Grog Friends and Affiliates > Schwerpunkt PC Wargames

Barthheart's review

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GJK:
Thanks for the review Barthheart, that gives a real good overall sense of the how the game is played. I'm looking to pick up a copy as soon as I've recovered from the holidays.  A couple of questions that perhaps you can help answer or if Ron checks in, he can answer:

1. Is there or will there be a scenario or unit editor available? 

2. In this combat example, why were the odds not 1:2?



3. From what I'm reading, you don't actually see the AI's moves or attacks but instead will read about what it did during its portion of the turn in post turn reports.  Did you find it hard to follow the flow of the battle like this and did that increase the time spent playing the turns significantly?

4. Speaking of turn length, with the multiple clicks that are needed to move and/or attack plus the reports at the end of the turn, what's an average length of time that you're seeing that it takes to complete a turn in a small scenario?  Is a large "grand campaign" scenario going to be playable ideally if it's a lengthy turn process?

Question for Ron -

Do you have any plans or interest in making a game using high levels of command only, say army/army group level?  I'm thinking something on the scale of Third Reich (Avalon Hill) with about the same unit count.  I'd buy that in a New York minute!

Thanks again for the review.

Barthheart:
Glad the review was of help.

1. Ron has stated that there is a planned scenario editor. Not sure about the unit editor

2. Not sure why it looks odd, I'll have to go back and check it out with the combat analyzer. It's a combat choice you have just to see the odds and calcs without actually fighting... forgot to put that in the review.

3. Once you get used to it, it doesn't take too much of your time and you can easily follow the flow. There are marks put on the map the show where all the combats took place so it's easy to find those. Tracking enemy movement takes a bit more work. To me, it really doesn't add that much time and gives a nice flavour of being a commander and having to deduce the enemy's actions from reports and map setups.

4. The smallest scenarios are Crete and Denmark. They take me about 5 minutes to do all the moves, but I'm really getting good at those ones. Poland takes me about 20 minutes as the Germans. D-Day takes about 30 minutes as the Allies. Which seems reasonable with the amount of units. The grand campaigns are going to take a long time no way around that. probably over an hour is what I see, maybe more. You can save part way through a turn so it might be doable.

Hope that helps.

Grim.Reaper:
It's been a long time since I have been really conflicted as to whether to pick up a game or not, usually I just do it.  But for some reason, this game keeps giving me pause everytime I reach to hit the purchase button.  I have read this review (good stuff), all the posts at the other two sites, and watched the video but still can't make up my mind.  A few things holding me back are the following:

- User interface, just about everywhere says it is unique and somewhat hard to get use to....if it is time consuming or difficult to efficiently make things happen, I have a feeling it will frustrate me, especially on the larger scenarios. 

- Seems like a number of people have concerns with moving around the map, especially in scrolling.  I know I have read you can turn off auto scrolling, but seems to defeat the purpose of easily getting around the map without using keys and such.

- Although I understand the concept of FOW and not showing the action directly on the map, with me not being an expert in these games, concerned it might be tedious to figure out what was going on.  I wonder truly if this was its purposeful intent versus just something hard for the developer to implement.  Seems like it should have been an optional preference if in fact it was doable.

- There haven't been many large games that have a ton of counters to move around that have lasted long for me.  For example, HPS operational games tend to have a lot of counters. Besides the Civil War games, I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around and enjoy moving all those counters around.

Probably the smart thing for me to do is just wait longer and see how future enhancements improve the game....but I will have to admit I am daily tempted to pull the trigger.

Barthheart:

--- Quote from: Grim.Reaper on January 18, 2015, 08:47:30 PM ---It's been a long time since I have been really conflicted as to whether to pick up a game or not, usually I just do it.  But for some reason, this game keeps giving me pause everytime I reach to hit the purchase button.  I have read this review (good stuff), all the posts at the other two sites, and watched the video but still can't make up my mind.  A few things holding me back are the following:

- User interface, just about everywhere says it is unique and somewhat hard to get use to....if it is time consuming or difficult to efficiently make things happen, I have a feeling it will frustrate me, especially on the larger scenarios. 
--- End quote ---

Once you are used to the UI it is actually very efficient to use and at all time consuming.


