2019 End of Year Update – Part Two

Hi All,

Last week’s blog was the first in our 2019 end of year report – covering updates and upgrades. Today’s post will cover current work and upcoming titles.

As mentioned in the past, Wargame Design Studio (WDS) is responsible for the Panzer Battles and Civil War Battles series from both a content and programming perspective. We have also increasingly built out a team to work on Panzer Campaigns, though all programming remains with John Tiller.

With all the work we’re going to share now, please keep in mind that there is a chance that some of these projects may never be published. Why? Because we’re very dependent on volunteer work to do the myriad of tasks needed for every game. There are many unsung heroes from quality control to testers to coders and project co-ordinators needed to get anything out the door. It’s very easy to lose someone critical along the way and that means a project is left to languish. Japan 45 & 46 are good examples. They were started in 2009 and the retirement of the designer meant those titles languished for nearly a decade. So please keep that all in mind as you review the titbits we’re sharing now.

Firstly, the Civil War Battles (CWB) series. With the recent release of Campaign Shenandoah, essentially all the major engagements in the American Civil War have been covered. That said we believe there is scope for one final title. Led by John Ferry (who authored Campaign Overland) this new CWB title is progressing nicely. We’re not quite at the point of announcing this one yet but we can reveal that there will be some real variety across the included scenarios. You can expect all the improvements that we have bought to this series previously including hand drawn maps, various types of unit graphics as well as user interface updates. More on this title in the coming months.

Panzer Campaigns (PzC) has been a stalwart series for John Tiller Software. Since the release of PzC Smolensk ’41 back in 1999 a total of twenty-three titles have been published. The latest two, Japan ’45 & Japan ’46 breaking a seven-year hiatus following Moscow ’42.

There are multiple PzC titles currently being worked on. We can reveal there is at least one each set on the Eastern Front, Western Front and Pacific in production. It is too early to share information on the Eastern Front and Pacific titles, but the Eastern Front game is further along. This is again a title that had been started in the past (2012 to be exact) and had the game map and much of the Order of Battle completed. The game has been resurrected with an expanded game map and a lot of extra research work needed to start building out the scenarios. All of this is progressing well.

The Pacific title is not a hypothetical situation like Japan 45/46. It should be a very interesting campaign and will probably be one of the more manageable to play due to size (a bit like Market-Garden ’44). This game is at an earlier stage, but we wanted to highlight that we believe there are gaming situations in the Pacific that work well in the PzC engine.

The title that we want to announce today is Panzer Campaigns Scheldt ’44 with an expected release in mid-2020. Scheldt ’44 is the next Mike Prucha/David Michas title set in Holland from September 1944. Though not as well known as Operation Market Garden that began the liberation of Holland in September 1944, the fighting at the Scheldt and beyond was critical to clear the port of Antwerp and allow the Allies to continue to advance to the East.

Scheldt ’44 is expected to include the following scenarios/campaigns;

  • Scheldt Campaign Early
    • Rijkevorsel Bridghead
    • Poppel
    • Hoogerheide
    • Hoogerheide 2
    • Woensdrecht
    • Woensdrecht 2
    • Breskens Pocket (Operation Switchback)
  • Scheldt Campaign Late
    • Wuustwezel (Operation Suitcase)
    • Roosendaal
    • Mark River
    • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Operation Pheasant)
    • Heusden (Operation Guy Fawkes)
    • Breskens Pocket 2
    • Operation Vitality I
    • Operation Vitality II
    • Walcheren (Operation Infatuate)
  • A further 12-15 scenarios covering the battles of;
    • Maas Salient
    • Channel Ports
  • A September campaign covering all the 21st Army Group operations

The work that Mike and Dave have done on this title is exemplary. There are a range of interesting situations and the research that has gone into the order of battle is amazing. The German units are reminiscent of the poorer quality units seen in the Budapest ’45 and Market-Garden ’44 titles. This is not a title where the German’s have a quality advantage, so it will be an interesting match-up across the various scenarios. Irregular forces are also present including the Dutch and Belgian resistance fighters. See below for a range of early screenshots from the current build of the game (all images can be clicked for full size);

This is a snapshot of one of the Campaign scenarios in Scheldt ’44;

And the applicable jump map;

Operation Pheasant;

Mark;

Hoogerheide;

Operation Vitality II

And Walcheren after flooding;

A sample of one of the games Order of Battle;

Some of the games units – including Resistance fighters (the first use of Irregular troops in Panzer Campaigns);

And some of the variation in German units, many being under-trained and rear area, post the fall of France (note the morale values);

We hope it’s obvious, but we believe there is a lot of uncovered campaigns for the Panzer Campaigns series. We have been very fortunate that both our audience and team members have been enthused by the response to both the new titles and Gold updates, that we continue to investigate future titles.

