Battle Academy

The PC version is on sale for a couple more days.

Tempting. I have a question. Does it have a more open ended, fluid feel (like a Combat Mission or something similar), or is it one of the wargames that really is a puzzle game where the point is to try to “solve” the specific scenario, such that once you’ve solved it, there is little to replay?

I like the former a lot, and dislike the latter a lot (I hated Panzer General, for exmaple).

Complexity is not an issue, I just don’t want to buy something that is a “Oh no, in this scenario, you didn’t move your tank to this specific hex and attack that specific hex in turn 2, and then attack this hex with that plane in turn 3, and then . . . . so you lost.” I.e. too scripted for me.


Edit: Also, if it is helpful, I will not be playing multiplayer. So it doesn’t matter if games against other humans are more fluid - I only care about the games with the AI.

I reviewed it about a year ago, so I don’t remember the details but I would say it was pretty scripted but there was wiggle room for the AI to react to what you do. There is a demo so you can check it out. Look at the downloads section on the left hand side.

It was probably a bit puzzley, but not to the extent you describe above where you have to more specific units to specific tiles. I would recommend trying out the demo as it was a pretty good game.

There are a lot of user-made scenarios and campaigns, too, as well as the expansions. The different force mixes you can take into battles in the campaigns, as well as the random factors in combat, keep it from being too predictable as well.

I would say that it’s pretty puzzle-y. If you don’t like Panzer General you probably won’t like this game.

I can see that, in some ways, but it never felt that way to me, not as much as PG does, at least. The mix of forces plus the randomness of combat in BA seems more variable, and there seem to be more ways to win than in PG. But really, in a tactical wargame it’s either going to be sort of a puzzle, or purely chance, most of the time, in most games, it seems.

I appreciate what you are saying, but don’t really agree. For example, neither Steel Panthers or Combat Mission feel that way to me. They’re just both old as dirt and have terrible graphics, and I’d like something a bit more modern.

You might try Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear, though, from Matrix/Slitherine. It’s turn based, tactical, looks good (especially with all the mods people have done), and is pretty balanced between “find the right solution” and “roll a six or lose.”

Battle Academy I don’t think is that much more of a puzzle game than Steel Panthers, really; the AI is better in BA, and while you don’t have nearly as much detail to fiddle with, the overall results end up being pretty consistent with what you’d expect I think from a more “serious” tactical game. It’s certainly a lot more transparent than CM, where it was often as much a fight against the interface and the obscurity of some of the mechanics as it was a struggle against the enemy (though the original CMBO was the most accessible of the bunch I think).

I do miss SP though, as that level of fiddly detail and granularity reminds me of the glory days of SL/ASL, but I don’t think anyone is ever going to do something like that again.

I still hold that it’s very very hard to make a tactical wargame for solo play that doesn’t end up being mostly either a puzzle or a matter of the RNG. I recall many a SP battle that hinged on whether you got a lucky shot or not, or whether a particular unit survived or not. Combat Mission --hell, half the time I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on, and that only got worse as the series progressed. Loved both games, though.

See, part of it is less the type of game and more whether the thing is “set up” for you or not. You could probably break any game down into a series of optimal choices. But when the set up is more random, for example, then it has less of a feel of “the developer specifically made the scenario to make you beat your head against the wall until you realize the key is X.”

Yeah, I’d agree with that. The beauty of games like SP is that, because there are so many variables (particularly the random/points buy type scenarios) that it “feels” right. I agree there are precious few games that recapture that feeling. The trade off (or one of the trade offs) I think is it’s a lot harder to do a computer opponent that can handle that sort of variability well, than it is to script everything.

But oh yes, a Steel Panthers (WWII and the modern variant) that was revamped for contemporary machines and resolutions would be nice–though a scratch built up to date game like that would be better. I don’t think we’ll see it though.