--- Quote ---- Seems like a number of people have concerns with moving around the map, especially in scrolling.  I know I have read you can turn off auto scrolling, but seems to defeat the purpose of easily getting around the map without using keys and such.
--- End quote ---

I've not had the problems some have had, but I mostly just use the arrow keys to move around. If I need to move the map a very long distance I just zoom out and back in where I need to be.


--- Quote ---- Although I understand the concept of FOW and not showing the action directly on the map, with me not being an expert in these games, concerned it might be tedious to figure out what was going on.  I wonder truly if this was its purposeful intent versus just something hard for the developer to implement.  Seems like it should have been an optional preference if in fact it was doable.
--- End quote ---

Ron says this was design on purpose. It does frustrate lots of folks and will definitely be a deal breaker with some. Again once you play a few scenarios it becomes second nature.


--- Quote ---- There haven't been many large games that have a ton of counters to move around that have lasted long for me.  For example, HPS operational games tend to have a lot of counters. Besides the Civil War games, I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around and enjoy moving all those counters around.
--- End quote ---

This game is going to have some HUGE scenarios in it when it's complete. So this may be the biggest reason that the game may not be for you. Even some of the mid-sized scenarios have a couple of hundred units per side.


--- Quote ---Probably the smart thing for me to do is just wait longer and see how future enhancements improve the game....but I will have to admit I am daily tempted to pull the trigger.

--- End quote ---

Not trying to sell you the game. I like it. Some don't. It is definitely not for everyone. But it does give that old monster boardgame feel with the PC doing all the rules and calcs for me.

I'm not a fan of John Tiller's Panzer Campaigns. There's just something about them I don't like... mainly it's the fact that there are NO factors on the counters so I can't get a quick overview of where my strengths and weaknesses are by just looking at the map. I have to click in each hex and look at the side bar to see what's there... for every hex.

I have a PBEM match going with Cyrano in JT PC Normandy 44. While it is more interesting to play someone else with this system... it feels to me that there is so much hidden that I have no idea how to play it properly... but it's probably just me and how I am perceiving the game.

spelk:

--- Quote from: Barthheart on January 18, 2015, 09:47:18 PM ---
--- Quote from: Grim.Reaper on January 18, 2015, 08:47:30 PM ---It's been a long time since I have been really conflicted as to whether to pick up a game or not, usually I just do it.  But for some reason, this game keeps giving me pause everytime I reach to hit the purchase button.  I have read this review (good stuff), all the posts at the other two sites, and watched the video but still can't make up my mind.  A few things holding me back are the following:

- User interface, just about everywhere says it is unique and somewhat hard to get use to....if it is time consuming or difficult to efficiently make things happen, I have a feeling it will frustrate me, especially on the larger scenarios. 
--- End quote ---

Once you are used to the UI it is actually very efficient to use and at all time consuming.
--- End quote ---

I'll add my two penneth here also.

Its a quirky UI, it does things logically, but more towards the end of a 2d desktop application rather than a 21st century gaming interface. If you can fumble around Tillers offerings without too much frustration, you *should* be ok with this.


--- Quote from: Barthheart on January 18, 2015, 09:47:18 PM ---
--- Quote ---- Seems like a number of people have concerns with moving around the map, especially in scrolling.  I know I have read you can turn off auto scrolling, but seems to defeat the purpose of easily getting around the map without using keys and such.
--- End quote ---

I've not had the problems some have had, but I mostly just use the arrow keys to move around. If I need to move the map a very long distance I just zoom out and back in where I need to be.
--- End quote ---

On my old laptop, the map chugs a bit at the lowest level when scrolling. I found a significant performance increase when I turned off the UI assisted cursor option (which basically locks the cursor into the next in-context action). However, with a modern PC the scrolling shouldn't pose much of a problem at the lowest level of zoom.

As Barthheart says I use the arrow keys at the lowest zoom ( I think the higher zoom levels load more or the map in memory and are a lot better for mouse scrolling). You can also Hold down Ctrl and left click on a hex and it will center on that hex. So if you have a long distance to scroll, I use that over the cursor keys.


