2024 Quarter Two Update

Hi all,

As the year rolls inexorably on, here is our Quarter Two update.

There has been a flurry of news and updates over the previous three months.

Before we cover these, we would like to thank you all for the support during our  summer sale. These sales are so important for keeping our business moving forward and in turn allowing us to deliver both new and updated content. Thank you!!!

We did not have a new title released in the last three months, though Panzer Campaigns Spring Awakening ’45 almost qualified, being released on March 29th. That’s not to say we don’t have titles in the pipeline – more on that later.

Our ‘Game of the Week’ promotion has gone from strength to strength. We have seen very solid interest and traffic when each title is highlighted on Monday, with people calling out the book recommendations as especially useful. Game of the Week is resuming after a hiatus during the sale, next week, on July 8th.

To make certain that you all have access to the linked information, here are the Game of the Week blog posts and associated titles listed in chronological order.

Blog Date & Link

Game Title

 

 

April 1st to 7th

Mexican-American War

April 8th to 14th

Panzer Campaigns: Sealion ‘40

April 15th to 21st

Campaign Gettysburg

April 22nd to 28th

Squad Battles: Eagles Strike

April 29th to May 5th

Great Northern War 

May 6th to 12th

Modern Campaigns: Middle East ‘67

May 13th to 19th

Campaign Bautzen

May 20th to 26th

Panzer Battles: Battles of Kursk – Southern Flank

May 27th to June 2nd

Naval Campaigns: Guadalcanal

June 3rd to 9th

Panzer Campaigns: Normandy ‘44

June 10th to 16th

Campaign Shenandoah

 

 

 

We have continued with the update cycle across multiple series. As mentioned in our Quarter One Update, we have focused on moving series across to new WDS installers. This has continued during Quarter Two.

Civil War Battles was the first series updated in April, moving to version 4.05 and subsequently version 4.05.1. There were a range of enhancements in both usability and content. All are listed in the version 4.05 blog post.

Napoleonic Battles was also updated in April to version 4.08 with the initial release of Campaign Waterloo and the Final Struggle Demo. All the Napoleonic Battles titles were updated to Version 4.08.1 in early May. Many of the enhancements and engine changes first announced in Musket & Pike and subsequently Civil War Battles were included in this round. Importantly, version 4.08 included the culmination of a two-year standardization project. With a range of developers involved in the Napoleonic Battles series, there had been a range of differences in both scale, weapons and unit values. This effort was as significant as the ‘McNamara values’ that were introduced and used for all First World War, Panzer & Modern Campaigns series. Standardization removed many of the variations that had been propagated over time and was another area that we believed had to be addressed.

Squad Battles moved to version 4.03.2 with the release of an updated Grenada Demo. There was a fantastic new training campaign included with the Demo, and Mark ‘Embis’ Bisson, authored both the blog post and the included new campaign. All are worth your time, even better because the Demo is free! We have not released version 4.03.2 for the other Squad Battles titles as we are currently testing the 4.03.3 beta, and that should become the basis for the next round of updates.

The biggest refresh cycle in Quarter Two was moving the First World War Campaigns, Panzer Campaigns and Modern Campaigns series onto version 4.04. With thirty-nine titles in total, this was a significant roll-out in terms of time and execution. The links to each release is as follows: Modern Campaigns – Cold War in Europe, Asian Modern & Panzer Campaigns, Panzer Campaigns – 1944 Western Front, Panzer Campaigns – North Africa, All First World War titles, Panzer Campaigns – Eastern Front Blitzkrieg, Panzer Campaigns – Italy and France, Panzer Campaigns – More Eastern Front, and the Panzer Campaigns – Final Eastern Front titles.

Version 4.04 required a clean installation. Like the other series, we had decided to move to a new baseline installer to simplify future patching requirements. This has simplified our overall support requirements, and you can read more details on this in any of the above blog posts.

We want to remind you all of the news we highlighted in the Quarter One update from John Tiller’s daughter, Julia. In her words:

Hi all. I hope you are having a great 2024! Fundraising is underway for the National Brain Tumor Society for this year's New York City marathon. I'll be running the 26.2 mile course in November 2024 in honor of my dad, John Tiller. He was an inspiring figure in my life and continues to be. For this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I'm asking for donations to meet my fundraising goal. The National Brain Tumor Society is very dear to me for their unrelenting support of people who have experienced brain cancer. Please follow the links, watch the video on my dad's story, and share. Thank you so much!!

https://nbtsevents.braintumor.org/tillers-troopers

There is also merchandise you can buy to support Julia, click the image below to see Tees, Hoodies and Sweatshirts.

