PanzerGrenadier… Fail

My planned PanzerGrenadier game and accompanying video playthrough… did not go well. I was an hour into playing and filming and what I was doing was simply not fun. I talk about some of the reasons for that in the embedded video.

Fundamentally I think it comes down to a lack of depth, which appears to lie in the system but also in the maps and scenarios. One would expect this comparing it to ASL… but I think that even Combat Commander, a game I’m not exactly wild about, beats the pants off of PG in this regard. I would be curious to look at Lock n’ Load as another point of possible comparison.

I’m a little pissed at myself for having hung onto this for all these years before realizing that it’s simply not for me. For those who like it, enjoy. I have six of the early out of print products (the original PG itself, Heroes of the Soviet Union, Akrika Korps, Desert Rats, Airborne and Battle of the Bulge) now available for trade. Hit me up on BGG if you’re interested.

Roads to Moscow is now on the table.

Normandy Games

I’ve been looking lustily at Dan Holte’s The Battle for Normandy for some time. It is an impressive game: the whole of the Normandy campaign though early August at the Battalion level. Big maps, tons of counters and much detail.

At the same time I have now played a game of Mark Simonitch’s Normandy ’44, also from GMT and covering basically the same thing but on one map and at the Regimental level.


Bear in mind that I have played the one but merely watched a bunch of video and looked at the rules for the other when I say that Normandy ’44 appears to me to be a much superior game. The Battle for Normandy looks decent, I will grab it if the opportunity arises, and would look with great interest upon an eventual second edition. But given that it is out of print and is unlikely to return to the P500 soon, thereby keeping prices inflated, I’ve moved it from the top of my (short and tight) wantlist to close to the bottom.

I remain interested in another, lower-scale game covering the Normandy campaign, however. The two I am looking are are both from MMP: the Tactical Combat Series entry The Greatest Day appears to be a bit too fine-grained, but despite its ugly (IMO) map their Day of Days is getting a look as well. I suppose I should also drop Atlantic Wall into the mix as well, since it also has the right scale and covers the campaign for the full timeframe that I’m interested in.

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Springtime for Germany (Episodes 10-12)

I am scheduling the Hearts of Iron III videos so that a new one is released each day so I don’t choke anyone’s YouTube or G+ feeds and also don’t have dead days with no videos. Now that we are actually in the war I’m going to slow down the pace of blog posts to provide deeper analysis on each episode. I am currently well ahead of today’s batch of videos and plan to remain so. But I’m also trying to avoid spoilers – there are going to be some twists in this game, and some challenges, especially as the war builds to its full fury in (I anticipate) 1942-43.

This batch of videos includes the breakout and initial prosecution of the war in Europe… although of course unpleasantness in Asia and Africa has been ongoing for some time. The view that the historical war started in September of 1939 with the German invasion of Poland is a Eurocentric one; the Japanese invaded and conquered Manchuria in 1931, attacked China proper in 1937, and the two nations fought continuously until the end of general hostilities in 1945. It was a nasty war, at least as bad as the stuff that happened in Europe and in some ways worse.

Episode 10 runs long at almost 50 minutes; I wanted to complete the conquest of Poland within a single chapter and that’s just how long it took. In-game, however, Poland surrendered on the 12th day of the campaign, about three weeks faster than they did historically.

As a general thing I tend to overcommit to the Polish campaign. Certainly I did so this time around, and you’ll see the ramifications of that in the following episodes. Had I used two fewer Corps in Poland things would have gone more smoothly in the west. Even one would have made a difference.

Note that any additional non-HoI videos (I have a few in the upload pipeline) will be in addition to the current series of playthrough videos. I’m also working on a Churchill instructional video which will take a while to film and meticulously edit. When it’s ready it will just be posted without interrupting the scheduled HoI episodes.

Episode 11 of Hearts of Iron III pitches the game’s the first curveball this time around, albeit a relatively minor one. Instead of waiting passively for a German invasion, the Dutch joined the Allies on the same day that Poland surrendered, effectively putting them into a state of war with Germany. At that point, figuring I’d have a relaxing period of sitzkrieg ahead, I was still in the process of slowly rolling forces west after the fall of Poland to support the thin defensive line against the Low Countries; only the Rhine frontier, opposite France, was even cursorily well-defended from my side. But I left obliged to commit to an offensive with the Dutch in the war.

