I had tried the Squad Battles system by HPS Simulations before. I think the game was “When Eagles Strike” or some such. Honestly, it was ho-hum for me. I guess I’ve seen one too many small scale World War Two games set on the Western Front. Just out of curiousity, I was over at the HPS site a month or so back, and discovered the HPS people had made a version of the Squad Battles for both the Spanish Civil War and the Russo Finnish War. Now this was a totally different kettle of fish. I picked both of them up (used) and installed them on my old beater Vista “fun machine” in the study. Even though I’m more of a fan of the Spanish Civil War I installed and played Winter War first.
I’ve changed my mind about Squad Battles. What fun this is! There’s something inside us all that approves of heroic last stands, and the Finns were all over this in the Winter War early in World War II. To quote the advertisement blurb:
For 105 days, the tiny nation of Finland fought a war that typically merits only a footnote history books, or a passing remark in a WWII documentaries. Taking on the vast manpower of the Soviet army, the Finns put up a fanatical defense of their homeland, inflicting horrific casualties on the invading Soviet army. In the end, the overwhelming number of Soviet troops and tanks sent into Finland forced the Finns to sue for peace, but they walked away from the conflict with their much bigger neighbor with their independence and national pride intact. Their struggle influenced the landscape and direction of the entire World War that followed–and perhaps the outcome as well.
Winter War is a tactical level simulation of this conflict using the Squad Battles system… and it’s pretty complete, too. 75 scenarios, 3 major campaigns.
My second attempt at Squad Battles revealed it’s depth to me. There are many options here– the AI may not be brilliant, but it is relentless (if you set it high enough) and if you play the Finns in the Winter War, well, your work is already cut out for you. Click on the picture above to see the result of a recent narrow Finn victory, where the Finns were defending a rail line with small outposts here and there on the map. The Finns had men with rifles, two very useful armored trains that were dispatched early as you can see, and a few buildings to hide in, and good cover. The Soviets had tanks, artillery, hordes of men, and air support. The dead (rifles), pinned (P) and Demoralized (D) markers are ample testimony that the AI knows how to attack, Soviet style.
I’m greatly pleased with this purchase and unlike a lot of other computer games at various scales, I don’t see me getting hugely bored with it that quickly.