If it didn't hit the stores by the time this post goes live, it will within hours. The latest DLC for Unity of Command will take the player to Operation Barbarossa, with Germany in a full strategic offensive posture and the Soviets scrambling to stop them.
Unity of Command is an operational level, turn based war game that has earned a great reputation for its innovative design, functional interface, clear and beautiful presentation plus a throat-slashing computer opponent that goes for the jugular of your armies. If you are not familiar with this game, I encourage you to take a look at my previous review of the base game.
The Black Turn DLC features 15 scenarios, which can be played in multiplayer (not PBEM but rather through a server), hotseat and in single player modes. The scenarios in single player mode are playable mostly from the German side with the exception of two scenarios in which the Soviets are counter attacking around the end of 1941.
As far as I can tell, every significant operation in the Eastern Front during 1941 is covered either as a single scenario or within the three campaigns. The campaigns are named "Army Group North", "Army Group Center" and "Army Group South", which gives you an idea of the size of the scope of the individual scenarios and forces under your command. Every bust in the screenshots showed here represent a German division or a Russian Corps/Army. The formations for both sides are named after their historical counterparts.
For the solo player, the great graphics and the superb interface of Unity of Command convey a sense of casual gaming that usually ends with pressing the button at the top right corner. The "end turn" button activates the computer opponent facing the player with the fragility of his supply lines, the dilution of his forces as he moves east and other shortcomings as an operational commander.
Every time I fail to reach that objective too far by the scenario's end, I find myself both mesmerized by the simplicity and the depth of this war game. The real life concepts of decisive and shaping operations, intermediate objectives, primary and secondary lines of operations ... All of them covered. These concepts were off course present in the previously released content. But with the Black Turn DLC, the player gets a chance to taste the many different flavors of those. For example, the German forces get more spread as the months go by and the poor supply lines force them into predictable primary lines of operations. This in turn results in the absolute need to think on shaping operations very thoroughly, because the computer opponent will quickly move to stop an offensive that has a single thrust. Even when the player's forces are near an objective, the computer opponent will throw a derelict unit as a speed bump in the path to victory, just to completely derail the tight movement schedule to reach the objective area.
This is likely the last official Eastern Front DLC for the Unity of Command engine. Once again, the developers have proved that a combination of simple but well thought mechanics, interface and graphics that don't hurt wrists or eyes can achieve wonders.