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Wargame: Airland Battle

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Joined: 18 Sep 2006
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:20 am    Post subject: Wargame: Airland Battle Reply with quote

If you play RTS, buy it. If you have European Escalation it's 25% off til the 2nd.

Won my first multiplayer match last night. Had secured a town to my south with infantry and pushed ahead with my armor. Opponent came cracking down with a massive armored assault and to preserve the majority of my forces I was forced to sacrifice an Abrams platoon while I pulled 3 others that had been badly mauled back through town to a FOB. He eliminated my rearguard and came through the town only to have his advance stopped by my entrenched infantry. Sent in a number of Harriers and I was able to break his attack. Commanded my Abrams back into the fight and unexpectedly annihilated the fleeing remainder. I saw an opportunity, so I had my tanks push on and they shot up his command vehicle, preventing reinforcement.

Got a, "Well, that was abrupt. Good fight!", and had to call it a night.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having sunk some time in over the weekend I have a few comments on the game proper now:

1st things first, as with the original game, don't expect absolute 1:1 realism here. As there was never a time in history (thank whichever deity you're inclined to) where Tier 1 division level NATO and Warsaw Pact assets engaged one another, there's not any empirical data that can be applied. There's been whinging in the forums that the M1A1 doesn't obliterate everything in its path while topping off its tanks on the tears of its routed enemies a la Desert Storm, as well as nearly identical complaints the T-80U doesn't automatically trigger a victory condition on deployment due to its ATGM capability. The arguments always devolve into discussing advantages contingent on specific situations that play to each systems' strengths. Efforts were made to balance for realism, and specific quirks of certain systems are modeled in a very general way, ie: the M1 Abrams is harder to keep fueled due to the real life tank's gas turbine engine, and British 120mm rifled cannons have a more generous range. The T-80's ATGMs are devastating when they hit, but have a much slower RoF, F-14s are actually employing AIM-54s against aircraft in visual range, but have better overall range and fire control than other fighters, etc.

With that all out of the way, I'll start with the dynamic campaign. Still slogging through the first few scenarios, as I try to secure ground behind me as I advance. However, in the early going, the only secondary forces that will be available are lightly-equipped Marine and Air Mobile units that lack heavy armor. I'm still trying to get the hang of these units as they can punch well above their weight, but being light on tanks and more dependent on IFV and infantry units. With proper scouting, flanking tactics and air support I've seen skilled payers use these more mobile units to rout heavy armor brigades. I'm nowhere near that. I try to deploy defensively by securing forests and urban environments with infantry. However, the AI is generally good enough to avoid suicidally rushing tanks into fortified cities w/o softening the position up with artillery first.*

Each turn you are given what are essentially "cards" to play that will affect enemy morale, conduct air strikes to inflict damage, and/or scout a territory before you advance. These are also how you call in new divisions to the fight. As I mentioned briefly above, it takes in-game time to make these units available and random events give you the choice to release or retain units in exchange for map-wide buffs. In the first NATO campaign I was asked whether to allow the US Army's 101st Airborne Division to redeploy to Korea (Korean peninsula is NOT modeled in game, before you ask) in some of the initial turns. I've done the event 3 times in different playthroughs to see if the outcomes are set in stone and they are not. The first time, I authorized the redeployment, and the extra support kept North Korea from entering the war, this provided a map-wide morale buff to my troops and inflicted a penalty to the enemy. The second time I redeployed and NK attacked anyway, but was able to steamroll Seoul, however the 101st prevented them from advancing further, so neither side experienced an effect. The third time through, redeploying didn't prevent the invasion, but it repelled the attack, giving NATO a small morale bonus while leaving the Warsaw Pact unaffected.

In the opening stages of the campaigns the units you can call in are lighter, more mobile, such as commando brigades, Marine Assault Battalions (MAB is light assault with no heavy armor, a Marine Expeditionary Unit would be a full assault force with M1s. They are not strictly modeled in game, but by creating your own deck it can be fudged by giving Army M1s to a primarily Marine deck, unfortunately, you can't create custom decks for campaign play) and Airborne units. They can land on any territory with a coast. Airborne can be deployed ALMOST anywhere, and are similarly lightly equipped, and heavier Air MOBILE units require you to have secured an airstrip. In the current NATO campaign I'm in, there's a German Heavy Armor Brigade on its way, but they're 3 days out and I'll need to have captured a seaport to deploy them, as they have to be unloaded off a transport ship.

*(there's been reports on the forums about AI omniscience in being able to target hidden units they shouldn't be able to see. I myself can't confirm this, as every time I think it's happening to me, when I finally get an assault force organized and start my push, I tend to stumble across well-hidden recon units that were scouting my positions all along. I would definitely believe the AI being given such an artificial advantage, but I can't definitively confirm or deny.)

Gameplay balance is fairly rock solid at this early stage, the ATGMs no longer hand free kills against modern MBTs, as I've pressed an Abrams platoon with Bradley scout support against ATGM units in trees and as long as I press the advance I can take the position with at most a single loss (tank platoons are generally 4 vehicles,) whereas after the infamous ATGM buff of European Escalation, sending 4 modern 135 point tanks against even a single cheap 20 point missile using unit was basically offering 540 points to the opposing team. Again, modern Anti-Tank missiles are devastating IRL (things like Javelin and Kornet, not popguns like the RPG-7 and LAW) but shoving things so far in that direction made people completely abandon armor in favor of scouts and metric butt-tonnes of artillery.

After a few disappointing public matches I'm hunting for a clan to play and coordinate with before I report back much on the multiplayer and deck-building aspects of the game. I'm pretty knowledgeable about military hardware in an academic sense, but my eyes still roll up into my skull when I see that 800+ unit list on the deck building interface. Generally, netcode seems stable, and the way the game hands off units from players who ragequit to their team mates keeps entire sections of the battlefield from going dark from a mass exodus. This can leave you trying to manage 10X the normal number of troops in a huge battle and almost guarantee a loss, but the XP gains possible make sticking around til the bitter end worth it.

Millitary abbreviation word salad glossary:
ATGM - Anti Tank guided Missile
MBT - Main Battle Tank. The big tanks
IFV - Infantry Fighting vehicle. Different from an Armored Personnel Carrier, IFVs carry autocannons and ATGMs. Are very deadly glass cannons.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some great analysis here, I've barely got through the tutorial. Looking forward to building my deck.
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Joined: 18 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah the tutorial had some odd difficulty spikes. I barely passed the infantry one, and in the combined arms tutorial once you get the 3rd CP secured they seem to send a steady wave if attack helos and tanks. I had to order up max Abrams, hide in the trees and scout with the choppers and call Harriers to blow the last command vehicle off the map.


This link is a HUGE help, as the game itself does a pretty poor job of explaining the strategic aspect of the campaign. Read this before you start the second campaign, as much pain and bloodshed will result if you don't. (The first time I deployed that German heavy armor brigade I mentioned earlier I got it completely wiped out w/o ever actually using it in a fight because I didn't understand the game mechanics.)
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