Matrix Day 2020 - Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes Offensive

By Joe Robinson 03 Dec 2020 1

As you may have spotted last week, today Matrix Games held a ‘future games showcase’ - also known as ‘Matrix Day 2020’ - to show off four upcoming games from their 2021 line-up. If you’ve been paying attention to their social media channels these past few days, you’ll know what they are by now and know that one of them is a new Decisive Campaigns game - Decisive Campaigns: Ardennes Offensive.

Because there’s so much to talk about and so much information to go through, we’ve broken up our coverage of this event into individual articles covering each of the new games.

Ardennes Offensive will be the fourth entry in VR Design’s Decisive Campaigns series, with the previous entry being 2015’s Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa. Unlike the Flashpoint Campaigns devs, however, VR has been doing other things in the interim. Most notably they released the sci-fi 4X/wargame hybrid Shadow Empire in June.

I’ll be honest, I was hoping their new game would be more to do with SE, as it represents their most ambitious and interesting project to date, but I’m sure many of you would take a new Decisive Campaigns game just as well.

decisive campaigns ardennes offensive combat window

This new title unsurprisingly covers the battles in the Ardennes forest in France between December 1944 and January 1945, offering a Battalion-level experience that sits just about the traditional tactical design space.

It comes with a full campaign scenario that covers over 16 days of conflict (each ‘day’ in this title is split across four turns), along with smaller scenarios covering specific parts of the front.

decisive campaigns ardennes offensive cards

As with the other major announcements during this event, a lot of attention has been given to major changes and headline features in contrast to previous entries in each respective series, and there’s plenty to look over there as well. Because there’s a lot to parse, we’ve copied the official ‘changes list’ we were sent by Matrix Games ahead of the event. Minor edits have been done for style and prose:

  • Weather is more detailed than ever before, with over five different Hex states that show different combinations of precipitation, snow cover and frost.
  • Small villages and hamlets are now visible as well as height levels.
  • Ardennes Offensive adds line of sight to the Decisive Campaign series for the first time: hills block line of sight and Recon is now more important than ever.
  • Hexes are no longer owned. You can expect enemy troops to infiltrate your lines without you noticing.
  • The Supply System has been overhauled. This overhaul includes the introduction of traffic congestion rules, which can especially impact the Fuel deliveries to your Units.
  • Intercept Fire makes advancing in open terrain a hazardous affair, but also brings dynamisms to the game with enemy Units acting while you are moving yours. Make the call: If you don’t want to leave your Units some Action Points then they can’t react to enemy moves the upcoming turn.
  • You can now switch your Units between March Mode and Combat Mode. March Mode allows double the movement but makes your Units very vulnerable to possible intercept fire.
  • When attacking a hex, you can now also choose between different intensities of attack ranging from a Probe Attack to an All-Out-Attack.
  • Ardennes Offensive adds the Uncertainty Rule as an optional feature. If you play with this rule each Unit gets a hidden combat modifier that you will discover over time as the Unit sees more and more combat.
  • It is possible to create Kampfgruppes on the fly, Scrap equipment and even use on-map Truck Units to transport other Units.
  • Complete overhaul of the hex and unit graphics.
  • The interface has adapted left-right-click conventions in order to have a quicker and smoother experience moving your Units.
  • The AI has been reworked and will provide a solid challenge even in regular mode.
  • Ardennes Offensive is the first title in the series with accessible and easy-to-use editors.

All of the above and more can be gleaned from the interview conducted with VR Design’s Victor Reikersz as part of the Matrix Day 2020 event, which you can watch in full here:

No news on a release date yet, but Matrix seems confident about it being on the 2021 docket, so hopefully we’ll hear more next year. We’ll keep you posted.

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