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WarPlan by Matrix games     WarPlan is a slight misnomer, although hopefully all countries and generals hav...

WarPlan by Matrix Games WarPlan by Matrix Games

WarPlan by Matrix Games

WarPlan by Matrix Games





WarPlan

by

Matrix games





  
 WarPlan is a slight misnomer, although hopefully all countries and generals have them. They are almost always chucked out the window after the first contact between enemy forces. As Clausewitz wrote, "Friction is the concept that differentiates actual war from war on paper", and those surprises that make "even the simplest thing difficult". Though your plan for the next campaign might be completely sound, it is still at the mercy of the enemy, weather, and your own commanders etc. About the game's cover, why Rommel? Bradley is totally understandable as a general. However, looking at the scope of the game, maybe it should have been Marshall? There are so many choices for the Germans instead of Rommel. This game is a strategic and operational one of World War II in the European Theater. The first question is why? There are so many that have been done, and a few that are very good. Let us look at Matrix's blurb to see what you actually get on your computer screen:

 "WarPlan is a game designed and coded by Alvaro Sousa, from Kraken Studios, creator of Strategic Command 2 products (Assault on Communism, Assault on Democracy, Brute Force, Strategic Command 3 Image Importer).
Developer Kraken Studios places their emphasis on games that are easy to use, hard to win. WarPlan employs one of the best interfaces to lower micromanagement as much as possible so players can focus on playing and thinking.
SCALES
The game's scale is massive, covering 70 different potential countries, in a map large 30 miles / 50km per hex using a Peters map scaling (which better represents real distances). The land scale is 15k - 60k men, air scale is 300-400 aircraft and naval scale is 2 capital ships + support ships.
COMBAT SYSTEM
Combat takes place on Land, with multihex attack based on operation points allowing for multiple moves and attack tactics allowing for frontline breakthroughs, on Air, where you can attack selected targets and may automatically support land attacks, and on Sea, where fleet and raider modes affect detection. Night action, Surface, Sub, and Carrier combat are available. Use the Zone of control to restrict the movement of the enemy.
20 different units with 15 different attributes, 17 different technological advancements, 5 different specialties. Each country has their own units with their own attributes. Additionally, units can be impacted by: Breakdown - Land units can be split or reformed, corps may detach a division, armies may split, Formation – Small formations may be grouped into larger ones, Generals - Each player comes with their own generals that affect combat, mobile attack, and retreats, Support pool Units - 11 different support types. Naval units stack in fleets. 1 land, 1 air, 1 fleet per hex. Land units have the capacity of having a specialization. This is an attachment of equipment, elite trained units, or gear. With advancements, this allows for 120 different land unit configurations.
COUNTRY MANAGEMENT
Production takes into account oil, manpower, logistics, strategic resources, trade agreements, convoy zones. The system allows you 17 different advancements and each unit has at minimum 2 advancement choices. You can have 47 different unit configurations. The supply system is based on cities, rail, ports, headquarters, and distance from railways. The supply system more accurately represents the North African Campaign. From a diplomatic standpoint, players may declare war, influence, attempt a coup, or negotiate a surrender. Each country has a loyalty score and an entry-level. Actions in-game may alter the entry and loyalty of various countries.
MAP
The map is Hex based, with 15 different types of terrains subdivided in to sizes with each different features including motorized and non-motorized movement, airfield capacity, and defensive bonuses; 12 different resource types, 5 different strategic resources. Realism is enhanced by the presence of Fog of War, with detection levels that determine information of units. Moreover, 5 different weather conditions make the whole gameplay more challenging."






 Well that is a bit of a mouthful. Let's take a look under the hood and see how many of the above statements hit the mark.

 One of the really big differences with WarPlan compared to other games is the inclusion of a working interception/interdiction mode for the units. Supply in the game is also innovative, as seen below.









 The map is large, actually very large. I really like this in games. It makes the sweep and size of the operations come to life. Of course for every plus there is a minus in computing. The larger the map means more units and decisions. So, a large map with a lot of units make it much more difficult for a designer to create a competent AI. The map itself tends more toward functionality instead of artistic beauty. This is fine, because I am going to play it, not take a screenshot of it for my wall. You can easily tell one terrain from another. If your old eyes are having a problem, there are numerous levels of zoom available for the budding general. The counters also tend toward function and are easily distinguishable from one another.
 




 The game comes with six scenarios: 1939, 1940,1941,1942,1943, 
and 1944. These scenarios start not at the beginning of the year in question, but at the date where important operations are going to take place. Thus, in 1943 the date the scenario starts is July sixth. The player does not have to wait until the middle of the year for the Battle of Kursk or the Normandy Invasion to take place. Conversely, this means that the player does not have the chance to change anything before these operations take place. The game is strategic in scope at all times so it does not have scenarios that condense the map and allow the player to play out separate important battles in WWII. This is not a knock on the game, but I do like it when games include them as a choice.  






  Okay, so now we come to the crux of the game. How is the AI, and how effective is it? With most polls showing that eighty to ninety percent of players only play computer games solo, the AI in games is a big deal. So how is this one? It is a bit of a mixed bag. The AI on the operational scale is very good. It will defend and attack with units in a very competent manner. On the Strategic side, not so much. However, with the game being situated in the European Theater of WWII, there are much more times for the AI to shine rather than not. The designer actually has stated that he really likes to work on the AI routines of the game. So this bodes well for future upgrades of the AI to make it that much better.







 One of the game's strongest points is its attention to supply. Unlike many games of its ilk in this one supply actually matters. Most other games abstract it or only really use it for the construction of new or replacement units. In this game, supply matters at all times. For the Axis player, it means that you will have to pay much more attention to supply than you are usually used to. It also means that the game plays more historically correctly than most others. In this game, you cannot make non historical or ludicrous decisions. Take North Africa; because of the lack of supply historically the amount of troops in North Africa had to be on the small size. Some other games allow you to build a huge Panzer Armee to conquer the Middle East. In this game, supply forces the player to play within historical limits. If there is one thing I love about the game it is this. Sandbox games are all well and good, but only if they make sense historically. 






 The rulebook is over 100 pages long. So you know this is not a 'lite' or 'beer and pretzels' game. The rulebook is laid out well and allows you to instantly look up whatever you need. The fact that Matrix allows you to download the full manual helps immensely. Putting it to your phone or tablet allows you to play and look up  the rules at the same time. It also comes with an editor that allows the player to change almost anything he wants. You could also create your own scenarios pretty much from scratch if you wanted to.



1939 Start

 The naval war in strategic games are usually the weakest part of the game, especially because it is usually abstracted to an incredible degree. When I play these games I usually ignore the naval aspect completely. In this game the naval war actually means something, and though it is still somewhat abstract, it makes sense. 



Trying to Save Army Groups Center and North

 So what is the final verdict? I would say two thumbs ups. For the minutiae lover it has all of the bells and whistles. For the player who only has time to get in a few turns before dinner or bed it is a good game also. The designer is already talking about what he wants to implement in WarPlan II. Do not let this make you  think that this game will be abandoned; it has already been upgraded once and the designer is involved as much as he can be with any questions or problems. Thank you Matrix for allowing me to review this excellent game. It is especially good for a first time endeavor, and I look forward to many other games from Kraken Studios. Below will be some links.


Matrix Games:
https://www.matrixgames.com/

WarPlan:
https://www.matrixgames.com/game/warplan

Robert

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