Overall I enjoyed this DLC: the scenarios themselves are very decent, as in there are some interesting maps and the challenge was just about right for me. There was no crazy Ebro scenario this time and I did not miss it, though 2 or 3 scenarios still had some very seriously sized enemy forces and counterattacks, which was enough for me. With my core being much larger than it used to be in PC1 or the PC2 default campaigns, it leads to more options in the deployment phase and more strategies to try, which also adds to the replayability value.
I've seen a bit of the comments about the French part of this campaign being too long and the Polish part too short. I have mixed feelings about this. I love the idea of exploring some new conflicts within WW2, so I was all for visiting the Saar offensive. On the other side, the Poland invasion and the real start of the war are so important that I think they deserve a full representation as well. So I ended up pretty much enjoying all of the French scenarios, but couldn't help feeling disappointed that I jumped into the Polish conflict halfway. Poland could have used 3 or so more scenarios starting from early September. Ideally I would have liked to have seen Saar and Poland as separate branches in the campaign. If it would have been too many scenario's to have in 1 DLC, then I can think of some that could have been skipped (which ones will become clear below). In short, I am all for exploring new conflicts, but you should not overdo it at the expense of major parts of WW2.
This DLC also had some content that IMO was very disappointing. These are called the AXIS (not German) Operations and then the Winter War was added through 2 scenarios without any Finnish troops. I know these scenarios are labeled as ahistorical and they are optional, but why not do it like the Forbach scenario and give you non-core forces that in this case would be Finnish? I know it is easier for you to have the player use the German units that already have models in the game, but if you let people pay €12,50 I think a few new unit models should not be too much to ask. It is a lot of money especially if you add it all up for a full Axis Operations campaign that we will hopefully get eventually. You gave us a nice amount of unit models in SCW and IMO that is what should be included in a DLC costing this much. If you cannot afford the unit models that are needed for a scenario, then skip the scenario altogether. You could have easily done a bit more Poland instead of this to make some people happy. Right now some people are unhappy because they wanted more Poland and some people will be unhappy with Finland without, ehrm... Finland. Cutting out the role of countries and replacing them with Germany feels easy and cheap and that's definitely not the kind of fantasy scenario I like to see.
- Bit of a puzzle scenario, must say I had to try it a few times to get it done without killing any unit. Normally I dont mind not getting a bonus objective at first try, but I thought that not going for the bonus objective and just killing everything in sight would make things too trivial in this scenario.
- The Azul infantry is a killer unit. Keeping it from open terrain and adding Oleh Dir to it, it has murdered everything it's come across in my campaign without taking too much losses. It often kills soft targets of Str 10 in one attack when fighting in closed terrain!
- Nice scenario, I like zooming on a specific conflict like this. Deploying the minefields is a nice new objective. As a side note, having a "minefield layer" unit at some point wouldn't be bad either for defensive scenarios.
- Liked the layout of the map. Can't imagine getting the bonus objectives done without the use of a bridge engineer. It's always good to teach people the use of specialist units in this way.
- I do think minefields are too trivial to clear in this game. I don't remember if it was in PC1 and/or Order of Battle that had you take damage when attacking minefields with anything but an engineer. Now pretty much any infantry unit can clear minefields with ease, the only difference with an engineer unit is that you may need 2 attacks instead of 1. Even if a unit walks onto a minefield in an ambush situation, they still only loose 1 or 2 strength points and the minefield will often loose 7 or 8 out of 15!
- First bonus objective I missed (in general, they did seem a lot easier than in SCW or maybe I'm getting bolder): the raid on the French settlement. The French counter offensive started quite soon (halfway through the scenario) and I quickly retreated behind the nearest river line. Need to think of some way to get a significant force there quickly enough...
- I thought the French fighting on the left of the map was a nice deptiction of how a superior force had to move slowly through your lines, attacking some minefields and bunkers without getting much gain every turn.
- I liked this scenario a lot. I'm not a great player but by pumping a lot of prestige points on reinforcements I managed to encircle Orenthal and eliminate all except for the big fortress and one unit. I completed the other bonus objective on the final turn!
