PDA

View Full Version : OT: Decisive Action question



Scully
15 Dec 03, 11:15
Hey guys,
I posted this in the general wargame section also, but I've learned to trust your insight on things so I figured I'd post it here also.

I'm looking to purchase a more operational type modern warfare simulation to go along with the tactical ATF. Decisive Action appears to be what I'm looking for, but would appreciate any comments or additional recommendations you might have.

Thanks for your time,
Brian

Deltapooh
15 Dec 03, 16:57
IMHO, Decisive Action is the greatest turn-based wargame never completed. I was driven to DA for the same reasons you are. I wanted to be more than a company or brigade commander. There are few choices out there for people like me. Wargames are grossly over-populated with WWII carbon-copies of TOAW. I like modern operations.

To that end, I thought DA would be the game for me. However, right away, I knew there was going to be problems.

Let me begin with the positives.

1. The level of depthness is amazing. DA's greatest feature is that it forces you to think like a modern division or corps commander. You can read FM 3-90, and incorporate those techniques into game play. This feature pretty much sums up every positive thing you can say about a wargame.

2. It's turned based. I thought this would be a negative, but it isn't.

3. It can also be ego boost to know the game is similar to the vesion used to teach America's highest commanders.

4. No hexes. :D

The negatives:

1. The lack of an indepth printed manual. I believe printed manuals ensure people learn the game's interface. I know there are printers, but it is wiser for more wargames to invest in developing printed versions of manuals, even if it drives up production cost. DA is in sore need of one.

2. Difficult Learning curve. The game is hard to master. That is the beauty and beast of it.

3. Task organization can be improved. I wish we could be allowed to break down forces more. Unless the scenario editor does so, task organization can be limited.

4. No scrolling. Why? I have no ideal. It doesn't make a lick of sense to to me. It can be quite annoying to left click on everything.

5. Level of commitment: You have to WANT to learn and play this game. Otherwise, it just takes up space.

6. Poorly supported overall: I believe Jim Lunsford was not as committed to this project as he was to the military version. Because of that, you have a poorly marketed, incomplete game. I have the feeling that if he would just commit a few months to this project, he could solve all the problems I listed and more. The new product should be nothing short of pleasing.

On the positive, Lunsford is talking about releasing another patch. He appears tied up in patching the version used by the Army Command and General Staff College. So there is some hope for the future.

I've had the game for more than a year, and haven't played it much. I refuse to uninstall it because I really believe it is a great game just waiting to be unlocked. Despite the lack of fulfillment, I still would buy the game even at it's current price tag. (I paid almost $40.) I really like large scale wargames at the level of Division to corps. I fell the modern aspect of this type of wargaming is painfully neglected. DA is all we have.

KG_Norad
15 Dec 03, 18:37
Unfortunately I also do not have Decisive action and have been apprehensive about getting it mainly because the lack of support from both the publisher and the gaming public. While it has an editor it does not have anything close to # of scenarios that are out there for TOAW (which also does not get publisher support but this is made up for by the HUGE following of gamers who fill the gaps!)

I agree the potential for this game looks great if some one would give it the attention...None the less it may be a fun game as is (but again I can't comment cause I don't know.

I think one of the best operational level games I have played besides TOAW has been Uncommon Valor. You have to manage your land, air and sea, power + logistics. It too is a huge game with unprecidented detail I think. However the only draw back there (for DP anyway ;) )is that it is WWII and not modern warfare.

Anybody else have any suggestions for complex operational warfare games?
When it comes to modern conflict I think your choices are pretty limited. Have you tried TOAW, it is fun and complex to master but I do not think it is as "Realistic" feeling as DA or ATF.
I think there is a link to the demo on the Toaw Section page here at HQ.

Michael

John Osborne
15 Dec 03, 19:37
I agree on everything that Deltapooh mention. I have the latest copy of the US Army version 2.0.2 that Jim Lunsford is working on and it has multiplayer capabilities. I have some scenarios plus one that I made along time ago titled ďAxis of EvilĒ. But the problem that Deltapooh mention also is that there isnít a large group of players. Hell I was trying to play a scenario with two players and I sent them the setup and I havenít heard from them in four weeks.

---John

Ivan Rapkinov
15 Dec 03, 20:37
I have it too, though I got it due to HPS loyalty :D

not really my scale in all truth.

Scully
15 Dec 03, 22:13
Thanks for the comments guys. When I first saw DA I got very excited...similar to how I felt when I first found ATF. But there didn't seem to be any community so I became a bit concerned.

I think I'll pick it up, give it a whirl and hope the new patch improves its weaknesses. Maybe we can all get together and play pbem sometime. I hope you're right about a new patch soon. This is Christmas shopping for me, so I wanted to ask around.

