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SC2 - COS Part 2 or HOI Jr.?


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This is a perspective piece. Not to present any new specific ideas or overly criticize many of the ideas floating around. Just something to think about.

For the record I have not played COS since I can't seem to get it to run, but I have reviewed the rules and they appear comprehensive enough to resolve most of the shortcomings in SC. I have played HOI some and appreciate the level of detail it offers, but I don't necessarily want that kind of grognard complexity in every game I play. And there's a SC customer base out there that probably doesn't even want to attempt something much more complex, and that beer & pretzels crowd deserves some recognition. Having a fun game you can actually PLAY, that is fairly realistic and historically accurate, and is well balanced and replayable, is a very worthy goal.

Since SC has been compared to COS many times over, here's a short (incomplete) list of items covered in COS that could be included in SC2:

- New units; engineers, paratroops, artificial harbors

- Unit movement options; normal, overrun, reserve, operational

- Unit combat options; overrun, assault, retreats

- Standard 2-month turns with random number of impulses; this would normalize economic production and the number of impulses could be kept to about 13-14 per year as we currently have.

- Weather effects

- Convoys, sea zones, and sea supply

- Amphibious invasions onto enemy-controlled hexes

Just implementing these fundamental features (which are well documented in the COS rules), plus expanding the map, adjusting resource values and national IT growth rates, enhancing the political model, enhancing the campaign editor, and getting the AI reprogrammed to handle it all, is a significant challenge for Hubert's one-man programming shop. Fortunately, SC appears to offer a solid foundation for supporting these upgrades, and there's plenty of gameplay experience for both COS and SC to draw on.

HOI, by contrast, has a dedicated team of professionals at Paradox building upon the EU/EU2 game engine and the years of effort that have gone into those projects. Fury Software (ie, Hubert, 1 each) can not be expected to compete at that level. Obviously all that detail in HOI is in fact possible, and in theory could be implemented in part in some future version of SC, but let's face it: trying to make SC2 too complex too fast just ain't going to happen. Many ideas are just going to have to wait for some project beyond the scope of SC2.

So back to this being a perspective. If SC2 could simply implement most of those features of COS currently missing in SC, built on top of the fine innovations Hubert has put into SC already, and enhanced with a little more of Hubert's creative genius, then I would expect that to be a mighty fine game. Sometimes, with all the different forum threads going full throttle with their various ideas, it's easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Without any official guidance yet from Hubert regarding what the SC2 forest is going to look like, debating the merits of any particular tree is difficult and frustrating. I'm not calling for a halt to suggestions or passing judgement on what's out there already; I'm just trying to keep expectations within the realm of the possible and the practical. Let's be patient while Hubert sorts through the hundreds of ideas and suggestions, and prepared to be pleasantly surprised. ;)

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Bill

Excellent idea and done objectivly. Unfortunately, COS can only be run in a very primitive, very demanding DOS mode. I haven't been able to get it to run on new machines either, but it runs perfectly on my very old machine and I've played hundreds of games of it over the years.

COS is by no means a perfect game. It has quirks and flaws and needed to be refined. I believe it was upgraded once but the version I have is the original product.

Turns, while in consistent two month periods, take place in phases heavily, but not always, influenced by seasons. The autumn turn might have six phases while the summer turn would have ten or twelve. For movement and combat purposes a phase is a turn, thus a lot is packed into those turn segments; administration, production, research and other non-movement, non-combat issue take place only once per two-month turn.

The maps (COS&SC) are identical in scale. I believe there are differences in cities but I'm not certain of that as I haven't played it in quite a while. In addition to the hex grid map there is a naval operations map divided into zones and subsidiary maps for information such as sea zones and areas controlled.

Combat in COS is much different from SC. Like SC there is no stacking. However, attacking units that mutually touch on a defender may combine their attack into what is called an assauld. The defender can be struck from the air several times beforehand, with the enemy running interceptions from his own air fleets.