- Having a single optional scenario act like a bonus scenario by having all of the objectives being bonus and not putting any of your core forces at risk is a pretty brilliant idea. This is what the Catalonia scenario in SCW should have been like. As it was, people were thinking: "Why is this one scenario optional? Why wouldn't I play this?". By implementing it like this you can go somewhat crazy and have puzzle scenarios as a sidestep in the campaign. I also think you did a good job by having 3 tiers of rewards: the sentries are easy, the hangars are doable because you need only 2 and then there is the final depots objective. The highlight of this DLC for me: an optional scenario with no risks to your core but being somewhat puzzle-ish. It's an innovation that should be here to stay.
- I have no clue how you should get the 2 French sides to meet each other in combat. My initial thought was that you should attack a truck with one unit and then that unit would act like a magnet for blue French faction troops and you could lead them to red. No matter how I tried that did not work. I reloaded a dozen times and then just accepted that my theory was incorrect or the implementation did not work at all. I ended up getting the depot objective to 2/4 but getting nowhere near 4/4.
- Endless streams of French forces, but I was happy it felt a little more reasonable than the Ebro scenario. At first I hid behind the river and fortifications like a coward (after quickly taking the bonus objective - red player losing all aircraft makes things a lot easier), but after noticing that the AI was simply not able to seriously threaten my positions anywhere and with huge traffic jams of blue AI units starting to form near my lines, I decided to take a mobile force and assault them from the rear. Should have done that sooner, but at least I was still able to clear the map just south of Saarbrucken itself.
- For some reason the AI did not know how to use its artillery properly like in the Ebro scenario. My guess is that that's because at Ebro AI artillery started out at the right spots already, just across the river in range of your victory hexes, while here they had to travel a while and tended to get stuck in the traffic jams south of your lines. Without artillery support it's pretty much impossible for the AI to break through anywhere if you position your units right.
Battle of the Bzura:
- Very nice scenario, one of the better ones I have played in this game. Lots of fierce action without endless enemy spawns... yes, it is possible to have great battles without endless spawns apparently While normally I'm a bit of a coward, I tried playing aggressively and it seems to have payed off. Went for all the river crossings with a focus on the left most one so I could go for Kutno eventually and had a small force cross the middle of the river in the south with a bridge engineer unit.
- I'm really bad at finding those hidden supply caches, but I really thought I had found one when I took that central supply town with the fortress on it in the final turn. Alas, nothing
- Pretty straightforward scenarios, though Brest-Litovsk was EXTREMELY short. Maybe because I did a good job at knocking out Polish units before they could pull back? This one was over in 9 turns and could have done it faster.
- Nice scenario that I found harder than Stalingrad of the PC2 campaign. I definitely took a lot of losses here. The choice of where to deploy and start your conquest of the city is an interesting one. I started out northeast this time, but I'm still not certain if that works out best. The western part of the city seemed hardest to encircle because it was a bigger part undivided by rivers, so I took that last. Bridge engineers again help out here by creating some shortcuts to supply hexes.
- The unit you can buy with 12 commendation points seems very steeply priced. Is it that good? It's less dependent on escorts I guess than what you already have, but that seems about it.
- The scenarios themselves were good. I was afraid the patrol squad would murder me on Raate Road, but the AI is nice enough to park it's vehicles in close terrain when attacking you, making them extremely vulnerable to your own panzers. On the topic of panzers: the Verdeja from SCW is so much better than anything you can buy at this point in time, that alone makes importing your core from the previous DLC worth it.
- That Danish infantry was pretty formidable, perhaps a tad too much. Did the Danes have a motorcycle fetish?
- Love how you can get a fast encirclement of the entire main peninsula if you take some Fallschirmjager to the northern supply hex and then block the harbours with your navy
The scenarios are nicely done, the Saar offensive was nice though at the cost of part of the Polish conflict. I did not encounter any new bugs, which is nice after SCW. Replacing an entire Axis nation by your standard German army is not good IMO and has me worried for what the future of Axis Operations will bring. I'd score this one 65 out of 100.