Panzer Campaigns compared to the Campaign Series
by Glenn Saunders
I've been asked by many people to compare Panzer Campaigns to the Campaign Series, a wargame of a different scale that is also developed by John Tiller and published by TalonSoft.
Because John Tiller wrote the programs for both the HPS Panzer Campaigns and the TalonSoft Campaign Series, players who look at both games would notice an instant similarity - I call it the Tiller style. The menus are laid out in a similar order and contain similar items, some or which date back to John's older Battleground Series that TalonSoft published in the mid 90's. A number of the Dialog Boxes in the earlier games appear exactly the same in Panzer Campaign. And if you look at a map from both games in 2D Normal View they look very similar.
But the similarity ends there. The artwork in Panzer Campaigns has been done from scratch and the play is very different despite the similarity of the interface.
John Tiller's Campaign Series is a tactical wargame based on 250 metre hexes and six-minute turns. Units fight mostly using Direct Fire from hex to hex over greater distance. There is Direct Fire in Panzer Campaigns too, but virtually all of it is from units in adjacent hexes and generally only artillery fires from a distance. Click on the image at the right to see a 2D Map from East Front II (in a separate browser window) showing a scenario in the area of Izyum.
Panzer Campaigns uses the boardgame style Zone-of-Control (ZOC) where units can be locked or pay additional movement cost while moving though a hex next to an enemy unit. If you click on the image on the left, you will see a similar map area - the city on Izyum from the Kharkov '42 game.
Note however, if you compare the two, the colors on the Unit symbols on the East Front II map show units type (I.E., Leaders are yellow, and Heavy MGs are orange) while on the Panzer Campaigns map the colors represent different divisions as command and control is much more important in this larger operational scale.
I believe Panzer Campaigns is easier to learn to play yet there is detail players only dreamed of having in the Campaign Series built into the system in less complex, elegantly simple manner.
These details I refer to here are:
- Combined Organization Penalty, that affect assaults by units of different divisions to simulate real problems associated with Command and control of such operations,
- Battle Fatigue, that affects unit performance and morale of units under fire,
- Morale, that changes during the scenario,
- Combined Arms Penalty, that affect assaults by armored units in non-clear (built up areas for example) when not adequately supported by sufficient Infantry,
... and there are other rules as well, that make Panzer Campaign stand apart from other older John Tiller Games.
One improvement that I find really exciting with Panzer Campaigns, is the advances John has made to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming. Now, I don't want to put too much emphasis here, and understand that there are many players who still advocate only Head-to-head (H2H) or Play-by-email(PBEM). But our scenarios are not specifically designed or optimized for one type of play or for one side against the AI. We found many scenarios can be played either H2H or vs. the AI. Some can even be played from either side against the AI. The Panzer Campaign AI will attack and generally do a pretty good job in the shorter smaller scenarios, but still provide and interesting challenge in longer more strategic scenarios.
When I joined the Panzer Campaign Team in December 1999, some of the testers from the Campaign Series came over to help me with the Smolensk '41 Battle Pack. To a man, each of these experienced Campaign Series players really enjoyed Panzer Campaigns and found new challenge adjusting to the improved AI.
Therefore, I feel confident in recommending the Panzer Campaigns Series to anyone who has enjoyed playing John's older line(s) of games.
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