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  Axis Operations 1939 is the latest add-on for Panzer Corps 2 which I reviewed earlier this year. Much like the previous game, Panzer Corp...

Panzer Corps 2 - Axis Operations 1939 DLC Panzer Corps 2 - Axis Operations 1939 DLC

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

Panzer Corps 2


Axis Operations 1939 is the latest add-on for Panzer Corps 2 which I reviewed earlier this year. Much like the previous game, Panzer Corps 2 shipped with a campaign covering all the headline battles for the German army in WW2, but now it is receiving a series of DLC that take a deeper dive into the war, and visit many smaller and less well known battles in a very lengthy grand campaign. The first DLC featured the Spanish Civil War, in many ways the warm up to WW2 in Europe where the various powers tried out new tactics and equipment. If you have already played through that campaign, you can carry your core force and heroes forward into 1939, or start fresh with a balanced force and several heroes to assign as you please.

Over the course of 15 scenarios you'll visit some of the less gamed battles of the war. While in real life many of these were small scale affairs compared to the later battles of the war, Panzer Corps 2 makes up for this by taking the quirks of the historical situation and offering up unique objectives for each scenario. In most cases you'll be offered up a straight forward objective that isn't too difficult to complete, but, critically, you'll also have at least a couple of bonus objectives that will appear tantalizingly within your grasp. Accomplishing one of those objectives will require only a bit more skill than normal, but taking on both at the same time will often demand some real strategy and perhaps even a few separate runs at the scenario. While you can finish the campaign without doing any of these, the game is far more fun, and more challenging, when you attempt them. In almost every scenario I found myself embarrassingly overstretched on my first attempt, thinking I had things in the bag just before an enemy counter-attack cut off my lead units and ravaged them. The rewards for going the extra mile are Commendation Points, which you'll be able to spend at various junctions to get special units and heroes. 

While some of the bonus objectives merely involve taking the primary objective and pushing deeper into enemy territory, others are very unique and fresh. For example, early on you'll invade Czechoslovakia. While you can just roll in and crush all resistance, the ideal way to win the battle is to occupy points all over the map without destroying a single enemy unit. You'll attack and push them back, but never hit them so hard that you wipe one out. As you can imagine, it becomes difficult to cut deep into enemy territory when you keep leaving viable enemy units in your rear. In a later mission fighting the French, you're tasked with capture a huge swath of objectives across the map, but ever so tempting is a heavily fortified city right next to your starting point, that you merely need to raid (simply touch the objective marker once) to complete a bonus objective. It seems so easy, it's right there, you can drive to the objective location on Turn 1, and yet you'll lose half of your force trying to take it directly, or burn through most of your limited turns attempting to encircle and siege the place.

Throughout the campaign you'll see Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, Finland, and Denmark, offering quite a variety of locales and enemy forces. Your own units will of course not evolve too much over this time period, but you will get the chance to capture various enemy units and add them to your core force if you so choose. You'll also see your units grow in experience, awards which add perks to a unit, and gain more heroes. These heroes are used in Panzer Corps 2 to further customize a unit with special perks, which bend the normal rules of the game. Each unit can have up to three of these guys attached, letting you create some real powerhouses with the right synergies. 

At the end of this campaign you'll be edging over into 1940. No doubt we will be seeing Axis Operations 1940 in the coming months, where you can take your forces on to invade the rest of Europe. As I know a lot less about this period of the war than the latter portions, I'm very interested in seeing what locations and battles will be featured.

At just $10, Axis Operations 1939 is certainly worth your money if you are looking for some more Panzer Corps 2 action. While it doesn't break new ground, it offers more of the tried and true, but highly polished action of the core game. 

Axis Operations 1939 is available directly from Slitherine or your gaming store of choice.

- Joe Beard

Oftentimes, you hear the term "tried and true" thrown around when discussing various game mechanics and styles of play. T...

Panzer Corps 2 Panzer Corps 2

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

Panzer Corps 2

Oftentimes, you hear the term "tried and true" thrown around when discussing various game mechanics and styles of play. There may not be any flavor of strategy gaming more tried and true than that which was epitomized by the classic Panzer General released in 1994. Many, many war and strategy games have drawn from its simple, yet effective style of turn based combat. Just about every type of setting from fantasy, sci-fi and real history has gotten the Panzer General treatment at some point.  If you aren't familiar with this sort of game, here's the quick version. Hexes, IGO-UGO turns, resource points, units which gain experience and are carried forward from mission to mission, and the ability to upgrade those units over time to bigger and meaner versions of themselves.

