The Operational Art of War II: Modern Battles

snap16_1With battles between 1956-2000.

Most wargames fall in either the NATO or NAZIS categories, or World War II and modern NATO versus Warsaw Pact conflicts. The Operational Art of War vol. 1 mostly covered WW2, and the sequel seen here tries to focus on the NATO part. This broad scope gives scenario designers plenty of leeway, and this is where TOAW 2 shines – its variety of battles. From ordering assaults in Vietnam, to bombing  Iraq or simply engaging in ‘what if’ scenarios, TOAW 2 has it all.

Most of the variety comes from geography of the various battles, detailed equipment lists, and game engine additions like air assault capabilities. Unfortunately, there’s no representation of individual countries’ military doctrine, but to be fair doctrine is something few wargames have represented.

The Operational Art of War II starts with a bottom-up approach to its design, where you start with guns and men and build up from there. The problem here is that too often the all-important intermediate levels aren’t modeled – you go right from weapons counts to a division’s overall combat values, with little modeling in between. This approach caused more than a little debate between players when TOAW 1 came out, and Koger has improved things somewhat for TOAW 2, especially in his modeling of armor/anti-armor combat. The game’s interface graphics are quite nice, but it uses the same cramped font and style of interface buttons that Koger games have used since Tanks!.

So in the end we have a pretty fun wargame, if not the be-all and end-all the hardcore players are always looking for. Many of the bugs mentioned before have been cleared by subsequent patching, so the game as a whole plays well enough for hardcore wargamers to enjoy.

System Requirements: Pentium 60 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95/98

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