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Strategic War Series            *click here for games*

The First BlitzkriegWar on the Southern Front

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-Strategic War User Manuals-

While I was rummaging through various files while looking for material, and came across the designer's notes section (technically the notes.hlp file).

What immediately caught my eye was this huge jump map, that turns out to be the master map for the Total War in Europe series. Ok, granted The First Blitzkrieg uses bits of this map only.

Strategic War's master map

I suppose the initial assumption might be, that it looks like the boardgame (and following PC versions as well) War in Europe, which was previously published by SPI and the most recent iteration is by Decision Games. Well, I suppose the map areas are very similar, however War in Europe's scale is 20 miles per hex (or 32 km if you will), while Total War in Europe's scale is about 6 miles per hex (the stated scale is given in metric - 10 km per hex), which equates to just slightly smaller than GMT's East Front series in scale.

In other words, War in Europe uses 9 22 x 34 inch map sheets to cover the approximate area shown on this jump map; while GMT's series uses 5 like sized maps to cover only the area from the Gulf of Finland to around Odessa on the Black Sea. This is a massive series forming up to be sure.

I have yet to come up with a suitable page regarding scale and other information and that will be forthcoming shortly. Below is the section of the designer's notes on the projected scope of this series.


Designer's Notes (The First Blitzkrieg)


The First Blitzkrieg (TFB) is the first of what will be a series of games called Total War in Europe, and will focus on the early years – Poland, Norway, France and a hypothetical invasion of England in the fall of 1940. I am sure I speak for most of the development team when I say that the seeds of this go back to the day when I first set up my SPI board game War in the West which went on to become War in Europe when combined with the East Front.
The idea to make the game came from our programmer and developer John Tiller who for a number of years, liked to think of this project as his "hobby project" – something he would work on as time allowed. The project really got going late in 2000, after of few people who had collaborated on the early Panzer Campaigns series' titles were invited into the project after got to know us and what each of us could bring to a project of this scope.

The Master Map:

While this first installment of the series comes with several small maps, the Total War in Europe master map was the first step. This map is a monster! Encompassing the whole of Europe and parts of North Africa and Asia with a 10 kms per hex scale; the complete map has over a quarter million hexes. The map also incorporates a 30-degree tilt to the east to allow us to fit it in a rectangular shape. The chief map maker on this project was Dave ‘Blackie’ Blackburn, an experienced map mapmaker who is responsible for many of the Panzer Campaigns and Squad Battles series' maps.

Like the Panzer Campaigns series' maps, this master map was created by using a proprietary map program; where a source map is scanned in sections and assembled into a massive bitmap file. For a typical Panzer Campaigns series titles a bitmap file of the game map can easily be over 100 MBs, however for this project the bitmap had to be cut into eight smaller bitmaps each 50 to 80 MBs in size because the PCs and video cards of the day just would not support loading the entire map at once.
The master map will be used to generate smaller maps for the various games in the series,
but only be released as a single large map in the final game, which will encompass the total war from 1939 to 1945. [emphasis mine -ST]

In "The First Blitzkrieg", the maps include Norway, Denmark, Poland, Germany, France, the Low Countries and England, with portions of other countries as well. Anyone familiar with making new scenarios for John Tiller games will be pleased to know the same submap feature used in other series is available here. This enables players to develop their own scenarios on smaller sections of the maps provided in the game. The submap feature allows many smaller scenarios to be developed using the scenario editor with your own size map from the game maps and using the detailed units provided in the game Order-of-battle which covers all the nations in this early part of the war.
Many hours went into the map making and we trust you will be as pleases as we are with the results.

Not Your Old Boardgame Here:

Despite the seed growing from the War in Europe (WIE) board game and perhaps the similar appearance of this series' map and the War in Europe boardgame map, you will find that this game is not a an attempt to port the board game to the PC. The scale is a very different in as compared with the WIE.

