When I was a kid my grandfather told me war stories. He had fought in the Finnish army during World War II and would tell me tales of Ski troopers and tanks, molotov cocktails and machine guns. Military David and Goliath stories.
This sparked an interest in military history which has stayed with me since, and is likely responsible for my interest in both firearms and strategy games. I’ve spoken enough about my interest in firearms, so now I’ll bore you with some rambling about my favorite video game.
Years ago I came across The Operational Art of War by Norm Koger and was immediately hooked. The game is essentially an automated board game on a grand scale using hex maps and counters. The game takes care of all the humdrum details of maintaining unit statistics, supply, morale and effectiveness and allows the player to concentrate on the battle itself. A powerfull scenario editor is included which, while not for the faint of heart, allows one to build their own scenarios varrying in scope from small engagements to massive campaigns. Of course for those less interested in building something pre-packaged scenarios came with the game covering the major engagements of WWII.
(British Paras Land too close to the bridges in Arnhem)
I played this game for days. Usually ending with the Operation: Barbarossa scenario which is a logistical nightmare. Sadly the game would not run under Windows XP, and I dedicated an old laptop as my personal TOAW computer. Thankfully I can now retire the tired old laptop, as The Operational Art of War: III has been released and I can now play to my hearts content on the desktop PC at home.
(Chaos reigns due to bad drop-zone selection)
The game allows you to play multiple what-ifs out, and to see if you’re a top notch armchair general. Bad choices leave your troops exposed and poorly supplied, easy pickings for the enemy. Play too cautiously and you’ll fail to meet the historical objectives.
You really have to be a history buff or old school Grognard for this game to have any appeal. There are no animations, no glitzy menus and no magical objects that will save your armies from the abyss of bad leadership.
The appeal for us history buffs, is seeing the battle play out on maps before our eyes. Having the choice of replaying history as it is written, or rolling the dice and seeing if we can do things a little better. If this sounds at all like you, then go give the game a try (The website allows you to download a copy for free when you purchase one for delivery, instant gratification is everything it’s cracked up to be.).