Commander: Europe at War (Matrix Games) - My personal review and verdict

After playing a few turns of the Tutorial, I decided to give the campaign a whirl and to see what this game had to offer. It also has 6 scenarios which are all major operations of WW2, like Barbarossa, D-Dat etc.

You have the choice of playing either the Axis or the Allies, you can change if either side has a handicap or advantage, plus options to include fog of war, random research,  oil consumption and a very interesting idea, where the war does not end in 1945, so you could play way beyond and finish, I guess, when one of the victory conditions have been met.

This game plays on a large scale hex map, so units are pretty much on a divisional/brigade size, and they have also included warship battlegroups , squadrons of submarines and air units (fighter, tactical and strategic bombers). The warship and submarines units can move in any sea hex, which opens up a new challenge of fighting a war on the high seas, as the map extends right across the Atlantic to the eastern land fringes of Canada and the US. There is a constant flow of convoys leaving Canada and the US for Britain, so there are plenty of opportunities for the U-boats.

It plays in player turns, and each turn with a set sequence of play, so for those who do not like Real Time Strategy games – your safe! Your war effort always depends on available Production Points and resources, manpower and oil. All cities generate PP and there are various hexes which generate resources and oil fields, but these are few in number,  so these can be some of the most important factors to consider when planning any strategy, as making sure your rare and precious resources are safe from the enemies clutches! The Allies also get PP from the convoys from Canada and US, so these are going to be important targets for the Axis.

Countries enter the War as they did, unless you declare war on them, and when you do declare war on a country, they will surrender once you have captured their capital city. Other countries enter the war in their proper timeline (Italy, Hungary etc), and once they do you have full control of their units, but until they do join, you can do nothing with them except build up their forces with whatever PP they generate.

With the PP and resources you can build new units of all types, but you will not get them all straight away as they all take time to build, and some units  like warship battles groups can take 8 turns to build. There is research screen where you can assign your preference for research in certain areas.

Units have many different attributes for different situations, and these attributes can increase as you successfully research in different areas. These attributes are easily seen by just clicking on their counter.  Units also gain experience with every battle they are in.

Verdict.

This is a very enjoyable game, with enough detail for a seasoned gamer to be happy with and easy enough for a novice to learn. It does have similarities to other games, and to me it is like a mixture of The Third Reich and Panzer General but with more detail, smoother and better graphics and more expansive map area. Due to its grand scale, it does rely more on strategy rather than tactics, but an odd inclusion in this game which opens up all sorts of possibilities is that there are no Neutral countries – everyone can be invaded!

Matrix games said this “Easy to play – hard to master game play...”, which from the amount I have played, I would have to agree. I think this game has staked its permanent place on my hard drive, and my overall score out of 10, I would give it a 9.

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Comment by Roger Morley on May 14, 2012 at 11:33am

I may well take you up on your offer, as it would be fun. I think I would have to get some more playing hours under my belt first, as although I did play the campaign game, it was quite a while ago

Comment by Ty Snouffer on May 13, 2012 at 3:31pm

If you ever want to do PBeM let me know. I'd want to choose a shorter scenario though. I've been playing all of WWII since '39 against one opponent for quite awhile and we're only at Barbarossa!

Comment by Roger Morley on May 13, 2012 at 1:43pm

Ty...many thanks for the link and all of the info. Certainly looks as if they have changed/modded quite a bit. It has got me in the mood for playing this game again, on top of Panzer Grenadier, building my aircraft and paining my soldiers.

I think I may have to forget about sleeping....lmao

Comment by Ty Snouffer on May 13, 2012 at 8:54am

Sure thing. The upgrade is called Grand Strategy and can be found here: http://www.slitherine.com/ceaw_gs2

I have to admit their distribution messaging is a bit muddied so I think in some cases if you buy C:EaW Grand Strategy comes with it, in other caes it doesn't. 

It is a community effort but is promoted through both Sliterhine and Matrix Games. It adds/changes things like:

  • Airborne divisions and para-drops
  • Allows PC players to play PBEM versus Mac players.
  • German SS and Soviet Guards Elite Units
  • Amphibious landings against defended coastal hexes
  • Geo-political elements, which include
    • French armistice (which the axis may accept or reject)
    • Early Italian entry if insufficient allied naval presence in the Med
    • Tension in the Balkans
    • Spanish activation as axis or allied minor ally
    • Turkey activation as axis or allied minor ally
    • Finnish armistice
    • Romanian and Bulgaria surrender and activation as allied minor ally
    • Consequences for allied aggression (e.g., UK invasion of Ireland).
  • Canadian, Australian, Polish and Indian Commonwealth units and leaders
  • Headquarter units
  • More and greater variability of leadership ranging from Army Groups (Fronts), Armies and Corps
  • Ferry crossings
  • Ability to swap positions of two units of the same service type (i.e., ground, air or naval).
  • Reinforcement of sub groups at sea
  • Leased air bases (Azores, Iceland, Greenland)
  • Malta naval and air bases factor into the interdiction and counter-interdiction of axis supply of North Africa
  • Allied Interdiction of Swedish Iron Ore to German
  • Scripted construction of Atlantic Wall Fortresses
  • Many many more improvement - too many to list to here! 
  • The GS expansion is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish & Russian.  
Comment by Roger Morley on May 13, 2012 at 3:07am

TY - thanks for the comment, and you will have to drop me the links for the community made upgrade, as this sounds very interesting

Comment by Ty Snouffer on May 12, 2012 at 8:30pm

Nice review. I've been quite happy with the purchase. PLays very well via PBeM and I'd add there is an incredible community-made, free upgrade that really takes the game to another level in all the best ways.

Comment by Roger Morley on March 16, 2011 at 6:12am
It definitely plays more like Third Reich with a little bit of Panzer General thrown in, and since these games are some of my all time favourites, this game is just a winner.
Comment by Lawrence Hung on March 16, 2011 at 12:54am
Hmm...maybe a good addition to my hard drive too.

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