21 Days in Normandy: Maj. Gen. George Kitching and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division A Review The author, Angelo Caravaggio, has ...

21 Days in Normandy: Maj. Gen. George Kitching and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division 21 Days in Normandy: Maj. Gen. George Kitching and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division

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December 2016

21 Days in Normandy: Maj. Gen. George Kitching and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division

21 Days in Normandy: Maj. Gen. George Kitching and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division

A Review



The author, Angelo Caravaggio, has put together a detailed historical account and explanation for the Normandy performances of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division and it's commander, Major General George Kitching. The book endeavors to explain and examine critical factors that have lead previous historians to conclude that neither the commander nor the division performed up to battlefield expectations. 

Those readers who enjoy precise descriptions of commander functions and military definitions will be pleased with the in-depth research the author has undertaken to explore just what happened in those 21 days in Normandy. In fact, nearly 100 pages of the 289-page book are devoted to appendices detailing historical information about operational plans/instructions, conference notes, operational intentions, strength returns, chapter notes, an extensive bibliography and of course a thorough index. 

While analyzing such comprehensive information not everyone's cup of tea, Mr. Caravaggio no doubt found it necessary to include this as a means of bolstering his case that the 4th Armoured Division and General Kitching had been unfairly treated in previous accounts of the relevant Normandy actions. War plans Totalize and Tractable were unevenly applied during the race to close the Falaise gap; to a certain extent, the 4th was blamed for some of the failure to ensnare the thousands of Germans who did escape; albeit abandoning most of their equipment in the process of beating a hasty retreat.



The Commanders



from the book: Canadian Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Guy Simonds (left)
and 4th Canadian Armoured Commander Maj. Gen. George Kitching

The author does a convincing job recounting the various challenges faced by Kitching during the series of Normandy battles: a) training in brigade structure initially and, unlike other armoured divisions, not having time to change/train with the new and more flexible task force structures before the major operations designated Totalize and Tractable; b) losing valuable training time by being forced to waterproof all tanks, which turned out to be an unnecessary waste of valuable time; c) the mediocrity and/or lack of experience of Kitching's brigade commanders; d) the ongoing personal friction between Simonds and Kitching; e) the complex yet ill-considered design structure of both operations, resulting in compressed frontages for armoured maneuvering and subsequent inability of the following infantry brigades to support tank operations; f) the inflexibility of scheduling carpet bombing that leading to attack delays and g) language barriers and operational differences between the 4th and the Polish Armoured Division during the Falaise end-phase. 


The Attack Plans

from the book: complicated operational plans, in this case, Totalize
One of the main hindrances was the command structure forced upon subordinate units. Field Marshall Montgomery rigidly expected that orders and plans were to be followed precisely, thus limiting spontaneous field decisions. Further, Simonds was a bit of a micromanager in the sense that he did not give his division commanders reign to determine their own battle plans but instead took it upon himself to issue the detailed orders from Corps level. 

As mentioned earlier, the 4th Canadian Armoured also suffered from the less flexible pre-invasion brigade structure, which confounded combined operations between tank and infantry elements. Notably, during actual operations, many of the initial brigade commanders were early casualties; new commanders were forced to assume command on the spot. According to the author, this actually helped the various formations succeed because the training at those levels had been very good; the new leaders were forced to improvise tactics that were more spontaneously task-force oriented. If we are to accept the conclusions of the author, the 4th did  fight with much more cohesion and success than history gives it credit. Nevertheless, due to the overall inability of the Canadian Corps to achieve a closure of the Falaise gap, Kitching was relieved as the commander for negligence, ostensibly due to personal conflicts with others in combination with the failure to achieve operational goals. Someone had to be found as a scapegoat in this situation. 

21 Days in Normandy could appeal to the harder core military history enthusiasts who appreciate detailed acronyms, comprehensive explanations of commanders' duties, extensive tables of order and equipment, copies of actual orders and information of similar ilk. More time could have been spent engaging in narratives about the actual fighting, but that is, of course, a matter of preferential bias. The reviewer considers that this book will be especially attractive to enthusiasts of Canadian operations in the Normandy battles; those who are already familiar with the previous reputations and actions of the formations under scrutiny here

To all of whom this appeals, I think you will tremendously enjoy this book! -- Marc Hanna


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Hitler's Arctic War: The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR 1940-1945 A Review Chris Mann and Christer Jorg...

Hitler's Arctic War: The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR Hitler's Arctic War: The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR

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December 2016

Hitler's Arctic War: The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR



Hitler's Arctic War: The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR 1940-1945

A Review




Chris Mann and Christer Jorgensen have put together an interesting, informative and enjoyable narrative about the arctic campaigns of World War II.  Pen & Sword provide the publishing 'punch' by using modern publishing techniques that, for example, embed the graphics and images alongside the related text. This is preferred to the usual method of having sets of images in collected sections of the book because these are tied directly with the text. I'm very impressed with the eye-pleasing layout of this book. 


The Scandinavian Expanse

It can be hard to get a sense of the scope of these campaigns, involving thousands of kilometers of land stretching from Trondheim to Murmansk, from the North Sea to the Arctic Ocean with the Baltic in the middle of it all. The authors do an effective job giving the readers the right impressions about the scope and involvement of land, sea and air forces in this bitter theater of operations. The land campaigns were miserable in the spring and summer, as the troops on each side tried to maneuver using poor maps, having to skirt marshes and ford rushing streams -- all the while dodging swarms of famished mosquitoes. The winters were even worse as men froze to death in the frigid arctic conditions. 

Many are familiar with the blitzkriegs of Poland and France in the early stages of World War II, but the authors remind us that Scandinavia lived rent-free in the mind of Hitler. Foremost was his concern about securing the resources from this rich area, but he also remembered how the Kreigsmarine got bottled up in World War One without access to non-German ports. He hadn't forgotten that it was the low-morale sailors that fomented the capitulation in 1918. As a result, he eyed the ports sweeping north along the Norwegian coast as vitally necessary to his long-term strategy. 


