What an odd release week. Instead of our usual concentrated shot of new stuff on Wednesday night, it was Jackson Pollock drip of games coming from unexpected places; Galaxy Trucker here, Banner Saga there. And now here’s another one: Russian Front, Hunted Cow’s biggest-ever wargame.
Originally due out January, then August, the WWII Eastern Front operational-level wargame has had quite a gestation period, but what does that mean? This game is so different — so much bigger in scope, so much more concerned with historical authenticity — than any of Hunted Cow’s previous titles that it’s hard to know quite what to expect from it.
The Scottish studio tell us that Russian Front features fog of war, a supply system, variable weather, and multiple scenarios. On paper, this is a big meaty wargame of a similar complexity as my beloved Panzer Corps, — an App Store genre with fewer members than the vampire beach volleyball club. We’ll jam Russian Front into our increasingly beleaguered review queue and bring you a verdict ASAP.
Russian Front is iPad-only and will be out at midnight wherever you are tonight for $9.99. It’s been on Android for about a week now.
You might think you love Panzer General, but I promise that you don’t love Panzer General as much as Nicu Pavel does, who has been working on his free open source remake of SSI’s PC strategy classic for over two years now. In some cultures, Pavel is now legally married to Panzer General.
Back in January, Pavel brought the web-based Open Panzer to iOS, but this week has arrived for Android devices. “It’s also available on Google Chrome and FireFox OS,” Pavel told me, “but I don’t think it matters for many.” Nope, I don’t think it does either. What about Chumby, though?
Given its HTML 5 roots, Open Panzer doesn’t feel quite like a native app, but Pavel has stuffed it with content like a Zimmerit-covered Thanksgiving turkey. There’s a ton of campaigns in this turn-based operational level wargame, including the just-added “Great Patriotic War 1942-1945″ (Soviet side, 20 scenarios) and “Das Reich (1939-1945)” (Germans, 32 scenarios). It’s not as nice to look at or touch as Slitherine’s Panzer Corps for iPad, but you can’t beat the price.
Pavel’s planning his next update already: Open Panzer 3.0 will be ticking with a new AI and a new weather modelling system.
Back in December, prolific developers Hunted Cow gave us a peek at Russian Front, a WWII operational-scale war game that promised to be their biggest yet — and a shift from their Tank Battle tactical games which are more intimate in scope. The normally punctual Hunted Cow originally predicted a January release for this one, and they’ve clearly missed that mark by few months. And that’s a real shame. In a perfect world, every Eastern Front wargame comes out in the dead of winter and every customer gets a free furry hat in the post.
But getting in touch today, the studio told me that Russian Front is back on track and should be out in late August on PC and Android, and presumably iOS after that. It’ll be too warm for furry hats, but what can you do?
After over a year in the works, Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein — Shenandoah Studio’s most laboured-over wargame — is now just days away from release. It’s out at midnight this Wednesday night/Thursday morning, June 26th. Uniquely for a Shenandoah wargame, it’ll be a Universal app from day one.
If our watched our hands-on preview video then you know that this game is a fairly radical departure from the the mold Shenandoah created with Battle of the Bulge and Drive on Moscow. Set in the North African theatre of WWII, it’s still an operational level wargame with an emphasis on modern UI design and transparent mechanics, but it adds a strategic layer we’ve never seen before in a Shenandoah wargame. Every week in the game’s long campaign you’ll be offered a choice between refitting and digging in your forces, or launching an offensive. Will you catch your opponent unprepared? Or will you push into the breach before your forces are strong enough?
I like El Alamein quite a lot, and if you’re a fan of wargames then this will be an easy recommendation to you. Shenandoah has been saying that, despite the new complexity, this is a very accessible wargame — I’m not totally sure I agree. If you’re new to the genre, then you should start with the much more straight-forward Battle of the Bulge. But even still, the learning curve here is gentler than most PC wargames. So you know. Not Mary Poppins-gentle. More like Super Nanny. Tough exterior, but deep down she really cares.
Desert Fox will ship with three scenarios and a plethora of AI generals to match wits with, plus asynch online multiplayer. Watch the new Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein trailer after the jump.
