Wargamer Weekly: Food for Thought

By Joe Robinson 15 Sep 2017 1

Amongst other things, I listen to the Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy Podcast from the good folk over at Karwansaray Publishers. Episode Six, titled ‘Bootleg Goldsworthy’ involved a segment where WSS Editor Guy Bowers recorded a talk given by renowned historian Adrian Goldsworthy at the 2017 Crusade convention in Penarth, Wales.

Without going into too much detail, Mr. Goldsworthy talks about some of the historical problems faced by armies in ancient times, and how these realities are./are not applied to table-top wargaming. He mentions, for example, instances were one unit gets an order, and then another one will follow suit as well thinking that they may have just missed the signal. This can then cause other units to rush in too, and before you know it you have a cascade across the whole army where they're charging the enemy, whether the commander wants them too or not.

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In table-top, a broadening of imagination and a shortening of patience has lead to simpler, more abstract rules coming in, as well as the concept of 'friction',  but in videogame wargames we're still very much steeped within the mindset of total control, endless minutia, and digital realism. While it's easier to still design this way because of the wonders of digital software, Goldsworthy did make me wonder if we shouldn't be trying to be more 'historical' as well. It's all well and good making sure the uniforms are correct, but what about the realities of command & control? Of delayed or misinterpreted orders and other difficulties in communication?  

Is it time we start adding 'friction', into video wargames? While you mull that over, here is the week's news...

Matrix Games/Slitherine

Order of Battle has been getting a lot of love from us recently; Ian reviewed the Burma Road expansion last week, and Jeff whipped up a guide to the new specialisations introduced into the game. To round things off, starting today until September 21st all of the Order of Battle expansions except Burma Road have been discounted. The rate of discount varies between DLCs, but you can consult the full list here.

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Normally we wouldn’t share tutorial videos as news, but I’ve been playing Distant Worlds Universe again recently. It’s a pretty robust and unique sci-fi 4X game, although it has a Hearts of Iron level of detail that almost demands you learn what to automate, and what to take direct control over. While its system are relatively simple, there are so many of them it can all get a little overwhelming, so perhaps this guide video from tortugapower might help.

For anyone interested in taking the unique Carrier Deck in their pockets, it’s now also available for iPhone devices.

Steel Division gets up Close & Personal

Last week Eugen Systems revealed their upcoming DLC plans for real-time tactical wargame, Steel Division: Normandy ’44. The first paid-for DLC will be called Second Wave, but it will also be accompanied by a free update called ‘Closer’.

Eugen revealed today more details as to what’s going to be in this update, which will include a new game mode called ‘Closer Combat’, and a remastered first campaign missions.

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In Closer Combat mode:

  • All transported units can be purchased and deployed without its vehicle. Of course, you won’t bear the cost of the armed transports.
  • Deployment zones are way closer from each other than in other modes.
  • You start to earn points once you control 52% of the battlefield instead of 51%.

Dominions 5 Announced

It’s been four years since Dominions 4: Throne of Ascension landed on PC. Now, Illwinter Game Design has announced they are close to completion of the fifth iteration, titled Warriors of the Faith, which will feature improved graphics, as well as several key gameplay differences:

New Features

  • Real time combat
  • Per unit combat logs
  • Design your pretender's bless effect
  • Priest's banishment and smite spells will depend on what type of god he follows
  • History playback when game is over, see how dominion spread and provinces changed owners
  • New random maps with bridges and better looking terrains
  • New resource system with recruitment points that encourages recruiting in highly populated areas
  • Fortifications built by starting at the basic type, then upgrading it later
  • New research queue, researching is now one school at a time
  • New movement system
  • Winter shown on map and affects movement
  • Dominion overlay on map to clearly show its boundaries
  • New retreat system, good leaders can prevent units from dispersing in all directions
  • Updated user interface with information more clearly presented than before
  • New 3d-engine with better looking terrain, huge performance increase for good graphics cards
  • More reliable network, now works on less than perfect connections too
  • New nations
  • Some old nations have been reworked and updated
  • More spells, magic items, special abilities, events, monsters, titles, thrones, ....

Holdfast: Nations at War

We’ve had our eye on this project for a while, and we’re excited to hear that it’s finally entering Early Access. Holdfast: Nations at War is a multiplayer focused shooter set during the Napoleonic era. It has the feel of Mount & Blade: Warband’s Napoleon spin-off, which was based off a mod of the same name.

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Look out for this one to hit Steam on September 21st, with 125-player servers!

Divided We Fall

You may remember Divided We Fall, the World War 2 squad-based tactical game where two small teams of players fought against each other in tight, close-quarter maps. It’s a multiplayer orientated game that revolves around quick-action and skilful moves, so it has more in common with an RTS than the  calm and considered approach to most wargames. Still, if it was something that interested you, you'll be pleased to hear it's also leaving Early Access on October 2nd.

That's all for this week's round-up. Happy (war)gaming! This article discusses games developed & published by members of the Slitherine Group. For more information, please see the About Us page.

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