Welcome to Friday... and a special one for us today, on two counts. Not only are we releasing our next game in the Musket & Pike Series , but it is also the 2nd Anniversary of the announcement of Wargame Design Studio. So let's celebrate by exploring this new offering - bringing you 17th century warfare in Europe.
Before we get into the specifics I'd like to mention that TYW is releasing at version 4.03 - that means a boat load of work has been done - not only from a research and game file creation stand point, but also from a programming standpoint. 4.03 is a significant jump from 4.02 which released last May. To gain an appreciation for just how much has been done you can read the TYW Changelog. We'll cover some of that in our blog post today. All of these engine changes will be rolled out into the rest of the games in the series in approximately 30 days.
(All images can be clicked for a full-sized view.)
At the start of the 17th Century, Europe was in turmoil. Although largely centered on Germany and, at least initially, considered by many contemporaries to be a religious rather than political conflict, the Thirty Years War was in fact part of a complex series of interlinked conflicts. Some of which, such as the Dutch revolt from Spanish rule and the lengthy military rivalry between France and Spain, had their origins in the previous century. This title will weave in and out of these various conflicts with a focus on the larger battles and more predominant characters such as Tilly, Mansfeld, Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein.
The Bohemian Revolt of 1618 leads the way with initial battles between the Catholic (Imperialist) forces and the mercenary led Protestant (Anti-Imperialist) forces at Sablat and White Mountain. With the failure of the Catholics to completely crush and demoralize the resistance, the Palatinate phase began which would lead to larger battles and stretch through 1623.
1625-6 would bring in a new phase with the entry of the Danish king Christian IV of Denmark aligning with other Protestant forces to challenge the Hapsburg Empire. Poor performance on the battlefield and loss of major leaders such as Christian of Brunswick emboldened the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand II to try and clamp down on the situation in 1629. This would spur the Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus, to enter the fray on behalf of the Protestant cause. This change would lead to the first defeat of Catholic forces under Tilly in more than a decade, at Breitenfeld in 1631. This would also see much larger actions taking place over the subsequent four years.
This ebb and flow would continue across the continent with new armies being raised and battles being fought in many areas of the continent. Civilian populations, commerce, and civilization itself would be shaken to the core for most of the region during this time and the effects of this conflict would be felt for generations to come. When the dust began to settle the "Holy Roman Empire" had been weakened beyond repair and the rise of the modern nation-state was solidifying.
Thirty Years War includes 80 Scenarios – covering a variety of sizes and situations, including a solo tutorial scenario, four "Boot Camp" scenarios, Historical, Variant and What If versions for both Head-to-Head play and vs. the computer AI. Two campaigns are also included - 1622 & 1632. Here is a sampling of the battles covered:
Rain, the River Lech
Graphics - while we know graphics are a very subjective topic, we believe that you will find TYW to be very graphically pleasing. From the UI, Unit cards, 3D graphics and 2D view - at every turn you get an excellent presentation of the topic at hand.
We can't cover all the bases, however we have been making efforts to provide you with options when it comes to graphical representations within the game. Along those lines I'd like to point out the three styles of 2D counters to choose from (from the Settings Menu --> Units Symbols):
Block (Default), Nato, Alt
You have a choice between highlighting styles as well. We have introduced a new method of highlighting on 2D counters with TYW with the top portion showing the Highlight Organization command in effect. The bottom image uses the original style of the same command. If you prefer this method you can copy the 2DSymbols* files out of the \Map\Alt folder into the \Map folder - overwriting the existing files.
And then we have a "High Contrast" symbol set for those with vision impairments. To use this set copy the 2DSymbols* files out of the \Map\High Contrast folder into the \Map folder, overwriting the existing files.
Additionally you have an option to alter the 3D edges of hexes that are exposed on elevation changes. Brown is the default, with the intent of making a clear contrast between elevations changes. But you can also have a Green side, which makes the transition smoother and a bit more natural looking. To make the change go into the \Map folder and find the 3DGround50 & 100 files. You'll note that there is a second set with a b at the end - which is the green set. Simply rename the default files with an "a" at the end, then remove the "b" from the other set and then restart the game. The alt set will now be in use.
Ok, let's move on from graphics and look at engine changes.
