Gary Grigsby’s War In The West (Isn’t A Mission Statement)

Huah! -The Phantom Alt-Texter

My first thought on watching Gary Grigsby’s War in the West‘s launch trailer was “Who the devil is Gary Grigsby?” My second was a curious, vague disappointment that all the black and white archive footage wasn’t accompanied by Laurence Olivier’s dulcet tones orating sombrely about World War II. It wasn’t until some nifty hex-based picture editing appeared that I remembered I was watching a game trailer.

(On my first thought, it turns out that Gary Grigsby is one of the greats of PC strategy games. I’m frankly embarrassed to have not heard his name before. On my second, well, that just compounds my stupidity. The great Olivier died twenty-five years ago, and not even Rockstar have enough cash to pull in that sort of voice talent.)

War in the West is 2by3 Games’ turn-based strategy sequel to War in the East from 2010, and it charged from its landing boat earlier this week. Its focus is on the Western Front of World War 2, running from the summer 1943 invasions of Italy and Sicily through to the march into Berlin. It’s a long while since I personally delved into a serious wargame of this type, but there is still a part of me that perks up when phrases like “very realistic logistics system” and ” a weather system that tracks and models individual weather fronts” are dropped into the mix.

I refuse to tell you which part. Disgusting mind you have there.

21 Comments

  1. JiminyJickers says:

    This is one of those games I would really like to be able to play, but it is so very complicated. The previous version, also seemed too stuck in history with certain events happening on certain days, which seems limiting to me.

    One day I will have the guts to give one of these monster strategy titles a proper go.

    • damaki says:

      I was thinking basically the same and tried to get into the beta. I was in and boy, I can tell you one thing : this thing is not only complex, it is the absolute incarnation of complexity. It is madly complex. I cannot even imagine how many years of hardcore tabletop wargaming you need to go through to make sense of all the damn things in the GUI. Compared to Heart of Iron III, HoI 3 looks simple and intuitive…
      Wargamers wannabes: flee, this is not for you. Lightweight wargamers, not for you either.

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        Harlander says:

        How’s it compare to Aurora, my current benchmark for maximum detail and GUI complexity?

      • Ranger33 says:

        Really? I’ve dabbled with War in the East and found it surprisingly easy to grasp. The basic controls are all pretty straightforward, a couple clicks is all you need to move units around and attack. Now, when you move into managing the logistics and getting in-depth with attaching various units here and there it’s gets a bit messier.

        The UI does have a lot of buttons, but there’s nothing arcane about their functions.

    • darkath says:

      You should probably give HOI4 a go when it comes out later in 2015, it will be more easy to jump into that one than straight into a Gary Grisby’s War in the XXX.

  2. mariandavid says:

    It’s pretty good – exceedingly complex of course but rewarding if you have the time (and the money, like most Slitherine/Matrix/Ageod games this is expensive) and by all accounts with an effective editor if you want to change history.

  3. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Silly trailer. Obviously marketed at people already interested in the type of games, but even then, wouldn’t it be nice if the trailer would actually tell us something about the game?

    Then again, maybe it’s a movie, I don’t know. Well, I wouldn’t know from watching the trailer.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, it’s like, uh, thanks for the four minutes of footage you cribbed from World at War and then drew hexagons over, I guess?

    • Tremble says:

      That’s not a trailer but the (skippable) intro that plays when you launch the game. WitE has one too.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Ah, that makes more sense (although, still, four minutes is a long time for an intro)

  4. Morcane says:

    I’m always in for very deep and arcane looking sims, but looking at the prices on the Matrix Games website – 70 euros for the download edition?

    No thanks.

  5. Aetylus says:

    Has anyone played this, or War in the East or World at War. How do they compare to Hearts of Iron or Axis and Allies or any of the multitude of other WW2 strategic games? Do they justify triple the price tag of the others?

    • Napoleon15 says:

      Okay, so I haven’t played WiTW, but I have WiTE and WiTP. They’re probably the most detailed simulations of the WW2 theatres around. Detailed enough that in the case of War in The Pacific, you could be plugging away at the same campaign for real life months. WiTE and by extension, WiTW aren’t quite so hardcore in terms of time commitment, but they are pretty time consuming to play.

      The closest game I could liken them to is probably HoI, only they’re purely focused on the military aspect. There’s no diplomacy, no control of equipment production (though it is modeled by the game), no spying or anything like that. In WiTE at least, you’re basically in charge of the German or Soviet Army, moving divisions around, managing supply lines, air units etc. The scope of the games is pretty large, simply because there’s so much detail, right down the specific number of panzer tank models in a certain unit.

