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.
“If General McClellan does not want to use the Army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”
Battlefields: Civil War, a re-titled and completely made-over iPad re-release of Civil War: The Battle Game, is getting close to release. Developers Bitstreamers sent across some screenshots and video of the game in motion — it’s a totally different animal from the oddly cute representation of America’s bloodiest war that they launched to little acclaim back in 2012.
Battlefields does more than add a Shenandoah-flavoured note to the visuals. It’s also an overhaul of the UI that makes the operation-level wargame easier to understand: clearer combat results, a more immediately comprehensible map. There’s also historically unit names for those of us who geek out over such things.
The blue and the grey will go at it before the end of January, Bitstreamers tell me, and the game will launch with six different scenarios: Bull Run, Brandy Station, Chickamauga, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Shiloh. There’s AI for single-player and Game Center-based asynchronous multiplayer, too.
Two videos of Battlefields: Civil War in motion are after the jump. The Bitstreamers’ next game Seven Years’ War (originally due out last October) is now coming in the first half of 2014, I’m told.
Open Panzer ran pretty okay on an iPad, but being a web app, I wouldn’t have called it silky. Nicu write in just before the holiday break to tell us that the native app version of Open Panzer is now available on the App Store, and it’s free as in beer, and I can tell you that it’s a significant improvement over the web-based one. Pavel even whipped up a pretty sweet iOS 7-looking icon for it.
Open Panzer has two campaigns (a 1939 German campaign and an American campaign starting in ’43) and over a dozen historical scenarios. If you’ve seen us jibber-jabbering about wargames on the forums and wanted to give them a try, a free remake of one of the best wargames ever made isn’t a bad place to start. The graphics are a little dated, but the game itself is aces — just make sure you play the tutorial first. The manual for the original Panzer General II is available online as well, and it mostly cross-applies.
So go get Open Panzer for free from the App Store. If you want to get your hands dirty with the “Open” part and do some hacking, Pavel’s code repository for the game is on GitHub.
In the Pocket Tactics Prognostication College and Wholesale Fortune Cookie Outlet high atop Mount Hexmap, the time has come for the PT staff to gaze into their peep stones and reveal the most anticipated mobile games for the year to come.
As prophets and seers go, our track record is pretty decent, if I may say so myself. Of the six picks from last year’s most-anticipated games list, four actually came out in 2013! And they were pretty good, too — heck, some were outstanding. And our list from 2012… well that’s quite enough dwelling on the past. Let’s carry on into the future. There’s hoverboards there.
After the jump, Pocket Tactics‘ Most Anticipated iOS & Android Games of 2014.