I'm definitely picking up Harpoon 3 and will probably also get TOAW - Century of Warfare (it covers some modern battles and appears to have a very active community). Though I have to say I beat the UN in the demo last night in 10 turns. I'm thinking the thing just ends in 10 and the commies just got enough points to win, so I'll give it another try tonight and see if that's really the case. I play ASL, so that's enough WWII for me. Though I'm going to give my campaign series a try this week. Haven't played that in forever.

Take care,
Brian

KG_Norad
15 Dec 03, 22:28
TOAW has some great user made scenario's Fire in the East is a HUGE 400+ turn version of Operation Barbossa, and Europe in Flames is a 300+ turn Axis & Allies type scenario, also numerous Modern Scenarios. The thing about TOAW some (not all) of the stock scenarios were horribly lopsided. Second the AI is a horrible defender..(how about placing a unit ON the objective it's trying to hold) but the Multiplayer scenarios that have been developed are much better when played against a living opponent.

DA is Definitly more of an Army training software for sure as far as its feel goes. Let me know how it is if you get it. :)

Dr Zaius
16 Dec 03, 01:08
I agree partially with what Deltapooh said, but I guess I'm more of a critic of this game. I've had it since it came out and played it some while I was in Iraq.

First, this game doesn't have bad support - it has no support. The tiny bit of material that was released for this game was almost a joke. Nearly all the third party maps that were done for the game were done by me! Warfare HQ hosted them for nearly a year and finally removed them because there was simply zero interest. The game has no official support forum and the one we created here was basically ignored.

Delta is right about the lack of written support. VT created a few good .pdf files, but there were only a few and that meant you had to guess at most things.

The interface is so crude and non user-friendly that's it's terribly difficult to understand what most of the functions actually do. Worse, when you do finally get a grip on what the buttons actually do there is basically zero information available about how the computer actually arrives at its figures. Basically one unit attacks another and you get a result that says 2% destroyed. These casualties are not broken down in any meaningful way, they simply represent an abstract amount of combat power that was lost. I'm oversimplifying that part, but it's close to what happens.

I was really disappointed when I finally started working with the scenario editor. Apparently, the game assigns no "value" to individual weapons or units. You can create any unit you want and assign it any amount of combat power you feel is appropriate. There are some generic base units that load with the editor, but no information at all about what the unit actually contains or why one unit is stronger than another. Without a much more in-depth baseline OOB built in to the editor, the unit values are so abstract as to be virtually meaningless.

The game uses an extremely simplistic terrain modeling system. Don't be fooled by the fancy looking maps, they are simply placeholder graphics. The actual "map" consists of only five or six basic terrain types that the US Army referrs to for operational planning. That may be good for teaching a class on an Army FM, but it sure won't please many hardcore wargamers.

What Decisive Action actually is in a nutshell is a training tool that is used to teach senior leaders some principles and lessons from Army doctrine. I had high hopes for this title, but unfortunately DA appears to be destined to remain a limited training tool - not a wargame. The basic concept could be made into something useful, but IMHO it would need a lot of work to do so.

I hate to sound harsh, but this title went nowhere when it was released. I took a personal interest into trying to build up some community support, however, there are only a handful of people who actually play this game.

John Osborne
16 Dec 03, 12:09
Don, I agree also with your statement. I tryed to put some spark into DA but was getting from very little to no support at all. Hell I have two scenarios but can't find anyone to try it even with the multiplayer capabiltes. I don't know if its my name :nuts: or no one wants to try it.

Well anyway :D Scully, I wouldn't get it. Get something else that is worth your dollars. I wish I knew then what I know now. I wouldn't have gotten it.

---John

kbluck
16 Dec 03, 12:48
I haven't played Decisive Action. I have played its HPS stablemate, Fulda Gap '85. Reading Don's critique of DA, I have to say much the same about FG85. My main complaint is that it is nearly impossible to manage a large operation. Running a regimental battle is hard enough ---trying to wrangle an entire corps is hideously tedious. The game offers very little useful assistance in keeping track of your forces.

This is the great failing of most computer wargames, in my opinion --- they are basically just digital translations of the old paper map/cardboard counter paradigm of the PnP world. But PnP has a huge advantage --- you can easily see the whole map, and thereby "grok" the entire situation at a glance. With computers, inevitably you can see only a small fraction of the map with any useful detail, and you end up scrolling all around grumbling to yourself things like "Jiminy Cricket, where the heck is 10th division?" and "Jumpin' Jehosephat, how long has the enemy been attacking *there*?" Even ATF has this failing. It's the classic mistake of computer programmers in almost every field, attempting to recreate exactly a paper-based metaphor, which usually throws away most of the real benefits in situational awareness that a computer could have brought to the table.