During the first phase of each turn, a parachute unit, if in jump mode, can be added to the overall assualt, adding not only it's combat factor but special attributes. Casualties are taken on both sides. If the defending unit survives all this it can be attacked further by individual units, though fresn units cannot conduct another assault against it in that turn.

There are provisions for bringing a rear area unit quickly up to reinforce newly captured hexes, this can be either an army or a corps (HQs are the largest units, designated Army Groups and are not eligible for this option).

On the first phase of each turn Germany, Britain the USSR and US can move up to three units by reserve from anywhere on the map to anywhere else on the map connected and including contiginous friendly hexes. Units can also be moved to a port hex and, if they have a single movement point left and the transport regulations are met, the can be moved by sea; either in transport or invasion mode.

Invasions are handled differently from SC. In terms of a two month landing/reinforcement period the scale is okay, but invasions can become very large. There are mulberry units that need to be created first, etc., and so on. One of the things I don't like about COS is the likelihood of very large losses, sometimes an entire army or even an army group, incurred by amphibious assault. Still, it's exciting and does have the option of displacing defending units.

The engineer/pioneer units, possessed one each by Germany and the USSR only builds fortifications. Fortifications are too strong in the game with too many special benefits to the defender and the game would actually be better without them. The Soviet engineer constructs a straight line of defenses running north and south from the Baltic to the Black Sea and, untill they are breached and destroyed the Soviet campain is too similar to the Western Front. Fortifications such as Gibralatar and Lenningrad can be almost impossible to capture, and the engineers create them at the rate of one per turn -- These erected defenses are just as strong as the Maginot Line forts :confused: a bad feature run amok! :eek:

There is an excellent production table so new units have to brought first, then you wait for them to be ready, in the case of aircraft carriers it takes one and a half years; other units take less time, but even corps require two turns (four months!). All units have specific identifications. There are limited quantities of everything though generally enough to serve the purpose.

Air Power in Cos is much less overbearing than in SC. The airfleets are fewer and generally less powerful, though they can often make a considerable difference in the results of a battle.

Diplomacy in COS is primarily intimidation on the stregnth of past victories.

Soviet Russia usually launches a pre-emptive war to early and is allowed to construct fortifications with it's annoying engineer unit even while it is at peace, during which time it also builds military units but at only a partial total of it's full economy.

US and Canada are completely off board and are impossible to directly attack. Their units are purchased with net convoy results and appear in England.

The convoy system is also represented off map and affected either by U-boats or warships used as surface raiders. There effectiveness is increased by having a harbor in the same sea zone. The effectiveness of the defending fleet or fleets is affected by sonar, aircraft on coastal hexes in the zone, aircraft carriers in the zone, and also by season.

Units destroyed by combat can be bought on succeeding turns very cheaply and for immediate use. Units lost while cut off cannot be bought for a calendar year, and then at their full price. Lost warships cannot be rebuilt.

Britain is much more powerful in COS than it is in SC. This is not reflected in starting units, but rather by economic points and her navy, which starts out strong and can be greatly expanded.

Strategic bombing in COS is horribe, with phantom strategic bombers countered by airfleets in interception modes. As the Germans have only got two airfleets with another two available for production, it often becomes a choice of either bomber defense or air ops at the front. If the bombers are going to be a seperate factor then interceptors should probably be run on the same basis; either that or make a lot more airfleets available. Ironically, the exact opposite problem we have in SC.

Conquered nations do not yield plunder. As in SC, they lead to an earlier American/Soviet entry for German invasions and a later one for British adventures.

The research systems are very similar. In COS the cost goes up each time new research is purchased and the limit is 20, but after the tenth they become very costly.

Weather in COS is extremely important and the Russian Winter rule can be devastaing for Germany. Factors like mud and snow greatly curtail a nation's offensive operations.

FOW can be set up so the computer sees everything while the human has only limited sight.

