Monday, 2 September 2013

Android wargames?

Yes Captain, they do have Android wargames and they are good!

Over the summer I have been playing a couple of games on my phone.

Barbarossa Android is an adaptation of a paper game, Barbarossa Solitaire, addressing the whole of the eastern front. You play as the Germans on a point to point map. This is published by DK Simulations, along with a number of other paper and Android games.

The reason I like this game is that I can play the whole Great Patriotic War (GPW), as the Germans, in a few minutes. The Android version is not as rich as the paper game but provides an enjoyable gaming experience. The learning points are interesting, the Germans must make hay in 1941. If not they will run out of steam and be punished by Soviet counterattacks. Also, as soon as the Germans move into the Soviet hinterland their forces attenuate and they are open to dangerous attacks by the Soviets. Some of the play is not historical but, all in all, a nice little game.

Where I really have been spending my time though is Small General by VR Designs. A demo version is available for free but the full version is only a few pounds.

As you can see from the pictures, this is a hex and counter game with units being rated for attack and defence. There is good unit differentiation (artillery for example have a high attack value but reduced effectiveness against mechanised units and a zero defence value). Stacking is allowed but units attack and defend individually. Units can have their strength reduced by combat, can be shocked, panicked or disrupted and can suffer from being out of supply. All of these states are factored into a very simple combat engine as shown above.

There are no zones of control so the fighting is fluid but there are restrictions on how far you can penetrate the opposition's front line.

There are small scenarios, large ones and a campaign game. Victory depends on occupying towns. These can be tough nuts to crack so putting them out of supply can help.

I have to admit that when I first got this game I found it very hard to get used to. I was continually whipped by the AI even on the simplest game (Mano a Mano, a symmetrical force game on a very small map 4 by six hexes). Eventually I read the manual, understood the combat engine and turned off the fog of war. I can now win the introductory game 75% of the time (phew!).

This is a really good game and is even better on the odd occasion when I am allowed to use a tablet to play it on. The combat engine is great and I have even considered applying it to a paper game but eventually decided that I would have to simplify it too much to do so.

So, I have now bought the full version of the game, like Barbarossa Solitaire, a very cheap purchase and, even better, have also bought Small General Eastern Front, a corps level game of the GPW.

What I find remarkable is that having spent my life using paper games or miniatures and having resisted real time games as well as arcade type games I have now found a real wargaming alternative. Fantastic.