Since Computer War in Europe Two (CWIE-2 or CWIE-II) is due out in a very short time I thought I would give a Tour de force.

I have been part of the play-testing team for the last two years and thought it might be a good time to share some images, screen play and insight into the game.

CWIE-2 in my opinion is a very excellently designed game. We tried to incorporate as much as the original SPI game as well as the most current DG version. We also added a lot of options so that you can make CWIE be the game you think it should be.

Also, going forward the game will be supported and patched up to include more advanced options and to fix any post release glitches that may arise.

It has been a long and monotonous journey. Originally drafted by Steve Graham-Merrett (the project lead and concept person) I met Karl Lean (the programmer/designer) and Jerry Webber (one of the lead testers). Shortly after that (a day or two) I met Kent Haunschild (another lead tester and one of the scenario setup persons, myself being the other).

Steve, Jerry and myself embarked on a 3 way play-test of 1939 WIE to test out where Karl had the code at that time. My minds a bit rusty being this about two years ago, but IIRC, Steve was the CW, Jerry the Germans and I found myself as the Soviets (funny, I have now played the Germans more then any other nationality in the game, I have been though Poland so much the sight of Polish setup makes me nauseated). Well I no longer remember all the details of that play-test other then chasing down a host of bugs, glitches, gotcha's and finding out how the dang thing worked (back then we had no manual, this was just recently created, so you newbie get a manual after all are stumbling a rounds).

Anyway, I have as I have stated before play-tested the snot out of this game, both as the Germans, Soviets, and Western Allies, although the majority of my time has been as an Axis commander in Poland, France and my goodness Russia.

Originally there was only one campaign game the 1939 campaign game. I was foolish enough to take it upon my self to setup all the War in the West scenarios and campaigns, that led to me setting up all the War in the East scenarios and campaigns and then creating all the War in Europe campaigns, well most of them anyway. Somewhere along the way the task was so great that Karl had Kent and I team up to setup all the scenarios/campaigns and double check all the work. So basically I got the skeleton in place and Kent fleshed them out. I say it was a lot of work.

Kent also 'painted' the entire map and I created all the counters (both the SPI and DG ones).

During all this time we were continuing play-testing three way campaign games and a few of us were running the 1940, 1942, 1943 and 1944 scenarios and campaigns through the paces.

Wow, I did not mean to unload all that. Originally I was just going to post a Tour de Force lets begin that now.

Tour de Force

After you install CWIE-2 (which is a rather simple and fast process) and you first fire up the game you'll be presented with the following main screen okay there is a splash screens of sorts and I am not going to spoil it for you:

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Hotseat allows you to play solo or if you and a buddy are sharing a laptop you guys can take turns that way, there is no security with passwords or anything like that.

PBEM allows you to play with up to two other players and is going to be the most common method of play, and this type of play is password protected.

Load allows you to resume a saved solo or head-to-head game or load PBEM turn.

Resume allows you to resume from that last previously saved spot.

Editor allows you to create custom scenarios and campaigns (after release we will be locking the default scenarios-all 10 of them, and all 17 of the campaign games, this way we or the WIE community see next hyper link, have a base game to play by, this also allows the players to create their own custom scenarios/campaigns and then they can if they like share those with their friends).

Link to WarInEur list:
http://mailman.halisp.net/mailman/listinfo/warineur

Quit allows you to quit and get back to windows.

Well that wraps that up, just kidding, not sure how much I can post in one blog but lets see).

For this blog or demonstration I am going to run a hotseat game and walk you through the interface.

From that initial screen I click on Hotseat button and then I am presented with the Select Game dialog box.

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From here you can see that across the top we have a Front radio button where we can select which front were interested in (War in Europe, War in the West and War in the East), next down is the Type here we can select the type of game we want (Campaign, Scenario, Custom Campaign or Custom Scenario and lastly on the left hand column depending on which Front and Type you selected will be presented the available campaign or scenario along with a short description on the right and near the bottom the basic Victory Conditions.

As you can see from this screen shot you can see the seven WIE campaign games, for this demonstration I selected the 1939 one and then I click the Next button which brings up the Player and Game Names dialog box.

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Here you can see I changed the name of the Game Id to Tour de Force, and left everything else as is. I could have let the Soviet player be active while at peace and if this was a PBEM game the Email edit boxes would have allowed me to place mine and my opponents email address into the box (this way the game will automatically create an email with yours and your opponents email address filed in and some default text and the attached file. We have tested the following email clients and they all work; Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Mozilla Sea Monkey (that is what I use) and I am not sure what Steve uses because he is running this game on a LINUX machine using WINE emulation, so I am not sure if he is using Knopplex email clients or if he is using a LINUX version of Thunderbird.