The Winter War 1940


from the book -- Finnish ski-troops and ferocious-looking reindeer on patrol

But Stalin had struck first in the North, albeit not doing so well in the aptly-named 'Winter War.' The authors explain the origins and outcomes of this brutal side-show in some detail, covering some less-well known facts and intrigues that led up to the conflict. 

Note that the image above is just a sample of many in the book provided to illustrate the battle for the Finnish frontiers. Ultimately, the Russians won the Winter War, but only by licking their wounds and down-sizing their terms of surrender. Stalin frightfully realized his armies were sub-par.  


Norway 1940

from the book -- map of Norway operations


Hitler and his Admirals tried to get the jump on the allies in Norway, doing so even before launching their strikes into France and the Low Countries. This complex operation Weserubung involved amphibious landings and extended naval operations conducted by both sides, stretching along the coast of Norway from Oslo in the south to the far north where lay the vital port of Narvik. So much was at stake that Germany committed precious airborne troops and Western Allies sent vulnerable aircraft carriers directly into the fray. Indeed, the authors do a marvelous job explaining the tos and fros of this short-lived yet strategic battle. Hitler considered Norway so vital that for the rest of the war he stationed over a quarter million troops to guard the coastline and ports used for the precious Scandinavian resource deliveries.

Wargamer aside: it's noteworthy that many strategic wargames about WW2 simply cannot properly model this Norwegian conflict. For example, many game designers avoid the question of using naval forces altogether by stimulating players to make an airborne drop on Oslo as sufficient to represent the entire campaign. Their design focus is on adequately simulating East front combat and Western Allied invasions, but as a result, the Norwegian portion of the campaign is treated as a nearly irrelevant side-show. Part of the charm of studying the actual campaign is in relation to my love of strategic simulation of this war and how elusive it can be for designers to incorporate a realistic Norway campaign. I've yet to see it done satisfactorily in either board game or computer game formats -- at the strategic level. 


Barbarossa in the North


from the book -- Soviet combined arms counterattack
The authors provide due homage to German-Finnish efforts of seizing Murmansk and Leningrad from Russia when the weather was favorable in 1941 and 1942. The weather might have been, but conditions, especially in the far North, were not. German area commanders and, to a lesser extent, Russian commanders were simply not aware of how difficult it was to attack in these reaches of forest and marsh. Not only that, but the Finnish were simply not motivated to attack beyond recapturing territory lost in the Winter war, resulting in sporadic diplomatic confrontations with their German ally and resultant campaign failures.  


from the book -- typical summertime obstacles in the far North

Eventually the entire push entered a stalemate period. This episode lasted for three years until the Soviets launched a major counterattack in 1944 designed to drive Finland out of the war. Although stalemate situations are generally not interesting in a military sense, the authors provide absorbing details about operations and discuss the vexations on both sides of the conflict during this period. 


The Arctic Convoys


from the book -- the seemingly ubiquitous but ultimately ineffective Tirpitz (with torpedo netting, of course!)

It's hard to imagine more bitter and horrifying conditions than were found on convoys sending aid to Russia during the grim years of 1942 and 1943. This is when the usefulness of Norway truly manifested as a base of operations for Germany. Even the threat of the Tirpitz leaving it's bases to raid convoys was a horrific consideration for the Western Allies. It wasn't well known that Germany had trouble getting fuel to this ship nor that Hitler was loathe to send it out, due to the losses the Kreigsmarine had suffered taking Norway in the first place. Ultimately the battleship only engaged in one combat mission, bombarding a British naval Base at Spitsbergen. The book describes more so the vagaries of defeats and triumphs on both sides of this far-from-trumpeted and dismal battle theater.


The Victors


from the book -- Russian in full winter camouflage, circa 1944 Finnish front and dressed as extras for Ice Station Zebra

Obviously the allies won the conflict in the far north, but it's fair to say that the ultimate winners were once again the Russians. Convoys arrived from the west, supplementing the Soviet war machine, while 1944 attacks in Finland forced the smaller country to change sides and fight Germans and remove them from their soil. The authors definitely do a great job explaining the nuances of the Finnish-German relations during this contentious time near the end of the war.  

In conclusion, this book is highly recommended. It may not satisfy hard-core historians who want to see orders of battle for each engagement and tables of organization and equipment. The focus in the book is more on an entertaining but accurate account of this vast theater of operations, and this is well accomplished in 224 pages. The book comes with referenced chapter notes/citations, a bibliography and an index. All in all, this reviewer highly recommends adding this book to your collection. -- Marc Hanna. 

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The Battle of Minden 1759 The Impossible Victory of the Seven Years War By  Stuart Reid  For most people the Seven Y...

The Battle of Minden 1759 by Stuart Reid The Battle of Minden 1759 by Stuart Reid

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December 2016

The Battle of Minden 1759 by Stuart Reid


The Impossible Victory of the Seven Years War

By 

Stuart Reid





 For most people the Seven Years War brings forth an image of old 'Fritz' on a horse with Prussian grenadiers standing behind him. The fact is, the Seven Years War could be the first 'World War'. Being fought on five of the seven continents, the war has a lot more history than just what happened in Bohemia and Silesia. This book tells the story of the French attempt to crush a much smaller army of British and allied German states. The allied army was tasked to defend Hanover and keep the French from attacking Frederick the Great from the west. The British involvement came about when George, the elector of Hanover, was made the British king in 1714. George the 1st of England and his son, George the 2nd, took their birth rite as electors of Hanover as seriously as they took being kings of England.

