Wars and Battles – iOS Game Review
Wars and Battles: Normandy 1944. iOS game review. Published by Kermorio. Developed by the Wars and Battles Project. $6.99 with in-app purchase scenario and campaign pack – $9.99. IOS 6.0+ designed for iPad.
Passed Inspection: Easy to play; tutorials spread over several scenarios; solid manual (PDF); good graphics; good interface.
Failed Basic: No pass-and-play multiplayer.
Wars and Battles is a turn-based war game platform supporting different periods and several platforms (iOS and Android tablets, PC, Mac and Smartphones). Currently only the first game of the series is available, Normandy 1944, and the only platform is iOS iPad. Kermorio plans to release the following games in 2015: Austerlitz 1805, Gettysburg 1863, Kharkov 1943, Market Garden 1944, The Korean War 1950-51 and October War 1973.
Wars and Battles: Normandy 1944 is an operational scale game covering the battles in Normandy through the breakout from June 6 through August 25 in 2-day turns. Units represent regiments or brigades. The map uses a hex grid to regulate movement, line-of-sight, and ranged fire. The 50-page online manual can be accessed either from the main menu or their website (http://warsandbattles.com/en/rules/). Play is either against the AI or Internet multi-player through their servers. For most scenarios victory is achieved by occupying specific terrain as many turns as you can to accumulate victory points each turn. In some scenarios capturing the primary object immediately ends the scenario.
Normandy 1944 can be played either in 3-D mode showing a figure representing the main combatant of the unit (infantryman, tank, ship, etc.) or 2-D mode with counters. The 3-D models are good with a detailed image of the infantryman, tank, or ship. A version of the 3-D image is used on the counter instead of the NATO or other abstract identifier. For scenarios with a low unit count, playing in 3-D mode works very well. With moderate to high unit counts I found it easier to keep track of the battle in 2-D mode, mostly because you can stack up to 3 regiments/brigades in a hex and you can see the stacking easier in 2-D.
There is no one tutorial scenario (even though the first one is marked as such) because a tutorial automatically activates when new unit types or capabilities are introduced. When replaying a scenario I found the tutorials could be easily dismissed, if they appeared. For those wanting more depth, the manual is very informative, filling in the background (including a full order of battle for each scenario) and fine details of game play.
The first player moves, engages in combat, or replenishes units in any order by spending activation points. Each unit only needs one activation point to perform all activities for that turn. For example, to move a stack of units, an activation point needs to be expended for each unit. If there are not enough points, the stack cannot be activated. A stack can be split so that only 1 or 2 units are activated. Only the active player’s units need activation points. Activation points are replenished at the beginning of the next turn. Each type of terrain hex has a movement cost that can change with the weather, depending on the type of unit. For example while Allied infantry are not affected by weather, Allied armor and artillery lose 25% of their movement allowance during storms. All Axis units lose 25%-30% of their movement allowance in sunny weather because of Allied air supremacy. They have full movement when it rains. Movement stops when a unit uses all its movement points or enters an active enemy Zone of Control.
Units can engage in combat after movement, if next to an enemy unit. When attacking, you choose which of your units/stacks is attacking. The odds are displayed along with other units eligible to participate in the attack. Include/exclude units by clicking the checkbox in the upper left corner of the specific unit. This is also when you can add any available bombardment from artillery, air, or ships within range (during appropriate weather). Units may only attack once per turn. The odds are presented before you commit to an attack so you can evaluate different combinations to see which give you sufficient odds without wasting an attack. The early scenarios are very short so you need to make optimal decisions. For the Allied player there never seems to be enough units in the first turn of a scenario, and for the Axis player there is never enough activation points in any turn.
Units are either in or out of supply. Out of supply units cannot be activated, are weakened, and have no ZOC. Kermorio says in the manual that the AI “currently corresponds to a beginner/intermediate player.” I noticed that the AI seems to have a set of priorities: occupy the objective hexes as fast as possible, keep from being placed out of supply, and place enemy units out of supply if the opportunity arises. It works well enough in the Normandy scenarios playing against the Axis AI, especially in scenarios where the Axis units are close or already in the objective hexes and have enough units to make it difficult to cut them off from their supply hexes.
Kermorio provides a lot of detail about units or combat in pop-up windows. For units you see the unit insignia, image, quality (elite, veteran, experienced, or conscript), life points (damage it can take), fatigue, status (4 levels, ability to fight), attack and defense values, range, line of sight distance, movement points, and a brief biography of the unit.
The game engine is pretty clean. I did run into a problem a couple of times when switching between 2-D and 3-D repeatedly in a turn; I was unable to pass play to the AI, but I think most players will pick one or the other for a full scenario and shouldn’t run into that issue. I found the AI a decent Axis opponent for most scenarios but less so as the Allied player. I really wished they had pass-and-play multiplayer for at least a couple scenarios or even if just for the full campaign scenario. I was unable to test their built-in Internet multiplayer in time for this review, but am planning to try it soon.
The game is easy to play, sound effects and music are not obnoxious, the game offers the ability to save even if you haven’t completed the turn, and it has a good interface that makes playing enjoyable. This is a good game for casual or experienced wargamers because detailed information is not obtrusive but is easily available. Wars and Battles: Normandy 1944 provides a wargame with style. The question I have now is, is their game engine versatile enough to do a Napoleonic game was well as it does WW2?
Armchair General Rating: 90%
About the Author
Steven M. Smith has been an Armchair General contributor since 2010. He has a life-long interest in history especially the Napoleonic and Victorian periods. He was the owner of The Simulation Corner gaming retail outlet in Morgantown, West Virginia, until 1983. He is currently a member of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society and works for Lockheed Martin in Baltimore, Maryland.