      It’s like the complete opposite of Panzer General or something. Whether or not that is a good thing is down to your taste in war games. If you’re not interested in ridiculous detail like that, then you’ll probably hate it and hate all the micromanagement of running the war. If you’re like me and you hate having generic strength counters for divisions with very little detail in units beyond basic stats, then you’ll love the games and find there’s nothing else quite like them.

      I get a lot of enjoyment from managing my panzer divisions, keeping track of their losses, attrition rate, experience of the individual units in the divisions etc. I guess it’s kind of a marmite kind of game. The pricing, like all the Slitherine\Matrix games is absolutely brutal, and as much as I hate to encourage some of their pricing, it really comes down to how interested you are in this kind of game.

      There’s a lot of their software catalogue that is overpriced, hasn’t been touched for bug fixes in a long time, no longer has dev support and is still being sold at premium pricing when there really is no proper justification for it. However, WiTE is certainly one of the better products they’ve released, IMO.

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    Phasma Felis says:

    Okay, from 1:01 to 1:03 there’s a shot of a humongous eight-barreled AA gun with eight nattily-dressed men and women sitting on a half-circular bench on the back of it. What the hell is that thing, and what are they doing with it? I assume it’s some sort of demonstration to keep the civvies happy, as much as I’d like to think that it’s powered by panache and each sitter provides the juice to fire one barrel.

    • All is Well says:

      Oh, I know this! That’s a ship-mounted, eight-barreled Quick-Firing (QF) 2-pounder Mark VIII, aka a “Multiple Pom-Pom” or “Chicago Piano”. I don’t know exactly what all the people are doing but I presume a lot of them are actually the crew required to operate it, and some are just onlookers?

  7. Rensdyr says:

    Isn’t this complexity just too much for one person? I can imagine this being a much better experience in some sort of co-op mode.

  8. Shiloh says:

    I’ve not played War in the West, but I did buy War in the East in the Matrix sale recently, it’d been on my watch list for a long time. I’ve pottered around the edges of it so I can’t yet offer a judgment on the AI (I’m getting used to the mechanics of the game in the Velikie Luki tutorial) but!!! the manual is 340+ pages long so it’s not for the faint-hearted, or possibly even those who don’t know who Gary Grigsby is.

    All that being said, not since PzC: Smolensk have I had such nerdy, hexy, OstFront-related fun.

    • RobearGWJ says:

      First off, the price is not much more than a AAA console or PC game, and less than (for example) that famous architecture/puppet mashup with it’s plentiful add-ons. If you buy two $40 games a month, you can easily take one month and afford this one. Not to mention what the cost amortizes to over time as you play.

      WitW has significant changes to it. The whole air system has been ripped and replaced with a standalone system that takes more from “Bombing the Reich” than it does from WitE or WitP. This means you can get deep, deep into the air game, or just hand it to the AI, or anything in between, but you no longer have to run air missions manually with the ground combat movement. That’s a huge change for the better.

      Logistics has been revamped into a hex by hex tracking of every ton of freight and personnel and units using rail movement. Depots become a visible network on the map, and individual routes can bottleneck with too much traffic. Supply is less of a guessing game and is more visible, and paradoxically that makes it easier to manage.

      The Support Unit system has been revamped as well. Instead of having to carefully manage a numerical system of priorities to determine which unit gets support from which HQ, they now are assigned to combat units directly (always helps that unit, never helps others), or to an HQ (helps subordinate if it passes a commitment check, but is available to more than one unit). Simple trade-off. Support units are also always set to refit so you don’t have to fiddle with 17 supply settings for each HQ. Much, much simpler.

      There are also 11 one-page guides to common processes in the game. How to set up and follow through on invasions; how to manage logistics; how to run the air war; all sorts of things you can print out and use as a guide instead of flipping through the manual.

      And finally, find the one hour or so Youtube playthrough of Operation Husky. If that makes sense to you, you’re going to like the game. If it’s a blur of confusing tables and data, maybe the game is not for you. Since there is no demo, that’s the easy way to learn about the game and how it plays.

      • MartinWisse says:

        I never buy $40 games, certainly not two per month. Like everybody else sane, I buy my games when they’re cheap in a bundle or sale, unless they’re games I absolutely have to play right now. (Which is basically Football Manager and nothing else.)