Saturday, March 19, 2011

Understanding the Operation in One Game, Playing it in Another ...

I am a fan of the Panzer Campaigns series. However, I struggle to plan at the operational level in titles of this series where corps-sized formations are spread over 70 kilometers or more. I have no issues moving a thousand counters, but if I don't see the whole corps and its operational objective/s in one single snapshot, I just don't get it.

To be completely fair, Panzer Campaigns has a zoomed-out view, even a jump map that shows big chunks of terrain and troops at once. But the structure of armies and corps is difficult to grasp in those. The zoomed out view in Panzer Campaigns even obscures some roads in certain types of terrain.

An scenario of Panzer Campaigns Tunisia '43. The 2D map view in the background is rich and detailed, but doesn't allow you to see too much of the road ahead for the British brigade seen in the map. The Jump Dialog map offers the whole picture view, but details like place names are gone.
For playing other titles of the Panzer Campaign series I was in better shape to circumvent the above mentioned shortcomings. I read about the operations and I mimicked the real life operation. In the case of Tunisia '43 I'm ill-prepared and un-read. Books are on order and my interest on this campaign is now very high. On the meantime, I'm reading whatever I can find and consulting The West Point Atlas of War for a quick reference on operational movement during the battle. 

Another thing that is helping me a lot to understand the "big picture" is other game from John Tiller, War on the Southern Front. This game is at the pure operational level, and the units are regiments/brigades (compared to companies and battalions in Panzer Campaigns) and above. Also each terrain hex corresponds to 10 km (compared to 1 km in Panzer Campaigns).

The War in the Southern Front scenario counterpart to the one shown above.
So, I'm going back and forward between both games now and this is helping me quite a bit to understand the operation from the top-bottom, the bottom-up and anything in between ...



Anonymous said...

Great post - situational awareness is something I have issues with also .. these are great games but think things could be done to improve and help this aspect.

JC said...

Thanks for your comment.
True, sometimes it feels like all is about aimless counter pushing. There should be some sort of annotation/marking module in these games.


Coredump said...

It seems we are sharing the same illness: Operational Impaired Syndrome. Only cure is hard study of field manuals and extensive operational wargaming. Practice makes perfect. :-)

JC said...

Hi Coredump!

I've just downloaded the mapmod thing and it improves the zoomed out view of the map. Thank goodness for this modder!