Wargamer Weekly: The Gold Standard

You may have read about my participation in various live events called ‘megagames’ this year and before. One of the principle organisers, Jim Wallman, is some kind of contractor for the Ministry of Defence and runs a lot war-games for various military peoples.


I’ve recently signed up for a more long-running project of his called The Universe – a play-by-email game set in the far far future that tries to explore macro-level decision making around warfare and economics. I’m in charge of the military for one of the game’s factions, and it’s been interesting trying to wrap my head around what it means to wage war in the Universe. As a gamer, my instincts stem from either having a lot of control over units, or having fixed mechanics that I can adapt, optimise or exploit to the best of my abilities. Here, the process is far more cerebral – hands-off, with room for creative problem solving but it’s at a level far above military commanders.

I won’t go into too much more detail, but if anything interesting arises from this game I may share some choice snippets or anecdotes. A new military frontier awaits me!

Meanwhile, in the world of wargaming…

Matrix Games/Slitherine

These last couple of weeks before Christmas are traditionally quite slow for videogames, so like most companies Matrix Games/Slitherine have had a slow week.

Brian Kelly’s Desert War, the WEGO operational game set In North Africa between 1940-42, is currently in need of additional Beta testers. You can go here to join up if you’re interested in helping get this game across the finish line.

Speaking of betas, Shenandoah’s upcoming new game is also looking for testers. It hasn’t been officially announced yet, so all they’ve said about the game is that it’s set during the years after the Revolutionary War. You can go here if you want to get involved.

What is quite interesting though if you’ve got time for a read – the company has published a 2017 re-cap showcasing all their releases this year. It’s been a good period for both the Slitherine brand and Matrix Games itself, and they’ve had some great releases. Go remind yourself, and if you’re unsure what to think we should have reviews on all of them, so check back here!

Company of Heroes 2

For better or worse, Company of Heroes 2 is a game that exists. It’s currently free on Humble Bundle if you want to go grab it. More RTS than wargame, it’s a slightly better looking Company of Heroes with a worse single-player mode and a shift towards competitive multiplayer that wasn’t needed. It has a good mod-scene, though.

At the time of publication, there was over a day left on the clock before the deal ran out.

Paradox Interactive

A trifecta of news items to talk to you about today, covering Stellaris, Hearts of Iron IV and Steel Division.

First up, a new Dev Diary for Hearts of Iron IV showcases how they are going to handle the various Chinese Warlords. Currently, their only purpose is to muddy along and then get swallowed up by Nationalist China, but now there’s a bit more push and shove with the new Asia-specific border conflict and political mechanics.

Steel Division: Normandy ’44 has finalised what will be in its upcoming Santa Claus update now that the patch’s beta has finished. The proposed changes to AA have been completely removed, while AT guns being able to enter building and Vehicles going into forests are still being looked at, and may or may not be ready in time. Everything else is going ahead as planned, and you can see the full story here.

Finally, Stellaris has done another military themed Dev Diary. The Sci-Fi grand-strategy game is getting a new Fleet Manager interface to make the creation, composition and replenishment of your fleets a lot easier. We’re very excited to see these war-focused changes and can’t wait for the 2.0 update and DLC to arrive.

IL-2 Sturmovik

Last be certainly not least; you may remember a couple of weeks ago we mentioned that 1C Studios are creating a new range of IL-2 Sturmovik titles?

Heralding the start of this wonderful new era is an updated and improved version of 2011’s Il-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover. The new and improved ‘Blitz‘ edition updates the game with DX11 graphics and 20 new types of aircraft, as well as new seasonal maps.

This new edition is available on Steam for $24.99, with a limited time launch discount of 25%. All existing owners of Cliffs of Dover Classic will receive an upgrade to the Blitz edition free of charge.

JTS Brings the Gold

JTS and Wargame Design Studio have announced they are re-mastering and re-releasing all 21 Panzer Campaigns titles, starting with Smolensk ’41 Gold which was released earlier this week. All 11 of the Eastern Front titles will be made available over the next few weeks, with the European/Mediterranean titles becoming available in the New Year.

The Gold version of Smolensk contains quite a few improvements, including:

  • The game code will now be standardized on the JTS codebase. There will be no further support for the HPS version
  • All new 2D & 3D map graphics
  • All new unit graphics and counters on map
  • All new unit cards
  • All new in game sounds; weapon, explosion, background and miscellaneous
  • All the expansion pack scenarios previously released for Smolensk ’41
  • All released Volcano Man scenarios
  • A single balanced play by email scenario from the Blitz.
  • A brand-new master Map – this impacts all scenarios and there is a lot more detail on the recrafted Smolensk map.
  • New ‘modern’ toolbar icons
  • Code update – disruption no longer halves movement during the day and is reduced by one third at night.
  • Code update – reinforcement ‘place all’ has been migrated across from the First World War Campaign series.

You can go here to find out more information about the upcoming re-releases, as well as screenshot comparisons and how to purchase.

That’s all for this week’s wargamer weekly. We’ll have one more next week before breaking for Christmas and running our ‘Year in Review’ series. Happy wargaming!

This article discusses games developed by the Slitherine Group with which we share an affiliation with. For more information, please see the About Us page.


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