Thursday, December 17, 2009

Badass War Game AI: Be Careful on What you Wish For ...

I bought "The First Blitzkrieg" (HPS Simulations) a while ago and I played it on and off for a while. Reasons why I don't play that much with this war game:
First, I have the attention span of two year old. Second, the bloody computer opponent kicks my rear end. Every time. It makes me kind of sick. :)
I'm such an hypocrite! I can't even remember how much I bitched in the past for good computer opponents in war games ...
For those who don't know this game, let me introduce it to you with the following snippets from the game's official web page.
The First Blitzkrieg is the start of what will be a series of games called Total War in Europe. Unit scale ranges from divisions to battalions, and includes air groups. Map scale is 10 kilometers per hex and two days per turn. Each game map is part of a greater Master Map, encompassing the whole of Europe and parts of North Africa and Western Asia with a quarter million hexes. The Master Map will be released with the final game in the series.

The First Blitzkrieg    contains seventeen scenarios and campaigns from the invasion of Poland to the Fall of France. There are also hypothetical scenarios drawn from Operation SEA LION (the planned German invasion of Britain) and “what if” the Allies had taken the offensive against Germany in the autumn of 1939. Players have the opportunity to alter the course of history on both the operational and strategic level.

HPS released the second installment of the series: "War on the Southern Front". Great games both.

Now back to the AI thing, what's up with such a cold-blooded, back-stabbing, ruthless computer opponent?

John Tiller (HPS) teamed up with John Rushing (an AI researcher at the University of Alabama) to come out with this monster. I have read the document linked above (a progress report for a grant they got) and, despite the report being a bit old, it describes the type of things I saw the computer opponent in "The First Blitzkrieg" do: keeping a good line of battle, refusing its flanks, recognizing gaps, avoid being encircled ...

In a nutshell, this series has one of the best AIs I've seen in wargames.



Anonymous said...

Great article. I agree, TFB (and now WotSF) have great AI. It is a much needed boost to vs. AI games!

JC said...


Thanks for your comment.
Did you get WotSF? I'm still looking for time to play it.