--- Kevin

Scully
16 Dec 03, 12:49
Hmmm...I'm a little torn now. So if I don't get DA, it looks like the only "modern" era operational warfare I can get is through TOAW. Is that correct?

NORAD mentioned Uncommon Valor as a good WWII operational game are there any others?

Thanks again,
Brian

KG_Norad
16 Dec 03, 13:29
Korsun Pocket is easily on of the easiest operational games to play but requires good strategy. I has useful play aids such as the combat advisor which will help you determine the possible odds for all of the possible conflicts for that turn. It uses simplified but fun logistics system where towns serve as supply points and trucks add a supply radius (you don't have to drive it up to each Icon) and troop counters are regimental or some other large formation (not sure the exact scale) but the point is while there are plenty of counters to move, it is not overwhelming tedium, plus you can link counters in the same hex together as a Kampfgruppe or Battle group and move them as one.

For ground tactics this system offers alot to consider but the mechanics involved are pretty straight forward.
Also the Free Down load of its predessessor Ardennes is Available and while much more simplistic it will give you an idea if you want to shell out the 50 bucks for Korsun.

http://www.wargamer.com/wachtamrhein/ here is a fan site for Korsun I think you can get Ardennes here.

http://www.korsunpocket.com/features.asp
this is matrix games Korsun site.

Damn...the more I talk about it the more I want to buy it!!

Michael

CPangracs
16 Dec 03, 18:02
IMHO, Decisive Action is the greatest turn-based wargame never completed. I was driven to DA for the same reasons you are. I wanted to be more than a company or brigade commander. There are few choices out there for people like me. Wargames are grossly over-populated with WWII carbon-copies of TOAW. I like modern operations.

To that end, I thought DA would be the game for me. However, right away, I knew there was going to be problems.

Let me begin with the positives.

1. The level of depthness is amazing. DA's greatest feature is that it forces you to think like a modern division or corps commander. You can read FM 3-90, and incorporate those techniques into game play. This feature pretty much sums up every positive thing you can say about a wargame.

2. It's turned based. I thought this would be a negative, but it isn't.

3. It can also be ego boost to know the game is similar to the vesion used to teach America's highest commanders.

4. No hexes. :D

The negatives:

1. The lack of an indepth printed manual. I believe printed manuals ensure people learn the game's interface. I know there are printers, but it is wiser for more wargames to invest in developing printed versions of manuals, even if it drives up production cost. DA is in sore need of one.

2. Difficult Learning curve. The game is hard to master. That is the beauty and beast of it.

3. Task organization can be improved. I wish we could be allowed to break down forces more. Unless the scenario editor does so, task organization can be limited.

4. No scrolling. Why? I have no ideal. It doesn't make a lick of sense to to me. It can be quite annoying to left click on everything.

5. Level of commitment: You have to WANT to learn and play this game. Otherwise, it just takes up space.

6. Poorly supported overall: I believe Jim Lunsford was not as committed to this project as he was to the military version. Because of that, you have a poorly marketed, incomplete game. I have the feeling that if he would just commit a few months to this project, he could solve all the problems I listed and more. The new product should be nothing short of pleasing.

On the positive, Lunsford is talking about releasing another patch. He appears tied up in patching the version used by the Army Command and General Staff College. So there is some hope for the future.

I've had the game for more than a year, and haven't played it much. I refuse to uninstall it because I really believe it is a great game just waiting to be unlocked. Despite the lack of fulfillment, I still would buy the game even at it's current price tag. (I paid almost $40.) I really like large scale wargames at the level of Division to corps. I fell the modern aspect of this type of wargaming is painfully neglected. DA is all we have.



I am currently involved with testing Version 2.0.3, and yes, he has taken steps to fix the things you've mentioned and then some!!

Let me give you a little taste of some of the things in this new version:

1. NAI's and TAI's are now linked for use against specific targets using Attk helo's, CAs, arty, and bombers. Found a few problems, but it's getting there!

2. Arty units attached to a higher headquarters (i.e., aggregated under the unit icon), can now shoot fire support missions separate from direct combat, just like a detached arty unit. VERY cool!!!!

3. There is a new terrain-type which has an elevation of 0 or 1, which now replicates terrain-masking. I did extensive testing on this, and it works as described - very cool using terrain for helo's!

4. Dedicated SEAD must now be specified to a specific aviation unit.

5. CUSTOMIZABLE UNIT DATABASE, TO INCLUDE YOUR OWN ICON SET!:D

6. NAI's can and WILL be attrited by enemy units to more accurately reflect the "human" aspect of a unit or element collecting intel at an NAI - more realism - YAY!

