OK game but some tactical issues

PC : Battle Academy is a turn based tactical WWII game with almost limitless modding opportnuities.

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OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Empgamer » Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:07 am

Mostly I'm a tabletop gamer and rarely bother with computer games unless they are games like Combat Mission. However, for some light, casual entertainment I thought I'd give BA a try. Mostly I think it's quite good, albeit quite pricey for an iPad game, and albeit for the price I would prefer a little more accuracy in terms of AFV performance etc. I accept there has to be gameplay issues that get considered but there comes a point when the game can become purely a game and less of a war game.

My main concern was flagged up when playing the Hold the Line scenario. There will always be minor niggles such as half tracks that seem pretty impervious to HE/AP, even Marders seem overly durable, even at point blank range, as do the Pumas. Mortars can sometimes shoot with pinpoint accuracy too.

My concern with this scenario though is the ability of the Stug. The Germans seem to park two up covering the road that runs between the two bridges and they are a REAL nightmare to take out. Of course the allies resorted to all sorts of shoot n scoot when tackling Tigers with Shermans and would doubtless try to avoid a head on with a Stug. But we ARE talking Stugs here. Thankfully the Germans didn't have Stugs or crews like this in WWII! Things I find really bizarre:

A parked up Stug has such good sights and gunnery that it can take out every Sherman that tries to 'fast move' across its one tile LOS. Hit it then a couple of times and it becomes suppressed but it's STILL able to SPIN 180° a crack of a shot to kill a Sherman that comes up from behind. REALLY????????

Yep, it's just a game and just an iPad game that's for fun I suppose but that kind of behaviour limits it to JUST that IMHO. It's good but there will be times I think I can't be bothered. The Stug scenario for me will come down to 'learning' game mechanics (e.g. Just how many times can these things fire, move, spin and fire again, EVEN when suppressed, in YOUR turn before they run out of steam allowing some semblance of tactics v gameplay to be used).

Overall I quite like it for an iPad game and it's better than most, but the tactical aspects at times are just too far fetched for long term enjoyment. On that basis I'm not sure I'll buy the other modules.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by MrsWargamer » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:06 pm

I hear what you are saying.

I think I could level the same sort of remark though at any form of wargaming.

I for instance find plenty of table top wargaming to be 'sadly lacking' in numerous areas. Heck one of the worst aspects is so much of it is so demanding the player spend a lot of energy painting them. Sure a lot like that part, but, me for instance, I want to play the game, not manufacture the parts. It would be akin to being told to print out the counters for a board game from a pdf file on a disk in the game box. And I also loathe the collectible nature of a lot of table top minis style wargames. I'd rather just buy proper sets, I'm not interested in making the company making it a lot of cash if they are already a large company like Hasbro of Axis and Allies minis.

Some computer games can have a lot of fame, and yet still have some serious head scratching aspects. Close Combat, easily one of the greatest of wargames, but even after all this time, most players will tell you, if you are playing the AI, odds are you will be disgusted by the game more than not.
Steel Panthers again, the AI has the qualities of an idiot. The game only rocks human vs human. Same can be said of Combat Mission.

So it really doesn't bother me, or shock me that Battle Academy has some elements that scream out WTF?

Those stugs could just as easily be a Kubel scout (a gamey tactic in Steel Panthers of driving a cheap points wise, item around revealing enemy positions all for the cost of nearly nothing, and with a unit that has massive amounts of movement points).

The main aspect of BA that attracted me, was the ease of multi player, and the speed I could exchange turns, and how the game was the same pleasure of a good game of chess. Sure some of it smacks of cheese, but ask yourself, fundementally, why are you playing a wargame, and not a gem game? I mean, I love the crap out of my gem games (the ones where you match up crystals in a Tetris grade experience game), but I like being challenged by another gamer too in a military setting.

As unrealistic as those stugs can be, it's like a dangerous chess piece you need to out manever. The thrill is, how DO you take them out?

Because if 30 years of video and print research has taught me anything, it's that the real world, and real history, is almost impossible to recreate in any form of game.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by gortwillsaveus » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:08 pm

I was going to respond to the OP's message but DSWargamer,...you'll smacked it out of the park! Great reply!

