CMBN: Taking the Soccer Pitch
by, 07 Jun 12 at 01:31 (1866 Views)
So I woke up today thinking, "Hey, I'm suddenly interested in WWII again!" It does happen from time to time. But this mood never lasts long as WWII saturates just too much of the media for me not to get sick of it in short order. Still, when the WWII bug bites, it can be quite convenient as it is one of the few historical periods that receives plenty of attention from gaming and TV (unlike my forgotten ACW - I am sure any day now the History Channel will stop talking about how aliens helped the Egyptians to build the pyramids and do an ACW doc fitting for the 150th anniversary ).
Ironically, I think it was Red Orchestra 2 that kicked off the mood this time. Even though I rode that game down because I found it quite wanting from what it suggested it would be, it nonetheless did have that good WWII feeling of mass produced warfare involving lots of bolt action rifles and clankity tanks (I suppose this does make RO2 a success...on that level anyway).
Whenever the bug bites I have to decide which way to go, seeing as how WWII was...well, World War 2. My first instinct is always the Pacific Theatre because I believe those island-hopping campaigns of WWII will prove increasingly germane to future military campaigns in the 21st Century (just sayin'). Unfortunately, because Japan didn't invest enough money into cool lookin' and explodey panzers, and because modelling carrier warfare is a very tricky thing for a game dev to attempt, there is always a dearth of such titles.
So I guess its the ETO...again. Here, my first instinct is a hex affair, but seeing how most hex affairs on the PC might as well be off the PC and limited to their original cardboard platform, I quickly abandon that idea (I did pull Victory in Normandy off my shelf though. Might take a look at that. I also am going to try the demo for HoI3). So that leaves something more tactical.
Let's just cut to the chase: if it is tactical action in the ETO you're after, Combat Mission is still the king. Yeah, I know: I also rode down CMBN for its stick-in-the-mud approach to game evolution, but at least it looks darn pretty most of the time (those city maps still give me the dry heaves, though). What is more, the WEGO mechanics, combined with the simplistic point-and-click order system, sidesteps most of the UI nightmares associated with other chrome-heavy wargames, making a typical session of CMBN as painless as it is entertaining (how I love those 60-second movies. If only we could replay the entire battle as in the iPad version. Clearly, Battlefront likes to poke their fans in the eye. And often. ).
Anyhoo, with that in mind, I put together a quick CMBN QB. Medium forces / map (auto), mix units, I take the allies.
And we're off!
Right off the bat the AI hits the center of the map with a arty barrage. Regrettably, this is exactly where my tanks need to pass through. So I tell them to just (fast) hurry and hope for the best.
Now, my Shermans did get through the arty intact, if shaken. Good. What was bad, though, was an unforeseen result: because I told my Sherms to move fast, and because they had partially buttoned up from the barrage (nice TacAI ), they did not see these two on a rise to the northeast...
You can see a near miss from one of my Shermans impacting near the Puma
...a Pz IV H (late) and PSW 234/2 Puma waiting for the opportunity to strike. I only became aware of them when one of my Sherms (1st Platoon's Able 3) had its right flank armor penetrated...fortunately, without injury or damage. Needless to say, this rattled the crew. They began popping smoke and started to orient on the threat when a second round (deflected) and then a third round impacted. The third did the trick:
With the exception of the radio operator, the crew got out uninjured.
The Puma and Pz IV showed much better accuracy than my tanks. After taking out Able 3, they turned on the next target:
Here you can see a round deflecting off another one of my Shermans. The abandoned hulk of Able 3, with its crew hatches thrown open, is off to the right
The remaining three tanks in the platoon stopped and began returning fire, but with no effect.
And that is where I stopped. More later.