7. GS arty is now called "opportunity fire, and each arty unit can fire 3 missions each! BOOM BABY!

8. OOTW Events can now be placed on the map with movement effects.

9. Formatted reports are now available after each turn. The casual player may not care, but it makes our job here a heckuvalot easier!

10. Logistics rates have been reduced during automatic logistics play to more accurately reflect difficulties during combat.

11. Units now regenerate 1% of their combat power per hour to reflect medical, maintenance, and supply procedures IF the following conditions are true:

*Unit strength below 99%
*Unit NOT suppressed
*Unit morale is average or better
*Unit logistics % is 20% or more
*Unit fatigue is NOT "exhausted"



12. Players can now designate company and below units as Weapon Sustainment/Replacement Operation units (WSRO) to other units! How awesome is that?

13. AAR Feature, baby! This is awesome for us here at the college! This feature plays the entire game like a VCR! too cool.

14. OB's are now placed into a floating window to facilitate unit placement. Jim is still developing the OB file as a separate entity from the game.

15. Attack helo's can now be placed into a hover to replicate an aerial screen or occupation of a BP.

16. Each side can now have 300 icons, 200 graphics, 50 text objects, 100 targets, and 300 movement nodes.

These improvements are resulted from our wishlist here at the college and our extensive use of DA in an academic enviroment. I'm sure some of these things wouldn't impact the casual gamer, but these items are invaluable to helping us achieve our learning objectives here.

Jim is gone until Thursday, and we are continuing to put it through its paces. I will ask him if he plans on including these things in a patch and get back to you.

Curt

John Osborne
16 Dec 03, 18:21
Hi Curt,

I understand what is being said by you on the new additions to DA. Hell, I'm all for it. But this is from me. I see no support, no players. And like I said before I can't find any players who have the game to try a PBEM scenario. Once that there is support for the game and more players to get involved then I will say yes get the game, but until then. I will put DA on the back burner. And try other games like ASL, or CMAK.

---John

Dr Zaius
16 Dec 03, 18:32
CPangracs, thanks for the update. I believe almost everything you mentioned will be of interest to the DA community. I'm not sure there are very many "casual" gamers that would give DA a try, but there are some hardcore grognards here who have a ton of military experience. :D

I'm not sure why a DA patch was not forthcoming at an earlier date. I'm not trying to be hard on Jim, but gamers actually paid for their version of the game vs the students at the war college who got it as a training tool. That ought to count for something.

At any rate, it's good to hear that Jim is working to improve the system. I do believe it has potential if he continues to enhance the interface and make additional improvements. Sounds like he's on the right track.

The OOB portion of the editor was a major concern of mine when I reviewed the game. I found it to be a gross oversimplification of a truly complex subject. I found the lack of any type of programable "events" into a scenario (think ACOW) to really limit the title in so many ways. If Jim is making some truly significant changes to the scenario editor and added more functionality, then DA could possibly re-emerge as a title that deserves serious consideration.

I have to agree with what Joe said though. Unless gamers see some renewed commitment on the part of the developer to support the wargame community then not much can be expected in return.

Scully
16 Dec 03, 22:59
Curt,

Thanks for the update on DA. I'm glad to hear improvements are being made and am looking forward to hearing what Jim has to say about a future patch.

Thanks again,
Brian

Deltapooh
16 Dec 03, 23:44
I hope Jim releases a similar patch for the public. Despite my criticism, I still have the game on my PC, always hoping that one day it will realize its full potential.

Dr Zaius
29 Dec 03, 19:50
From what I understand Jim's main focus is developing DA as a training tool for basic Army doctrine. Features that wargamers want added may be unlikely to ever make the cut.

Rob Carpenter
30 Dec 03, 00:56
I got to spend time with Jim at I/ITSEC in Orlando a few weeks ago.

He is working hard on the Army version, he does plan to release a patch for the civvie version, but is unsure how much of the Army version to put into the civvie version.

There is a DA Yahoo group... but it is a low bandwidth list :) I played 4-5 PBEM's but the old version had problems after about turn 9 or 10.

As an ex-intel officer I love DA's IPB interface :) But it assumes a lot of knowledge, not good for the casual gamer :(

I keep meaning to do scenario's... but other projects get in the way.

The BEST operational level game out there is Airbourne Assault:Highway to the Reich from Matrix games (programmed here in Canberra, Australia!). But it is WW2.

DA has lots of potential, but needs support (the basic scearios are good fun though, I got my money's worth).

Cheers

Rob