 The Seven Years War started in 1754, with Frederick the Great's invasion of Saxony. The previous few years had seen a complete shift in European politics. France and their arch enemy Austria had made peace and actually became allies (in the War of Austrian Succession 1740-1748 France was actually allied with Frederick). George the 2nd had originally made his favorite son the Duke of Cumberland (butcher) his general-in-chief in Hanover. The portly Duke was trundled off the continent after the battle of Hastenbeck and signing the disastrous 'Convention of Klosterzeven', ceding half of Hanover to the French and leaving Frederick in the lurch. George the 2nd found a new favorite son and quickly repudiated the convention. The Duke of Brunswick, Ferdinand, was put in charge of a newly raised polyglot army. He had been successful in the last two years in blunting the French army's methodical forward movements. The campaign season of 1759 however, did not bode well, and it looked like his army was about to be engulfed by the French tide.



Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick


 This book is about the battle of Minden, 'The Impossible victory' of Ferdinand, but also about a good deal more. The author goes into the Seven Years War from the beginning in northwest Germany. You are shown the monetary and political constraints that Ferdinand had to deal with. The allied army had a large English contingent, and some of the more famous parts of the campaign and battle are gone into deeply from the English point of view. The French Marshal Contades advanced from a good defensive position to offer battle to the small allied army. In a confusion of orders, six English and two Hanoverian infantry regiments attacked three lines of French cavalry. The 'square' having not yet been developed, most of the onlookers assumed the worst. The eight regiments kept cohesion and with marvelous fire control forced the French cavalry from the field. The rest of the allied army then went forward and somewhat completed the victory. I say somewhat because for various reasons Lord George Sackville, commander of the English contingent, did not charge the retreating French with his cavalry. Some even thought it was through cowardice. This was not really accurate at all, and after the battle Sackville requested a court martial. The book details Ferdinand's actual orders and the confusion and physical constraints that Sackville actually had to contend with. Sackville was given his court martial, which found him guilty of disobeying orders, but in reality all of the testimony really acquitted him in the public eye. He shows up in American history under another title: Lord George Germain, one of the men responsible for the loss of the 'colonies'.



Lord Sackville


 The first part of the book is 115 pages long, but it is followed by no less that eight appendixes that are another 80 pages. The following list of the appendixes will show the depths that the author has gone to.

 I - Orders of Battle 1 August 1759
 II - British Casualties at Minden
 III - Lord George Sackville's account of Minden
 IV - Contemporary accounts of the Battle of Minden
 V - Testimony of Royal Artillery officers at the Sackville Court Martial
 VI - The British Army in the Seven Years War
 VII - His Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany
 VIII - The French Army in the Seven Years War

 There are also eight pages of black and white illustrations, along with copious references and notes.





 Minden was one of the British victories in the 'Annus Mirabilis (year of victories) of 1759. Thanks to the author and publisher for bringing to light a non-Frederickian history of the Seven years War.


 Robert


 Author: Stuart Reid
 Publisher: Frontline Books
 Distributor: Casemate Publishers

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An announcement from Scott Hamilton of HPS Sims Introduction written by Jason Rimmer After my article about Tigers Unleashed   th...

Scott Hamilton of HPS Sims sends a message to Tigers Unleashed customers:) Scott Hamilton of HPS Sims sends a message to Tigers Unleashed customers:)

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

December 2016

Scott Hamilton of HPS Sims sends a message to Tigers Unleashed customers:)

An announcement from Scott Hamilton of HPS Sims


Introduction written by Jason Rimmer

After my article about Tigers Unleashed  the first comment on a forum was a negative one which was  justified (I have to say some positive comments soon came along aswell) I copied the reply and sent it to Scott. Scott then sent out this email to the team which we felt ought to be published here for all to see.

Scotts message starts below..

"Hi guys,

First off, when this was released, we thought that it was good to go.  We had been running it for weeks, and it was checking out fine.  There were things I still wanted to work on, of course <!>, but there were no known crashes or major impediments to game play.

And even after it was released, it seemed to be good for a few months.. very few negative reports, and lots of suggestions.  And then it was like something snapped, and that's when we realized it wasn't as solid as we had thought.  And the worst part is that because things had gone OK for a while, I had started tearing things up to make improvements (plus we had put a lot of stuff "on hold" before the release to keep things as manageable as possible).  So the code was in a state such that I couldn't respond quickly to fix the problems as they started coming in.

As for how we managed to miss the boat, it was principally a matter of testing... or more correctly - the lack of the right type of it.   We had been running TU here on at least a dozen computers (incl. my wife's at work, my brother's, my mother in laws, etc).  But for the most part it was all AI vs AI.   I figured that would root out any really serious stuff.  But obviously it didn't, and because this was before Jason showed up, I didn't realize how cursory the comments coming in from the test crew really were (and that was 2 dozen people at the time). 

At that point I had already delayed the release for about 2 years (and the boards were full of "vaporware" comments and how HPS was going out of business), so with no known crash reports or other major issues, I decided to go for it.  It seemed like it a reasonable bet that it was OK.

And now we know why I'm not a betting man. :-)

Had I known, of course, I never would have released it.  Yes, it was intended as a WIP (all of my releases are), but not to the level it turned out to be.

As for the poster who feels ripped off and thinks I'm unprofessional, I do understand where he's coming from.  But all I can say is that I've refunded every persons money who has requested it, no questions asked.  It's been my policy since I started, and I still honor it for every single game I sell. 

So I don't agree he was completely ripped off.  Though, as a gamer myself (at least when I had time), I get the fact that he spent time and put emotional energy into it.  I also get that that can be even more valuable than money.   But there is no way I can refund that.  So all I can do is say I'm sorry and try to work as hard as I can to eventually put something out there he (and everyone else) can enjoy.