After you click the blue Next button you are presented with the Select Game Options dialog box. This is the meat of the campaign/scenario selected where you can decide exactly what you want to play.

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First we have the Rules set radio buttons; Board War in Europe (BWIE) SPI, Board War in Europe (BWIE) DG, Computer War in Europe I and Computer War in Europe II. I am not going to go into a lot of detail here but suffice it to say that if you select one of the BWIE rules sets that is what you'll get. If you select the CWIE-I rule set that one includes a lot of the KC/LA errata and other options that CWIE-I contains. If you select the CWIE-II rule set that one includes things mainly related to CWIE-II (I have not asked for the exact set of things either of the previously mentioned rules set and will leave that for another time). I do want to point out here that if you select the BWIE SPI rule set then that does not include the KC/LA errata, since it was of my opinion that that KC/LA errata is not official SPI errata (only the official April 1976 errata is included).

The next section is the General Options section. First you have the Attrition option which can be set to; None, Force March, and Advanced. None uses no attrition just like the BWIE games. Force March imposes an attrition value of 30% which can be recovered during player turns. When set to Advanced all units are effected by their attrition value, this essentially means that any movement or combat the unit in question suffers a percentage of attrition loss. Units begin at 0% and depending on the attrition table suffer percentage in loses, so a unit after a few weeks of non-stop movement and combat may find it self at 30%, 50%, 75% or 99% of it's printed values (movement and combat). Attrition is recovered by units not moving or performing any activities. Also, the Attrition Option Table can be edited to suit your tastes.

This is advanced and I won't go into more details but suffice it to say that in my view this adds to the complexity of the classic War in Europe game, similar to one degree how the MMP OCS game system handles step losses, and adds in the need for Reserves, and husbanding of your attrition units. During play-testing we have found that for example one can knock France out in 4-8 weeks as the Germans, North Africa becomes a sea-saw back and forth battle and in Russia we have seen historical advanced slowed down by mud and snow much more dramatically then in the original BWIE game. Again this is not for everyone I think it would be kin to bolting on Napoleon at Waterloo (SPI) to say RISK.

Moving on we have options for Fog of War which only lets you see what your adjacent to and sometimes what is behind the lines, Variable Weather which randomizes the weather during mud and snow seasons, No OOS AEx which removes the required OOS AEx results (handy for when Advanced Attrition is on), Hex Control Blocks Supply, Partisans cut rail, Minor ZOCs, Partial Combat Odds, Blitzkreig ZOCs, and Additional units which add in things like Mountain, Motorized, Artillery and other non-standard units.

Finally, on the bottom we have two boxed groupings one for War in the West and one for War in the East. As you can see their are a plethora of options to select form. You will also note that in the War in the East options I selected Limit MSUs in Severe Climate this rule is enforced in the SPI rules, but was left out for the other rules sets and must be selected as an option for those wanting to use the original SPI April 76 errata that came with the game.

Once you click Next the campaign or scenario will load with all the options you have selected and you will be presented with the Start Player Turn dialog box.

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Since this is a hotseat game we will just click continue, but if we were playing a PBEM game then we would have to put in our password before continuing (BTW Karl has gone to great lengths to prevent cheating so players that were used to reloading CWIE-1 and found that the same die roll was in effect will be surprised to find that the die rolls are random and your opponent will be notified of the number of times that you have reloaded the game and you two can discuss things to sort that out amongst yourselves).

Now the Allies Air Allocation screen will present itself and you can allocate your air assets to a variety of roles, mainly Air Superiority, Ground Support/Interdiction, Sea Interception, or Front Transfer. In the center section you'll notice a mini-window called Uncommitted this shows all your Air Points (AP) that you have on that front. Across the top of the screen you'll see an Airplane icon clicking on this will present the Strategic Warfare Assets (Strategic Bombing for the Western Allies and Interceptors for the Axis). Also you'll notice a set of three circular buttons and the one in the screen shot has a check mark in it, this indicates the current Air Front your dealing with and as you can see a West, East, and South button, clicking on anyone of these brings up another view just like this but with the AP and allocation boxes for that front. You can also see an Airborne box that will display any paratroop (or Air-Landing) units and the number of Air Transport Points (ATP) available.

