Patton Recognition: Armoured Commander Hits 1.0

Armoured Commander [official site] is one of the most elaborate roguelikes I’ve ever played. So elaborate, in fact, that I struggled to reload my tank’s main gun during my first attempt and ended up trying to crash into a truck. The game plants you and your crew in an M4 sherman tank and, as the title suggests, has you command that tank and its crew as they move through occupied territory following the D-Day invasion. It’s a remarkably intricate game, a proper simulation in roguelike clothes, and the 1.0 release has just arrived. It’s free.

As with all matters related to historical wargaming and vehicular simulation, it is wiser to direct you toward the words of Tim Stone in Flare Paths past rather than attempting to bluff my way through the bocage:

“Free low-tech WW2 tank title Armoured Commander serves up some of the most intense and evocative campaign experiences in its class. My last Normandy tour was a classic example of the game at its permadeath-dealing best.”

What follows is a field diary of the push toward Berlin, taking in close calls, glorious victories and a finale that reeks of both glory and the emptiness of the aftermath.

“By the time we found ourselves locked in a hopeless close-range duel with a Panther SW of Rennes on Aug 3, we’d liberated 39 map areas, destroying 51 enemy units in the process. I felt like we’d done our bit, and – though disappointed to be taking no further part in the push to Berlin – was pleased to see that ‘Tim Stone’ was the only KIA amongst the crew. Somehow the grievously wounded Andre, Fred, Joe and Jesse had managed to bale out before the inevitable fire took hold.”

The final release polishes some campaign content (there are two campaigns; Patton’s American 4th and the Canadian 4th) and tweaks some elements for balance.

General Game Stuff
– Lowered the volume of bow MG sound effect by 10 db
– Added animated credits menu
– LW and MG enemy units now less likely to be hit with smoke from friendly action
– Changed the lowest rank for British & Commonwealth tank crews to Trooper (Tpr.)
– Campaign day map events (quests, etc.) no longer trigger right at the start of the day
– Added a confirmation prompt when trying to resupply in the campaign day map

Campaigns
– Completed day descriptions and map locations for Patton’s Best campaign
– Created a new map image for the Patton’s Best campaign when I realized that the final few locations would not fit on the existing map!
– Completed day descriptions and map locations for Canada’s Best campaign
– Fixed a crash in the Canada’s Best campaign when the calendar reached 8/31

Although this will be the final release from the current developer, the project is open source and a continuation is not out of the question.

“After just over a year of part-time development, Armoured Commander is complete! I just compiled and uploaded the stable 1.0 version. I will continue to issue minor updates to fix bugs and crashes, but otherwise this project is finished.

“Of course, ArmCom is open source, so anyone is welcome to fork the project and develop their version of it further if they abide by the terms of the GPL. I’d be more than happy to pass on the torch if there’s a Roguelike developer out there who’s interested in taking this on.”

The idea of taking on development is even more baffling to me than the idea of taking on the helm of a Sherman again. Tanks have helms, right?

You can download Tank Commander here. The Windows version is self-explanatory, Linux is hosted on GitHub and the game “reportedly” runs on OSX using Crossover.

7 Comments

  1. JB says:

    This is excellent news about an excellent game. Normally Flare Path makes my Friday, but you’ve pipped Tim to the post, Adam. I’m sure there won’t be any repercussions…

    • Shiloh says:

      Agreed. Downloaded and ready to install. I’m just idly wondering if any genius could figure out how to replace the ASCII vehicles with little pictures of tanks/HMGs/vehicles etc? Like Dwarf Fortress?

      • Pantalaimon says:

        Well, I think unlike DF the game doesn’t use allow the use of a sprite sheet in addition to the alphanumeric one (though this is something that other developers might add, if they haven’t already).

        You can might have some success modifying parts of the ‘terminal8x12_armcom’.png file if you want to turn little blocks into pictographs (although you have very few pixels to use!), bearing in mind that the game probably uses them in multiple places.

        At this time I would just play the game and you’ll probably find you get used to parsing the graphics pretty quickly.

        • Rev_Sudasana says:

          ArmCom uses ASCII code 9 as the main display character for tanks, which is not used in any text output, so it would be fine to change. But as mentioned, you only have 8×12 pixels to work with.

  2. bamjo says:

    Well, I got my crew killed on the first day of the campaign. Don’t charge an entrenched pak40, apparently.

    I love the detail of this simulation, but I am having trouble translating my experience from tactics games like close combat or first person sims like WWII online. Figuring out the correct tactical decisions feels more trial and error, where in a game with more graphical fidelity it would be more intuitive.

    I like it enough to keep trying though.

  3. Askis says:

    Tried it, really didn’t like it.
    The main reason being enemy movement.
    Each turn, you can either pivot your tank or drive forwards or backwards, normal movement generally moves you one space, but sometimes you just stay in place for no obvious reason.
    Enemies though? They happily move two spaces in one turn and they can apparently move and pivot on the same turn.
    I’ve had a Panther move from my front right sector to my rear left sector in one turn, passing me by, while keeping his frontal armor pointed at me somehow.
    I tried to kill it with HVAP ammo, roll a 12 which knocks my gun out, then the Panther kills my Jumbo.

    • bamjo says:

      Yeah I am really struggling with the movement system. Combat starts with enemies appearing at a seemingly random distance. If they start close they will move right past you, causing a turning race that the sherman will lose, and if they start at a distance they always seem to have a higher hit chance than my novice crew.

      The “close” and “medium” ranges don’t seem to have equal weight for the enemy compared to my tank for movement or accuracy purposes.

      I think it is a case of lots going on under the hood that is obfuscated for the player, rather than a simulation issue. I just wish things were explained a little better. But it’s a real roguelike, so a steep learning curve comes with the territory.