As for the forums... I also understand that it's the way many, if not most, people like to converse these days.  However, I still prefer email.  Maybe that makes me a dinosaur, but I encourage folks to email me and have my email address posted everywhere ( scott@hpssims.com ).  And I reply to every single one I get from customers (just like Jason's all those years ago#, and the ones from all the other guys on that forum).  I find it's more personal, less likely to turn negative or off the subject, and allows me to really dig into issues.

The other thing, is that as my wife says, "you can waste hours on writing the simplest things".  Which, as you can see from this email, among others, is absolutely true. ;-)    Being a perfectionist is one of my major weakness, at least for things like this.  Where other people can spend five minutes and fire something off, I spend hours.  If I were on a forum, even just posting a minimal amount, I'd lose hours of work time.  And on the forums, it seems like there is never a minimal amount. ;-)

That's not to say I can't change or figure out a way to do it, but just that right now I agree with Jason (and Jeff and Joe) 100%.  The only thing that really matters is getting this out in a shape that we can all be happy with and proud of.   In some minds I'm already a "recluse" and an "SOB" and any number of other things (and that's before you even ask my cats!)...  and while it hurts deeply, there's nothing I can do about that besides getting this out the door. 

See ya!
 -Scott"


#I don't think Scott realised at the time when sending me that first email that it would be the start of literally thousands of emails over the next few years I'd send back to him. I reckon sometimes I've sent him ten in a day!!

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Panzer Corps, developed by Flashback Games and The Lordz Games Studio, was published by Slitherine in 2011. The game is a spiritual succes...

Panzer Corps Review Panzer Corps Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

December 2016

Panzer Corps Review



Panzer Corps, developed by Flashback Games and The Lordz Games Studio, was published by Slitherine in 2011. The game is a spiritual successor to the 90's classic, Panzer General, which set a strong benchmark for the "beer and pretzels" segment of the wargaming genre. Panzer Corps takes that strong, yet straight forward gameplay and polishes it even further. The result is a modern wargaming classic that can be enjoyed by novices and grognards alike.

In the years since its release, Panzer Corps has been expanded via numerous DLC to allow for playing a much more lengthy German campaign, campaigns focused on specific theaters, and campaigns giving the player control of the Allied forces. It has also spawned spiritual successors of its own, including Order of Battle: WW2 and the far more fantastical Warhammer 40k: Armageddon. In this review, I will take a look back at the original base game of Panzer Corps, and discuss what makes that core gameplay so attractive to so many players.


Panzer Corps gives the player the same task as many other World War II wargames: Take command of the forces of Nazi Germany and see if you can do better than your historical counterparts. Heavier wargames might then present you with a dizzying array of NATO counters, rows of menu buttons to decipher, and a tutorial which consists of telling you to go study the manual for a few days and come back. While there is certainly a space and many fans for those kinds of games, they aren't for everyone, and even the most enthusiastic wargamer won't always be up for that kind of commitment. In steps Panzer Corps, which distills that heavy wargame experience down into its core elements, and presents them through an easy to use interface, where anything you need to do can be accomplished by one or two clicks of the mouse. In fact, a couple clicks is all you need to get your units moving and fighting. Gameplay within the scenarios consists of turn based battles on a hex grid. You move and attack with all of your units, and your opponent then does the same. Click on a unit and a graphic will pop up showing where that unit can move to. Mouse over a spot adjacent to an enemy and the combat odds will display, giving you a clear idea of whether attacking that foe with this unit would be a good idea. This well polished UI makes controlling the game a breeze, leaving you to focus on the tactics of the battle instead of fighting with the interface.



The UI makes movement choices easy to understand.

The Panzer Corps campaign consists of a series of linked scenarios, in which the player fights the highlight battles of WW2 in Europe. Success or failure to meet objectives in each scenario decides where the war goes next, or if it goes on at all. Win decisively, by completing more challenging optional objectives, and you can even alter the course of history. Victory is also rewarded in the form of "prestige" points, a key resource in the game. These points are used to replace losses, buy new units, or upgrade existing ones. As the same points are used for everything, the player must be wise in considering how to spend them.

The other key resources in the game are your units themselves. A "core" set of units are carried forward through the campaign and can gain experience and stat bonuses. They can also be upgraded with more advanced equipment as the war goes on. This is one of the primary appeals of Panzer Corps for me. This is a game where I get to decide what the mix of forces in my army will be, and where limited resources will be spent. The system also makes you feel more attached to your units by granting them medals and heroes over time, giving your veteran units far more character than they would have otherwise. Your veteran units can also become far more powerful than they were at the start of the game, as each star they gain at certain experience thresholds lets you give them an extra point of strength beyond the default of ten points. Losing one of these hardened units halfway through the campaign is a real one-two punch to the gut. Not only did you lose a unit that had been with you through many battles, but you have also lost a key component of your force that will be difficult to replace.

The wonderful tutorial campaign starts the game off on the right foot, presenting all of the previous concepts, and much more, over the course of a half-dozen scenarios linked together just like the real campaign. The tutorial starts off with a simple ground assault on a couple of towns, and then introduces every concept and unit type in the game across gradually more complex missions. You will get to try out bridging units, air combat, naval warfare, amphibious assaults, tanks, reconnaissance, and more. By the end of the campaign you will have a good handle on how the game works, and how to effectively use all the various unit types. This is a critical lesson to learn, as units like bridging crews and reconnaissance teams may not seem too exciting compared to buying more tanks or paratroopers, but in the right situation they can be vital to your success.



New unit types and upgrades become available throughout the campaign.

