Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!

Today I will be reviewing the demo for the tactical turn based wargame Conflict of Heroes from Western Civilization Software in conjunction with the creator of the original board game, Uwe Eickert. This is one of the few games that have a playable demo offered on the Matrix Games website and came highly recommended by my good friend, Javelin so I had to give it a try to see what it is all about. I never played the original board game so I am coming into this with a fresh perspective of not drawing natural comparisons to that product.

That board game was first released (from my limited research) in 2008 by Academy Games and a second edition followed in 2012. There were a number of expansions released for the game and the total product won a number of awards upon release. The PC iteration currently sports two expansion packs, Ghost Divisions and Storms of Steel (standalone), also available through Matrix Games. The base game is currently running for $39.99 USD. The Ghost Division expansion is $14.99 USD and Storms of Steel is $39.99 USD (all price points are for the digital download versions).

For this after-action demo review I will be playing the Partisans scenario through the Awakening the Bear Firefights module (essentially the tutorial mission presented in a non-guided format). The scenario takes place on 10/17/1941 and consists of isolated pockets of Soviet infantry units performing partisan activities against elements of the German 161st Infantry Division who are sent into the Priluki area to sweep and clear the Red Army units from the battlefield.

Game Menu


This has to be one of the most artistically rendered game menus I have seen in any genre: the sheer brutality expressed by two bitter enemies facing off with knives and not rifles or tanks is quite a visceral image and one not easily forgotten. No Battlefield Academy cartoon fluff here: these soldiers mean business.

Setup


The setup menu is essentially a no frills affair that provides enough information to have a reasonable expectation of what is to come without drowning the user in minutia. The firefight map to the left indicates friend (white) and foe (red) deployment areas. The area in the top right features a short full motion video that repeats until the user advances.

Deployment


As the scenario starts I get to deploy my forces along the western edge of the map. I have two German Rifle Squads and two LMG 34 Squads at my disposal and align them on either side of the road leading east to take advantage of the concealment of the light and heavy woods to mask my approach as much as possible.

The objective is to seize the crossroads near the center of the map: this is worth one point per turn to whoever controls it.

Turn One


I moved my units forward on either side of the road trying to utilize the woods to block line-of-sight to the enemy. Although I did come under fire, my forces managed to take the Crossroads Objective (by using some Command Action Points) and eliminate a Maxim MMG unit to the northeast.

During the turn I played one Command Action card which provided a free action at no cost to the selected unit.

Turn Two


I pressed one rifle squad forward to fix an enemy unit and used an LMG team to eliminate it. Two Soviet Rifle Squads fell in the firefight.

During the turn I played one Sniper card which causes the enemy to lose a random amount of Command Action Points.

Turn Three


Another Soviet Rifle Squad goes down during some close quarters combat and I pick up a Pioneer unit as a reinforcement.

During the turn I played one Hasty Defense card to protect the reinforcements as they came into the battle.

Turn Four


I use two German Rifle Squads and a Pioneer Squad to trap a Soviet Rifle Squad while playing another Sniper card to deny the enemy some of their CAP.

Turn Five (Final)


I advance one of my rifle squads on the damaged Russian force and eliminate it.

After-Action Reports



I actually like the basic and clean presentation of the end game statistics as it doesn’t muddy up the screen with a bunch of data that is not immediately decipherable.

The Germans managed to score the Crossroads Objective points for all five turns while denying those points to the Soviets, and destroyed a total of five Red Army units (four rifle squads and one MMG squad) for a final score of 10-0.

Post Mortem

This is a well-polished demo that plays solid and everything seems to work. Nothing crashed or hung up on my Windows 7 gaming rig and I am impressed with the overall product.

Board Game

The following screen shots were taken earlier today (Sunday 5/18/14) when my friend Dave (Javelin) visited Uwe Eickert, and while there managed to do a solo play on the board game using the Partisan scenario. The Soviets went up by 2, then had the lead at 6-5 going into the last round only to lose 7-6 to the Germans:




Dave makes dice for a number of Kickstarter related games in his spare time:


Was able to play some demo MP games tonight (5/19/14) on the Partisan map and the last ended in a great stalemate:


3 comments:

  1. Tim, I have the game and have not played it enough. It is solid and the scenarios can get quite complex. It is worth picking up at some point and I bet it will be a game that gets discounted with the weekly Matrix sale soon. I don't think it has been yet and they are working through all of their top titles.

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  2. I really like the AP system of this game. I tend to play it with the boardgame view turned on too, which really makes it look like a table top game. I find I keep turning to this or LnL: Heroes of Stalingrad over Combat Mission since both are easier and fast to play.

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  3. Updated with new screen shots from the box game.

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