Julia has also created a short video highlighting John and the fundraiser on the following Youtube video: My Dad: Why I Run with the NBTS

If you can afford to help, please do, cancer is such an insidious disease that could impact any of us.

Looking Forward

We have several titles nearing the end of internal testing. With that in mind, we would like to announce the next title to be released will be Panzer Campaigns: Smolensk ’43.

Smolensk ’43 is the third tile from Dani Asensio. Dani was the developer for Panzer Campaigns: Rumyantsev ’43 and Panzer Campaigns: Orel ’43. Dani has been prolific with this his third title in three years.

Panzer Campaigns: Smolensk ’43 is set in a similar time frame as the prior two titles, but covers three separate campaigns in early August, late August, and September 1943. The centerpiece is Operation Suvorov, that commenced in early August. Both sides are very even in forces, and the impact of the earlier operations is clear on the forces of both combatants as you progress chronologically.

There are currently seventy-three scenarios in testing and the feedback has been very positive.

Here are some work-in-progress screenshots:

Beyond this upcoming release, we are very, very busy. The programming team's responsibilities have been adjusted after we lost Berto back in February and there has been a review of requests and priorities across multiple series.

With the release of the standardization project for the Napoleonic Battles series, as well as the latest Civil War Battles updates, we are not expecting to be making many changes to these series over the remainder of the year. The last twelve months saw a slew of updates for these series and it's time to let you all enjoy them.

Where we have put our energy is in adding some new features for the First World War Campaigns, Panzer Campaigns and Modern Campaigns series. With Berto’s illness, we had a range of requests that had languished, but the new programming team have picked up the ball and delivered a lot of new code. In the various 4.04 blog posts we have mentioned the upcoming 4.04.1 updates. We have decided that the included changes are significant enough to be a full version number: 4.05. Panzer Campaigns: Smolensk ’43 will be released as this version and all other titles will be patched subsequently. This cycle will revert to Updates being issued for each game. **Note** that the 4.04 baseline install must be in place to apply them.

Following is a non-exhaustive list of what we expect to be included in version 4.05.

Bug Fixes

  • Bug: Ski units will now use foot movement sound where there is no SNOW or FROZEN map condition.
  • Bug: Fixed Convert to Sub-Scenario.
  • Bug: Partisan units will no longer disrupt movement of units when in Travel Mode.
  • Bug: Hold Orders will now Hold

Enhancements

  • Remove the Spotted icon from the Unit card and add "Spotted" as the first line on the Terrain Box.
  • The ‘Show Organization’ (Alt-Q) will now both highlight the selected organization and move the map to center on the selected formation/unit.
  • Fatigue accumulation code is now based on ratio of losses to full strength.
  • Morale checking code. Determining whether moral checks are applicable is now based on ratio of losses to current unit strength.
  • Upgraded functionality for Armored Trains.
  • Area Boundaries setting is now saved in the registry.
  • Show Org icon added to toolbar.
  • New optional rule added to prevent units with low ammo from firing.
  • Helicopters marked with the Jet Engine flag will now use the Jet Fighter sound.
  • A number of dialog boxes are resizable, and some can remain open during play.

Content Changes

  • Support the use of a colon in the Unit Component Name (to differentiate units but use the same picture).
  • Changed Editor icons to be like the Panzer Battles ones (colored differently).

To explain some of the more significant changes, further details are below.

Bug: Hold Orders will now Hold. As part of the project to review and enhance the AI, we have found a bug in the existing AI. Units with an AI Hold order reset from the Hold order to a general AI order after a short period of game play. This is resulting in screwy behavior on the part of the defenders, primarily, leaving defensive positions, rather than holding them.

Enhancement: Remove the Spotted icon from the Unit card and add "Spotted" as the first line on the Terrain Box. With the inclusion of the dynamic NATO symbol across the series with the 4.04 update, we reviewed all the items added to the unit card. One was the spotted icon. The inclusion of the icon on each unit card was deemed unnecessary as it is the hex that is spotted, not the individual units. We therefore removed the icon on the unit card. Below you can see an example of how spotted will be indicated in game.

 

Enhancement: The ‘Show Organization’ (Alt-Q) will now both highlight the selected organization and move the map to center on the selected formation/unit. This is an important change that we are bringing across from other series. The current Show Organization dialog will currently highlight a unit, but not center on that unit. This is now added. Better still, like the Strength dialog (Alt-G), units ‘Not Present’ are marked as such. The changes will make it much easier to work systematically through and find formations. This dialog is also being made resizable and can remain open during play if desired. This will be an alternative way to manage a player’s units and the dialog could even be put onto a second monitor if available.