In my honest opinion, I think there are certain types of games for certain types of people.
I love this game! The multi-player far exceeds a lot of other games I have played.

I brought GG's War in the East,...played it a few times,..and realized,....I wasn't having any fun or enjoying any aspect of playing the game.
I voiced that opinion on the Forum,..and someone suggested I play a human opponent,..but the game is so tedious and time consuming,..I just couldn't deal with it.
Of course I also got reamed out by the Lovers of that game.
Stinks that I was out almost $100,..but there you go.

To each their cup of tea,..(or coffee)

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by junk2drive » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:41 am

After years of PC wargames, they all come down to checkers, chess, rock paper scissors, with some dice and cards thrown in. Real time adds some confusion and WEGO removes the tic tac toe feeling of IGOUGO.
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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by MrsWargamer » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:13 am

Hey Gort I feel your pain (the cost of WitE).

I bought both WitP and WitE and that means close enough to 200 bucks to be not worth counting the pennies. And I keep asking myself, is there some sort of program I can get on, to cure me of my need to buy wargames I am clearly NOT really wanting? I mean, I couldn't care less what the diehards of War in the wherever have to say about the brutally detailed hyper simulated game. It still has the appeal of doing your entire neighbourhood's taxes for free.

For a game to be great, it really only needs to be fun. Accurate is nice, detailed is nice, but fun is mandatory.

War in the whatever, it has the appeal of a 350 pound drunken broad that will do aaaaaaaaaany sick perveersion you can think up for you. Sometimes something that can do anything isn't really a perk.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Old_Warrior » Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:55 pm

I found this game very fun to play and I love the bright and "warm colored" interface. Field of Glory is similar in that it is not dark and murky like other computer games.

Interface controls - simple to use and understand. The icon conveys the purpose of the action. When I see other games I see a murky icon that tells me nothing about what it does. Thus for every different game I buy (or family of games) I am continually having to learn a new UI and controls. BA made that transition simple. No control panel. Pick a unit and do something with it.

The Assault Guns all have a reduced reaction ability thus if you creep up on a tank from behind it will respond more readily than if you did the same to the STUG. The response is keyed to the idea that the commander of the vehicle may be exposed, etc. A suppressed vehicle, I believe, will not respond in the same fashion. Thus if you suppress the STUG first and then creep up from behind (using the Hunt type movement) you should be able to get off the shot first.

I had a Sherman fail to get off the first shot when a Panther moved and rounded the bend. I found that hard to follow. If the target comes to within point blank range like that then the defender should get off the first shot. The result was obvious - the Panther hit and destroyed the Sherman.

But try suppressing the STUG first. Artillery fire is helpful if you have it. Even an AT gun that cannot penetrate will cause Morale points to drop if it is effectual on its shot. That part of the game is very accurate.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by tmoj2000 » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:41 am

I dont think you are being fair here

I used to play Advanced Squad Leader which was by far the best tactical WW2 game. ASL had over 100 pages of complex rules thus its audience was quite limited. Yet even in ASL there were some gamey things happening.

BA has most of the feel of ASL, can be learned in a few hours (as opposed to months for ASL), is visually very appealing ( those combat mission graphics are real ugly as far as I am concerned btw) and from what I can tell has a much wider following, those allowing you to play against a multitude of opponents.

There are some minor tactical issues, but I dont know a game that does not have them

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Old_Warrior » Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:43 am

I would disagree that ASL was the best tactical wargame. SL and its modules were by far better because you learned them a step at a time. ASL was at first an attempt to build a SL rules book and then it became the ten headed monster that it has become. Thus SL was the best selling wargame of all time and it was because of this approach. (I owned a purple box 1st edition copy for years which a good friend gave me which he brought back from Origins - he said "here Bill, enjoy." I will never forget how he just gave me the game ...)

Why is its customer base smaller? Because it lost out on the meaning of its predecessor. So what is MMP doing now? Going back and building the Starter Kits. Sheesh, that was a no-brainer. AH should have done that right away.

