Saturday, May 29, 2010

Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge - Tutorial Scenario - Planning - Mission

Well, yours truly had quite a week at work and couldn't keep up with the many news that are relevant for this blog. Let's start with the news I was very anxiously awaiting ... Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge was released!

The price of the game has spurred some fierce discussions elsewhere. I will comment about that in the future.

Now, onto the game!

The tutorial scenario features an easy-to-win scenario for the human player playing as the Allies. Even when the scenario is not challenging, please bear with me while I plan for this battle because alas I'm not tactically gifted.

Let's start the planning with a full understanding of the mission.

Please make sure to click the pictures so you can actually read the text.

The text paragraph on the left, just below the tabs displays the never-to-ignore briefing. It is important to read it to understand the mission. Yellow circles and writing are mine.

One of the other tabs shows the scenario-specific objectives. Let's take a look at those.

First objective (highlighted black) is straightforward. As shown at the bottom of the screenie, if you kill 79% of the enemy force you get 33 points in your overall score.

A comment about the destruction of enemy units. I was once discussing with  one of my best friends (a surgeon) about the optimal post-surgery feeding of cancer patients who had almost all their digestive tract removed to prevent metastasis. It was a wacky talk; the surgeon couldn't grasp amino acid dissociation constants, the biochemist couldn't grasp the electrolytic balance of a person with half their guts removed. When I asked him about how it is possible for a human being to survive such a harsh surgery, he shared a bit of his emergency room experience back in poor slums in Argentina and capped everything with "it takes a lot to get a man killed". Well, paraphrasing my non-wargamer surgeon friend, it takes a lot to get an enemy formation eliminated. Single units in this game don't want to get killed; they will take a lot of punishment, maybe rout, but they will be back into the fight when they rally. I always found this aspect of the engine quite spot on. It may be a bit shocking for the newcomer because we kind of became accustomed to turn based games where you throw the dice and if your odds are good the enemy unit just goes away. In this war game, you will push the enemy aside, but they will be back sometime. After years of playing games from Panther, "destroy the enemy" is the objective I am always sure I will miss. :)

Second objective (highlighted black) is the Steinebruck bridge (for its location see full map above). Note the timing of the objective: this objective is relevant (or active) from day 1 at 0600 to day 5 at 0600. Also, there is a distinction between occupation and completion. For occupying the objective (from day 1 at 0600 to day 5 at 0600) you can get a maximum of 8.3 score points. For having this objective under your control at day 5 at 0600 you will get 4.2 score points (no matter which side controlled the objective up to that time).

The tabs corresponding to the other objectives are reproduced below. Make sure to take a look at the full screen and map above to get an idea of the objective's location. Also note how objectives Breitfeld Crossroads and St. Vith become active not at day 1 but at day 2.

Next entry: second step of planning, the enemy.


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