--- Quote from: Barthheart on January 18, 2015, 09:47:18 PM ---
--- Quote ---- Although I understand the concept of FOW and not showing the action directly on the map, with me not being an expert in these games, concerned it might be tedious to figure out what was going on.  I wonder truly if this was its purposeful intent versus just something hard for the developer to implement.  Seems like it should have been an optional preference if in fact it was doable.
--- End quote ---

Ron says this was design on purpose. It does frustrate lots of folks and will definitely be a deal breaker with some. Again once you play a few scenarios it becomes second nature.

--- End quote ---

Yeah design choice I think. I'm not usually fussed at watching the AI do its thing on most wargames. I just want to see where my situation is, with some indication of what has happened. All the details are available, if its important to you. It makes your part of the game process come around quicker without waiting. If you like the wait and see reveal then this will probably go against your expectations, but if you like the reaction/planning phase of your own forces you'll be fine with it.

There are some unnecessary dialogue box popups, that I think could be more incorporated into the existing UI, and not be thrown up in your face. Ai planning notifications and supply status checks that require a click of an OK button for each side.


--- Quote from: Barthheart on January 18, 2015, 09:47:18 PM ---
--- Quote ---- There haven't been many large games that have a ton of counters to move around that have lasted long for me.  For example, HPS operational games tend to have a lot of counters. Besides the Civil War games, I haven't been able to fully wrap my head around and enjoy moving all those counters around.
--- End quote ---

This game is going to have some HUGE scenarios in it when it's complete. So this may be the biggest reason that the game may not be for you. Even some of the mid-sized scenarios have a couple of hundred units per side.

--- End quote ---

Stack moving is essential in some of the scenarios. Although I'm not sure whether you can do mixed unit type stack moving. Using the shift select feature, allows you to move all of the same type from the stack. There is also a mechanism for jumping between the last used hex and the one you are in, but I haven't quite nailed that down yet.


--- Quote from: Barthheart on January 18, 2015, 09:47:18 PM ---
--- Quote ---Probably the smart thing for me to do is just wait longer and see how future enhancements improve the game....but I will have to admit I am daily tempted to pull the trigger.

--- End quote ---

Not trying to sell you the game. I like it. Some don't. It is definitely not for everyone. But it does give that old monster boardgame feel with the PC doing all the rules and calcs for me.

I'm not a fan of John Tiller's Panzer Campaigns. There's just something about them I don't like... mainly it's the fact that there are NO factors on the counters so I can't get a quick overview of where my strengths and weaknesses are by just looking at the map. I have to click in each hex and look at the side bar to see what's there... for every hex.

I have a PBEM match going with Cyrano in JT PC Normandy 44. While it is more interesting to play someone else with this system... it feels to me that there is so much hidden that I have no idea how to play it properly... but it's probably just me and how I am perceiving the game.

--- End quote ---

I've played Russo-German War ages ago and was very surprised at just how involving the game can be - everything is up front and available at the map level - with reports there to be data mined if you want them. Obviously the interface has evolved into what it is now, with more options available and a better look and feel, but at the heart of the Schwerpunkt system is an "easy to use/understand" Operational boardgame made flesh on the PC. The UI can be a barrier, until you get used to the shortcuts and limitations of it (it certainly isn't a polished gaming experience like Unity of Command). But the game mechanics are sound, and give you an immense amount of operational freedom in the different phases to plan out multi-discipline attacks and entrenched defenses.

The unit counters are brilliant, once you have grok'd the system. Like having a row of LED's that blink on top of the chit to tell you almost everything about the unit. The only item of information that isnt on the chit is the OOB heirarchy. And that can be set to highlight on map at your request. I suppose Decisive Campaigns system is quite close to it, and is a bit more UI friendly and nicer to look at. But it doesn't quite have the boardgamey feel of this title. WWIIE is the rougher diamond, but it still is worthy of a look-see if operational wargames are your thing.

I suppose my fascination with the Schwerpunkt system came about because I was not a board wargame enthusiast at all, my road to wargaming was most certainly computer based. This gave me a taste of that world, without the cardboard and large dining table.

Pull the trigger if you want something a bit Vassel-like but with an AI, or if you want a smoother ride there are titles out there that do it a lot easier to play, but without the boardgame sensibilities.

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