Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg – From Warsaw to Paris – PC Game Review
Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg – From Warsaw to Paris. PC Game. Publisher: Matrix Games. Developer: Victor Reijkersz. $39.95 (digital download) $49.95 (boxed).
Passed Inspection: Good research, great replay value through clever variants, action cards enhance play
Failed Basic: Interface could be smoother, no strategic air, lack of tool tips.
Victor Reijkersz’ earlier games, Peoples Tactics and Advanced Tactics, concentrated on production, logistics, and command in an abstract, World War II–type atmosphere. In Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris, he dumps production for history. The result is very satisfactory.
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Clicks on Parade
The graphics of this turn-based game are fine although not outstanding. Terrain is clear with a vital supply overlay. Units can be seen either as NATO or silhouette counters. The map can be zoomed three levels. When a unit is selected, the number and pictures of the type of troops in the unit are shown. A very nice feature is the ability to click on a picture for technical specs and then a “compare” feature that allows comparisons with all other unit types. Other symbols represent supply, action points, morale, strength, ability to retreat, and leadership. Other tabs yield information on the unit’s commander as well as other statistics. A strip across the top of the map lets players look at the order of battle, briefing, available cards, and strategic statistics and situation. The tutorial scenario and 86-page manual do a good job of explaining things – a good thing because the game has no mouse tool tips so players will spend some time alt-tabbing to the manual. (Editor’s note—see author’s correction in Comments below.)
Unlike most recent games, every action is performed by clicking on a button. Moving a unit requires clicking on a button with a foot print, selecting a shaded hex determined by action points and terrain. And clicking again. The double-foot button may bring all units of the selected outfit to that point. The same routine works for long strategic transfer at the cost of rail transfer points. Buttons also allow transfer to different headquarters, blowing and repairing bridges, giving the unit to an ally and ordering air recon. Most games use a simple right click for many of these functions, making the interface less clumsy.
It’s All in the Cards
Combat mechanics is also determined by buttons. A selected enemy can be attacked by available air units, either chosen from a list or by clicking on “All”. Artillery attacks are performed the same way. Ground combat is handled similarly but has some quirks. Adjacent enemies can be attacked by all friendly units with sufficient action points. The usual terrain, effectiveness and morale effects apply but units receive a bonus when fighting with elements from the same division and attacking units get benefits from attacking from different flanks. Also, unit commanders have combat effects and some have cards that can be played. Cards have messages such as “Panzer attack!”, improving attacks, defense, or organization. Battles are resolved in rounds that are shown abstractly with weapon images moving to the edge of a screen as units retreat or are destroyed. Details of the battle can be seen round-by-round after the battle is over. Combat results include loss strength and retreat if the loser has sufficient retreat capability.
These actions are played out on a full campaign covering the battles from Poland to a hypothetical Sealion, the Polish campaign, the French campaign, Sealion, and two mini-campaigns: the crucial part of the Polish fight and the overrunning of the Netherlands. Each campaign has from two to twelve variants that change quality of forces, number of troops, length of scenario, and so forth. Unit scale is usually regiments but can be brigades and companies depending on nationality and troop type. Likewise, terrain and time scales change with scenario.
Headquarters and supply are vital to play. Supply is transported down through a chain of headquarters to units that make infinite demands of finite resources. The amount of supply is also a function of the distance of units from their immediate commander; hence, transferring to another headquarters can increase supply. Oversupply can increase unit readiness.
Victory boils down to the Germans capturing cities by a certain date while holding casualties to a minimum. The full campaign has two interesting aspects. Players can only play as German and start the game with several strategic action cards involving foreign intelligence, military and weather intelligence, number of troops, and length of scenario. Playing some of these cards costs political points. The German can gain political points by beating deadlines and improve their units with carried-over experience.
The orders of battles do an excellent job in reflecting nationalities’ military philosophy, quality and weaponry. The lack of a naval subset is understandable since the Norwegian campaign is skipped and the Royal Navy is reflected in the Sealion timeline. However, strategic air operations are lacking, even though interdiction and terror bombing were important in this phase of the war. The AI is adequate and the variants and five levels of difficult assure replayablity. Multiplay is through hot seat and email. Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris is a fine game and takes its place as an example of simplified but accessible World War II games.
Armchair General score: 88%
About the Author
Jim Cobb has been playing board wargames since 1961 and computer wargames since 1982. He has been writing incessantly since 1993 to keep his mind off the drivel he deals with as a bureaucrat. He has published in Wargamers Monthly, Computer Gaming World, Computer Games Magazine, Computer Games Online, CombatSim, Armchair General, Subsim, Strategyzone Online, Ganesquad and Gaming Chronicle.