What made AH Squad Leader the best selling war board game of all time? The programmed instruction. You learned it a scenario at a time. This concept was in Tobruk first for its tactical WW2 games and then brought to full fruition in SL.

When ASL came out I bought the rules book and the first module. I was heavily disappointed. Gone was the "slip right into action" feel of the game. Yes, folks will say "you only have to read this much to get into the game." MISTAKE.

Good for MMP that they are putting out the Starter Kits but for me it is too late. The rules, even when you can digest them, are ridiculous.

I bought the Advanced Tobruk series of games and thought that they had a better approach but trying to find the simplest of things in the rules book was not easy. Their quick and easy rules only help you so much.

Many ASLers try and tell us older SLers that their game is better. Baloney. How many guys are playing ASL vs. the SL group in its heyday? LESS!

That should tell you something. Best game to me means it is played by more people. Sales tells you what is the best.

Does ASL have better concepts? Yes, in some ways I was impressed. But mainly the complexity of it turned me off. Much like WW2 games that have this incredible amount of rules about how countries enter the war. I look at all of that and just laugh. There must be a simpler way to determine which Norway enters the war on the Axis or Allied side. That kind of complexity is best solved by a computer anyway.

Much the same way I remember from miniature rules. A different critter altogether really as they deal in an abstract world of unit facing measured in millimeters. Was the table jarred or was that battalion of Coldstream Guards really out of your line of fire? But in the rules would be overly complex formats in regulating play.

As I got older I appreciate more games like BA. Bring on more modules! Would love to see something like that Juno-Sword-Gold campaign that is being advertised elsewhere on the forum become a full fledged module.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by doublesixjunkie » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:24 pm

To old warrior, I played ASL and SL for many years. There was a programmed instruction method for ASL, you just read the sections required to play the original SL scenarios. ASL was the better game but both have realism issues. As does this game.

My many issue with ASL is that most players take it far too seriously and forget about the fun aspect. BA is fun, let's me get my ww2 tactical fix against multiple opponents, none of which so far have been a pain to play. I really like the fog of war aspect to it to.

I hope they keep releasing modules for the game, because it's the best there is on the iPad. Now I need to see an operational and strategic game on the iPad and I will be one happy bunny.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by MrsWargamer » Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:25 pm

I own ASL because I owned all of SL. I personally think the idea of releasing ASL with no sign of the Starters meant only one thing. They never planned to sell to NEW players. And there actually was some talk of this back in the beginning (I have the advantage of being there at the time, I'm even in one of the first Annuals).

ASL was simple to learn, mainly because I wasn't really learning anything new. Sure it helped to take a couple of years off, to let some of the old SL grow faded so the new twist on the rules was easier to absorb.

They released the Starters and presto what happens, the old guard buys them up like the cardboard crack addicts most of them are. The idea 'oh I bought them to show them to newbies', give me a break, my IQ is way to high to buy that crap. If I want to KNOW a person is interested in ASL, I will let THEM buy the Starter. Because in the buying, they have an investment.

You know what you get from showing a newcomer a Starter? An easier way to hear 'sorry I am not interested' when they realise the real game is the ASL manual. It's fairly clear the Starters are more a drug dealer's 'free taste' than a good idea. That, and the fact that they have people playing JUST the Starters..... hello, crushingly obvious detail here, some think ASL while massively detailed and massively accurate, is just more detail and accuracy than is really wanted. They released an 'expansion' to the Starters. Now THAT was a clear cash grab from MMP. The Starters if they truly are JUST Starters, don't need an expansion, it defeats the point of them. They are not a complete game, or they were never said to be meant to be a complete game all while they were being first sold (I was there for that too). But they make an expansion for them so they can be played without the 'real' game more so. Hmmm someone is feeding us a line of bull me thinks.

But there are always going to be wargamers that will steadfastly demand the hyper real, over the top complex, pointlessly obsessed with accuracy designs. Fine make them (you wargame makers) but please, I don't really give a damn if you make a cent off the program/board game. You could have been making easier to play, easier to get into, easier to sell to new first time wargamers designs. Gary Grigsby has a lot of street cred, but some of his creations are really just what they are, designs never meant to be played by many, just bought by the usual diehards, and left on defacto shelves to look at.

