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Author Topic: My Review of Tunisia and the Series  (Read 3722 times)
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Posts: 6

« on: November 08, 2017, 04:59:37 PM »

A New Wargame Experience                                                                    


Let me begin with a note of gratitude to the developer/publisher of this wargame series in which I too have a love/hate relationship from the beginning of its inception with Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 1943 through Operation Star, Mius Front and now Tunisia 1943. Despite the good/bad AI experience that many legitimately claim, let me also state my personal opinion concerning the series in general of what I believe is the best simulation experience in its genre: Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943.
     The game itself bears little resemblance to other competing titles. Much to the shock of many, Tunisia reprimands those who have been indoctrinated by current “click-fest” approaches to mainstream RTS and high expectations of impeccable AI outside of human sentient. The latter have their appeal but, Yes, Tunisia 43 is culture shock and therefore lacks the praise and support it righty deserves.


When I speak of “Wargame Experience” I mean the genesis of Tunisia 43 from the very beginning of APK 43. I remember informing a friend who failed to buy the initial offering who only remarked, “The frigid moody fog and stray barking dog in the distance was kind of cool, but where is the action?” He never had the patience or perseverance to discover the potential silver lining of Achtung Panzer: Kharkov 43 and its subsequent evolution as a wargame simulator. He was too far gone for what he thought was the dark frigid wastelands of the Ukraine experience.

The Experience

“At 6:00 AM the snow was slowly falling. I peered from a dark trench into a cold foggy morning with the sounds of a stray dog barking in the distant village. Nearby pine trees sway in a frigid howling wind with the snow slowly falling. In the serene boredom, disgruntled men chirp expletives among themselves. All of a sudden the lead elements of a weathered panzer grenadier company appeared out of the distant fog churning down a muddy village road as I peer down the barrel of a seemingly obsolete anti-tank gun.”
Amidst what seemed to be an indefinite period of boredom, the entrenched guns began to light up the following half-tracks as their occupants eject from flaming wrecks into the night. The serene moments of snow falling to all hell breaking loose was the most immersive wargame moment I have ever experienced.
     In following experiences it was Tigers emerging from the snow against immobile lend lease Matildas. In Tunisia, it is also the latter with relentless artillery bombardments, airstrikes and a far more resilient opponent. It has been a pleasure to experience the series from the cold wind swept steppes of Kharkov through the muddy expanses of Mius Front to the sweltering hot slopes and draws of Tunisia. This offering has the potential to ruin your day (or months) for any other wargame if you can get past the learning curve.

Hard Core Curve

The learning curve is “hard core” in some respects. AI communication is the underlying feature of this game that requires an unavoidable learning curve in terms of how the player implements control (instruction), including the AI, which to affirm the associated gripes, is not easy to discern at the outset.
     Justifiably, the UI is not intuitive to the unlearned. Furthermore, the maneuver initiative is hard to recall or reverse once executed. On the other hand one can actually micro manage if they use the command feature judiciously, albeit in a conservative manner. This would make sense in a real world scenario as well, however it is a tough game on the unsuspecting but rewarding once its philosophy is embraced and the player assumes the role of a director. Congratulations to the developer for this new genre.
     Unfortunately, Tunisia is the victim of our—thirty second sound bite—western gaming culture and the default neglect to read required manuals. Subsequently, one must either embrace Tunisia, or move on and abandon the notion all together, only to return once again at a later date in development. However, this would be a shame because often time’s rich experiences are often found in the struggle. So let us try and find the rich experiences in the ensuing struggle.

Unorthodox Tradition

Traditions die hard. A prerequisite in overcoming the UI and questionable AI is overcoming established biases and entrenched armchair comfort levels. At first one is presented with what seems to be the riddle of modern hieroglyphics. The User interface must be overcome with a new level of patience and understanding before experiencing the silver lining that lies underneath this remarkable piece of work. I could preach Steel Division here but it ran its course for me in two weeks. Now we have Tunisia and it is good—real good. But then there is the order wheel.

The Order Wheel

The order wheel gives us a flexible and powerful tool that does requires perseverance to learn, which obviously lacks conduciveness to main stream gaming. In it you get a fairly intuitive sub-section which in sum amounts to hundreds of different order combinations. When used judiciously and economically it is the core control factor in Tunisia. The more orders one executes (albeit with restrictions) the more unpredictable the unit behavior becomes, not to mention all the terrain features and benefits that affect it. Some like it, some don`t. However, it works well considering the complex underlying features of maneuver in the game. It all becomes second nature once the learning curve is overcome. Anything more simple and many of the features would be lost to simplicity which does not appeal to the intricacies of a terrain model that demands it.


There is a certain cognitive dissonance when it comes to unusual concepts in gaming philosophy. New or different information is flat out rejected due to previous experiences good or bad. The transition from the traditional RTS to the new wargame simulator can be a jarring experience to its adherents and often impulsively rejected. Have you ever discovered a new truth against one you have already established? Graviteam goes against the traditional doctrine in this area and at times gets burned at the stake for it.
In closing, I have deliberately neglected the excellent visuals and the campaign map. They are beautiful. It was Graviteam that compelled me to upgrade my computer years ago. Nevertheless, I must admit that in the early days I quit the series on several occasions but returned after overcoming my mainstream bias and boredom with the usual. After a short hiatus I could no longer resist Tunisia.

     The sheer scope of this simulator can be overwhelming. On the other hand, the overwhelming experience is a welcome addition to this wonderful genre we all share if one is determined to embrace its philosophy. Tunisia is not about winning. It`s about experiencing. Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943 is an excellent experience and offers great rewards and future operations for those who persevere.

Welcome to the new wargame experience.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 03:17:34 PM by Bergeson » Logged
Posts: 164

« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2017, 01:37:28 PM »

It can be said without exaggerating or lying, but Graviteam has brilliantly revisited the world of wargaming.  Wink

Panzergranate Neun und Dreizig Geladen! Schuss!
Posts: 6531

Jerk developer

« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 01:36:42 AM »

Thanks for the review.

Пользовательский интерфейс будет неуместен на сегодняшних широкоэкранных экранах, а оригинальные карты неопределенного метра и моделирование чисел с низкими лицами заставляют людей действительно не хотеть играть.
Posts: 6

« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 03:24:37 PM »

Thank You for the experience and keep up the good work. Wink
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