The WIE had a ground scale was 33 km per hex and a timescale of one weekper turn. This game is 10 km per hex and 2 days per turn. Therefore, as an example, in WIE the distance from Dunkirk to Sedan is10 hexes and the period we cover in our France 40 campaigns [within TWIE as opposed to the PzC title of the same name -ST] would last only 3 to 6 game turns. By comparison with The First Blitzkrieg the distance from Dunkirk to Sedan is 25 hexes and the France scenarios last between 12 and 21 game turns.

The difference doesn’t stop at scale, however, the combat model was first developed in early 2001 and goes far beyond the simple Attacker vs. Defender odds ratio with a die roll.

Combat Resolution in TFB is intended to represent two results: the attempt of the attacker to cause casualties to the defender and a corresponding attempt of the defender to cause casualties to the attacker. These results are modified to take into account varying armor and anti-tank abilities of the units involved. This results in armor associated with the attackers and defenders possibly playing a higher or lower role in the results than they would by default. Each ground unit has 5 values which affect combat results in the game: attack value, defense value, armor value, anti-tank value, and anti-air value. Each combat result consists of two types of losses: losses to strength points and losses to effectiveness. Each combat result also affects both sides of the combat, attacker and defender.

Unit ratings in TFB based on a fairly complex set of calculation utilizing actual weapons counts. The first calculation is for unit strength. One point is given for each infantry platoon and an equivalent amount of vehicles or major weapons. The game ratings are based on the number of weapons of a given type multiplied by a weighting factor (different weightings are applied for each game factor (AF, DF, Arm, AT, and AA). The product for all weapon types (there are 182 of them) are them added together and then divided by the unit strength. This final number is then adjusted by a quality factor (ranging from 1.0 for super elite troops to 0.4 for the REALLY bad) and this last part is the only place where judgment comes into play.

For example, below is some of the raw numbers used to arrive at values for a medium Artillery Btl" composed of 12x 105mm Artillery pieces. The ratings are calculated as follows:
Strength = squads + weapons (ex ATR's and LMG's)/10 = 0 + 12/10 = 1
AF = sum (weapons * wpn AF factor)/Str * class = 12 * 4 / 1 * 0.9 = 43
DF = sum (weapons * wpn DF factor)/Str * class = 12 * 0.25 / 1 * 0.9 = 3
Arm = sum (weapons * wpn Arm factor)/Str * class = 12 * 0 / 1 * 0.9 = 0
AT = sum (weapons * wpn AT factor)/Str * class = 12 * 0 / 1 * 0.9 = 0
AA = sum (weapons * wpn AA factor)/Str * class = 12 * 0 / 1 * 0.9 = 0

A sample of the nations

There are 183 different Squad and Weapon types (each with their own set of factors) so the calculations get complicated when units have more than one weapon type. I use a Microsoft Access database to do the calculations. Class is the only factor that is subjectively applied and it varies from 1.0 (fanatic) to 0.4 (despicable).

The game comes with a fully developed Order-of-Battle (OOB) for the period covering the early years of the war and includes 13 separate Nations which combined makes for 360 possible types of ground combat units and 87 types of air units. Using the scenario editor along with the maps provided and this master OOB, any other historical or hypothetical scenarios can be developed. Other nations with different units covering different periods of the war will be included as parts of later games in this series.

The A/I:

In 2003 John Tiller began work on an generation A/I – a project for the Department of Defense STTR Program entitled: Adaptive Artificial Intelligence for Next-Generation Conflict Simulation. In this project John Tiller was assisted by the program manager for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Dr. Robert Barker.

The proposal was to design and development of a challenging, adaptable, and extendible A/I system for use in state-of-the-art computer-based wargames. The development would result in a 3rd generation computer wargame and the ability to apply the technology developed for this project in other wargames. The approach was to use state-of-the-art A/I technologies programmed into A/I components which through well-defined interfaces allowed for a plug-and-play A/I system. This provides for unlimited future development and enhancement as well as provides a challenging A/I opponent developed from this proposal.

TFB is the first wargame to utilize this new system and from that point, a colleague of John Tiller, Dr. John Rushing, University of Alabama in Huntsville began the detailed building the A/I for the TFB Game.