The game works on a handicap basis, giving the AI large breaks in many areas. I've often seen this go berserk where the AI is given every advantage and all the allies (Spain, Turkey, etc) for no apparent reason. The COS computer player is much more aggressive than SC's AI, but it has also been know to flagrantly disregard the rules and work in some sort of invincible mode. This is one of the flaws that should have been corrected.

There is no campaign editor of any type in COS. As several scenarios are seriously flawed, an editor would have helped considerably. For example, going from the 39 scenario, it is impossible for either Germany or the Allies to have many of the units that start in the 1940 campaign. Such an inconsistency is incomprehensible -- didn't the game designer check his own closed scenarios?

SC could be improved considerably by incorporating many of COS's best features but should sidestep the bad ideas, which, fortunately, are comparatively few.

[ March 11, 2003, 02:11 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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CoS might only suffer from being to far back in computer wargaming evolution.

With me, it is mostly about it's interface, not much else.

Sure there might be some design issues. Hard to go back for a fresh look, I to can't get that dinosaur to run on my current computer. So there it is.

As for HoI, well it is RTS, which for the detail of that game was grotesque judgement.

Just deciding to make it RTS makes me question the worth of the game's creator.

So even if you discount all the reasons why specifically HoI is not worthy to keep beer spill off your table, I still have zero desire to see SC migrate to anything remotely like RTS.

Hubert might be able to do it right (unlike the people that gave us HoI), but I would still flatly refuse to play grand strategy even at the current SC scale of complexity.

Some things are a bad idea, regardless of how it is done.

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I think that COS was one of the best WW2 AI wargames I've ever played. I was instantly addicted. That's while they call this Strategic Command. It's not precisely SSI and it's not Diplomacy Axis & Allies either...both of which get boring fast...

I would love new things implemented regardless, to make gameplay as enjoyable as it has been so far. I would love to see some tweaking on the platform to somewhat more modern platform<THOUGH not at the cost of playability and a virtually bugfree enviroment comparison with others games I have played that are too big>

I play EU2 a lot, I am in a regular game all the time. I looked at HOI and it seems to be modeled right after EU series and not a separate entity so I'm going to buy it unless someone says something really special. EU2 is one of the best political/economic/stragetic games I've ever played. My current game was started in July of 2002... Talk about a learning curb tongue.gif You SC people are saturated with information on thes boards. EU people do not share much and you have to speak EU to understand it ;)

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by the way this is the ARR.. you'll have to go back a ways to find out how the game started. I have been two nations.. It's truely an artform perfecting your skill in Europa Unveraslis 2 and if you like Politics/Wargames/Interactions of Players without much dice to speak of only skill check this out

http://www.europa-universalis.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=41117&perpage=25&pagenumber=7

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COS is by no means a perfect game. It has quirks and flaws and needed to be refined.
JerseyJohn, I was not endorsing COS as the perfect model or suggesting that SC2 adopt that game's systems in total. However, I do believe that its game features offer a model that could be emulated. Those features that I mentioned that are lacking in SC seem to be the ones most of us come back to time and time again. Hubert would have to refine certain aspects to make them work with the SC model, but a rough blueprint for success is there. Various ideas we have discussed on this forum could be worked into that blueprint, but frankly some ideas just won't fit in - yet.

The main point I was trying to make is that revising SC just to include those other basic features, making various tweaks and adjustments to the existing systems (combat tables, research areas, political events, resources, etc.), and getting the whole package to work, will require some significant time and effort to accomplish before we ever see a beta version. Additional features that add complexity to the game beyond the COS "standard" are probably unlikely at this point. Perhaps in some future project, but not for SC2 if we expect to see a beta within the next year or so. smile.gif

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Bill

Appreciate the reply. I didn't mean to imply you were recommending COS from A to Z. Indeed, there are fundamental differences in game design that I'm sure are intentional on Hubert's part. But realizing, as you also say, the game can't be played on virtually anything except a slow maching running in DOS mode, I wanted to throw as much about COS on the screen as I could remember as most readers will probably never have the opportunity to play the game and find these things out. The statement was written because I was afraid people would thinkg I was saying SC should become COS, which isn't the case. I like both games a great deal.