While we are here I'll point out a few other things in this screen shot. Up near the top of the screen you can see a strip of graphic icons, each one of these gives you a different view and function, for example we are currently in the Air Allocation screen which is in the second strip (there are three total strips) and is the icon of a plane, the one icon to its left is the Strategic Map View:

Strategic Map View

Each one of the numbers on the middle map corresponds to one of the icons on the third and last strip. You can add more views as you wish. Each campaign/scenario is defaulted with a set of predefined views, but you can change their name and what they display. By default they are listed by Country view, but you can see that I like to change mine to functionality views. We'll get more on that later.

Right after the Strategic Map View icon is a Gear icon which is the production screen, since were the CW and I did not select Allied Production the screen looks bare, but if you play as the Soviets or Germans then there are things to see and build (another subject?).

Production Screen

Right after the Airplane icon is a Ship (or naval) icon, basically this gives you an overview of the naval assets in the game.

Naval Screen

Next is Uncle Sam, or the Political screen.

Political Screen

And finally is the Reinforcement and Weather track, here you can see the cycles, weekly turns, weather (green boxes are clear, white boxes are snow and grey boxes are mud), units arriving and replacement pools (IR/MR).

Reinforcement Track

Okay, continuing on, over on the right (back in the Air Allocation screen, and all other screens) are two boxes the upper box displays details on the map hexes and unit stacks in that hex, the CRT, Events, OOB, and Rail status. The box on the bottom displays the selected stack.

The strip of icons in between the two each has various system functions; the right arrow when clicked ends the current phase your on, the left arrow displays the previous something, that something depends on the phase your in. For example if your starting your turn it will display the previous combats against you. If your in your movement phase it will switch to the next previous unit. The Filter is the next icon which looks like ? > >, when clicked it opens up the Action Filter dialog box. I have not used this, but it lists; Any Valid Hex, Hexes with non-mech-move unit(s), Hexes with mech-move unit(s), and Supply Head hexes. Okay, so I gave it whirl and here is what it does, when you click the default filter Any Valid hex, all hexes 'light up' (this is our play-test term that we have used that indicates that a unit is eligible to perform a task (move, fight, etc) so all hexes are lit up and ready to go. Hexes with non-mech-unit(s) lights up all the non-mech units, Hexes with mech-unit(s) lights up the mech units and Supply Head Hexes shows all your supply head hexes (lit up), geez after 2 years you learn something new.

The next icon is looks like this ( >> ) and is the Next button. This is the exact opposite of the Previous button above, but instead of going backwards, it goes forward.

Next up is the Menu button, this brings up the Select Action dialog box.

Menu Button

From here you can Recalculate Supply State, Check Victory Status, View or change User Preferences, View or change Emal and Passwords, Change Game Id, View Game Options, and Edit, by either Moving Units or Editing a hex (your opponent will be notified of these last two).

Next icon is the Load Game which will load a saved game, followed by the Save Game button which will save a game, and lastly the red Quit Game button (down arrow).

Last but not least I want to show you the preference screen. This allows you to uncheck the various dialog boxes, what this means is that after you end a phase you won't get a Are you sure you want to leave this phase message.

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Okay, where was I, oh, yes the Air Allocation screen. In the next screen shot it's now the German Air Allocation and you can see how I added in my AP to AS and GS. I set 5 to AS and 15 to GS/Interdiction.

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After click End Phase the results of the Air War are displayed thusly:

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As you can see the Germans sortied 5 and the Pole sortied 2 and each side lost 1 AP.

After you select okay the program moves you into the next phase, in this case the Axis Reinforcement phase. As you can see this this is the standard (SPI) default view (you'll notice that each view is named by a country.

Poland view
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France view
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Libya view
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Some people like this layout and like to click on the tab to go to a country. I myself do not like this layout and automatically change it to a functionality view as per below. First over on the far left the first set of stripped icons is in the following order; Add a View (can only be done in the Strategic Map view), Remove a View, Go Home (a default 'home' view that can be gotten back to after scrolling), Set Home (at this current scrolled to position), Goto (a specific map column and hex or to a particular location Caen for example), and Options.

Options are my favorite part. Every time I start up a game I change my views to a functionality instead of a name like so:

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As you can see you can change the View Name, whether or not to show the units, interdiction, hex outlines, and orders. Also, you can set the Hex Display to; None, Control, Air Fronts, Zones of Control, Climate, Arctic, Supply, Air Range, Nation, and Sea Zone. Finally in the Stack Display you can choose to use; None, Move or Combat (useful in Advanced Attrition.

Here I changed the name to Scroll Map:

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And here is the default 'functional' views that I like to use instead of Country names:

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You can see I call them; Scroll Map, Control Map, Supply Map, ZOC Map, Climate Map, and Air Range Map. This is just the way I like to view things.

