Steam Summer Sale Wargame Warm-Down03 Jul 2016 0
Our Steam Summer Sale recommendations are coming to a close as purse strings are tightened after a week-odd of digital largess. But before you tuck the ducats away for a rainy day, you might want to plug a few gaps in the arsenal. Listed below are five safe bets to warrant those epaulettes.
Gary Grigsby's War In The East: The German-Soviet War 1941-1945
Recently covered in the Essential Eastern Front primer, a game as massive as the front itself, Gary Grigsby's War in the East is as cheap as it'll get for the scrupulous wargamer. Lauded by the likes of Bruce Geryk, our own Jim Cobb and Tim Stone, warfighting and inherent logistics of driving on Moscow or driving the Germans out is examined here in excruciating detail. For those looking to play The Long Game, there's no other illustration of history's biggest military endeavour quite like War in the East.
"War in the East finally gets Big Detail right by making sure that the whole thing works when you step back ten paces. I don’t know how they did that, and I don’t care. I’m just trying to figure out how to extricate my encircled panzer divisions." - Bruce Geryk
Unity of Command
Deceptive in its presentation, Unity of Command was the aesthetic shake-up the genre needed, but lost none of the tactical crunch of its visually-staid fraternity. Exploring the absolute necessity of logistics and supply, operations in 2x2 Games' Eastern Front fare live and die by the ability to keep the front fed and firing. Pinching lifelines ensures a quick win for the attacker and certain yielding by the pinchee. In short, a terrific and visually refreshing wargame that everyone really should have played by now. Make amends if need be.
"No gamer interested in the clash of giants in the East should be without it." - Jim Cobb
Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm
The idea of a conventional military clash between East and West across a verdant Europe has morbidly tantalised since David Hasselhoff single-handedly tore down the Berlin Wall. It lives on in many a great 'what if', the likes of Ralph Peters, Larry Bond, Harold Coyle and the le Dressay brothers have seen to. Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm is another attempt to see how NATO and the Pact would throw down in a frisson of armour and infantry, and it's rather inspired. Unit responsiveness is a sliding scale; commanders have to operate with imperfect and limited communication, delegation being a thing to caress and consider, rather than enact with blunt-force trauma. Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm is essential stuff for the modern military maven.
"Imagine Eugen’s Wargame series had a slower smarter WeGo step-brother." - Tim Stone
Commander: The Great War
Given the recent centenary of that tragic devourer of men and materiel, in a conflict that's just coming back into the collective imagination as more than merely going over the top, it seems only fitting to recommend Lordz' Commander: The Great War. A meaty and flexible turn-based affair, the game offers a war-long campaign as well as four other bite-sized scenarios for lesser commitment. Deftly-depicted mechanics such as troop rotation add a human element to a starkly industrial and hard-fought four years. There are comparatively few options to investigate this sad, savage period with, but with efforts like Commander: The Great War, quality trumps quantity.
"Lordz seem to have judged the scale, pace and workload just about perfectly." - Tim Stone (again)
Of course, we couldn't leave The Greatest Board Game Of All Time off a recommendation list, especially when the digital version is so grand.
The great triumph of Twilight Struggle is its legitimate Cold War ambience, despite sharp abstraction and geopolitical brinkmanship distilled to mere nodes on a map. In the same way DEFCON boiled down the dread of an inevitable nuclear exchange, so too does Twilight Struggle with its concepts of control and influence. Historical events are given currency in such an elegant way, this could have only come from a tabletop game.
It's not hugely intuitive at an FNG's glance -- again, due to its heritage -- but after a few games against solid AI or willing asynchronous parties, Twilight Struggle's brilliance becomes apparent. Like an AK-47, you probably won't get a cheaper and more reliable way to wage state war. Do it.
"As a strategy game, Twilight Struggle is a revelation. On PC, it's one of the best head-to-head strategy games around." - Rob Zacny