I bought WitP/WitE and I wish I had not. It kept me from buying a few additional 4th edition D&D books (which was also a bad idea in 2010). I could have bought a lot of models with that cash. I admit it, I am not always as wise as I wish I was. Hi my name is Larry, and I have a wargaming purchasing problem.
I also wonder if I could go back in time, and NOT buy ASL, would it be a good idea? I don't play it much (truth is, I can't recall what year it was I played it last), not sure I have played it this CENTURY more than THREE TIMES!!. I played my SL enough to wear down the images on the counters though.

ASL as a product would be a massive waste of money to create if it had to enter the market from a standing stop with no SL predating it. And I say that even if they had the Starters on hand, all 4 of them, on launch day. People would take a look at the manual, take a look at the price tag, and walk away laughing at you. Right buddy, what reality are YOU from. And if you hear any protesting from the faithful that they have played newcomers, just tell them, that in gaming, selling to 100 new customers (when the norm is selling to millions), is reason to be suicidally depressed as a game designer.

The beauty of Battle Academy, is there is no loss from just jumping in. Hell the interface is so basic and obvious, that if you can't understand it right off, well I don't think much of your intellect to be frank. The game is so completely transparent straight forward. In all this time, all I ever seem to see on the forums is postings about needs to tweak a few of the unit numbers to re adjust game balance. Otherwise, the game doesn't need a lot of explanation.

Cartoony? I love hearing this term, as much as anyone wants to hear that WitP/WitE is for the truly anal, and the truly dull. I'll let ya know when I require the game's artwork to rival my military reference library artwork.

I have toyed with the idea of going online, hunting down a copy of SL, and simply walking away from ASL as being simply too much game for it's own good. SL still works as a game. I could even make use of the ASL boards, some homebrewed rules to use the new terrain artwork and have the usual fun I once experienced. A game not being played, because it is too complicated, too complex, too time consuming, is in actuality a failure regardless of how 'awesome' it looks to the anal.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Old_Warrior » Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:31 pm

I found the FP counters and so on a pain to use. But yes, I knew about the ASL "programmed instruction" method if you want to call it that. The guys at the Hill should have set up a format whereby you could have known that going into it. Today you could have an iPod hold the rules and if you clicked on "Basic Rules" only the rules that were for the basic game would show up. Want to move up a notch - select "Level 2" (haha an old SL/ASL term) and you would have had more chrome. Another menu would let you customize your rule book. Same could not be said of the Kindle but maybe a couple of docs of rules could be available and all you would have to do is select the level you want and that doc comes up. But you could not customize it ....

The iPad and other portables offer a new venue for rules. I note that several publishers put out rules for miniatures that are PDF. I am not sure if their intent was a handheld but the concept of being able to Find something using the search routine would be nice. Along with that a hard copy of the rules standing by would be handy as well.

ASL needed to be digital so you could easily find a rule. And the same could be said of SL to some extent though I always remembered the chapter where the rule came from based on the scenario image that they put in the rules. The scenario card image ...

Who can forget Sgt Stahler, armed with a satchel charge, charging the Tractor Works and taking out a squad in close assault combat? ;)

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Old_Warrior » Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:48 pm

"I played my SL enough to wear down the images on the counters though."

I can remember making a "Saturday commando run" with my friend Phil in his Jeep down to AH's storefront down in Baltimore. We picked up extra boards and tons of counter sheets. And yes, I first started using the large storage cabinets in those days as I had too many counters to fit in the boxes. SL remains my favorite boardgame from my past.

I was invited by the same friend (same one that gave me my purple box ver. of SL) to hear Jim Dunnigan speak at UCLA on the future of computer wargames. This was 1977 I think. I was 16. The lecture hall was not packed. I guess that many folks either didn't like Jim Dunnigan, didn't have the night off, or thought that a computer wargame was a waste of time or that they would never play them as they preferred head to head play. I ate it up. The concept of a computer wargame was of interest. The topics he discussed are incredibly valid today. How would the PC handle combat? What info would it tell the player? Obviously he was thinking of the Fog of War concept.

