I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the Beta build of Panzer Corps. It successfully recaptures the spirit of the old Panzer General games, but also modernizes the formula to be both accessible and entertaining. It’s not the most complex of videogame wargames, but it’s so easy to pick up and play, and very enjoyable.
In the interests of giving you a better idea of how the basic gameplay works, I’ve put together a step-by-step walkthrough of the first training mission. Of course, the main scenarios are far more complex than this, and feature a much greater range (and number) of units – as well as the ability to bring reinforcements onto the battlefield, but the first tutorial does introduce the basic look and feel of the game.
So I elected to play as the Axis force, and the first screen I’m presented with is this. It tells me how many turns the game has left, the weather (which can have an effect on the combat), and the date.
From there I’m presented with a view of my army. In the screenshot below I’ve circled them in red. I have three battalions of infantry, and one tank. A fourth infantry stands ready just north of the screenshot.
The bunker (circled in yellow) is more for aesthetic effect in this tutorial, but in other missions, they can play a crucial role.
On the other side of the map (scrolling right) is the allied enemy. Two infantry battalions and an artillery. The artillery can be a pain, but this is a training mission, so unsurprisingly, the degree of difficulty is way down the bottom.
So on selecting my first infantry battalion, the movement grid pops up. Notice the different symbols in the hexes I can travel? This is because this infantry comes with transportation – if I pack the soldiers in the truck they can move further. They’ll automatically revert to being ‘at ready’ at the start of the next turn, but if they to move that extra distance, they won’t be able to fire on the enemy.
By pulling up the unit’s stat card, I can figure out roughly how powerful the unit will be in battle – useful for comparing units before sending them into the fray. Here we have the Tank. It has fuel and ammo to be aware of, and a block of combat stats in the bottom. For the stat fanatics each unit tracks success in battle, kills and the like separately.
I advance all of my units their maximum allowance and hit ‘end turn.’ For this tutorial the enemy is prepared to sit still and do nothing. This will change in the main game scenarios.
So now it’s time for a battle. By using my two units to the far north and south of the main force I am able to eliminate the infantry in the city. In the process once of my units takes a significant amount of damage. Now, for a price that can be healed, or I can even upgrade my unit’s effectiveness in future battles. But I still have a bunch of untouched units, and the enemy is down to two, so I’m confident in my numbers. I move the rest forward.
So this is where things get a little bit more tricky. A head-on assault on the city would be risky here. Artillery have the ability to offer assisting fire to friendly units they’re adjacent to, and that can hurt a great deal so I really do need to deal with that artillery first.
I work my units around the flanks, and the infantry hits the artillery first. It’s a comprehensive win, and the artillery is forced to withdraw….
Straight into the clutches of another infantry unit. The artillery is eliminated. The three remaining units are able to sweep in (led by the tank for extra initial impact) and destroy the enemy unit. With no more enemies left on the map, it’s game over, right? Oops, no! I forgot to capture the two allied cities, which still bear the allied flag.
Capturing a city simply involves sitting a unit on the city. At the start of the next turn, the city converts to your faction.
And that’s it! I’ve won the first battle. Now there’s only 30 or so left to play through…