This is an impressive game, certainly the best wargame that C. C. S. have released so far. Even my girlfriend liked it, so it must be good! Warzone is a straight battle between the blue and red armies (the computer controlling the red armies of course) over a sectored map measuring thirty units square. The player has a choice of infantry, artillery and tank units and can choose up to one hundred and fifty units in total - which is matched by the computer's side. The computer generates a new landscape for each game and deploys the units automatically.
The physical features of the map are a little on the simple side, but incorporate some nice touches such as giving longer range when firing from a hilltop. The map does not scroll, but is selected by sector - this causes some problems, as you cannot look at a sector where you do not have pieces (I suppose this may echo real-life military intelligence, but it can be very frustrating) and you also cannot fire from one sector into another, which is definitely not realistic. The program is all machine code, and responds fast, though I greatly prefer the cursor selection type of piece movement to the 'J3 to H6' type of input as found in Warzone.
LESS WAR MORE GAME
It just so happens that the next game I decided to dip into after poor old Air Defence was another CCS product, this time called War Zone. I loaded it with some trepidation. So, it was with gurgles of glee (and lashings of poetic licence) that I realised, after a few minutes' play, that War Zone was a little gem.
War Zone makes no pretence at being an ultra-realistic simulation - the pieces are actually called pieces in the rules, rather than the usual units or divisions wargamers are by now accustomed to, squares are squares, not hexes, and turns are turns rather than battle phases or whatever. War Zone makes a virtue of simplicity. The board consists of nine 10x10 sectors.
The three types of piece at your disposal - tanks, infantry and artillery - all have their clearly defined functions. Somewhat illogically, infantry move faster than tanks but this works well in game terms. The artillery moves slowly but has a long range for firing, the tanks move at a medium pace and have a medium range for firing while the infantry move swiftly but can only engage in hand-to-hand combat.
When it is your turn, you can move all your pieces. Those that can fire can do so before or after movement. If you score a hit, the enemy piece is removed immediately. If you don't, it gets the opportunity to fire back. If you move a piece next to an enemy piece, hand-to-hand combat immediately starts and there will only be one survivor. There are no in-betweens, no damaged or resting units - it is simply life or death.
Finally, when the computer takes its turn, you can sit back and watch the enemy tanks, infantry and artillery tramp across the sectors you are allowed to see, looking on helplessly as your own pieces get cruelly zapped. Nothing works up a good rage better than having to watch your carefully deployed lines being reduced to tatters.
War Zone is not a game that will appeal to fans of realistic simulation, but for those of you who like strategic problems, without distraction massive tactical fuss and detail, I can recommend War Zone highly. It's for the 48K Spectrum - watch out for it!
A very worthy, if rather simple-minded, computerisation of H.G. Well's style Little Wars, stripped down to the basics. You pick a combination of infantry, armour and artillery totalling between 15 and 150 units. The Spectrum then picks its own hand, shuffles its deck of roads, woods, hills and minefields to make up the battlefield and places both sides. The map is divided into nine sectors, top left being your home base, bottom right the computer's, and the side that takes over the other's base, or gets a 3:1 superiority, wins. You only get to see one sector at a time and then only if you have at least one unit in it.
So, with every map completely different, you have to switch back and forward between sectors to keep the overall picture clear before committing units.
The cap is divided into squares, with eight-way movement which, as any pre-hex wargamer can tell you, puts tremendous emphasis on the use of diagonal movement. Infantry moves four squares at a time, armour three, artillery two, though hills and woods slow movement while roads speed it up. Artillery has a longer firing range than armour, both getting an advantage from hilltops.
Watching the computer take its turn, it sure seems like it's giving itself plenty of the best of it, but I guess it evens out. After taking a couple of hammerings I found a surefire technique or winning - does the name J.F.C. Fuller mean anything to you? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Good, clear graphics, smooth action, simple and straightforward control systems. Not for the hardened wargamer, but good fun in the true Wellsian spirit.
MICRO: Spectrum 48K
SUPPLIER: Cases Computer Simulations, 14 Langton Way, Blackheath, London SE3 7TL
Warzone is very much a link between conventional abstract boardgames and computer wargame simulations. This solo game features very crisp graphics and a clear, understandable uncluttered screen. The player may choose to construct his army from infantry, tanks and artillery, picking 15-50 of each; the computer will allocate itself a mirror image (as far as I could make out). Having done this the game may begin.
The map is made up of 10 sectors with 100 boxes, gridded and referenced; this gives a total map area of 1,000 boxes. There are four types of terrain - normal, hills, road and forests. The latter are generally the best terrain for infantry and hiding your artillery. There are minefields liberally dotted around, which have the irritating habit of flashing continuously in red and yellow for some obscure reason.
Tanks and artillery may move/fire or fire/move, and infantry may only be used for close combat. Movement is carried out by entering the coordinates of the box preceded by M, then using the compass directions shown on the screen to move the appropriate distance. Deductions for terrain are automatic, infantry oddly suffering virtually no penalties. Moving off a road regardless of how many more movement points you have left means the end of that unit's turn!
Firing is also easy. You enter the grid references of the firing unit prefixed by an F, and then the coordinates of the target. A simple hit or miss result is flashed up, and if the target is able to fire back it will.
Close assault takes place when you contact an enemy unit. Again win or lose is flashed up, with seemingly no real criteria applied. Not even having supporting units helps.
Firing, hand to hand combat and air attacks (the latter you may launch at one target at the end of your turn) appear to be a complete lottery.
The irritating aspects are moving large numbers of troops from one sector to another. By moving one out into the next, you leave the first sector, and then the computer requires you to enter the ,Loriginal sector's number to go back to move the next unit!
The computer's troops never accidentally move onto a minefield, neither do they move off the map (if the player moves one off the map area the unit is lost).
The computer instinctively knows your weak points, whilst the player can never look into a sector where he has no troops. You cannot fire from one sector to the next, although you can melee across a sector border.
In conclusion, Warzone is a nice simple game, relying on graphics rather than anything else to make you want to play it. The display on the screen tells you almost everything you need to know. The sector display, compass and a total of your remaining troops are always on screen to help you play, once you've learnt the few key commands.
I would have preferred the option to play against a live player as well as the computer, as the latter's tactics are limited. Otherwise I recommend this abstract simulation.
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