Quick impressions

Strategic War in Europe is a grand strategy game where you command one or more of the 25 countries in WW2.
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smmoulder
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Quick impressions

Post by smmoulder » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:38 pm

I've played a couple games now, choosing to focus on the big land battles on the Eastern Front. I have been a big fan of earlier strategic WWII in Europe games starting way back with Strategic Command through the various incarnations of Commander: Europe through Time of Wrath. I prefer the higher level command presented here. And at $15, this was pretty much an automatic purchase, though I did worry that this might be a "retread" of older titles and might not have enough new ideas to warrant the purchase.

I should have been more confident in Slitherine. The game will look familiar to folks, but there are some ideas from newer games that distinguish this game, based on my early plays.

First, I chose to play the USSR in the 1943 scenario. Something that I couldn't do is play both USSR and Allies, which I am used to doing in Commander. If there is a way to do this, I didn't find it. Ultimately, I decided being able to focus on one front was fine. *Update* I was using the Quick Game option, if I had used Custom Game, I could have set this up any way I wanted.

As in other strategic games on this front, the Germans ability to be successful on the offensive is limited. Part of why I like to start later in the war where the AI is primarily tasked with defense.

The game really encourages encirclements, combined attacks (concentric) and isolation and reduction of hard-points (cities). The German Army-size units are beasts, but if you can surround them and cut their supply, they weaken immediately. This was one big difference over earlier games - I'm used to having to wait a couple turns to get the benefits of cutting off units. That was always unrealistic for this level and it's great to see this better simulated.

Fog of War is aggressively implemented, with the default being 1 hex range of visibility. There is an air recon mission for your fighters which will show a large swath of enemy positions behind the lines, and it's an interesting option to use your air forces in this way.

There is also an interesting interplay between fighters and tactical bombers. According to the tutorial, if you send in tactical bombers without clearing out enemy fighters, the bombers will be sent off. However, I never had this happen to my tactical bombers in the game. I did get to use my fighters to pre-emptively go after his tactical bombers, when I spotted them.

Air fleets now get destroyed immediately when hit by a ground unit. To me this is a definite improvement over earlier grand strategic games that made these units weak, but still able to take an attack or two.

Strategic movement is implemented via points with points expended based on the size of the unit. At start, the USSR can transport corps, but not armies. More SMP's can be purchased. All strategic movement travels on rail lines. Rail lines that are captured from the enemy get rebuilt in a turn, so you can get a sense of that aspect of the war very nicely.

Research is done at a set pace unless you spend points investing in it. Investment accelerates development.

Units benefit from research, but in play units will need to be upgraded to get full benefit. A nice trade off between using units and refitting them.

Overall, I am having a really good time with this game. It doesn't revolutionize the treatment of WWII at this level. But it is just enough of an update to make me feel that this will be my first choice for a game at this scale in the future.

Kudos to Slitherine!

doomtrader
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Re: Quick impressions

Post by doomtrader » Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:27 pm

Hi smmoulder,

Thanks for the kind words.
First, I chose to play the USSR in the 1943 scenario. Something that I couldn't do is play both USSR and Allies, which I am used to doing in Commander. If there is a way to do this, I didn't find it. Ultimately, I decided being able to focus on one front was fine. *Update* I was using the Quick Game option, if I had used Custom Game, I could have set this up any way I wanted.
Please select Custom Game in main menu.
This will allow you to chose each specific country to be controlled by human or AI (together with difficulty).

DerTroof
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Re: Quick impressions

Post by DerTroof » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:18 pm

Is there a rundown available comparing this new title with Commander: Europe at War? I also enjoyed playing Strategic Command (in a couple versions) but am now in the market for a new grand strategy game. Had Commander in my sights, but now Strategic War in Europe looks very tempting. Any thoughts on specific differences and comparative strengths/weaknesses of the two games?

I don't mind a bit more complexity, but primarily interested in getting reasonably competent AI. Solo player here.

massina_nz
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Re: Quick impressions

Post by massina_nz » Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:55 am

DerTroof wrote:Is there a rundown available comparing this new title with Commander: Europe at War? I also enjoyed playing Strategic Command (in a couple versions) but am now in the market for a new grand strategy game. Had Commander in my sights, but now Strategic War in Europe looks very tempting. Any thoughts on specific differences and comparative strengths/weaknesses of the two games?

I don't mind a bit more complexity, but primarily interested in getting reasonably competent AI. Solo player here.
If you want a solid AI opponent then CEAW is not the way to go. Although there is a thriving PBEM commnunity for CEAW, however it is very open to cheating. Can't comment on SWiE AI yet.

Gersen
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Re: Quick impressions

Post by Gersen » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:26 am

Rather than start another first impressions thread, I thought I would add to this one. Hope the OP does not mind.

Slowly getting into it, though my immediate thoughts were that it was wasted money. But have persevered as I wanted a lite game to play on the laptop when working away from home.

Positives:
  • Some very good simplified components like diplomacy, which has simple but effective options like pressuring countries to fall in step with your politics.
    The balance between historical and ahistorical paths is just right. Historical events fire, but you get the option to take them or not. Simple.
    Tech improvements effectively just happen, but you can accelerate them at a hefty cost.
    Land combat is excellent.
    Excellent implementation of strategic movement, which is essential if you are Germany and you are shifting fronts.
    So easy to pick and choose who you want to play. Even countries on opposing sides.
    The Corps / Army level and monthly turns makes for fast gameplay, but you also really do have to think about how you invest your PPs and where you place your armies. The wrong choices can make for expensive mistakes.
Negatives:
  • Personally don't like the terrain tiles. Presumably someone will come up with a mod :)
    Naval aspects. Currently I don't get it, but this is most probably user error. Eg, as Germany, I chose not to do Sealion, and starve Britain. I have subs everywhere, but don't seem to hit any convoys. I think that part of my problem is that naval "action" happens inbetween turns.
    Air aspects. I just wonder if it is worth having air units full stop. They are expensive and have limited impact. The cost of reinforcing them can be ruinous.
    Poor AI. Some very silly things have happened. Like France abandoning its front line... and Paris.
    AI makes for very black and white campaigns. If you are strong, the enemy don't fight. I can't remember being attacked once during Fall Gelb. I guess the odds of success were prohibitive, but it did feel like a walkover. However, when you attack Russia, you can get pummelled.
    The country by country turn approach means that you can't combine forces when attacking.
Obviously, I am still learning the game, so no doubt a few of the negatives will go away once I figure them out.

Finally, there is one undocumented cheat which some folk may not have stumbled upon. F12 gives you a small screen to change PPs DPs, events and countries that you control. Useful.

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