“Winning isn’t everything–but wanting to win is.” ― Vince Lombardi
I did it.
I won my first victory as a combined arms field-grade commander in Regiments.
As you know from previous posts in the Old Gamers Never Die series, I recently bought this cool new game developed by a small European studio, Bird’s Eye Games, and published by the reincarnated MicroProse, a company that in the late 1980s and early 1990s was at the vanguard of “easy to learn, hard to master” computer games, many of which were wargames (Crusade in Europe, NATO Commander) or simulations of military “hardware” and even small-unit combat (the F-15 Strike Eagle series, Silent Service and Silent Service II, Red Storm Rising, and M1 Tank Platoon).
Regiments is a real-time tactical game where you, the player, are in command of a combined-arms force either for the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact(WP) or the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during a fictional version of the summer of 1989 in which glasnost and perestroika failed, and internal pressures within the Soviet bloc sparked a WP invasion of West Germany and a – so far, at least – conventional war between the Communist Eastern empire and the democracies of the West.
Along with Training and Skirmishes, Regiments has a series of campaigns that its design team calls Operations. And if you play other wargames that include a campaign mode – such as Ultimate General: Civil War, the Wargame series, and Unity of Command II – Operations involve certain tropes, such as choosing a “core group” of units based on their weapons, capabilities, and roles on the battlefield, then having enough “deployment points” to add more platoons or tactical aids (including artillery support from higher headquarters) to help you achieve your mission.
I’m not going to write a long dissertation on how Operations are conducted; suffice it to say that each mini-campaign has a certain objective that you must achieve and is divided into phases that represent not only the passage of time in the scenario but also different stages of the campaign. It’s insanely complicated and not easy to summarize.
“In the art of war, if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the approaching battles. But if you know only yourself and not the enemy, for every victory, there will also be defeat.”― Emily Thorne
I just completed Dissonance, a scenario in which I commanded an East German Panzer battalion tasked with quelling a rebellion by another East German unit in early June of 1989. It was divided into six phases, during which my Blue force – allied with other East German units – had to capture specific Objective Zones, then defend them from counterattacks by the opposing Red Force within a set time limit of 20 minutes of game time.
I have not done particularly well in Skirmishes, which are single battles in which players get experience in different types of battles, ranging from Defense scenarios to Attack and Meeting Engagements. I’ve won a few Skirmishes here and there, but most of the time, the AI in Regiments whips me, and whips me well, even if I have tactical air support available. As a result, I was not expecting to win on my first try at playing through an entire Operation, especially one in which chemical weapons came into play during the penultimate phase.
Amazingly, I achieved a Total Victory by capturing all of the Objective Zones and keeping my casualties low while inflicting high casualties on the Red force. I somehow found a happy medium between bold aggressiveness and the need to preserve my forces and not suffer too many casualties, and since I have a basic understanding of how artillery and air support work, at least in the context of a wargame, I called in artillery bombardments and air strikes with a fair amount of forethought rather than squandering them on tactically unimportant targets.
So, even though I went into Operations without reading the Regipedia (which is analogous to a printed manual and the Civilopedia reference guide in the various versions of Sid Meier’s Civilization), I did it!