Hours Of War: Evenings Of Pleasure

The last time I used ‘innovative’ or ‘refreshing’ to describe a hex wargame, Good Queen Bess was on the throne and bear-burning and witch-baiting were legal. While HPS explore some unusual themes now and again and Matrix flirt with modernity occasionally, on the whole six-sided PC strategy seems firmly wedged in the past. Three cheers for Hours of War then. This Finnish-made WW2 operational wargame currently in open beta, blends the unorthodox and the familiar in a most enticing way.

Much of HoW’s novelty stems from the fact that you play alongside dozens of other human wargamers. Every army is divvied-up into battalions and each of those battalions is distributed at random to anyone that happens to log in. One game you might find yourself shepherding four of five Allied mechanized infantry companies still sandy from Omaha beach. The next you might be in charge of a clutch of hungry StuG tank destroyers or fragile-yet-fearsome artillery batteries.

There’s currently only one smallish scenario on offer (the struggle for Carentan) and many important features (command hierarchies, 2500-player campaigns, air cover, victory screens, drawing directly on the map…) are yet to be implemented, but the game is still capable of generating memorable moments. There’s a sense you just don’t get from other wargames of being in the midst of something huge and fluid – a sense of the importance of communication and coordination. As battles develop, the chat window begins to fill with confused sighting reports and panicky calls for support. Ad-hoc battle groups form and move off, defence lines re-orientate in response to perceived threats… It’s a lovely thing to be part of. Assuming Sauma Technologies manage to fill the feature gaps and come-up with a sensible subscription model, I can see myself  playing a lot of this over the coming year.

31 Comments

  1. Mark-P says:

    Oh wow, this sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads-up Tim. My beta request is submitted.

  2. postx says:

    Very interesting, I’ll take a further look on their website

  3. JB says:

    Sounds great, submitted my beta request just now. Should be interesting.

  4. Shadrach says:

    Theatre of War, Men of War, Order of War and now Hours of… the permutations of the “…of War” naming standard for WW2 games seems to be endless :)

    Graphics-wise it looks like one of the many many hexbased releases from Matrix but the online part seems kinda fun.

  5. JB says:

    I look forward to when they do run out of permutations, and we get a game called War of War.

  6. Deme says:

    Looks like the kind of strategy game we’ve seen too few of for the last decade.
    Too bad you didn’t put 2/506th E company on the last screen. ;D

  7. Ben Abraham says:

    I signed up to the Beta when I first read this post. Checked my email an hour later and I’m in!

  8. leeder krenon says:

    eventually someone will just call a game “OF WAR”.

  9. Hypocee says:

    Armageddon Empires, you probable heathen. This sounds like it might just travel a ways down that long-lost Road to Moscow, though, which is a very good thing.

  10. cowthief skank says:

    I thought the “Hours of War” thing was a joke in the post title. Only when I read Shadrach’s comment did I realise that actually IS the name.

  11. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    This sounds a little like a game I designed in my head. Infringement!

    Thanks for the link RPS I shall check it out!

  12. Shadrach says:

    I’ve been checking out their site, it looks much better than those couple screens posted here would suggest. Also its browser-based which means you can play it from work if need be :)

    Anyone else think its weird the units are not inside the hexes but on the intersections – that sure breaks the holy grail of hex, or maybe its just a bug. But I do wish the’d use proper unit symbols (infantry, armour etc) and not those big silly looking iron crosses and stars…

  13. metabaron says:

    There’s also the upcoming “Scourge of War”
    link to scourgeofwar.com

  14. Shalrath says:

    This is actually a really interesting game. It’s buggy as all hell, but it’s still bizarrely fun. I just annihilated two American paratroop battalions in close combat, indirect fired my AI ally, and lost my HQ unit, which refuses to die.

    I’ve also fired a good 30 minutes of salvos at ‘ghost’ units (moved/dead ones)

  15. GCU Speak Softly says:

    I think the location of the units is perhaps something to do with ZOC – just a guess though.

    • Shalrath says:

      These are units I’m in ‘close combat’ with. I get my whole log full of: “You deal 0 casualties in close combat with XXX unit”

  16. FatMat says:

    It looks greats. Signed up for the beta.

  17. malkav11 says:

    Wow, that sounds like an incredible way to get the feeling of actual war – many commanders of varying levels of competence directly communicating, panicking, making brilliant tactical strokes or errors of considerable stupidity.

    Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel like I’d be a total liability to my side if I were to try to get involved.

  18. MunnyFan says:

    I jumped into it for a few minutes just now but to be honest I had only a really faint idea what I was doing, could not find any unit stats other than the small health bar under the unit symbols.
    Also everything seemed VERY sluggish on my machine, even though it probably shouldn’t.

    I guess these are problems connected to this still being an early.. beta?

    Still don’t think I can enjoy it for the ‘game’ itself yet.

    • GCU Speak Softly says:

      Double clicking on a unit shows you a ‘Unit Card’ with more info.

  19. JB says:

    I signed up too, got accepted surprisingly quickly. (especially on a Sunday afternoon)

    It IS buggy as hell at the moment, but already lots of fun.

    @ FatMat: I believe I saw you in there, I’m signed up as digital_pariah =)

    @Shadrach: The Iron Cross / star icons are only for “observations” – enemy or friendly units that your units have spotted. Your own units do in fact show infantry/tank/arty/motorbike/whatever icons.

    • JB says:

      Also, I forgot to say:

      Ta muchly for the headsup on this one RPS, I’m very glad to be on the beta. Seems like my cup of tea.

  20. pnic says:

    Definitely worth checking out. Love RPS for showing us gems like this. Get the word out so we can make this game work!

  21. jRides says:

    According to the website:

    There will be penalties for night-time combat action (as we do not want to encourage people staying online 24/7 :)

    When is these night time penalties? Night is really the only time I get to sit down at peace and play anything.

    • JB says:

      I don’t think night-time in the real world will necessarily be night-time in the game. But I could be wrong, according to my wife it’s happened once or twice before.

  22. GCU Speak Softly says:

    When the players understand they should communicate with each other, it all goes swimmingly – just had such a game with JB and a dozen others. Once the bugs get ironed out – and there’s more than a few – it’s going to be a blast.

    • JB says:

      So who were you in that game GCU?

      As you say: with communication, and a good number of players per side, this is going to rock.

    • cmd says:

      My nick in game is the same as here. -Cmd

  23. nnnjj says:

    Just like GRID, FUEL, DIRT, BLUR…

  24. phillyone says:

    Great game play it all the time bugs being worked out Officers Clubs started going live soon.

  25. Shadrach says:

    Hey anyone know what’s happened to this? I wanted to give it a go and appears to be down? The developer site is down too… and their twitter says “game over”. I hope it just means they are out of public beta but then their site wouldn’t be down?