1. A unique war game engine
This is the most original and detailed depiction of command in any commercially available war game out there. Traditional war games have abstracted command and control into very clever rules, yet for the most part the player can move and attack with his virtual troops in a God-like fashion. Command Ops is all about the friction of C2: orders get delayed, subordinate leaders making their own (sometimes undesirable) decisions and orders not followed for lack of time or resources. Market Garden was a colossal miscalculation in terms of what soldiers can achieve in the context of their combat power and standard operations procedures. The game will show you own miscalculations within minutes.
|Operation Market Garden at your fingertips|
This war game engine can run on almost any computer. Yet in the past, the size of scenarios were limited by the number of units and the size of the map the processors could handle. Now computers are more powerful, the engine has been tweaked to death and we can enjoy scenarios we could only dream of back in the days.
|120 Km2 of fun. This was split in two scenarios back when Highway to the Reich was originally released.|
The game engine now features a timed assault option, which allows the player to coordinate assaults from two different formations carrying out two different attack orders.
|Two battalions from the Irish Guards Brigade are assaulting Joe's Bridge, from the south and the east, simultaneously. All thanks to the new "assault at" option (yellow arrow).|
Gone are the times where you could shrug and blame defeat on your units' lack of ammunition. Now supply is more explicit and includes supply trains from bases to the front lines. So keep those lines of supply open!
|The supply tab (tab in the left) is just an inventory of what's available. With the new engine, you have to make sure the roads are open for those goods to be delivered.|
5. On map OOB browsing
Big scenarios mean big formations. A new tab now features a clickeable OOB browser that allows an on-map review of your formations.
|Plenty of Allied units and the bridgehead across the Waal river is nimble. One click on the tab's entry on the right selects and highlights the unit you are looking for (a battalion in this case).|
6. More planning tools
Ever planned an attack or tactical march and found out a couple of simulated hours later that your troops merrily took a "shortcut" that will take an additional five hours to complete? Not anymore. The path tool allows the player to visualize the best routes from point A to point B and how long is going to take. There are options for motorized and foot units. Also, the player can choose a formation and get the same data.
|That green line (look near the yellow arrow in the map) is the quickest path between two points for a motorized unit.|
|The line of sight area (white and grey squares) from any specific point (the red square in this case).|
As if juggling with a whole Corps worth of troops was not enough, the demands of the world outside the computer screen do not stop. That garbage can will not walk to the curb, that cold one will not fly to you from the beer fridge and that diaper of the bundle of joy will not change itself. Enter these new two tools in the game engine that will help your significant other to believe that you actually haven't moved out of the house.
|No need to watch over your troops. You gave them sensible orders, didn't you? Run the game for two hours while you do other things.|
|The message tab in the left can be clicked and the map will be centered on the unit or event that triggered the message.|
Once you embark a formation into a mission, it's good to tell them what to do in case something unexpected happens, like contact with the enemy or a unit falling behind schedule.
9. Wider battlefields
Battles from the Bulge is all good but you have to give it to me that the terrain is a maneuver constriction nightmare. In Highway to the Reich, the terrain is more open to a certain extent (there are more water bodies that are a restriction anyway). It is good to get back into wider battlefields, at least I now can remember old tricks I used in CotA.
Surrounded, out-gunned and on a tight timetable. Does it get any worse? Let's not forget the particulars of airborne operations (a blog entry on that coming soon), how challenging they are and how much tactical wit a ground commander has to pull out when his superiors have thrown him under the tactical bus. The Panther's game engine has changed significantly since the original Highway to the Reich. Revisiting Market Garden under the shining light of the new additions is well worth the price of admission.