The campaign proceeded pretty ahistorically even aside from its start date nine or so months early, with some Dutch counterattacks succeeding against the meager German forces present even though I was gaining ground overall. With this in mind I waited to declare war on Belgium until the Dutch were pretty thoroughly rolled up. This game me time for forces to arrive from the east and avoided the unfavorable offensive position the Germans face when invading both Belgium and the Netherlands at the same time.

Usually the Belgians put up a pretty good fight. This time they collapsed rapidly, and by then I was already striking into France, with the forces from the east reinforcing an initially limp offensive.

Learned: Strategic movement costs extra supplies and on arrival the relocated units are on a cooldown, so they can’t attack right away. But it would have been worthwhile to use strategic movement to bring my eastern forces west, since they were needed to support the fighting that was already fighting going on. They would have been in the action much sooner had I done so.

One of the virtues of playing Germany as an HoI newbie is that you have two relatively forgiving campaigns to warm up with before taking on the war’s game’s major challenges, the subdual of the British behind the channel and the overwhelming of the Soviet Union. The trick is that the two require different tools: Britain air and naval and the USSR land power. So often a German player will try to pick one or the other. This time, with multiple games as Germany behind me, I’m going for both, accompanied by the side strategy to keeping the USA out of the war. So while I’m not a noob at Hearts of Iron III, the new strategy is causing the game to display behavior that I have not seen before.

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Hearts of Iron III: The Road to War (Episodes 6-9)

The War Begins (Episodes 6-9)

My current gaming excursion, as previosuly discussed, is into Hearts of Iron III, playing as Germany. The game is coming along nicely, but not without twists and turns and challenges and flaky bits within the game. Which if you’re watching along, you’ll get to see.

This parcel of episodes contains the big watershed moment: the breeakout of World War II in Europe. While one has the option, in Hearts of Iron III, of starting in 1939 or later, I always like to play the buildup years first so I can craft the nation I’m playing according to my strategy.

For this playthrough, I’m building up the Kriegsmarine to challenge the Britsh at sea. No small task, and as the game goes on I’m really feeling the effect especially as leadership is pulled away from the core land techs that I’d pursue in a typical game as Germany. The typical German strategy is to challenge either the UK or the USSR; in the game I’m targeting both.

To invade Britain – which is my eventual intention – you need more than sea power. Germany needs control of the air as well, so I have to continue building up the Luftwaffe as well. But first, winter for Poland and France.

At the very end of episode 9, more than three years of building, development and preparation, Germany demands Danzig and the Polish Corridor from Poland. The Poles take this demand poorly, and war results.

I’m having tons of fun on this playthrough, and I hope folks are enjoying the videos as well. Here, at the very end of episode 9, is where things are going to start being crushed beneath the treads of advancng Panzers. Remember to subscribe if you want to stay up to date with the channel.

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Hearts of Iron III: The Saga Continues (Episodes 2-5)

As you heard yesterday, I am working my way through a game of Hearts of Iron III and posting the results to YouTube. Hopefully folks are enjoying them, and meanwhile I’m embedding new episodes in this post.

I would like to warn the prospective viewer that watching HoI videos can be dull unless you’re in to that kind of thing; it’s a slow-burning game. Playing as Germany, for example, it normally takes me 3-4 hours of play to get to the part of the game (some time in 1939) when the war actually starts. Some nations (e. g. Italy) start at war, while others (e. g. Japan) get to start shooting substantially earlier, but even so, especially early on a HoI Let’s Play is a sedate affair. Even once the war gets rolling (which happens in Episode 10 of my playthrough) each 20-30 minute (ha, ha) episode only covers a couple of in-game weeks at best.

A full game of Hearts of Iron III as one of the major nations, played until war’s end, is likely to run somewhere in neighbourhood of 40-60 hours. From a videography perspective, that’s 120-180 20-minute episodes. That’s a ton of overhead in recording, rendering and uploading.

Now, to be honest, I have a great deal of trouble making episodes that short. Mine probably average 35 minutes and I had a couple go close to an hour. Then again, I dropped the “original” episode 8, which was 54 minutes of me assigning mispronounced German leaders to individual divisions. I talk about that at the beginning of the “official” episode 8.

One solution that presents itself is to produce edited videos instead. This is at odds (I feel) with the whole Let’s Play concept, but it could potentially make sitting through the videos easier. I may try that in a future playthrough, maybe as the USSR, who I plan to play next. But I don’t enjoy video editing, so there’s that to consider as well.

Meanwhile, enjoy the vids, comment and subscribe!

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