Finally, a dedicated icon is being added to the ‘top menu’ as we think this function will be used more often by players. See the blue magnifying glass below.

Enhancement: Fatigue accumulation code is now based on ratio of losses to full strength. This enhancement is a significant change and currently in testing. Currently, units take into account the formation type when calculating the amount of fatigue. Companies for example accumulate 3x the fatigue of battalions arbitrarily. This was causing issues for example, where a 200-man company would accumulate 3x the fatigue of a 200-man battalion, with the only difference being the formation type. The code has now been changed to look at the full strength of the unit being checked, rather than a value based upon the formation. If a unit is combined, then the full strength of the combined unit is used. Not to go into the math involved, but there is also a value in the PDT file that allows additional scaling of the final fatigue accumulation value. Many of these values were constants in the code and we have now moved them to be adjustable where required.

Enhancement: Morale checking code. Determining whether morale checks are applicable is now based on ratio of losses to current unit strength. There are similar issues with morale checks in that formation types are used in the calculation to determine whether a morale check is required. The size of the unit was irrelevant, just the formation type. For example, for a battalion, a loss of 15 men in a single combat result will result in a morale check 50% of the time. It does not matter whether the battalion is 300 men or 600 men, the loss of 15 will result in a 50% chance in both cases. The code is now changed to look at the ratio of the loss to the current strength to come up with a ratio rather than the current fixed values. Using the current strength means that as units lose strength or are smaller, the chance of a morale check increases with each loss. Like the Fatigue Accumulation calculation, there is a scaling value added to the PDT file. We plan to share more on the math involved in both fatigue accumulation and morale checks before Smolensk ’43 is released, but you can expect there to be more ‘understandable’ results during play.

Enhancement: Upgraded functionality for Armored Trains. New features are being added for armored trains, to support a future title. The key changes are as follows:

  • Armored trains cannot change into rail mode. They move deployed (as per current behavior)
  • Armored trains are exempt from the night move disruption rule. They normally would be exempt when in rail mode, but as they move deployed, they need to be set as an exception.
  • Armored trains use the Artillery Hard Target Modifier in the PDT when firing into an adjacent hex only (usually a value of 2.5x). This is for both hard and soft fire. This represents the attached infantry and other close weapons such as MG’s.
  • Armored trains have patrolling capability, just like infantry units. These were used for track protection and anti-partisan duties and adding this capability would highlight that.

The anti-partisan changes for example will be very useful in Eastern Front titles.

Enhancement: New optional rule added to prevent units with low ammo from firing. This optional rule is also being added for a future title but may be recommended for several existing scenarios and titles. This rule is designed to reflect static frontlines, trench lines or city-fighting where direct fire has less effect and assaults are the primary way to take ground. Units that are low ammo, will only be able to attack/defend via assault. They will not be able fire offensively or defensively when low ammo. This will reduce a lot of firing in static and other appropriate situations.

Enhancement: Helicopters marked with the Jet Engine flag will now use the Jet Fighter sound. This change is also for a future project. Essentially, short take-off and landing jet aircraft can be represented on map if required.

Enhancement: A number of dialog boxes are resizable, and some can remain open during play. The first example, as mentioned is the revised Show Organization dialog. Other example of resizable dialogs is the Artillery and Aircraft Mission Dialogs, Units Scheduled, Units Arrived etc. This is all currently under review.

We plan to include these in each of the three series, where applicable. Many of these new features are going to be tested in Panzer Battles as well. The changes to Show Organization and Fatigue Accumulation and Morale Checks are expected to be inclusions.

The other significant change that we are testing in Panzer Battles: Moscow is artillery spotters. In the current Panzer Battles titles, units within the same organization can spot for artillery. This can result in a lot more flexibility in artillery usage than was possible in World War II. We are now testing spotters for divisional and higher artillery/rocket formations.

There is a tick box in the unit data to indicate a unit is a spotter.

Spotters are HQ types, and have many of a HQ’s attributes, but they also have some different functions.

Below are some of their features.

  • Spotters can regenerate if killed.
  • Spotters can only be targeted by direct fire if they are not stacked with another unit. They are still vulnerable to indirect fire while stacked as per the current rules. This is to prevent spotters being directly targeted, but only if stacked and, importantly, they can be targeted if alone. This is to prevent the owning player from moving an ‘invulnerable’ unit into the opponents' rear areas.
  • The spotters' Command Range is the maximum distance it can be away from its attached artillery - if beyond the command range it cannot spot for that unit. For example, if a unit (with a command range of 20) is 21 hexes from one attached artillery piece, and 19 from a second attached artillery piece, it can only spot for the latter unit. Rationale: The Command Range represents the maximum range for radio/telephone communication. This requires the spotter to be in range of the guns to spot for them. The command range would be lower for telephone/wired nets and larger for radio links. If the frontline moves, then there may be a need to move the artillery forward, allowing the spotters to function again. With setup times and other parameters, there will be an appropriate delay.
  • Like normal HQ’s, spotters can be “Out of Command”. This is reported for spotters as “Comms Lost”. When “Comms Lost”, the spotter cannot call in supporting batteries representing temporary communication issues (wire breaks or wireless interference/breakage). The spotters command range is set to zero while “Comms Lost”.