As mentioned in the last blog, 2019 has resulted in a hiatus for the Panzer Battles (PzB) series, while previously released games were upgraded. Fortunately, while I have been personally distracted, Mike Avanzini has spent the last two years building out a massive monster map and order of battle for the next potential PzB title.

The new map is set in Russia and is nearly 800,000 hexes (!) in size and covers from Rzhev in the west to Moscow in the east, Kalinin in the north and as far south as Vyazma and Maloyaroslavets. This huge area allows us to potentially cover engagements from the advance on Moscow (Operation Typhoon), the Soviet 1941 winter counteroffensive or even some of the battles around Rzhev in 1942. We currently have a December 1941 Order of Battle that has a massive 30,000 discrete units. This doesn’t mean we will use all of these but can build a broad range of different scenarios. With the work completed to date, we’re currently testing scenarios based off the prior work in PzC Moscow ‘42.  Below are some example screenshots of both one of the test scenarios as well as the new map and other assets.

Rzhev at medium zoom out and its position on the map. The red square on the jump map is the area actually shown to give some scope on how huge the master map is;

Another medium zoom shot of the city of Kalinin, at the north of the map.

A fully zoomed out view of Moscow and its local environment;

Here is Vyazma, at full zoom in;

The Volga and reservoirs north of Moscow at maximum zoom out. Again note the position on the jump map;

Below is a sample of one of the Order of Battles;

For comparison, here is the Solnechnogorsk scenario from Panzer Campaigns Moscow ’42;

And the equivalent scenario created in Panzer Battles. Note the jump map between the two versions. This image is at maximum zoom out;

Here is a mid level view;

And a zoomed in view of the units near Yakhroma;

A further view showing the Naval units used in this operation (blue stripe on the top of the dark brown counter);

And finally, the 133rd Rifle Division about to attack 1st Panzer Division;

It has taken us three years on average to get a PzB title out. With all the work Mike A has done to date, we don’t expect that to be the case here, but this will be done when it is done. Everything shown comes with the caveat that it’s work in progress, but things are moving forward nicely.

We hope you have enjoyed this insight into what we’re working on. It’s exciting to see multiple products being developed in tandem and we have been very fortunate that both individuals and extended teams have wanted to be involved in all our projects.

One final reminder, many things can stop a title coming out, but only hard work will deliver it. Fingers crossed we can get all the above done.

Till next time.

 

22 thoughts on “2019 End of Year Update – Part Two

  • What a big update guys! I have purchased a couple games in the last times but not played them yet due to some health issues which are hurting me a lot. As soon as possible I will play the games I have purchased and I’ll buy many other games. Let me ask you if you have some projects regarding the Napoleonic Campaigns. Anyway, let me say you are the best computer wargaming company, this is what I think.
    Thank you for your invaluable work, sincerely.

    • Thanks so much Stefano for your support. I hope you’re health issues are improving and you will have more time to enjoy your games. We don’t have a plan currently for further Napoleonic titles, but there is a lot of play in the existing titles.

      David

  • I’ve got ~8-10 PzC titles, 2 or 3 Civil War games and all 3 PzB games. I’ve seen the flexibility with the Panzer Battles demo and realized that it is suitable for simulation of a vast array of battles. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Eastern Front but would gladly take any new PzB title.

    What I really really want is Panzer Battles Stalingrad, covering ~ June 42 – Feb 43; but sold whatever you end up designing. Thank you for helping make forced medical retirement rather pleasurable 🙂

    Tom

    • Tom, trust me, Stalingrad has been discussed and reviewed. We even did some prototyping to see if we can get city fighting working (probably on a 125 meter scale). City fighting is more the issue than the operations outside the city. We believe we need additional tech to get it working the way we want and with a backlog of titles we haven’t had time to delve to much further. The final comment is that there was a lot less movement within the city with individual buildings fought over multiple times. The scale of Panzer Battles may lose some of that nuance. Fingers crossed a Stalingrad title might see the light of day one day.

      David

  • David, I had imagined Stalingrad would have been assessed as a title and just accepted that there were reasons ‘why not’ at this point.

    Still, it’s like Xmas given the tidbits you’ve mentioned.

    I’d buy Typhoon/Winter counter offensive (as 1 or 2 titles). I’d also pick up Rzhev. A depressing PzB title would be ‘Siege of Leningrad’. The early days of WW2 were captured brilliantly in the demo – sell me a France 40 PzB title.

    Preference is for PzB over PzC/Civil War but I’ll end up getting all.