However, rarely do you find a computer wargame that does it all. Comparing a computer wargame to a board game as far as whether "they did the better job" is really not fair IMHO. Both are in a different world. Even if you play ASL on VASSAL you find that it is not a computer game. It is a board game ported over to the computer.

With six computer games under my belt and two more on the way and hopefully more to come I believe that I have heard just about every complaint a customer can come up with. I also have thought over many of my own ideas and those of others before I took them to the programmer. Folks often have the right motive but the wrong method on how to solve a problem. If you give a concept about 40 mins. of serious thought it often folds under the scrutiny of sound reasoning.

Computer wargames and board wargames will always remain in their own spheres. There is merging with VASSAL, ADC2 & Cyberboard as well the online die rollers (they are after all on a computer) but really we are talking about PRODUCT marketing and presentation more than whether ASL is more realistic than BA.

Good points made and enjoyed discussing this.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by junk2drive » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:24 pm

Have any of you tried my Pacific campaigns? Some of them have leaders with rally ability based on distance and points. There are also mines and smoke and maybe some other concepts.

I also recently purchased Conflict of Heroes PC version and find it a good game, but no leaders. There is a fan made rule PDF for adding leaders to the board game and I wish it could be modded into the PC game.
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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Old_Warrior » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:31 pm

Mines! Nice. No I have not yet but will have to give it a go.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by tmoj2000 » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:45 pm

To all the "old geezers" such as myself who are still in love with ASL and other "classic wargames" be aware that you can play them on your computer against live opponents through a free program called VASSAL + skype (to talk to your opponent)..... fairly simple to install... and removes the pain of sorting out them old counters and maps

http://www.vassalengine.org/

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Grimnirsson » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:14 pm

Many ASLers try and tell us older SLers that their game is better. Baloney. How many guys are playing ASL vs. the SL group in its heyday? LESS!

That should tell you something. Best game to me means it is played by more people. Sales tells you what is the best.
Based on this logic Axis & Allies is the better game on WWII than say Totaler Krieg 2 or any other WWII consim. I never really understood why some people try to make ASL more complex than it actually is. We played SL+ and after realizing what a mess the game became when you went beyond the first module (because of all the different rulebooks you had to use) we switched to ASL. ASL is more complex because it allows more options, but it is easier to learn and play because the RB is more coherent than to use 4 RBs which don't really fit together. Sure, it's a big tome but all big and complex consims are not for the majority of gamers, it's still a niche hobby. But if you want to play such a game, learning it is part of the fun and the more rules you have the more options you have, that's why you can do more in ASL than in SL.

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by MrsWargamer » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:45 pm

Axis and Allies, actually it IS a better game by any useful definition. Key word 'useful'. No one should spend any time pretending it is more 'accurate' than something like Pacific War (a board game the likes of the computer game WitP). But any time you can sit down 5 non wargamers, and have a great time trying to defeat the other side, all while enjoying the afernoon eating munchies and drinking beer, is a great deal.

I have plenty of friends, that likely are superior in strategy to most of the 'wargamers' I see a lot of online. But they are most assuredly not wargamers. And WitP, I would need to hold a gun to their heads to make them play it.

I have in the past heard debates on a variety of topics all common to wargamers. For instance, anyone that will willingly pay 10 extra bucks for an 'official' copy of the game mailed to them, simply isn't half as smart as two of my non wargamer friends whom routinely give me a seriously hard game in Civilization V. An 'official' copy of your game is NOT worth 10 bucks, it's not worth 10 cents. It's a convenience to the excessively lazy and or the completely incapable. All you get is a disc jacket, and a disc, and an abreviated manual which is rarely worth the effort. They were barely worth the effort in the 90s too.

Relevance? The truth is, a great wargamer, needs to be genuinely bright to be a genuinely difficult opponent. The game is just a tool. And I think too many times, too many wargamers, seem to think a wargame needs to be something that would seem to indicate it was designed by Tim Taylor (you'd need to remember Home Improvement to get that comment I suppose).