The tutorial campaign also gives you the chance to try out purchasing and upgrading units. Units you keep alive throughout the missions will be quite powerful by the end, having gained a star or two and a few stat bonuses. An additional wrinkle in this system will become apparent to the player as his units inevitably take some hits. Units begin with a "strength" level of ten, regardless of unit type. This level dictates both their ability to defend and to attack. A full strength unit can always take a couple of hits and deal out punishment in return, but a weakened unit may become helpless against even the unit type it is meant to counter. To get a unit back up to full strength, those losses must be replaced. The game gives you a few options in this regard. A unit can take on green recruits, which is cheaper mid-scenario, and free between scenarios, but reduces the experience level of the unit. To preserve that experience, elite replacements can be used instead, but these are more costly, especially if used during a scenario. So the decision will come up often, should I keep this unit at maximum experience, or save some prestige for other uses? Also, during a mission, you may have to decide whether keeping a unit in the fight is worth the extra cost, or if you can afford to send them back to base early. Playing the game well, will of course alleviate much of the tension here, take few losses while completing your objectives and you will have points to spare. That of course is easier said than done. There are also a few other ways to earn extra prestige. Control of every city on the map is usually not necessary for victory, but each one you take gives a little bonus. You can also get bonus prestige for forcing the surrender of enemy units by surrounding them, representing equipment and supplies captured from the enemy.

Once you have a firm understanding from playing the tutorial, it's time for the full campaign. The game offers several different starting dates for the main campaign. You can skip ahead to the epic battles of Barbarossa, or jump into the middle of the war with a 1943 start on either the Eastern or Western fronts. Of course, for the full experience, you will want to start with the invasion of Poland in 1939. This full campaign will give you the chance to mold and grow your force from humble beginnings into an elite fighting machine. Do well enough, and you will change history with your armies, to the extent of even invading England and the United States.

All of the elements discussed before are present in the full campaign, only bigger and more complex. The scenarios pit your forces against difficult terrain and aggressive foes. Units like mountain troops and bridging units can be critical in overcoming these obstacles and outflanking the enemy, while in other missions they may completely superfluous. This highlights the necessity of building a robust fighting force to help you face each new challenge. Dropping all of your prestige into tanks won't get you very far when you need to take three or four cities in a row defended by AT guns and dug-in infantry. Rest assured, you will get the chance to let your big cats off the leash in wide open terrain where they can pounce on anything and everything. 

While some of the missions are designed in such a way that the player can try different strategies and be successful, many can feel more like a puzzle that needs to be solved. Especially since every scenario is limited by time, and getting a "decisive" victory often requires completing the scenario even faster. Since the scenarios always start the same, it becomes easy to have a try at a scenario, then start over with better knowledge of the enemy positions. You might send some paratrooper planes on a daring raid behind enemy lines, only to discover a fortress watching over your intended landing zones. Do you waste precious turns slogging it out, or reload and land your men on the other side of the city? The answer is easy if you want the best outcome. Simply put, having a trial run at a mission and then starting over will always give you a more efficient result, which translates into more prestige, which means you can buy better toys for the next mission. Playing through without any save scumming could lead to frustration for many players. Taking too many losses means you can't afford to upgrade you tanks or purchase a new fighter squadron. It might also mean that you can't afford to keep your units topped up with elite replacements, eroding away at their experience and leaving you with a weaker force as scenarios become more difficult.  This is really my only major complaint with the game, but it doesn't take away from the fact that picking apart these puzzle-like situations is FUN. Where on your first try at a scenario you may fail abysmally, the next time around, armed with just a bit of extra intel, you are able to find the chink in the enemy defenses and tear them apart. Knocking out one enemy unit after the other, while minimizing casualties among your own forces, can be wonderfully satisfying. You will feel like a master commander as you hit the enemy with just the right combo of units moving and attacking in concert.



Panzer Corps is no graphical feast for the eyes, but the solid gameplay is what matters.

Graphically, the game is not going to blow anyone away. The 2D map and unit models are mostly static, other than some adequate attack effects. That doesn't mean to say the game is ugly though. The maps can be nice to look at, and, most importantly, clearly convey the different types of terrain in each hex, which is critical for planning strategy. The unit models are all nicely done as well, and there are hundreds of them, representing just about every tank, plane, and other vehicle you would expect to find in the setting.

The game's sound is also well done, with strong explosions and angry blasts of machine gun fire accompanying every attack. You will, however, hear the exact same effects hundreds of times over the course of the game. The music is also nicely done and fitting for the game, though I couldn't say that any distinct tracks stick out in my mind after closing the game.  At no point when playing the game did I run into any kind of bug or glitch, no crashes or corrupted saves. This game was clearly polished to perfection in that regard.

Panzer Corps has some serious legs if you want to keep playing after finishing the campaign. There are several DLC on offer, including a much, much longer Grand Campaign for the Germans, campaigns for the Soviets and Western Allies, and a campaign focused exclusively on North Africa. There are also user made mods and scenarios if that isn't enough for you. Not to mention online play against human opponents using Slitherine's excellent PBEM++ system.

In summary, I will reiterate what I think is the heart and soul of this game: Mixing strategy gameplay that is simple and easy to understand (while retaining some depth) with a light RPG-esque system of building your own custom army that evolves and grows based on your leadership.  This system gives the player agency over their units, and then tasks them with putting that army to good use in the field. Smart decisions on one side of the coin gives rewards on the other, and the same is true for poor decisions. I would heartily recommend this game to anyone wanting to dip their toe into the wargaming waters, or to any hardened wargamers who want something that is fun to just dive into and play.

2 comments :

Dunkirk Movie Trailer              

Dunkirk - Trailer 1 [HD] Dunkirk - Trailer 1 [HD]

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

December 2016

Dunkirk - Trailer 1 [HD]

Dunkirk Movie Trailer

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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An Introduction Regular readers will be aware by now of our new team member Marc whose Bio is published in the GHQ section (hello Ma...

