Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris PC
Published by: Matrix Games
Developed by: VR Designs
It would be easy to look at the screenshots of Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris and come to the conclusion that this may be one of the more inviting wargames released to date. Certainly the cartoon drawings that have been used on the Unit Troops Tab would tend to imply that efforts have been made to make the game more appealing to those who aren’t bona fide grognards. Don’t let these cartoon drawings fool you however. Decisive Campaigns is a serious wargame that will require time to learn and far longer to master. It offers dynamic campaigns that should make the replay value good with subsequent attempts at the campaigns offering up a different experience each time. The game also has a few tricks up its sleeve to offer the seasoned grognard something different.
Decisive Campaigns, a hex-based and turn-based wargame, offers a total of five scenarios for you to tackle. You can play Case White, Case Yellow, and Operation Sea Lion as well as two mini-scenarios Bzura and Netherlands. The first three of these can be strung together in campaign mode with events from one campaign having a knock-on effect in the subsequent campaigns. The scenarios are enjoyable but it’s rather unfortunate that there are only a few of them. The game offers various assist settings, multiple difficulty levels and even supports Play by Email.
One of VR Designs previous titles, Advanced Tactics: World War II, was particularly popular for providing both random map and scenario generators. These two features helped to ensure that the replay value of the game was incredibly high. It seems rather odd then that Decisive Campaigns has neither of these features and limits you to the included scenarios only. This seems like a rather bizarre decision and it definitely impacts on the replay value of the game and certainly at first glance Advanced Tactics appears to be better value for money if you don’t own either of the games.
Whilst the lack of campaigns, random map and scenario generators is disappointing, it has to be noted that the replay value isn’t as poor as you might think. This is mostly due to Action Cards in the game. When you begin a campaign you’ll have a certain amount of Political Points that can be used to purchase Action Cards. These cards all have different costs and can provide you with military intelligence, buy you more time to complete a scenario and call in favours that can swing the battle in your favour. All of the generals in the game come with their own Action Cards and can amass several of them through the course of a scenario. Some general will have penalties imposed on them too. Both the Action Cards (which can make a variety of actions happen) and the penalties help to make subsequent plays of the same scenario feel quite different from each other.
In regards to the game’s presentation, Decisive Campaigns is pretty standard for a wargame. Battle depictions are extremely simplistic but you can opt for an in-depth statistical view of them if you wish. The top-down visuals look clean and are easy on the eyes but they’re certainly nothing special. You can choose to use NATO symbols or silhouettes on the counters. There are three levels of zoom and when zoomed in completely you can display the stacked units separately and you can also view extra details on the counters and hexes too. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll see cartoon drawings on the Unit Troops Tab which appear when you click on a counter on the map. I don’t mind the look of these drawings but they do seem a little unusual for a PC wargame. The time taken to process a turn seems rather long and it can take more than a few minutes on the larger maps which some will find a little irritating.
Decisive Campaigns is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The game contains no speech and all information is given visually through the use of text, numbers and icons. All objectives are given in text and can be recalled at any time. The game’s tutorial is delivered exclusively via text and serves as a very brief introduction to the game. The only comment I would make about the tutorial is that I don’t feel it goes far enough in helping you to get to grips with the game. I do appreciate that Decisive Campaigns is in a genre where you are expected to read the game manual to gain a full understanding of the game but the tutorial should give you more information than simply the bare basics and sadly the one included here doesn’t do a good enough job.
Even the most seasoned grognard will find something to like in Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris. The inclusion of action cards helps to not only add variety to the scenarios but also a certain amount of unpredictability too. It could be argued that the game doesn’t provide enough scenarios however and this would be a fair criticism. The absence of an editor compounds this problem as it prevents you from creating your own scenarios and having a free supply of user created scenarios to download. Still, what’s here is enjoyable and fans of Advanced Tactics: World War II would do well to consider the game.