The amount of work that has gone into this round of engine changes is absolutely phenomenal - if you have looked at the changelog you will see 2+ pages of changes and then a variety of bug fixes which were in most cases problems that existed in the core engine for a long time. A program as complex as this has all sorts of wrinkles and the process of smoothing them out takes time.
Some of these new changes had their genesis in our playing of the games - what we want to see. Many however were picked up from customer requests through posts on various forums or emailed in directly to us. Most have already made their debut in the updates for the Napoleonic Battles series as these two time periods have a significant amount of overlap. One area of significant focus has been in refining the AI. I will probably always say this, we aren't claiming the AI is a top-notch opponent, but we do think you will see a marked improvement in performance with this release.
And there's a variety of other adjustments that have been made under the hood... too many to list, but we are pretty confident you will notice a difference when playing against the computer opponent.
A fair number of the changes were to how things operate within the game. For example, we received feedback that players felt points for Leader Losses were too high, so several changes were made in that regard. Another was Fatigue - we've altered the amount that is assigned, both to formed units and skirmishers. We've also made an addition to the PDT file so that fatigue scale can be defined there if you want to experiment with the values.
** As always, if you make any adjustments to any game file and then wish to play against other people you must share your altered files with them. If you don't the chance of file corruption is high, but also there's a very good chance your opponent will consider it cheating and you will lose them as a playing partner.**
A significant change is the Stacking and Firing limitations and processes.
Again, this is in-line with what has been implemented in the Napoleonic engine, and the intent is to present a more realistic handling of forces. A group of units may be able to fit within the 100 meter wide by 100 meter deep hex, but they cannot all bring their weapons to bare at the same time. So, the "Front" value on the back of the units cards tells you what percentage of the hex frontage the unit takes up. This will vary on formation, size of the unit and position within the stack. For a complete description please see the User Manual, section 5.3.9.
A variety of changes have been made to the Scenario Editor and "design" supporting files such as the PDT file format and the Main.AI file. While this has been driven at making it easier for our scenario designers to produce new games, for those of you who like to tinker with your own designs you get to take advantage of them as well. Like the rest of the documentation, we continue to refine and expand the content of the Scenario Editor Manual - so if you have an itch to try your hand at designing be sure to check it out.
Many changes have been made to facilitate conveyance of information at a glance. To that end many of the "Highlight" commands will now display the primary item with the default highlight color and a second, related bit of information, with the secondary color. The example below is using the "Highlight Moved" command, and it uses the secondary color to highlight Fixed units.
Some rules continue to be refined. One is "Movement Threat Disorder". We feel this is an excellent rule as it takes into consideration the actual battlefield conditions more than just the individual unit that is moving and the hex they are moving through. With that said, when it was first implemented it was too powerful - and quite a few alterations have been made to moderate that in subsequent release cycles. A further refinement that was needed was to remove the Threat check when a unit is moving away from the nearest enemy units. 4.03 now puts that change into effect.
I could go on and on, but I'll wrap up my coverage of changes with a brief look at artillery. The following changes have been made in that regard.
Artillery in the pre-Napoleonic period was not as nimble and "Horse" artillery tactics had not been implemented. Batteries would not fly around the battlefield like they would in later time periods. So, the "Horse" type artillery was removed and re-designated "Light" to represent the very small pieces that would accompany the infantry - battalion guns, usually 3 pounders. These will be able to keep up with the Infantry formations and unlimber and fire within a single turn. However, their range and effectiveness is limited. Other artillery is Field type and has various movement rates based on the size of the weapons being moved. Very large pieces will be slow and cumbersome - as they were historically. Setup will also be required by some types - so they tend to stay stationary once in place - with the battle swirling around them as the focal point in many cases.
As we bring this blog post to a close we want to point out that this is yet another type of warfare represented. The tactics you use in a Civil War Battles game will not necessarily translate to these battlefields. Tools available to you to make the transition are in the form of the Getting Started scenario + the Getting Started document. There are also four different Boot Camp scenarios to present various unit types and situations and how you can address them. Finally the Designer Notes have additional information on period weapons and how they were used.
We will leave you today with more screen shots from the game. Or you can head directly over to the product page and pickup a copy of the game to start playing.
We hope you enjoy the game... and don't forget you can head to the Official Forums to discuss it further with others in the community!