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by Grimnirsson » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:06 pm

Axis and Allies, actually it IS a better game by any useful definition. Key word 'useful'. No one should spend any time pretending it is more 'accurate' than something like Pacific War (a board game the likes of the computer game WitP). But any time you can sit down 5 non wargamers, and have a great time trying to defeat the other side, all while enjoying the afernoon eating munchies and drinking beer, is a great deal.
As a wargamer I wouldn't call that a 'useful definition', it might be a useful criteria for a game and board gamers. I really think that this is not the same audience and no, not because I think wargamers are smarter or something like that, or that wargames are always better than other 'board games'. But I expect something different from a wargame than from a board game as such. And I expect something different from a consim than from a wargame (i.e. a lighter game on the topic). So the definition what is actually the 'better game' depends on what you expect from that game and is not dependent on how simple or complex it is, how many sold copies are on the market, how many players it has.

Btw, seems that this debate is not really on topic here in this thread, perhaps a mod can move parts of it to a new thread with a better title? Just a thought :)

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by pipfromslitherine » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:24 pm

If you want to continue the broader discussion then I'd suggest starting a new thread in General and linking to it from here. Otherwise I have not real issue with you carrying on here, you just might get a wider audience in General I guess :)

Cheers

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Re: OK game but some tactical issues

Post by MrsWargamer » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:49 am

Actually we've been fairly on topic. The OP mentions both non electronic and electronic subjects and examples, and it is basically about the performance of a Stug unit in the game, and how it can seem 'gamey'.

Now it is true, Axis and Allies can get slagged off as 'just a lot of dice chucking', but then, strategy is knowing what to purchase, and what to combine, and when to use them, how aggressive to use them and a myriad number of choices. That the pieces are easy to comprehend, does NOT make winning the game easier. Seen a lot of games where a newbie went and did something contrary to the 'accepted wisdom' of the guys that 'knew the game' and in the process, scored big by being fresh and unpredicable.

Sometimes wargamers are not as smart as they think they are. We get complacent and a bit sure of ourselves too often. I have pulled off a few wins in my time in conventional wargames simply by thinking of an outrageous strategy that worked even though it was outrageous.
While playing a Nato vs Warsaw Pact forces setting board game back in the 80s, I realised, the Warsaw pact forces required head quarters units to gain victory points. It was an element of the game. I took several of my units that had the ability to hit and run the headquaters units. It was a death ride for the units, and not something that you could ask of a real world military, but in one move, presto, I had rendered my opponent stuck with the undesirable reality, that he had to win the game with I think Hungary's forces, as he had lost the rest effectively speaking. He still had the armies, they just couldn't qualify any victories.

The reality there, is not one 'game' in existence is really and truly capable of actually simulating the brutal reality of war. It's ugly and it's violent and things will be dying.
I have read of things happening in the real histories of the events of the past, and the consensus often of wargamers is 'you could never recreate that in a wargame, because wargamers play to win'. Some of Hitler's decisions of the war were just plain bloody moronic. He let the veteran 6th army die in Stalingrad. The man was an idiot. Great at making speeches, but a loooooong time before Stalingrad, Hitler reeeeeeeally needed one of his Generals to accept being fired, but only after telling Heer Hitler 'he was a useless failed painter that was only good at making speeches in front of adoring sheeple'. He was conned by his successes while fighting nations still fighting WW1 who had simply come to a gun fight with a knife. He was bloody lucky, and nothing else. Hitler was NOT a brilliant military mind. Manstein and Guderian, THEY were billiant.

It is inevitable our wargames pieces will do the most unexplainable during most turns when they are computer simulations. Those Stugs would not have done that in a game of ASL. The thing is, ASL is not an introductory grade experience, and, the price tag will make even a rich person snort their coffee. The trick is to make a game like ASL as much as possible, but, to not go so far it lacks 'fun' as the dominant feature. It's a pity they have essentially killed Up Front by not keeping it in circulation, as THAT game is one of the best simulations ever made.

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