Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hearts of Iron 2

There are some grognards among us. I used to be one, but the logistical considerations of grognard type games did me in. The last time I tried playing a game of Advanced Third Reich, my cat decided to have some fun with the counters. That was about 11 years ago. I spared my kitties life.

I discovered a really deep computer game called “Hearts of Iron 2” (HOI2). When I saw HOI1 about 4 or 5 years ago, I was very disappointed. WAY too much micromanaging. When I saw HOI2, I wanted nothing to do with it, but the grognard in me got the better of me and I was hooked. This is not your typical PC game. You can tell that the processor is busy doing all kinds of stuff, but this is not a fancy graphics oriented game. This is a serious simulation of WW2. LOTS of detail that would be almost impossible with a board game, and even for a PC game, the human player can be overwhelmed with decisions, especially if fighting a two front war as Germany or the United States.

Production, Supply and Logistics, Espionage, Research, Government and Political, and of course warfare. I have seen the war go until the late 1940s, I have seen the Germans push the Soviets past the Ural Mountains and I have seen the German line in the east collapse in 1943, giving the Soviets the chance to liberate most of France. I have seen Mexico join the allies in one game and the Soviets in another.

This is a very intense game and one that is not for everyone. But if you are like me and enjoy an epic game AND if you are a grognard (or an old one like me), then you may want to give this game a shot. I’ll be honest – The first time I played HOI2, I did not like it. The learning curve is BIG, but with the help of my friend Adam at work, we were able to offer encouragement to each other. You can learn to play the game in about an hour, but it will take at least a few weeks (depending on how much time you spend) to get in touch with some of the finer intricacies. My friend and I have had long discussions on the optimum mix of division types and how to best allocate the elements of air support or how to best organize a panzer corps. We will often have sessions of play where the game is mostly paused, but we are just reorganizing our armies and reassigning leaders. There are many hundreds of historical military and political leaders represented in the game. Not to mentions corporations and scientists who help you with your technology tree.

I have not played in about six months or so. This is a fantastic multi player game. You can even have multiple people on the same team playing either against the AI (which can at times be pretty stupid) or against other teams of players.


At 11:01 PM, September 28, 2006, Blogger Mark said...

I would have to see it before I got it. I bought HOI and thought it was going to be the game I had dreamed of...unfortunately, as you said, too much micromanagement and I never totally figured out the tech charts. Even so, I wasted a bunch of time with it. Nice soundtrack to it.

At 8:07 AM, September 29, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Nice review, Carlos!

At 8:52 AM, September 29, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Carlos, I'm curious now. I've never tried a computer wargame before. Heck, I've just started to skim the surface of grognardom. But this seems interesting. Sounds time consuming, so this month may be bad (again....parents in town). I'll look into it as soon as I can get my internet connection back up at my house! I lost the signal about 2 days ago (I've had to do the bloggin' from I nod to my patient who's behind the monitor and go "uh huh").

Let me know if you really want to delve into EastFront 2 on Vassal. I think you already know the rules (I don't), so it would just be a matter of learning how to use Vassal.

At 5:15 PM, September 29, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Is HoI2 by the same company that did Europa Universalis?

At 10:56 PM, September 29, 2006, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Brian, I am 99% sure that this is the same people (Paradox Software) who produced Europa Universalis. According to one review, I think they said that it was the same engine, but I never tried Europa Universalis, so I am not sure about that.

Rob, and Mark, I was not trying to talk anyone in the group to go out and get this game. I was just curious is anyone in the group had tried this game and what their thought were. To me it is not surprising that Mark and I agreed on HOI1. I think that HOI2 was far better and very playable and very deep. This game is truly an experience if one can get over the learning curve.

If anyone is interested, send me an email and we can talk more. My friend from work just met another guy who plays and I may try to see if we want to try a multi-player game.

At 11:20 PM, September 29, 2006, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Something else about this game. It can play itself. just play a small and out-of -the-way country like Tibet or Bolivia and turn up the game speed and watch the major powers go at it. It will take a few hours, but the war will play out itself while you just sit and watch.

This is interesting, because it exposes some of the AI limitations where the Allies are not good at coordinating large scale operations like amphibious invasions. Even a Green Axis player can fend off an Allied D-Day type invasions with ease. Supposidly, some of the more recent patches fixed this.

One thing that this game will do is give you lots of stress if you have a large Eastern Front as either the Russians or the Germans. But nothing can lift your spirits than a huge isolation and eventual complete destruction of many enemy divisions. Of course nothing will send you to bed in lower spirits than the same being done to you.

At 5:59 PM, September 30, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

I was just asking because I played Europa Universalis for a game. Very Interesting, but long. Long long longity long. And once your empire gets big you have to micromanage it and that makes it ... long. I still probably have the CD somewhere (assuming I didn't lose it in the move) and could install it on my computer. Perhaps I shall.

You could also play EU and start as a standard power or some minor schmoe. Make Swahili the Lingua Franca!

At 6:58 PM, September 30, 2006, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Brian, I looked at some screen shots of Europa Universalis and they are almost identical. And HOI2 is also very long. Games would take a few months. For some this is a turn-off, but I did not mind because I enjoyed the very deep nature of the game.

One thing about HOI2 that I wonder if Europa Universalis did. HOI2 had an option that allowed the player to convert the units on the map to resemble the traditional Avalon Hill and SPI cardboard counters along with the appropriate NATO symbol. I prefered this to the little animated figures that are default with the software. It took me back to a simpler time.


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