Agreed 100% that SC might adapt various ideas from COS and improve. There are also some aspects of HiCom that I think would be improvements; the map scale, for example, where HiCom easily fits all of Europe from the the Arctic Circle N to four hexes into the Saharra S, would greatly help this game, but HiComs burdensome micro-management repeated from scratch every turn wouldn't.

Like yourself, I have confidence that whatever Hubert is currently working on will satisfy many of the requests people have been making over the past months.

Agreed also that only The Big H knows what lies down the road. Meanwhile I'm glad you started this Thread, I think the ideas expressed here will help Hubert with his revisions.

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The problems with both games is the AI and the length of turns.

COS was a great game, but the computer wasn't any good. I don't know if there was too many variables to program in, or if the AI was programed at the last minute.

Check out the HOI boards and you will see everyone hates the AI. They take minor countries and conquer the world. Plus way too much micromanaging.

I can usually play one hour a day of SC. This means I can play about 1/4 of the war vs the computer, or finish 6-8 PBEM turns, both of which I greatly desire.

Good luck doing that in HOI. Don't know how time consuming COS was(I was single when I played, and I'd go for 3-4 hours straight).

What this means is any changes made by Hubert for SC2 should keep turn times as well as AI as main considerations.

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The computer handles routine tasks much better in SC then it did with COS. I found a great many incidents of the computer going haywire in that game, especially when it had the Axis.

Having said that, the AI in COS was much more aggressive and smarter than any I've yet seen in other Strategy games.

Perhaps it's a trade off. Of the two I'd rather have SCs operational reliability.

Presumably Hubert will find ways to make the AI more aggressive and a better opponent further down the road. Among other things, it doesn't conduct Amphibious operations at the present time, at least none that I could see. I'm sure Hubert is already working on that along with dozens of other things that have been pointed out for improvement.

Yes, working tirelessly under a beach umbrella in some Tropical hideway, two beuatiful young ladies fanning him with palm leaves, he sits exhausted with a laptop across his knees, hitting those keys like a man possessed, periodically defending against dehydration with Singapore Slings and Bannana Thackerries. . ..

[ March 12, 2003, 11:21 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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Jersey John wrote

the AI in COS was much more aggressive and smarter than any I've yet seen in other Strategy games

I have to disagree with that. I think SC's AI is way more agressive than COS's.....as a test I started the D-Day scenario's for both games and saw how long it took to beat Germany if Germs did nothing. COS took a year to win. SC the war was over by Xmas 44

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General Brock

Interesting. I know if you play against COS it will always launch invasions. As the Russians it keeps hammering away at your defenses and doing a very credible job of it.

By contrast I've never seen the AI in COS conduct Sea Lion, regardless of how weak Britain is. In fact, after playing hundreds of games of COS and almost an equal number with SC I can't see any comparrison at all between the two.

Have you played COS extensively or only a few games? I don't mean this in a confrontational sense, it's just that I find SC's AI to be such a push over and COS to have always been a stiff fight. Albeit one that is aided by special rules and measures that blatantly favor the computer.

[ March 14, 2003, 06:12 PM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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Bill Macon

I agree that SC should take the best features of previous systems and employ them in current SC and future SC.

COS is a good one to look at, as well as High Command. And while its long in the tooth, the design concepts behind 3R should not be forgotten also.

HOI is a different beast. Alot of the requests for a "global" future SC where basically asking for a scaled down version of HOI. I am of the opinion that due to the huge differences in scale between the PTO and ETO, that this is something Hubert should consider years from now, if at all.

Like you mentioned, if future SC just tried to implement some of the features that current SC is lacking, it would take quite some time for Hubert to accomplish just that.

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SC2

Better AI, one that can pursue any one of a dozen basic strategies so that no two games ever play alike. In COS the AI would select 1 of of 3 strategies to guide its moves.

Now it always follows the same game plan with a frew minor adjustments for the Axis(sometimes it will attack Spain or Greece)

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