Our new team members Our new team members

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

December 2016

Our new team members

An Introduction





Regular readers will be aware by now of our new team member Marc whose Bio is published in the GHQ section (hello Marc), however we also have two other talented chaps who have joined the AWNT ranks. First is Joe who will help out with PC game reviews mainly during busier periods and next is Mike who will be our main man over at the Model making section. The aim is to grow this section of the website and hopefully be able to review model kits sometime in the future...fingers crossed. Bio's for all members will be published ASAP on the GHQ page!

So I'd like to say a big hello to you all and I'm sure the website will be much better for all your future contributions!

It's good to see the page growing, the busier we are and the more articles we publish the better it is for our readership and for future growth. However we wont go for quantity over quality:)

Any suggestions from our readers are more than welcome. We want this website to be one of your must check pages when you log onto the net! So we are totally open to your ideas and suggestions on how we can grow the page and make it a first class website! Please use Contact Us over on top right.

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2016: AWNT Year in review Jason Rimmer Top Five Games 1. Wings Over Flanders Fields UE 2. Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg ...

Our year in review Our year in review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

December 2016

Our year in review

2016: AWNT Year in review





Jason Rimmer

Top Five Games

1. Wings Over Flanders Fields UE

2. Combat Mission: Final Blitzkrieg

3. Graviteam Tactics: Muis Front

4. Warfighter WW2 by DVG Games

5. Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa with latest patch

 

My book of the year

Iron Cross Brigade by C Bauermeister and Jason Mark (eds.) 

 

Worthy of mention..

'Till Trumpets Sound Again Vol 1 and Vol 2 by R Nicol

This year I discovered and fell in love with military LEGO and was extremely impressed with Thomas Gunns miniatures. I also made some great new friends running this blog!

Also my top five are in no particular order:)

Looking forward to next year, we already have lots of  new games lined up for review when released and I hope the blog continues to grow:)

Happy New Year to you all!


Robert Peterson

Top Five Games

 Old School Tactical (Flying Pig Games)

 Decisive Campaigns Barbarossa (Matrix/Slitherine)

 Panzer Battles Kursk/Normandy (Wargame Design Studio)

 Gary Grigsby's War in the West (Matrix/Slitherine)

 Thirty Years War (Ageod)

My book of the year

 Sulla (by Lynda Telford)

 Operation Barbarossa 

Worthy of mention..

 I was extremely lucky this year in that it was very hard to pick between the games and books I played and read this year. Thank you Jason, and all of our readers for making this a splendid year. 

 

 

Mike Wall 

Top Five Games

Scythe designer Jamey Stegmaier [pub. Stonemaier Games]

Hands In The Sea designer Daniel Berger [pub. Knight Works]

Mare Nostrum:Empires designer Serge Laget [pub Academy Games]

Deadzone 2nd Ed. designer Jale Thornton [pub. Mantic Games]

Terraforming Mars designer Jacob Fryxelius [pub. FryxGames]

My book of the year
 
Operation Sealion by Leo McKinstry

[Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin - if we're stepping outside war.]

Worthy of mention..

Fief 1429 [if only it had been published a year later!]

Brilliant year for what's been published and starting to review for AWNT.  One great game after another.  Wading my way through piles of crime fiction too and seeing Ian Rankin talking about his latest Rebus novel!

Have a great Christmas and keep your eyes peeled for lots more games and lots more reviews in the New Year!




Marc Hanna

Top Five Games

Europa Universalis IV (Paradox Interactive)

Panzer Corps Gold (publisher - Slitherine)

Axis Empires / Dai Senso board game (update playtest ongoing) - Decision Games

Advanced Squad Leader board game series (new modules 2016) - MMP and other third party publishers

Drive on Moscow  (Shenandoah Studios) -- reviewed

My book of the year

Hitler's Arctic War: The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the USSR 1940-1945 by Chris Mann and Christer Jorgensen -- review pending.

Worthy of mention..


PC game: Tigers on the Hunt (publisher Matrix Games) -- review pending.

Board game: Runewars (publisher FFG). Simply one of the best game designs of the Century.

Book: 21 Days in Normandy: Maj. Gen. George Kitching and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division by Angelo Caravaggio -- review pending.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

Joe Beard

Top Five Games

1. Squad

2. Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caeser

3. Total War: Warhammer

4. Order of Battle:WW2

5. Overwatch

My book of the year

Way of Kings by B Sanderson

Worthy of mention..


Command Modern Air\Naval Operations. For the continued support and dvelopment of the game, and the dozens of community created scenarios. I only wish I had time to play them all.

My 2016 was relatively light on wargaming, as my wife and I had our first child in March. Finding the time and mental energy to delve into a monster wargame just wasn't there for much of the year. As the free time in my schedule has become more predictable recently, I plan to get back deeper into wargames in 2017.

Merry Christmas to all, may you have a wonderful end to the year.

Editors Note: Please excuse the grey and black text when it should be all black. Blogger can be a real pain at times, when we look at this article in blogger to edit it it all looks black! See you all next year!

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Panzer Battles Kursk Southern Flank By Wargame Design Studio    As I am typing, I am playing the Prokhorovka Finale Ju...

Panzer Battles Kursk Southern Flank by Wargame Design Studio Panzer Battles Kursk Southern Flank by Wargame Design Studio

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

December 2016

Panzer Battles Kursk Southern Flank by Wargame Design Studio



By



  As I am typing, I am playing the Prokhorovka Finale July 12th scenario. The only thing that is missing is the smell of cordite. The artillery, rocket, and other battleground noise is slightly deafening, and this is with the sound turned low. Visually and audibly stunning, let's see how the rest of the game has turned out.



 This is a review of 'Panzer Battles Kursk Southern Flank' with the new 1.02 patch installed. I will post the 1.02 update changes at the bottom of the review. A game about Kursk has some big shoes to fill. Arguably one of the most important battles of WWII, even if not really the largest tank battle, its place in the history of WWII is gigantic, just like the eastern front it was fought on. It had all of the makings of an epic clash: the immovable object pitted against the irresistible force. In the beginning, it was the Russians that were the immovable object. On July 12th at Prokhorovka, the tide had turned and the Soviet Fifth Guards Tank Army army was trying to blast the three SS panzer grenadier divisions off the map. 