Artillery is usually setup as combined battalions, which means they can inflict significant casualties on targets that can be seen. They can break down to batteries though, if required. For organic guns and mortars at regiment or brigade level, we are not including spotters but rather allowing the other units to spot as per normal. This is to reflect the flexibility local units had with their directly attached, indirect fire assets.

The inclusion of spotters has added quite a neat little sub-game where players have to manage the guns and spotters to maximize their effectiveness, and the restrictions are a better reflection of actual World War II performance. Many of our test scenarios have spotters in position at the start of a scenario, and holding and protecting those locations is imperative for allowing fire support to work. Advancing or retreating has a range of impacts and keeping the guns firing is another area for players to manage. In some cases, Spotters have their own vehicles (Kubelwagons, halftracks etc.), but these are units usually connected to the batteries via radio. As you can imagine, there is quite a bit we can do with the addition of spotters.

We are yet to decide whether this change should be retrofitted into previous titles, but we are working through the overall process with Moscow first.

The above examples are some of the more visible changes the programming team are making. There is a lot more cooking beyond that, but this at least gives you a view of some of the features coming.

Naval Campaigns

In addition to the above, we have a new round of updates coming together for all titles in the Naval Campaigns series. A key aspect of that is a feature that was added in when Wolfpack released, but had not been available in the older titles - until now. Campaigns are now being added in for the original four titles in the series that were lacking them. Veteran Naval designer Gary McClellan (Midway, Wolfpack & Kriegsmarine) has gone in and created at least one campaign for each game to be released, for free, for each of those titles.

The Tsushima title in particular will be getting some much needed TLC. For this there will be 3 campaigns offered up as well as several additional stand alone scenarios as part of the expansion package Gary put together. With probably the smallest amount of content ever to be included in a JTS release, we are confident that previous owners of this title will be happy to receive this free expansion for this title as part of the update.

As with everything else we have been releasing this year though, these new enhancements will require a Clean Install of the game. We are tentatively scheduling these to be released some time in August. We'll have a dedicated blog post with further details when they are ready to go.

Early American Wars

With July 4th upon us - and a regular chorus of people asking about why the EAW series has not received the same level of updates that others have, we felt a short note was in order.

The code base for EAW was way behind all the rest of the series when we took over operations in '21, and programming resources have been spread thin. Additionally, these titles need a major graphics overhaul and that is no small task. We will say that work is well underway in addressing this, but we are taking a different approach from the various other series we offer. We will share more when we are closer to having something you can get your hands on. As of this writing, early '25 in the most realistic target for further information to be shared.

Finally, I want to mention that we have a lot of projects under development, there is a second title well along in testing and many more at various stages of completion. These are new titles and, in some cases, new series beyond the updates we are working on currently.

Thank you again for the support, particularly during the sale and with the continued interaction via our forum, Facebook and other platforms.

Onward, to Quarter Three!


14 comments


  • Warren Wawrosch

    For Panzer Campaigns/Modern Campaigns allow the open dialog windows to moved onto secondary monitor, remaining open etc.


  • Stephen

    Amazing work on the updates, and new titles. I have every title in the catalog, less the Air War duo. Wondering whether WDS has plans to update those?


  • Daniel Asensio

    Hi TAJ,

    maybe your wishes will come true… 😉

    The eastern front has the largest ones but also other smaller and more manageable ones.

    For my part, I am in one of the projects that might fit you 😀


  • Taj

    I’m excited for the upcoming ability to work through an OOB to organize my movement and firing instead of my overly-elaborate set of Excel files and Inkscape maps. Just as excited for the smaller QOLs as I am the new titles. Perhaps an Eastern front campaign will one day be less daunting…


  • Ian Coyle

    A lot of interesting updates. Low Ammo rule to reduce Direct Fire in quiet sectors or cities sounds ideal.

    Now if you could find a way to reduce Indirect Fire in these same situations then I might try a Stalingrad 42 campaign. I tend to watch the replay and I don’t think I could sit and watch a Soviet player firing off all his artillery every turn against 6th Army units in Bunkers in Stalingrad just to score that magic 1 loss.

    Ian


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