    Tom

    • Tom,

      As you point out the PzB system handles early war very well – that’s why we tested the French scenarios in the Demo. Like everything, we’re spoiled for choice and there are only so many 2-3 year windows left in our lives!!

      David

  • I only recently found out about you guys through the wonderful Japan’45 and Japan’46 and i am excited for more. it seems i have come at a good time with all the updates.

    • Crazy Dutch, we don’t have anything in production, but there has been discussions of some post WW2 titles. Nothing concrete currently.

      David

    • I was skeptical when the team suggested it. I had very little exposure to the campaign, but to be honest it’s going to be an awesome title. Lots of really interesting situations and a really interesting range of units for both side.

      David

  • Thanks so much for the updates. Really appreciate the 21st Army Group PzC effort. Antwerp/Scheldt are very rarely covered by game designers. The complexities and challenges will be a real eye-opener for many.

    I think PzB needs a follow-on to Kursk Southern Battles. Armee Abteilung Kempfe was a bit of a casualty in version one. III Panzerkorps scenarios really need the full participation of all XI Armeekorps divisions covering the former’s right flank. XXXXVIII Panzerkorps/ 3rd Pz-Div’s west wing could have used some participation from LII Armekorps/332d Inf-Div. I’d love to see an expansion of the original.

    OTOH, Southern Kursk transitions nicely into Rumyantsev in Aug 43 wherein the decimated Axis panzer formations tear apart both Katukov’s 1st Tank and Rotmistrov’ 5th Guards Tank Armies, while Konev’s Steppe Front swarms across the Donets to wrest final control of Kharkov from Manstein. And despite all the expert hype about Stalin allowing his talented career generals to take full charge of operations, the Boss burns up all the comm lines and teletype links to second-guess, micromanage, badger and berate Zhukov, Vasilevsky, Vatutin, to name a few, every step of the way in pursuit of an elusive mobile breakthrough to the Dneper.

    • Hi Steven,

      This is a bit of a forgotten campaign. That’s why it’s great to get a title out on it. If things pan out there may be a lot more than meets the eye included in the title! 🙂

      As far as Panzer Battles, you’re right – we’re not short of gaming opportunities. just after releasing Kursk, two excellent books were released, Lawrence’s monster volume and Zamulin’s volume specifically on the right flank including III Panzerkorps. These alone are grounds for revision, let alone redoing all the terrain properly and laying out all the scenarios again etc. So yes, would love to do more, but we’re moving onto new work for the moment!

      Talking Rumyantsev, you realise a number of the scenarios from the Demo cover some of these actions? Again, this could be a full title, there are some great situations.

      It’s now about timing…!

      David

  • Thanks for the post, i expected it in a pair of weeks but hell, i cant complain have it now hehehe.

    The PzC title was a little unexpected, Lorraine was a title with many followers but Scheldt ’44 sounds interesting because, 1 is late war, 2 germans are playing the “soviet” role with low quality and into defensive, 3 its a really not well covered battle-campaign in WWII.

    Maybe the only thing i dont like a lot is the combat style, maybe to close to Market Garden, few terrain to be creative and not the kind of fight where you can win with a big trick… is more a dirty fight, like in Japan titles but in smaller scale… maybe here i allways think that kind of titles are better in PzB scale but lets see.

    Ummm what are that naval units with “white” counters under Mark name?

    A PzB in east? well, after 2 west titles return to east is normal, maybe i was more into the south front in Barbarrossa but lets see what you can do with that monster map and OOB… OOB where i catch a little thing… armored trains?

    Well, i am going to post in other forums are many interesting info to dug-in and i dont want a megamonster post here.

    Again thank you for the info and hard work.

    PD: i dont know why but i cant see all photos upladed, first PzB are MIA.

    • Hey Xaver,

      The white counters are used for Kriegsmarine units. The ships belong to to 2. Artillerieträger-Flottille.

      -Mike P

      • Thank you for the info, i didnt imagine germans could have over the water in that area, the Baltic or the Norwegian cost ok but this is surprising but for what i read was a “fleet” of not first line units.

        White… is a good colour, i dont know why is not used in other nations with naval units, i think in soviet infantry naval units… is a pretty colour very related with ships.

        Again thanks and hell, the title looks really interesting and promising, great work.

    • Well, after the Scheldt surprise maybe you could right and open Manchurian door… but in 1939 because in 1945 size is a lot over Market Garden standard, but this open other continental options and with the add of chinese troops one of the not covered yet armies in PzC, i think they appear in SB serie.

      Maybe here i am curious about if the title could be a stand alone battle-campaign or is going to need extras to complete a title a little more.

      Could be great you open a thread in theblitz to play the “what is next” game hehehe.

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