 The scale of the new 'Panzer Battles' series is 1 hex equals 250 meters. The master map covers 102,000 hexes covering all of the action  on the southern front of the battle of Kursk. The order of battle includes over 15,800  units from this list:
Wehrmacht
SS
Luftwaffe
Red Army
Red Guards




 Just like 'Panzer Battles Normandy', Kursk comes with unit component, order of battle, and scenario editors. To let you tinker to your hearts content. The maps can be "chopped" into smaller segments for making custom scenarios.

 There are 60 scenarios to choose from. They range from 5 to 38 turns in length.




  • July 4th; XXXXVIII Panzer Korp's preliminary attacks – 2 scenarios
  • July 5th; II SS Panzer Korp's – 4 scenarios
  • July 5th; III Panzer Korp – 4 scenarios
  • July 5th; XXXXVIII Panzer Korp – 6 scenarios
  • July 6th; II SS Panzer Korp – 7 scenarios
  • July 7th; III Panzer Korp – 6 scenarios
  • July 7th; XXXXVIII Panzer Korp – 1 scenarios
  • July 8th; Voronezh Front – 9 scenarios
  • July 9th; XXXXVIII Panzer Korp – 7 scenarios
  • July 10th; II SS Panzer Korp – 6 scenarios
  • July 11th; II SS Panzer Korp – 4 scenarios
  • July 12th; Voronezh & Steppe Fronts – 4 scenarios 

 Almost half of the scenarios are 15 turns or less, and are meant to be playable in roughly one hour. There are some scenarios that are especially made for head-to-head gaming, but we solo players have not been forgotten. Other scenarios are meant for playing against the AI. The modes of play available are:

Against the AI
Play by email (PBEM)
Lan and internet live
Two player hotseat




The game comes  with copious amounts of documentation. Here are a few examples:







 The laundry list of updates and improvements just keep getting longer. As of now, 'Panzer Battles Kursk' is at version 1.02. There is no reason to assume that Wargame Design Studio won't continue with the practice of John Tiller Software, and keep releasing updates, etc. John Tiller games are still updating some of their games from fifteen years ago. I know for a fact that play testing is a long and nit picking process, and that no matter how many scenarios one of their games comes with, all of the scenarios are tested before the game ends up on your computer.




 The game play, like all Tiller based games, is meant to provide the player with the most realistic battle situations, and command options available. This does make their games more mentally labor intensive than most. Like most cerebral games, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it. The scenarios with their smaller size, compared to 'Panzer Campaigns', are meant to be nail biters, and they succeed in this admirably. You cannot afford to leisurely play 'Panzer Battles', and decide to just go through the motions for this turn. The AI or your opponent will pounce on your mistakes and teach you a lesson very quickly. Playing as the Russian, you will need all of your powers and the strength of your units to stop the German juggernaut. A little good luck is also helpful. Playing as the Germans, you cannot afford to make any mistakes if you are to see the onion spires of Kursk.





 The 'Panzer Battles' games fill a void in the wargaming world. The scenarios included in both the games are either small enough to get in a game before dinner, or large enough to keep you occupied for much longer. Rarely do you find so many scenarios in a game now, and probably never of such diversity. These games, especially with their modding options, should be a big hit with the wargaming crowd. That would be excellent, because then they could afford to branch out into less known and more arcane battles of the period. Some battles have never had games about them, or very rarely. I see on the Wargame Design Studio website there is already a 'Panzer Battles 3' listed. There is also a write up about the creation of a Maleme scenario.

  I am going to button my hatch now and get back to the maelstrom that was the battle of Kursk. Happy holidays to all and I hope you have a great new year ahead of you. Please also look at my 'Panzer Battles Normandy' review.

 http://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2016/07/john-tillers-panzer-battles-of-normandy.html



 Robert

Game: Panzer Battle's Kursk Southern Flank
Developer: Wargame Design Studio
Distributor: John Tiller Software
Date of Review: 12/5/16




These features include improved user interface, new terrain graphics and simplified folder structures. The full list of changes is below;

Kursk Patch 1.02 Changelog

Bug Fixes

  • Adjusted reporting for air attacks
  • Corrected hex stack reporting when a wreck is in the hex   
  • Corrected a crash bug when the last man/gun/vehicle is destroyed by defensive fire
  • Corrected a fog of war bug when right clicking
  • Included a check that all off board artillery is not placed on the map.
  • Any fixed unit that is fired on will now instantly un-fix
  • Units could use a bridge while in travel mode to enter an obstacle and then exit the hex, rather than lose their whole movement allowance. This has been corrected and units will now lose all their movement points if they move into an obstacle hex
  • Engineer units were in some cases isolated when in a minefield - this should no longer occur
  • Engineer units will not clear a minefield in a turn that they recover from disruption
  • Adjacent engineers no longer remove isolation for units in minefields
  • Off map artillery was not firing during the defensive fire phase - this will now occur at the same frequency as on map artillery
  • Engineers that attempt to damage a bridge or AT ditch will reveal themselves if currently concealed
  • Units can no longer combine if in mismatched travel modes
  • File mismatch due to different encryption setting during PBEM - fixed
  • Campaign auto-advance on wrong password entry – fixed
 

Enhancements

  • Newly implemented:  View > Map Elevations, View > Map Coordinates, View > Map Combat Modifiers.
  • Optional Zoom to hotspot – Settings > Center Zoom on Hot Spot
  • New parameter file entry - Fatigue factor. Used for scaling fatigue accumulation. Set at 2.0 for Normandy & Kursk. Will be 3.0 for future titles to match the fatigue calculations in Panzer Campaigns. 3.0 is the more appropriate value to use, but none of the Kursk & Normandy scenarios were tested with the higher value
  • New on counter broken and disrupted markings - visible when stacked and unstacked.
  • New Getting Started documentation, including Campaign Primer and Terrain & Combat tables
  • Updated General Help guide with a revised layout and additional information.
  • Updated User guide with a revised layout and additional information. All manuals are a work in progress and will continue to be rationalised over time.
 

