Panzer Battles – North Africa 1941 : screenshots

En bref. WDS a mis en ligne une belle série de captures d’écrans ainsi que différentes clarifications sur le futur Panzer Battles 3. Qui sera donc en fait consacré à l’Afrique du nord, particulièrement aux premiers combats s’y étant déroulés en 1941. Et s’intitulera Battles of North Africa 1941.

Vous trouverez ci-après l’essentiel des nouveautés annoncées, reportez-vous toutefois à la conséquente annonce sur le blog officiel pour différentes précisions sur les mécanismes et images supplémentaires. La sortie de Panzer Battles – North Africa 1941 est désormais prévue cette année, sans plus de précisions pour l’instant et si tout va bien.

Pour l’anecdote, la carte principale comptera au total la bagatelle de 1 234 000 hexagones… Base qui permettra donc l’élaboration de nombreux et très précis scénarios.

A lire également sur cette série notre article Premiers pas dans Panzer Battles : coup de boutoir à Hannut, la première partie de cet AAR se trouvant par ici. Et la seconde ici. Et la troisième par là.



Panzer Battles 3 – March 2018 Update

Panzer Battles 3 is officially Battles of North Africa 1941. We hope to cover the following engagements;

Operation Compass
Operation Sonnenblume
Operation Brevity
Operation Merkur (Crete)
Operation Battleaxe
Operation Crusader

We have scenarios done already for Sonnenblume, Tobruk, Brevity, Crete and Crusader. We are yet to start on Battleaxe and Compass will be dependent on time left at the end of the project. Covering the first year of the war in North Africa is sufficient for a single title and is probably a good introduction to the desert. The engagements in 1941 were marked by low unit density, large engagement areas and little in the way of fixed defences other than at Tobruk. It was only during 1942 that the extensive minefields and other entrenchments played a part at battles like Gazala or El Alamein. Crete was included for a change of pace to the desert and is a perfectly scaled battle for the Panzer Battles system. In our initial playing, both Crete and the desert scenarios play quite differently to both Normandy & Kursk and to date seem to be a good facsimile of the histories and experiences that we have read.

We have in the past said that it takes us between 18 months to two years to complete a title. With the two-year mark passed last December that is obviously not the case here. The main reason for the delay has been the additional work required in 2016 & 2017 to get both Wargame Design Studio up and running (just web and blogs take up significant time) as well as the Gold updates for Panzer Campaigns and the coming refresh of all the Civil War Battle titles. Throw in the Panzer Battles Demo and upgrade of both Normandy and Kursk to the new Wargame Design Studio standard and there has been a lot to distract us from North Africa. The good news is that we’re back focused on this title (and everything else) and the aim is to get the game out this year. That said, it will be done when it is done.

Here are some shots from the master map in North Africa. The map stretches from just east of Derna to just west of Mersa Matruh. The map covers a massive 1,234,000 hexes.

In addition to the North Africa maps, there are four maps covering the German Fallschirmjaeger drops in Greece and Crete and a further 3 – 4 maps covering the area west of Derna for scenarios during Operation Compass (Beda Fomm) and Operation Sonneblume (Mersa Brega, Mechili and possibly a few others). Every one of these maps have been hand created using period 250,000 to 1 maps of the applicable areas.

With any new title there is always a push to add or improve things. Two areas that I can share that have had further work on is the Computer AI and Victory Points. Tiller’s AI has always been a mixed bag and Berto our programmer has just started to dip his toes in here. Berto is not an AI specialist by any means but he has already started to make some improvements to some of the more bizarre behaviour. The scenario editor comes with several default scripts that help the scenario designer to determine appropriate behaviours. These are now working closer to what we would expect. That said there will never be a substitute for a human opponent and where necessary we’ve including both vs AI and head to head versions of scenarios.

The bigger change is around Victory Points. John Tillers games have traditionally worked off an end of game reckoning of points for losses and victory locations held. This, in many cases has resulted in the only relevant turn being the last turn. Hold the victory location for nine out of ten turns and you get no recognition for what may have been a tenacious defence. It’s only he who holds the location on the last turn that matters.

As we looked at the fluid nature of the desert engagements we realised that the end of game calculation was rarely going to work. In fact, a change to victory calculation came to the fore with Normandy – specifically the Bluecoat scenario where we wanted a mechanism to reward the Germans for holding forward but couldn’t do it without giving the British easy victory points. Since Normandy was released we have gone backwards and forwards on potential options.

So, for any of you still reading, in a nutshell we have multiple ways to calculate location VP’s. The most significant variations are that we can now do it by turn and importantly by side. This opens a range of possibilities and can best be shown with a few in game examples;

It should be obvious from the shots shown that the maps are big and the unit densities are generally low. We are very happy with the way the scenarios are playing and there is a distinctly maneuver feel to the desert engagements.

We have a lot of work done on this title, but a lot to do. For example, the new Variable victory points is a new addition and we must go back and look at existing scenarios and decide whether there is value in refitting them. In many cases we’re leaving a ‘traditional’ version and a new variable version in game.

I hope this update is welcomed by all, and we’re sorry for the wait but we believe the end product will be worth it.


PS If you haven’t completed our Panzer Battles survey where we’re soliciting feedback and suggestions from the community please run (do not walk!) here; Panzer Battles Survey

We will publish all the results soon (possibly in this blog)

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