Old Gamers Never Die: War is Hell, as My First Battle in ‘Regiments’ Pointedly Reminds Me

Victory through airpower: A Soviet tank platoon burns in the aftermath of an American airstrike by A-10 Thunderbolt II tankbusters. (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse

War is hell. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell. – General William T. Sherman

As I have mentioned in several posts recently, yesterday the latest version of MicroProse published Bird’s Eye Games’ Regiments, a real-time strategy (RTS) game set in a version of 1989 where instead of the collapse of Communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union leads the Warsaw Pact in an invasion of West Germany – and into a brutal war with the United States and her NATO allies.

Here’s the game’s description in the Steam Store:

I have called in an A-10 air strike (with bombs) on this enemy headquarters unit not far from Objective Bravo. (C) Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse

Regiments is a Real-Time Tactics game set in Germany 1989. The Cold War has gone hot, and the inferno is raging. Lead your Regiment through the fires of conflict and the fog of war. Break through the lines, call in artillery, maneuver, feign retreats, stage defenses, counter-attack. Do not relent. – Bird’s Eye Games promo blurb.

“War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.” ― Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

A platoon of Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles (one was destroyed, so the unit is at 75% strength moves into position several fields away from an objective area (the red-bordered square at top center. (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse

Regiments was released yesterday morning, and even though I bought it as soon I was awake and checked to see the price ($25.99, which was 15% off its regular price since it was the first day of release), I had other things to do, and I did not want to get sucked into playing Regiments all day.

I did try out a few things, such as how to start a battle and the basics of how to issue commands to your various units, but because battles usually take 30 minutes from start to finish and – the bigger reason – I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I would begin a Skirmish – I am in no way ready to start a Campaign – and play for a few minutes before hitting the Quit option.

Sometimes I played as my favorite side – NATO – because I am not, nor have I ever been, a Communist or a fan of the Soviet Union. So far, I’ve only commanded U.S. forces, although I’m sure there are West German, British, and other Allied armies represented in Regiments. I only bought the game yesterday and have not looked through its Regipedia reference section.

This screengrab is from one of my brief stints as a Soviet commander. The big fires in the image are from a napalm attack by SU-17 Fitter strike planes. (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse

In at least one scenario, though, I’ve played as a Soviet commander. Some of the skirmishes do not allow players to choose which side they can play as, and in a few cases, I had to lead either a tank regiment or a motor rifle regiment (the Russians’ traditional demonym for a mechanized infantry unit) in battle. It feels weird, just like playing as the Germans or Soviets in Strategic Command: WWII World at War feels odd, at least to me.  

Either way, until this afternoon, my experience with Regiments consisted of, “Play through part of a single battle for a little while, try out certain tactics and stratagems, figure out how to use air support and artillery, then, no matter how well I am doing, quit.”

Troops of the 4th Brigade/4th Infantry Division capture and hold Objective Bravo. (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

A few hours ago, I fought my first complete Skirmish, an Attack mission in which I was the commander of a U.S. Army brigade from the 4th Infantry Division. This unit was still in the middle of transitioning from older equipment like M60A3 tanks and M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) to late Cold War stuff like M1 Abrams tanks and M2/M3 Bradley infantry fighting/cavalry fighting vehicles.

Many of my subunits, particularly the infantry ones, were from the Tennessee National Guard, so the mix of weapons and vehicles was a combination of the older, late 1960s/early 1970s stuff and more modern late Cold War gear that saw combat for the first time in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

A tank platoon and two Bradley CFVs move to engage the enemy early in the battle. (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse

I will not give you a play-by-play of my first complete mission in Regiments. I don’t take notes when I play games like this; the pace is too quick and there is so much going on that I couldn’t keep track of every event while playing the game, much less recall the details afterward. I also have no idea of how to record a game and upload it to YouTube, so there’s also that.

Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won. – Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

The Warsaw Pact lost more troops, as well as three Objective Zones, but I lost more vehicles, helicopters, and aircraft. (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse

I can tell you this much: I won my first victory, but it was so costly that it would be, at best, Pyrrhic. (See the screenshot with the After-Action Report – or AAR – and you’ll see the breakdown of casualties on both sides.)

I managed to capture – and hold – three of the objectives on the map, Points Alfa, Foxtrot, and Bravo, plus I gave the Soviet-East German units one hell of a pounding. Still, they inflicted more casualties on my Blue force than I would have liked, and that’s basically because I am still new to Regiments and therefore not good at it yet.

On the bright side – I won.

And on the even brighter side – it’s only a game.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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