Order of Battle

  • Corrected Soviet 27 76mm Gun btty (hs) causing scenario crash
 

Graphics Changes

  • New -small- terrain features. All files are under \Maps\ Terrain Small. Copy all the 8 files into the map directory and overwrite the existing. To revert to the graphics released in Patch 1.01, copy the files out of \Maps\ Terrain - Default directory back into the Map directory. To revert to the graphics released in the original game, copy the files out of \Maps\ Terrain - Original directory back into the Map directory
  • New Cover art. Various versions available in the \Screen directory
 

Map Changes

  • Alternate small map graphics included
 

User Interface Changes

  • New Shortcut keys
  • New Toolbar Icons in traditional and standard configuration. Small, Medium and Large versions also available for each.
  • File/folder reorganization, with creation of the following new folders:  Data (.oob & .pdt files), Logs (.log files), Manuals (.pdf files), Saves (.bt? files), Scenarios (.scn, .map files etc.), Screens (various game .bmp files).
  • New logging system (with various .log files in the new Logs folder), to assist in game testing, and identifying and fixing bugs.

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Liaison 1914 by Edward Spears Review    Those who know me or are regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with WWI. It go...

Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

December 2016

Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review

Liaison 1914 by Edward Spears Review

 

 Those who know me or are regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with WWI. It goes without saying that I'm going to have a fairly extensive WWI book collection, though I've said it just in case:). Only a handful of those books I'd class as poor or were difficult to get through, on the other hand a good number of them I thoroughly enjoyed and I'd really struggle to make a list of my top ten without feeling I'd left out many books well worthy of a place in the list. Then we have those that wouldn't just be in my top ten WWI books but be in my non-fiction military history top ten list and, finally, a handful would be vying for a place in my all time favourite books ever, no matter the subject matter or genre. Carry on reading to see where I'd place Liaison 1914.
 


 

 The book is a fairly hefty tome at 469 pages and a further 119 pages of Appendices and Index. Altogether 589 pages to delve into (see, I can count and add up). The book is a narrative of the authors time in Belgium and France as liaison officer between the British and the French. At  the time Edward Spears was a young, highly literate lieutenant with the Royal Irish Hussars, but due to his fluency in French he was made liaison officer between Field Marshal Sir John French the British Expeditionary Force commander (BEF) and the French High Command. As you can imagine, he was in a fantastic position to understand what was going on at the time, most likely better than anyone else on the Entente side at that time. This means this book, his narrative of the retreat from ⚔ Mons, a retreat that could have wiped out the BEF before they even started, would\should make an engrossing read, a real page turner...and it does, with bells on! 

 

 All the major Entente players in France and Belgium make an appearance at some point to a greater or lesser degree. He manages to bring these men, with such immense responsibility on their shoulders, to life just as well as any great author. You can really get a grasp of their personalities, including both good points and their flaws. He also manages to convey to the reader the urgency and perilous nature of the circumstances he and the Entente as whole found themselves in at the time, not helped by the inherent  mistrust (remember until now France had always been the British natural enemy and it had been Prussians i.e Germans who had saved the day for us against the French 99 years previously at Waterloo) which at times broke out into anger between Sir John French and commander of the French armies, Joseph Joffre.  This obviously didn't help the situation and it was more luck, excellent low level leadership and bravery of the men at the frontline that managed to save the day and put the Entente into a position where they could strike back, which they did do with the famous battle of ⚔ The Marne and then the so called Race to the Sea, until both sides were worn out and dug in. Digging-in created the famous trench system that ran from the northern coast right down to Switzerland, though this is beyond the scope of the book which ends on September 14th.
 

 
 For me, this book in particular really brought to life those historic days and helped me understand not only what was going on during that near disastrous period of the War but also how it must have felt on the ground for those involved. When I read military history books, memoirs in particular, I always have a feeling I'm listening to ghosts from the past, many cut down during or not long after the events told, but in a small way still alive on the pages of the book, so they aren't forgotten.

 Edward Spears was one of the first British officers in France due to the nature of his role and, over the course of the War, he continued to serve as liaison officer. He had been wounded four times by the time the War ended and had earned a chest full of medals and awards, he managed to survive the War. I truly wish he'd written several volumes to cover his entire War experience, but sadly that's not going to happen. Before his death at the good age of 87 in January 1974 he had been interviewed for the BBC's famous and "must watch" 1964 documentary The Great War and so appeared several times over the course of that excellent documentary. He also appeared in one episode of the WWII documentary, A World at War, talking about his WWII experience. If you search the web you can find some of his Great War interview clips.
 


So at the start of this review I talked about the WWI books I've read and where this one would go with regards to my top ten list. Well I can't say what number it would be but I will say it's a definite for my all time top ten books of any genre! As for just WWI books, it easily deserves a place in my top five! Anyone with the slightest bit of interest in WWI must at some point read Liaison 1914. I'd even recommend it as a great read to those who haven't shown any interest in the War, though I reckon by the end of it this would be the first book of many they'll end up reading about the War:) Go out and treat yourself to a copy, or if you know of someone who can't decide what to get you for Xmas then look no further!

Thanks for your time. Until the next time have fun, oh nearly forgot, have a Happy Xmas and New Year!

A quick mention of a good companion read A Frenchman in Khaki by P Maze
  

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