Smolensk 41 Gold and why I hope you will reconsider JTS games
I also know that many people in various forums these days think the titles are outdated because: 1) the AI isn't very good, 2) they all seem to have the same user interface and 3) the graphics aren't up to par for current gaming, which is why the new Gold versions of the Panzer Campaigns titles (with new graphics and a new user interface), and the other work that the Wargame Design Studio is doing to upgrade another series is particularly timely.
|The German strength dialogue details how many men, vehicles and guns you have per unit. You can drill down to the company level.|
My current gaming preference has led me to reconsider some of the early Panzer Campaigns titles like Smolensk and Moscow 42, both of which I am now beginning to look at and play for the first time.
Coincidentally, I learned about this Vitebsk scenario within the Smolensk game from JC at Real and Simulated Wars after he posted a blog about his failure to properly utilize 7th Panzer and that got me thinking about "AI" and scenario design in general.
These days, we expect our AI opponent to be able to surprise us and to challenge us and I would argue no game really achieves this with any regularity. Most wargames are meant to be played against a human opponent and the AI is meant to perform basic army upkeep functions and basic attacks. If we keep losing in Ultimate General (a game where the AI is often described as very challenging) against the AI Confederates, maybe it isn't the AI beating us, maybe it is the design of the scenario and hand you are dealt at the start. BTW, I love Ultimate General.
Which brings me back to John Tiller games and my hope that you will reconsider them (if you doubt them), especially after the updating work that is being done by WDS and JTS to the Panzer Campaigns and ACW series.
There are scenarios in every JTS game that are genuinely hard to solo. Whether you are trying to hold back the GE 6th Army as it advances into the Don River basin or whether you are trying to probe your way across the Dvina river, without sacrificing your Panzers to well-placed Soviet defenders; achieving a 3200 point "Major Victory" on a map with 250 objective points is going to be a challenge. That means you need to: do it on the cheap, (which takes time that you might not have), have a plan to gather intelligence and then precisely apply your force. I would argue that Napoleon would have a hard time doing that and so will you if you give Panzer Campaigns Smolensk or some of the other PzC titles a try.
All of this is to say, that I am thoroughly pleased with where John Tiller and WDS games are going and I think you will be too.
|20 Pz Div recon elements make first contact with the forward line of the Soviet defense. In the following turn I uncovered a belt of mines in front of the Soviet defense.|
|This is a maximum range view of my artillery batteries. I check this after each turn of movement to make certain I am supporting my forward elements.|
|Advance recon movement in between Vitebsk and Bogushevsk.|
|My recon unit retires to resupply. Supply is a factor in Panzer Campaigns titles which I quite like.|