Here is what my Control Map looks like:

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Here is my Supply Map

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My ZOC Map

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My Climate Map

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And finally my Air Range Map

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Now in the movement phase, here is a screen shot of a German 1-5 and the hexes that it can reach, indicated by the lit up yellow hexes.

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This is how Overrun movement looks. The orange hex(s) are the hex(s) that the unit can Overrun (currently we are only using the default SPI / DG single hex overruns).

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This is what a typical combat looks like, you can see on the right which CRT we are using, the selected Odds, the defense and attack calculations, if GS is available you can click on the dive bomber icon, and you can see the red outlined units in the attack (you can select a whole hex or individual units in a hex).

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Here is what the advance after combat looks like (it's very similar for exchanges, the computer takes care of DR), when your done you need to select the yellow check mark.

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You'll notice here that I am calculating the supply (the * button).

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Now after the Mech Phase, it's Interdiction Phase. See how I place my interdiction markers?

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When done you select the End Phase and the program automatically takes you to the next player's turn (if this was a PBEM game, a Email dialog box would appear and then when you quit you can send the email to your gaming partner.

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This next screen is displayed at the start of both players turns. It is a Political dialog box letting you know what happened.

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This is sometimes followed by the next Political screen.

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Well that wraps up my Tour de Force. I hope that it shared some insights that went into creation of CWIE-2 and hopefully added some insights into the user interface and hopefully best of all whetted your appetite and got you in the mood to purchase this fine game for your own Christmas present to yourself.

We put a lot of work into it, there is more work in the future that will go in to, I can say after two years of play-testing that there is a lot of game still left in this old gal we call War in Europe.

Happy Holidays.

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Comment by Nelson Audy on September 7, 2009 at 9:39pm
Thank you for TourDeForce blog. WIE is my all time favorite boardgame. You have convinced me that computer WIE will be my next software purchase.
Comment by Fred Schwarz on April 26, 2009 at 9:38am
Don, great work. I plyaed the demo yesterday and immediately email a friend who likes these big WWII type games. i told him i want to get this but need an opponent. He said sure so I ordered two copies, one fore each of us. I'm excited to get this, it looks so cool.
Comment by Don Lazov on December 15, 2008 at 10:49am
Chris,

Good you figured it out. Essentially the graphics are the only thing that changes, not the map it's self. The rules on the other hand is an entirely different subject...
Comment by Chris Gammon on December 15, 2008 at 1:56am
I figured out what I didn't understand. I was seeing the SPI map, but the standard tiles instead of the SPI tiles, so I was confused. I expected open ground to be light on the "SPI" map, but I imagine somewhere there are differences in the hexes themselves and not just the hex colors. I look forward to January!
Comment by Don Lazov on December 14, 2008 at 10:49pm
Keyser, DG sponsored this project so I don't think they have any interest in pursuing any AH titles, of course I could be wrong but from the past it looks like DG has only done DG and SPI titles.

Chris, If your playing the demo certain things are shut off. Obviously in the paid for version they will be on. The demo was designed as a cut up version on purpose.
Comment by Chris Gammon on December 14, 2008 at 9:04pm
I've had a lot of fun playing the demo, and showed it to a friend who is also excited. Even though neither of us has much time, the PBEM could make this worthwhile. I'm having trouble getting it to load the SPI version of the map. Once I'd looked at the latter maps, it seems to ignore the user preference. Is this a "feature"? :)
Comment by Keyser Soze on December 14, 2008 at 12:22pm
For learning how to play purposes you don't need AI on global scope. To my opinion, it will be enough to have it in Poland scenario, for instance.

I know. It was a long shot anyway. Still, this Avalon Hill games are excellent, maybe you should consider to buy copyrights.To my opinion, it will be worth it.
Comment by Don Lazov on December 13, 2008 at 2:09pm
Keyser,

There is talk of an AI in a later patch. I worked with the developer on a pre-test of how the AI may think. Creating AI is very difficult especially in a game of this scope.

Unfortunately the titles you listed are not SPI/DG titles.
Comment by Keyser Soze on December 13, 2008 at 12:27pm
Don, I have tried Demo. Looks very good. It reminded me to my favorite games - Third Reich and Advanced Third Reich from Avalon Hill Company. Lack of AI is not a problem but my suggestion is to have it in one tutorial scenario for learning how to play purposes. Keep good work.

Hope that your next project will be Third Reich/Advanced Third Reich game. :-)
Comment by Gerald-Markus Zabos on December 11, 2008 at 11:43am
Tested the Demo-Version. Great game !

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