Men, make sure you’re wearing your primary color camouflage out there.
It’s been the year of the surprise digital board game release: BattleLore Command, Yardmaster, and Stalag 17 all arrived on the App Store with no warning at all. Ambush releases have quite a mixed record this year; BattleLore is nothing less than excellent but Trainyardz and Stalag 17 were… well, less than excellent.
Here’s one more release rolling under the rapidly descending App Store door, just hours before the holiday approvals freeze takes effect. An iOS and Android conversion of Dan Verssen’s big WWII operational-level tabletop wargame from 2008, Field Commander Rommel is $12.99 on the App Store and comes with three full scenarios: France 1940, North Africa 1941, and D-Day 1944. It’s also on Android, the Mac App Store, and it’s coming to PC forthwith.
This new release comes to us from Finch Digital, a statement to which the obvious question is:”Who the heck is that?” I put the question to Craig Finch himself, who told me all about his operation and this new game.
Longtime readers will know that under-explored wargame themes are the surest way to float my particular boat, and Kermorio have just sent me some screenshots that have my boat buoyancy set to “hovercraft”.
When iPad operational wargame Wars & Battles materialised on the App Store last month, it came with a stack of Normandy-based WWII scenarios that I found to be exceedingly good. French devs Kermorio have promised that the Wars & Battles app will be more than just one wargame, it’ll be a never-ending dispenser of wargames featuring everything from ancient Greek phalanx hoplites to No-Doz snorting, Maxim-reading F-16 fighter jocks.
In my review of the game I was wholly positive about everything but this promise, which seems entirely too ambitious to me. But I would love nothing more than to be proved wrong on that front, and Kermorio will take the first stab at that with October War, a new batch of DLC scenarios for Wars & Battles that’s coming soon.
Set during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973 (and commonly known as the Yom Kippur War), this scenario is probably a good first experiment with which to flex Kermorio’s WWII combat model: warfare in 1973 is obviously distinct from warfare in 1944, but it’s trivially different compared to some of the eras Kermorio plans to support. I’ll be very curious to see how Kermorio balances some of the obvious changes: line-of-sight increases, over-the-horizon weapons, and a much more evenly-matched air war. October War is due out “in a couple of months”, and the Android release of the game is set for February of 2015.
In the meantime, Kermorio have sent us a deluge of screenshots to pore over. After the jump ten (10!) images from the forthcoming expansion, which Kermorio took pains to remind me is still very much a work in progress, so reserve judgement on the accuracy of the BMP camouflage schemes. Read my review from November, too.
It’s not overly surprising that Desert Fox didn’t generate the excitement that Battle of the Bulge did two years ago. Not only does it take place in a smaller, less exalted theatre of World War II, its slick presentation is something we’ve now come to expect from Shenandoah Studio’s wargames. It’s a shame, because Desert Fox is a game every bit as cunning as its namesake.
True story. When I build a new PC, I do three things: install Windows, replace the desktop background with a photo of my 1997 graduating class from Mount Hexmap Academy of Super-villainy and Above-Average-Villainy, and install Unity of Command.
I pity the fool who hasn’t played Unity of Command, a game that is by far the most polished, accessible, and challenging PC wargame released in memory. It takes the brutally un-romantic muddy slog of WWII’s Eastern Front and turns it into an elegant tactical ballet. When Apple releases the implantable iBrain in 2018, the first thing I install on it will be Unity of Command.
Last month on their blog, Unity of Command devs 2×2 said that work on a follow-up game was underway. “We’ve been working on our new game for quite some time now,” says Tomislav Uzelac in that blog post.
“We are adding significantly to the game’s repertoire of mechanics, while hopefully not overcooking it. This will enable us to represent things like amphibious landings, para drops, intelligence effects, some naval action etc. The new system should be more versatile, so we could represent much more of WWII in it, and not just the maneuver-rich campaigns on the Eastern Front.”
Awesome, of course.
This morning, I found myself half-remembering a conversation I’d had with Uzelac on Twitter earlier this year, where he’d told me that UoC for tablets just wasn’t going to happen, but that a future Unity of Command… you never know. I got in touch with Uzelac this morning about that and here’s what he told me.
Despite the title, The Longest Day isn’t about that time the only radio station you could get while stuck in traffic all afternoon was an NPR pledge drive — it’s Slitherine’s new standalone expansion to Frontline: Road to Moscow.
Frontline: RtM came out back in May, and while I usually bow to no one in my affection for Slitherine’s games, Frontline wasn’t the strongest release from the venerable wargaming house. The first installment of Frontline was a slightly wonky combination of high-level operational wargame and up-close tactical one — sometimes you were commanding an entire front’s worth of panzers and sometimes you were only trusted with a rusty old kubelwagen and a box of tacks. It was awfully pretty though, winking up at you from the iPad with its Unity of Command-inspired look. I wanted to love it and never quite found a way to do so.
Longest Day –which is out right now on the App Store and on Android for five bucks– looks as though it might address my complaints. Judging from the screenshots (so employ a grain of salt) it seems more solidly rooted at one, high-level operational scale. You’re the Allies this time, trying to get your foot in the door of Fortress Europe on D-Day, 1944.
You don’t need to own the original Frontline to get in on Longest Day — and it’s on PC, too if that’s how you prefer to do your amphibious landings. Trailer after the jump.
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?