One of the most prominent of these successors was Panzer Corps from Slitherine, which stuck closely to the original setting of WW2, while updating everything about the game from the visuals to the number crunching going on under the hood. The game was obviously quite successful, as it spawned an almost never ending supply of official new campaigns and user made scenarios. Now Panzer Corps takes another leap forward in the form of a brand new sequel.

Right off the bat, Panzer Corps 2 is visually the prettiest thing Slitherine has ever released. Caught somewhere between trying to appeal to the wargaming crowd and the mass market, the publisher has put out many games over the years that were "just okay" when it came to visuals. With Panzer Corps 2 I think they can confidently say that they finally have a truly great looking game to show off. Not just on the technical side of things, but in terms of pure style. Panzer Corps 2 has got style in spades, even compared to many mainstream games. The entire package, from the menus, the unit models, the UI, the new strategic view, and most especially the map itself, looks sleek and polished. The colors really pop off the screen, with a perfect level of contrast and lighting that makes pretty much everywhere you fight look beautiful, be it green forests or arid deserts. The unit models all look great, being realistic enough, but with just a touch of style to smooth the edges, matching the look of the trees and mountains around them. The developers clearly were proud of the models, as you can zoom in as close as you like to check them out. I could go on, but you get the idea, this is a visually appealing game whether we are talking mainstream or wargames. 

Now, how about the gameplay, are we looking at a massive leap forward there as well? Well, the short version is that if you loved the previous game, this is a no brainer to purchase. If you hated the first one, you probably won't find a radically different experience here. If you were in the middle, read on, as there are a lot of nice tweaks across the board that improve the experience in many ways. 

Often, when a sequel to a game with a lot of DLC comes out, users find themselves feeling like the sequel is quite anemic in terms of content compared to the fleshed out previous game. They might also be concerned about the expectation of buying a lot of the same DLC all over again. (*cough* The Sims *cough*). With Panzer Corps 2, while I have no doubt DLC is on the way, the initial experience is quite beefy. The campaign only lets you play from the German side of the war, but features more than twice as many possible missions as the Panzer Corps 1 campaign. You can play the war from start to finish, or jump ahead to the operations of Barbarossa, Kursk, North Africa, or Italy. While playing the full campaign, you will often get chances to choose one branching path or another, offering different experiences on a second play through. In addition to a bigger campaign, Panzer Corps 2 also comes with a tutorial campaign, several tactical puzzles, some large standalone scenarios (Crete, Fall Weiss, a couple fictional ones) and a random skirmish generator. I found the random skirmish generator to be a fun alternative to the campaign, giving you a chance to experiment with all sorts of units and tactics while not worrying so much about being efficient across multiple missions. It also lets you set up chaotic free for all battles between every faction in the game, something you certainly won't experience in the normal missions. Not to mention all of this can be done in multiplayer matches as well. 

I feel like a key missed opportunity here was not including some kind of mode akin to the Advance Wars series, where you fight over resource producing towns and unit producing factories. As far as I can tell, you get a starting set of units, initial resource points to spend as you please, and that's it. This makes for fierce but brief battles, which is fun but there's room for more here. I would have loved a mode where you start with perhaps only a couple basic units, and then gain resources each turn depending on which objectives you hold, leading to an escalation over time of more expensive units appearing on the battlefield. Just a thought, if developers or modders are listening!

The mechanics of the game have been tweaked in a lot of minor and significant ways, although the core experience will be readily familiar to fans of the genre. Generally speaking, Panzer Corps 2 does a lot of things that give the player control over their experience and I love this aspect. When starting a campaign, you can choose a preset difficulty setting, or fine tune things in some interesting ways. For example, as in many turn based games, there is an undo button for those times when you misclick or just flat out make a bad move. Here, you have a ton of options about how this feature works. You can limit yourself to only so many "undos" per turn, or per mission, or none at all, or unlimited. You can change how revealing the map works, how random the combat results are, whether supply and weather are a concern, and how many commander trait points you get (more on that in a moment). You can also crank the difficulty way up in different ways, or switch on Ironman mode. 

The game also gives you new options in how to shape your force to match your play style. At the beginning of the campaign, you can customize yourself as the commander. You get a couple of points to put into perks like extra mobility for tanks, or making enemy units deteriorate faster when you cut them off from supply. You can also choose some negative options like getting new units later, or not having access to artillery at all. Selecting these negative traits gives you more points to spend on the positive ones. This system is great, as it can really let you change up how you play the game on different campaigns. There is also a new system for specializing your units over time. After every mission you will get a new "hero" which you assign to a unit, and each unit can have up to three of these guys. Heroes don't give flat stat bonuses, which are always boring, but instead gives the unit an interesting perk. Some examples are one that gives the unit a large experience bonus when it takes losses, and another that causes any enemy unit attacked to lose all of its movement points for the turn. This in turn makes for fun choices about how to best utilize them and eventually combine 2-3 perks in one unit.

