wargames since 1961 and computer wargames since 1982. He has been writing incessantly since 1993 to keep his mind off the drivel he deals with as a bureaucrat. He has published in Wargamers Monthly, Computer Gaming World, Computer Games Magazine, Computer Games Online, CombatSim, Armchair General, Subsim, Strategyzone Online, Ganesquad and Gaming Chronicle.