For some reason, I — noted strategy games blogger Owen Faraday — have agreed to play a wargame in public on Thursday, whereupon I will immediately be exposed as a fraud who plays strategy games with all the grace of twerking elephant seal. All for your amusement.
This Thursday, 12th of June at 11am EDT/4pm BST I’m going to be playing the first-ever hands-on preview game of Shenandoah’s Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein. We’re going to stream it on Google Hangouts right here through a post on PT, and we’ll also record the video for you to watch later. I’ll be joined by Shenandoah’s own Comrade Brad and El Alamein lead developer Craig Moffitt.
Desert Fox is the third game in Shenandoah’s WWII Crisis in Command Series, which started off with the excellent Battle of the Bulge and continued last year with Drive on Moscow. This new installment adds all sorts of new gameplay elements like minefields, flak batteries, and Italians. Saucy.
Back in 2012 we were lamenting that there weren’t any wargames on touchscreens. Today, I don’t know what the heck we’re going to do with this steely cornucopia of grognard sims. Following on yesterday’s announcement of Frontline: Road to Moscow, German developers Sproing (what a name) have got another one for us.
Panzer Tactics HD (no relation) is a port of an obscure Nintendo DS game from 2007. The game offers 30 missions spread across 3 operational-level campaigns, one German, one Soviet, and one for the rest of the Allies. No sign of multiplayer but the screenshots look very pretty, though the game looks decidedly simple. Nothing wrong with that.
The new official website for the game says that it’ll be out on PC and iOS in the second quarter of this year. Just off the top of my head I can think of about ten iOS WWII wargames inbound in the next few months. I can’t think of a time when there was this many competing PC wargames coming out. We’re in a new golden age of wargames, people.
The old received wisdom about wargames was that WWII Eastern Front games never sold as well as WWII games set in other theatres. Maybe because American and Western European audiences preferred familiar settings like Normandy and the Netherlands over Kharkiv and Kraków. Or perhaps because a war fought by democratic Britain and America against the fascist Axis was a more relatable narrative than the German-Soviet struggle led by two inhuman tyrants.
But whatever — that’s obviously an outmoded line of thinking. Eastern Front wargames are officially hot. Slitherine have just announced Frontline: Road to Moscow, an iOS-exclusive wargame that’s going into beta right now. You can add it to the slew of recent and forthcoming Eastern Front wargames that don’t feature a single hedgerow, amphibious landing, or M1 Garand: Drive on Moscow, Tank Battle: East Front, Battle Academy 2, and Russian Front.
Frontline is an operational-level wargame that puts you in the boots of the German army commander who’s ignoring that old saw about land wars in Asia. There are 35 different scenarios and (borrowing one of Panzer Corps‘ best tricks) your surviving units will carry over from battle to battle, gaining experience and upgrades. Frontline also claims to have a unique art style, and while I think the game looks lovely, it definitely bites some of its aesthetic from Unity of Command. The map art is totally different, though.
This one’s going into iOS beta testing right this hot second, so if you’ve got the time, go sign up. I’ll let you know about a release date as soon as I can suss one out.
Hold this screenshot up in a mirror and you’ll get an exclusive preview of Soviet Corps.
Venerable wargaming house Slitherine have greenlit and are actively working on an expansion to the already-enormous WWII wargame Panzer Corps. This is actually old news–as in November 2013 old–but despite the many spies and brainwashed Manchurian Candidates I have embedded at Slitherine HQ, it escaped my notice last year.
It’s obviously very early days for Soviet Corps: Slitherine’s development partner Lordz Game Studio posted today that art assets were just going into production. But the gap between the official announcement and release of the last Panzer Corps Expansion, Allied Corps, was just four months. Maybe we’ll be warming up the T-34s this summer. Even if not, we’ve already got a lot to look forward to on the wargaming front: Shenandoah’s El Alamein in the next couple of months, Hunted Cow’s now-delayed Russian Front, plus Slitherine’s Warhammer 40K: Armageddon game and WWII Pacific chit-pusher Order of Battle.
Read my exuberant review of Panzer Corps from December — you can get the existing expansions Allied Corps, Afrika Korps, and the epic-length Grand Campaign as in-app purchases within the game itself.