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We're finally getting a first look at the big sequel to Panzer Corps, the aptly named Panzer Corps 2! In what should be th...

Panzer Corps 2 - Dev Diary #1 Panzer Corps 2 - Dev Diary #1

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

Panzer Corps

We're finally getting a first look at the big sequel to Panzer Corps, the aptly named Panzer Corps 2! In what should be the first of many developer diary posts, we finally get to see some details on the features of the sequel and some screenshots to gawk at. You can head over to the official post here, or see the contents below:

Welcome to the first issue of Panzer Corps 2 Developer Diaries. The initial announcement of Panzer Corps 2 was a little while ago now, and we understand that it left many people waiting for more information. In this issue we will try to provide a general overview of where we are going with this project and what to expect from it. We will provide much more information on each individual aspect of the game in future diaries.

Gameplay changes

Panzer Corps was intended as a spiritual sequel to the classic Panzer General series, and we were very careful to preserve the traditions of that series that made it so great for its day. We are taking the same very careful approach to game design in Panzer Corps 2. We are not trying to fix things which are not broken in the first place. Many aspects of the game, including the list of unit classes and unit stats, remain unchanged, and Panzer Corps veterans will feel themselves instantly at home with the new game. At the same time, we are giving the player a number of new tactical options, which will make the playing experience even more interesting and engaging. Here are some examples of these options:

Overrun. This was probably the most requested feature in Panzer Corps, and we had no other option other than to include it. Overrun is a unique ability of tanks to run over crippled enemy units and destroy them in the process, without spending their move or attack action. This feature not only helps to better represent the role of tanks in WW2, but also gives many interesting tactical implications from a pure gameplay point of view.

Encirclements. Panzer Corps is a “wargame” in the first place, and for most players its “war” aspect is the most interesting of all. On the other hand, moving around non-combat supply units, counting supply points etc. is much less fun. For this reason, we decided early on that the new game would not include a full-blown realistic model of supply. However, we felt that cutting enemy units from supply was a very interesting and useful tactical option, so we have included it in the game. It works like this: when a group of units is encircled by the enemy (only “passable” terrain needs to be blocked), it no longer receives any supply, and on top of this, encircled units will get a progressive combat penalty every turn. So now, the player has a choice: tackle the next objective head on, or try to encircle it and weaken the defenders before dealing with them.

Infantry unit is isolated on a small peninsula by the sea and the enemy. It does not get any supply here.

Splitting units. In Panzer Corps 2 any unit can be split into two equal halves (of course, at a cost of additional unit slots) which will act on the battlefield as two independent units. Splitting has countless tactical uses, especially in combination with encirclements as described above. Certain unit classes can especially benefit from it, like recon.

Captured units. Captured units in Panzer Corps campaigns were so popular, we’ve decided to make them a part of core game mechanics. When you force enemy unit to surrender, its equipment is captured and added to a pool. Later you can use this pool to create new units or replenish existing ones for free. This adds yet another tactical consideration: shall I destroy this unit, or try to make it surrender instead?

Unique hero abilities. Unlike Panzer Corps, where heroes only gave stat boosts to units, in Panzer Corps 2 they will have many unique tactical abilities, and some of these abilities will be synergistic. So, using your heroes in the best way possible will be a different task in every playthrough.

Air and Naval Warfare. Other major changes will happen in air and naval warfare. Ground combat was the most sophisticated and interesting part of Panzer Corps. With so many different rules, unit classes and terrain types, ground war was a varied and rich gameplay experience. We felt that air and naval warfare was somewhat lacking in comparison. Our ultimate goal in the sequel is to make them interesting enough to allow dedicated “naval only” and “air only” scenarios, and to achieve this goal, we are looking at various “naval only” and “air only” hex-based wargames for inspiration.
The most important change in the air war is that all aircraft act from airfields now, and return to their base automatically at the beginning of their turn. Also, just as in real life, the effectiveness of aircraft drops as the distance to their base increases. This means that all air rules and mechanics from Panzer Corps (like mass attack, interceptors etc.) remain in place, but at the same time the airfields, their location on the map, timely capture and proper defense become key elements in air warfare.
As for naval war, naval terrain is “by definition” less interesting than ground terrain, with endless sea hexes going in all directions. To compensate for this, ships themselves will be more complex entities, with various factors (like orientation and position of turrets) affecting combat effectiveness, and a damage model (inspired by Pacific General) going beyond the simple “strength number” under the ship. Carrier and submarine classes will be much better fleshed out to represent their unique roles in naval war. A more advanced naval model will allow this series to branch out into any theatre of war in the future, including the “naval-heavy” Pacific, something which Panzer Corps never did.

A big announcement from Slitherine/Matrix Games today! They are working on Panzer Corps 2, and expect it to be released some time...

Panzer Corps 2 Announced Panzer Corps 2 Announced

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

Panzer Corps

A big announcement from Slitherine/Matrix Games today! They are working on Panzer Corps 2, and expect it to be released some time next year. The game will use Unreal Engine 4 and feature full 3D graphics. We look forward to seeing what other changes and improvements will be included in the sequel. I reviewed the original Panzer Corps and gave it high marks. This will certainly be one to watch!

See below for the announcement trailer and official press release:

Panzer Corps 2 is in the making
A sequel to genre-defining game will hit the stores next year

The Panzer Corps series has built an impressive following over recent years and allowed many players, old and new, to experience a type of wargame that was equally approachable and challenging. It managed to reinvent a format while keeping it true to its origins.

The release of Panzer Corps also marked the return of a long-neglected gaming formula, which still had a large and loyal following. Its spectacular success brought an almost forgotten genre back into fashion, it inspired multiple clones and literally gave new life to an entire market.

After over five years of expansions, mods, challenges and tournaments, a brand-new instalment of the franchise is ready to take the strategy gaming segment by storm again. This time, with even bigger ambitions.

Panzer Corps 2 is currently in development using Unreal Engine 4, to allow an impressive leap forward in both technological capabilities and visual impact. Hundreds of World War 2 units will be shown with a level of quality and detail never seen before in a wargame.

The move to a fully 3D engine is a natural evolution of the game, but the core gameplay will always remain true to its roots: pay tribute to the classic gameplay of a distant golden age of strategy gaming, refine it, perfect it and use the most recent technologies to enhance these experiences and bring them to a new generation of gamers. In other words, strike the perfect balance between tradition and innovation, both in visuals and gameplay.

Players can follow development on the [official forum] and on the [Flashback Games site] and they are welcome to give ideas and suggestions towards what their dream Panzer Corps sequel would look and play like.

- Joe Beard

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!

Panzer Corps

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.