Unity of Command is an innovative and refreshing operational-level wargame that covers the entire 1942/43 Stalingrad Campaign on the Eastern Front.
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Mostly Positive (514) - 79% of the 514 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Oct 17, 2012
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May 9

UoCII Developer Diary 22 – Halted at Metz


September 1944. Hitler’s armies are retreating in disorder after their defeat in the Normandy hedgerows. The Allies keep up the chase across France, but General George Patton’s 3rd US Army is beset by supply difficulties. The Germans finally manage to re-establish a defensive line around the heavily fortified medieval city of Metz. According to orders issued by Hitler, fortress commanders are to hold this position at all costs…

Encouraged by good feedback from our previous post, we decided to start on a series of short trailers about our game mechanics, old and new. The story starts with the 3rd Army actions following the long and bloody stalemate at Metz. It is through a series of coincidences that we are again going on about stragglers (sorry!) but I hope the trailer is worth it for everybody. There is also a lengthy development update at the end of the post, as usual.

Halted at Metz
The Battle of Metz resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, and while the exact German losses remain uncertain, it is known that the 3rd US Army took at least 75.000 prisoners during the operation. For the US forces bogged down in the mud, this created a significant logistical problem, in addition to other hardships.

The scenario starts in November, after weeks of horrific stalemate. The Germans had a moment to regroup and now they’re dug-in. The confluence of rain-swollen rivers of Moselle and Seille creates a natural obstacle to frontal assault and the terrain has all turned to mud. There won’t be any grand sweeping maneuvers here. The battle of Metz will be a slugfest.

https://youtu.be/VQXbNybumIY

The city itself is protected by a deadly network of heavily armed forts with siege guns, some of them complete with medieval moats (that still work perfectly against tanks). The two US divisions shown in the video have the right idea as they go into the attack, trying to outflank the fortification.

Advancing US forces are taking prisoners along the way. If they take enough during one turn, they will provide valuable intel. In this case, the 6th Armored managed to gather that intel, but it’s just more bad news for the 3rd Army: the road to Saarbrücken is heavily guarded by German armor. Airpower could help with this threat, but the weather would need to improve first.

What would you do? Would you wait for air support to deal with the panzers? Order a full frontal attack on Metz? Bypass the city entirely, waiting for lack of supply to catch up with the defenders? With every passing day the industrial production of the Ruhr and the Saar continues contributing to enemy war effort or, in game terms, your prestige sinks lower and lower.

It’s the UI, Stupid
Realistically, most of our time is spent working on the UI. It is simply the most important aspect of a strategy game, period. However great you make the game mechanically, most of the good stuff will remain forever buried unless you make it accessible. With that in mind, we keep adding and streamlining stuff, so here it goes.



We have asked the 3rd Army HQ to highlight any bridges that can be blown in this turn. This removes all units from the map for clarity, highlights the bridges, and shows the orange banner in upper right. We’ve found that the banner is often needed. Sometimes via the hotkeys and UI buttons you’ll switch the game to some unknown state and be left wondering: where on earth have my units gone?!

The HQ itself is shown in a pretty basic configuration, with all of its branches at default levels, i.e. not upgraded. This HQ provides the following actions (left to right): bridge repair, bridge destruction, entrenchment, emergency re-supply, suppressive fire, no retreat, deploy and reorg. Actions are then grouped into branches: Force Pool, Intel, Operations, Logistics and Engineering.

The division into branches is inspired by the general staff system used in western militaries: G-1 for personel, G-2 for intel etc. Each HQ can be upgraded differently during the campaign, giving the player some interesting choices about how to adapt to the situation and his own play style. In general, upgrades will provide the HQ with new and advanced actions, such as recon-in-force, security units, etc.

Short Updates
The work continues on many fronts, and I’m never sure how useful are these short updates that I give at the end of my blog posts. Let me know in the comments if you think they are. But first, here is a screenshot of the Italian peninsula from way above. It’s pretty to look at, eh?



We’ve kept adding more and more workflows of the “bridge destroy” type shown above (and mentioned in Developer Diary 20 to number around 36). To be honest, I’ve lost count of them, but now that we understand how to add them systematically, we just keep adding more wherever we feel it’s needed.

We also started working on a human-readable AI Playbook. To explain: our AI has always been a heuristic one, not the deep learning kind that’s getting all the media coverage lately. We’d translate some part of a player’s thought process into computer code, which we then call a tactic. The job of the AI is to look for tactics that are applicable in any given situation.

The playbook is the next step in our AI development: it’s a human-readable catalog of tactics that is accessible to team members who are not programmers. It took some time to nail the correct format, and I don’t think scenario designers and players will be able to contribute to the playbook directly just yet. It should be a great tool for this though: when the AI programmer and the scenario designer sit down to discuss, they will have a common language to describe what the AI is doing. Even better, they will be able to record any new tactical ideas in a way that’s understandable to both. I expect great things!

At the last minute Daniel has noticed there is a historical error in one of the images in this post. Can you spot it?

The work continues!

Cheers,
Tomislav
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March 28

En Route to Rouen



August 1944: after months of hard fighting, the Allies are finally out of Normandy. In front of them, the Wehrmacht has all but disintegrated, having stood its ground up until the breaking point. Supply is now the biggest concern for the Allies. Taking the large port of Antwerp will allow them to freely operate their vast armies and air forces in months to come.

