I actually refunded it. Not because it is bad–it seems really rather well done–but because I was having a really hard time seeing the infantry units, especially in multi-level buildings. I found myself squinting and peering a lot and it wasn’t pleasant. That, and turn resolution in the tutorials was glacial, and I think I would get very very annoyed with that.
It’s something that as they refine it over time I might pick up again though, perhaps.
That review seems pretty accurate, from my brief time with the game before I refunded it. I like the clean, crisp look of the more abstract maps, and the individual unit cards are generally attractive and informative. My issues were more with my own difficulties seeing units and elevations on the map, and that I found it hard to take in all of the info on a 32" 1440p monitor because a lot of the unit card stuff was pushed to the far edges of the screen and seemingly cannot be moved anywhere.
I will revisit this when they fiddle with it and add stuff I think, because the rules set seems solid and the overall implementation very strong.
I went through the manual and so far, compared to ASL:
-The phases are simplified, in that several phases are condensed into a single one, since there’s no mental tracking overhead. Specifically the Prep Fire and move phase is the same one, and you can fire some units, move some others, fire again with other available, etc… Similarly you can fire some units here that moved, basically making them fire the Advance Fire phase (which would be were they fire in the boardgame). Most of these changes seem good for game flow, if a little fiddly (can’t understand why the moving units fire here and not in the (advance) Fire Phase, since that phase exists and breaks flow anyway).
-Many actions are automated. You can’t choose when to fire at enemy units moving, which may change tactics, for example. Again, understandable change, and little to object here.
-Snipers are not abstracted, but present on the map as long range FP1 units with bonus to firing alone.
-Lots of content still not in (very understandable). Seems to have the basic Soviet, German and American (European theater) stuff, though.
-No OBA, no night, no weather… the more obscure rules are not implemented (yet?)
So pretty close adaptation it seems, I agree with most choices made here, rules wise. At least after a first reading. As far as I can see, skulking is even possible.
It also seems playable with the Steam Deck, controls-wise, but I will need to see how the interface pans out, since there’s a particular quirk that could make it non-optimal until addressed: when you click for an action, buttons pop up. If these buttons are too small, it will make Steam Deck hard to manage. I wonder if they can be modded to be made bigger.
Or alternatively, gamepad controls should not be hard to write for this. I might ask for them in the forums.
The differences seem fairly major. This is much more boardgame inspired, with turns and phases, more abstract units, cartoony graphics. Combat Mission is more simulationist. It resolves its turns in real time (and possibly plays in real time without turns), graphics that aspire to be realistic, elaborate command-and-control model, tracking individual soldiers and bullets and so on.
It sounds like the games are ultimately trying to represent the same thing, but Combat Mission attempts a physics-based simulation of WW2 combat whereas Second Front adds a layer of abstraction by simulating a board & counter game that covers same.
The perhaps key question: is Second Front more fun to play despite being less detailed & potentially less accurate?
No argument from me on the pricing issues. The BattleFront model and DRM are kind of obnoxious, and their charge for yearly bug fix patches is borderline ridiculous.
Picked this up yesterday and went through all the tutorials. Now playing the first Russian (Soviet) scenario since I prefer the Eastern Front in my WWII games. Mistakes will be made, but it’s fun so far.
Normally, I would mock your use of “fun” as if it were a meaningful metric, but I too wish to know the answer. So I shall be following this thread with interest until your question is finally and definitively addressed! :)
I’m still early into the game, but I find it significantly more “fun” that Combat Mission (the modern iterations, which is what I’ve played).
To be more specific (and avoid the “fun” swear word ;) ) I would say the turn structure here is significantly more snappy, since it’s IGUG and the resolution of many actions happens as you click, so the feedback between action and consequence is more clear. And the game, being what it is (an adaptation of ASL) is significantly nuanced in its modeling and mechanics (compared to most other squad based wargames).
That said, a lot of mechanics are obscured. Maybe there’s a comprehensive in-game documentation you can browse, but you can also read the ASL rule book and it will give you most of the non-explicit detail.
The manual is available for anyone to peruse here, but from just flipping through it, I’m concerned that it seems awfully vague for a putative videogame version of ASL. For instance, check out the section on “morale in detail” on page, uh, the pages aren’t numbered which is a bit of a red flag. But the section explains some basic mechanics, but not really the specifics of how they’re implemented in the game. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t seen the game in action, but that bit of the rules didn’t feel very “in detail” to me. I don’t need a faithful 1:1 ASL adaptation – I’d even venture a guess that I don’t want a faithful 1:1 adaptation of ASL – but I do want that level of rules transparency transparency if I’m going to assay this thing!
Played through the tutorials (there are a fair few, but most of them are short), and the first scenario of the Prokhorovka campaign. This is definitely the game that has the closest feel to ASL that I’ve played, and I’ve played just about all of them, but more like a streamlined ASL Starter Kit than full ASL.
Mostly well done, imo, but some of the UI stuff is a little cumbersome. Multi-level buildings are fiddly to deal with, as usual in these kinds of games. To be fair, multi-level buildings in cardboard ASL are kind of a pain in the ass, too. Also, the map with all the little squads can get busy and confusing.
For Tom: I think you might have issues – there are definitely some ‘black box’ aspects, as least as far as I can discern so far. You do generally get probability percentages for the various potential outcomes, and icons that show the factors impacting these probabilities. But perhaps not the clarity you desire.
I think tanks/ vehicles are pretty well implemented. I was very impressed with the tutorial that has you trying to drive a couple of platoons of tanks past some concealed infantry/ AT positions.