So now we've hit on many of the supporting elements of the game, but what's new and improved about the core of Panzer Corps: the combat? While the heart of the gameplay remains the same, numerous of changes have been made which add some much needed nuance to your battles. I won't list out every single change, but to suffice to say many changes have been made to make the experience more enjoyable, flexible, and minus a few of the frustrating aspects from the previous game. I will go into some of the things that were highlights to me, and made the combat much more engaging than before. One huge change is to the way supply works. It is now very similar to Order of Battle, in that certain cities and other spots on the map serve as supply hubs, and your units must be able to trace a path to them to stay "in supply." If cut off from supply lines by the enemy, a unit will quickly become less effective and then completely helpless. This is a great change, and opens up a lot of tactical decision making about cutting off enemy units instead of fighting head on, and deciding how risky you want to be when racing units ahead of your main force. 

Direct combat has been changed with a more detailed system for suppression and accuracy. Units will now often take suppression "damage" which reduces their attack capabilities for the turn. Some units like artillery and anti-aircraft batteries will not do much direct damage, but will inflict a lot of suppression, indirectly protecting friendly units and softening up targets for attack. Accuracy is a new stat for units, determining how many of their shots actually hit in each attack. This value can be influenced by many factors, including the presence of an adjacent recon vehicle or aircraft. This makes recon units that much more useful in combat. There are actually many such adjacency bonuses that will influence how you shape and deploy your force. Having combat engineers on hand will let other units ignore some of the enemy entrenchment level, anti-tank units can now provide supporting fire from behind the front line, and having friendly units in flanking positions makes an enemy easier to attack.  

Another welcome change is how aircraft work. No longer do aircraft wander the battlefield for numerous turns, waiting to run out of fuel. Instead, they now can only operate within a certain range of their assigned airfield, and will return to base at the end of each turn. This feels much better than the old system, and gives each side a certain area of the map in which they can or can't project air power. Capturing airfields is more critical than ever, as doing so will allow you to bring your aircraft forward to continue supporting your advance. 

There are many other changes I won't go into detail about, but all of them add up to make the experience of playing Panzer Corps 2 feel more polished and fun than ever before. The more nuanced combat model, the inclusion of unique perks for your commander and heroes in individual units, and the gorgeous, slick visuals combine together to make for a fresh beginning for a long standing series. A lot of these changes will go a long way towards addressing the chief complaint that many had about the first game, which is that it felt more like a puzzle you needed to solve than a true strategy game. Although I haven't made it all the way through the full campaign, I have yet to hit a point where I felt like continuing was impossible due to choosing the wrong unit mix along the way, or that a given scenario had one "correct" way of playing it. The many small changes have made it such that things are far more flexible, both on and off the field of battle.

Overall, I find Panzer Corps 2 to be a significant step forward from the previous game. Lessons have been learned both from that game and the success of other games in the genre over the past decade. Take those positive changes in design philosophy, along with some new ideas, and a fresh coat of paint, and you've got yourself a real winner. I think most anyone who enjoys this kind of game at all will enjoy Panzer Corps 2, and even some critics of the first title will be won over by the improvements. 

Panzer Corps 2 is available on Steam or directly from Slitherine.

- Joe Beard
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Panzer Corps 2 is just over the horizon! The long awaited sequel to one of Slitherine's biggest titles comes out ...

Panzer Corps 2 - First Look Video and Open Beta for Field Marshal Pre-Orders Panzer Corps 2 - First Look Video and Open Beta for Field Marshal Pre-Orders

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

Panzer Corps 2

Panzer Corps 2 is just over the horizon! The long awaited sequel to one of Slitherine's biggest titles comes out March 19th, and you can see a bit of gameplay in my video below. If you want to play the game yourself, then you are in luck. Those who pre-order the Field Marshal edition (includes first two DLC and other goodies) will have access to a similar beta version from Feb. 18th to the 20th. So if you loved the first game, go ahead and hop in, this one looks to be a winner no doubt. If you're curious, check out my video and others. 

Please Note: I had some kind of unexpected issue with my recording, which resulted in it looking quite laggy when moving the camera around quickly. This is not reflective of the actual game, which runs perfectly smooth. I'll try to fix it and get a better version out when I can.

- Joe Beard

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 2

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.