Now that the game has been officially announced, I’ve decided to change the post format for this diary a little. Previously, I focused heavily on what we were doing internally. I was giving a lot of technical info, and even airing our own doubts if the project was going to get completed at all. Big thanks to all who’ve had the patience to bear with these “developer confessions”. The new format should be much more player oriented. We will be going through concrete examples of play, the historical context, and how the game mechanics tie everything together. I hope you enjoy it!

If you’ve been reading our previous developer diaries, you’re likely already familiar with some of the key new features in Unity of Command II, like fog of war, HQ intel, and stragglers. Today we’ll show how these new features tie together to form a tight little gameplay loop, that gives an entirely new dimension to the game.

The Route Ahead
In the screenshot, US 1st Army is in position on the left bank of the Seine estuary, and is looking to jump across the river at Rouen. En route to Rouen however, they need to deal with German forces stationed around the town of Évreux.


Check out the blue dots just north of Évreux: center of the map, right behind that panzer IV. Those are stragglers: routed enemy elements trying to make their way back to their HQ. We’ve talked about the idea of stragglers in our very first dev diary. The blue icon shows their approximate strength in steps, and the orange symbol on the 3-step straggler is important – but read on.

A Peek into FoW
Usually, you want to capture enemy stragglers anyway, before the enemy gets to reorganize them and use as reinforcements. There’s an added bonus though: prisoners provide valuable intel to your HQ. After you capture a set number of stragglers (in one turn) they reveal locations of enemy units hidden within Fog of War. Let’s take a look at how that works.


In this example, first the 30th US infantry division attacks an armor kampfgruppe. The attack is successful and the enemy unit is removed from the map. It’s not completely destroyed though, and you can see the routed troops join an existing group of stragglers in the rear. To make sure they don’t reorganize, the Sherman moves in and mops up, taking prisoners and clearing the road. This results in valuable new intel, and some enemy units are located on the map, just across the river. Turns out, the road from Paris to Rouen is swarming with enemies!

As the Sherman (actually, 5th US Armored) moves in and takes the 3-step enemy straggler as prisoners, the prisoner counter on the HQ sheet (bottom right of screen) reflects this change. The prisoner target, set by HQ intel, has been reached, which means that HQ intel can now locate enemy units one hex inside fog of war. These units are shown on the map as intel markers. You also get a notification in the bottom left of the screen, just above the quick-select HQ buttons.



Tactical Choices
The stragglers mechanic not only prevents bloody, wipeout scenarios, and thus addresses one of the main issues from the original Unity of Command. It also gives you more tactical choices: attack head-on, encircle, or mop up routed enemy units? Gather valuable intel and prepare for the next turn, or rush forward without full knowledge of what lays ahead?

Sometimes you will have to deal with stragglers simply to keep the roads open, and be able to advance. One or two steps of enemy stragglers shouldn’t be a problem. Your units are able to capture them simply by moving over them while advancing:


On the other hand, three stragglers on the map represent 5.000 to 10.000 routed and disorganized enemy soldiers, and that’s a problem that needs to be dealt with! Moving right through them will cost at least 3 movement points. Alternatively, you can go around those stragglers, but either way sometimes that means that the prize will remain just outside your reach. Here’s that same Sherman unit, in a slightly different situation, with 3 stragglers instead of 2 on the road. Notice the choice to go around or mop up:



Branching Out
How many stragglers need to be captured to reveal enemy units in FoW? Will HQ intel only reveal units close to the frontline or further away? This is all still in active testing, and we’re tweaking some of this stuff heavily.

There are further interesting tie-ins, to other game systems, but those will have to wait for another post. As a teaser, HQ intel can be upgraded as part of the campaign game, and it becomes temporarily suppressed when the HQ is out of supply or gets routed.

We’re really trying to load this one with depth folks, and I hope you all like the final product.

Take care and AMA in comments as usual.

Cheers,
Tom

https://store.steampowered.com/app/809230/Unity_of_Command_II/
2 comments Read more

Reviews

“Wargames this fresh and friendly tend to inspire deep loyalty.”
86/100 – PC Gamer

“A traditional hex-based wargame of unusual elegance, one that is perfect for genre newcomers but equally satisfying to veterans."
9/10 – PC Power Play

“Accessible yet deep, attractive and with an AI which teaches you the core of the game by beating you around the head.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

Unity of Command II is coming soon!

About This Game

Unity of Command is an innovative and refreshing operational-level wargame that covers the entire 1942/43 Stalingrad Campaign on the Eastern Front. Playable from both the Axis and Soviet perspective, it strives to recreate the strategy, the forces involved and the general tension of that crucial period in World War II.

Experience the highly fluid, enormously large battles of maneuver in a turn-based strategy setting. Take command in this mobile, back-and-forth sort of war where logistics and poor weather are often the decider, and defeat and victory are sometimes just a mile, or a day, apart.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS:Windows XP
    • Processor:1.6 GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive:150 MB HD space
    Recommended:
    • Processor:2.0 GHz
    • Memory:2 GB RAM
    Minimum:
    • OS:10.6
    • Processor:1.6 GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive:150 MB HD space
    Recommended:
    • Processor:2.0 GHz
    • Memory:2 GB RAM
    • Processor:1.6 GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Hard Drive:150 MB HD space

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