Computer War in Europe History & Designer's Notes

updated 031029

*Exists as softcopy in WGA Archives

From: Hank Meyer <hcmeyer@UCI.EDU> Subject: Comp WiE: The Designer Talks!

[I received this after I sent Greg an inquiry about Comp WiE -- Hank]

Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 20:02:49 -0500 From: Gregory Ploussios <> Subject: Computer War in Europe To: Hank Meyer <>


Thanks for your e-mail! I wanted to answer some of those questions where other people could read the answers, so posted the following on the games.rec board where you posted your initial message. However, I am not sure posted it right--it apears the lines extend for the full paragraph instead of wrapping! I'd be happy to answer anyones questions, but is there a particular forum/board where we can post this discussion or should it be done by e-mail? (I am not to familiar with the Internet.) Here is the message I posted on games.rec:

*********** Hank Meyer was nice enough to send me an e-mail and let me know there were some questions about Computer War In Europe. (I designed and programmed the computer version based on the original board game by SPI.) Hank sent me a copy of number of e-mails with questions about the game, and I thought this would probably be the best place to give interested people some information.

First, how this all came about. (For those who just want a description of the game, skip this paragraph.) I started this project in late 1993. I new SPI was out of business, but I did not know who currently owned the rights to the game (Decision Games). I also did not know if this had been a popular game or not. I did know that I wanted to play the game again, and if I had to find floor space for the board game I never would. I also thought it would be challenging and fun to program. A little more than a year ago I contacted Decision Games (the owners of War In Europe and the other SPI games), and sold them the rights to my computer version. I learned from Decision Games that there were a number of Errata rules, and I incorporated many of these into the game. However, I did not know of the existence of the "War-in-Eur list" nor of the Errata lists on-line here. I think Christopher Cummins (Decision Games) just learned about this a couple of weeks ago.

The game has all the rules from the original game, and many of the rules from some of the errata that Christopher Cummins supplied me which are included as options. I'll comment on the few discrepencies from the original rules first, and then talk about the options. The game does not support the Soviet limitted war/3 player game where the Russians can fight either the Allies or Axis, because I did not think anyone would be interested in this, and I definitely was not. The only actual rule change is regarding supply. The game does not keep track of the nationality of supply, but only whether it is from a great (German, U.K., U.S.A., & Russia) or minor power (all others). Supply from a great power can supply any nationality of that side, while supply from a minor power supplies only other friendly minor power units. The reason for this is that it speeds up calculating supply immeasurably, and has almost no practical effect. The only possible practical effect, is that a minor power unit (say Bulgarian) cut off from Sofia and from all German manufacturing centers, could still get supply from another minor power capital such as Rome or Budapest. But, in the many games I have played so far, this has never occcurred (let alone has it been a factor), and it is worth the increased speed in calculating supply (what takes seconds would take minutes). Another change is that U.K. and U.S. mobile supply units supply both nationalities units, for that same reasons as described above. Those are the only changes that I can think of besides the errata changes.

Christopher supplied me the following Errata lists: "Revised Errata for SPI's War In Europe July 1992" (the name Kennedy is writen on this). "War In Europe Variants" by Robert Smith "War In Europe - Realism Variants for playtesting" and several other unnamed and undated playtesting rules lists. Many of the errata corrections I made directly into the game (e.g., U.S. reinforcements not effected by U-boat war results before 1942, additional German Surface Fleets and U-boats in production at start, etc.). I added many of the errata additions as optional rules. Where I had conflicting errata rules--such as with paratroopers--I made some changes myself. The 12 optional rules are: 1. German Personnel Points 2. Additional Units (mountain, artillery, air landing, German motorized units, etc.) 3. Ukraine 4. Air Supremacy 5. U-Boat War: Surf Sorty & ASW 6 New Paratrooper Rules. 7. More Partisans 8. Minor ZOC only +1 9. Additional Combat Results 10. Severe Weather 11. Afrika Korps Supply 12. Allied Changing Combat Strength Some of these options contain more than one rule (Air Supremacy allows air attrition, shifting combat odds, negates Allied Naval Interdiction, siege of Malta, etc.). Options 11 and 12 are options I made up.

I understand Christopher is selling this as a pre-publication program, but that has to do with the fact that the manual and box are not ready, and we plan to add more optional/errata rules. The program itself is in great shape--it is not buggy like most Beta releases or even like many final releases!

Here is a description of the game which I posted on Compuserve:

<<The game is designed for PBEM or solitaire play, but provides no computer opponent. The program does, however, automate tasks, enforce all rules, calculate supply, potential movement paths, etc. A game saves in one easy to send file for PBEM play. The game also has a number of new options not included in the original game. The game contains an edit function, allowing players to alter scenarios and setups (as long as they have opposing player's password).

The interface is very easy to use and intuitive. It is a DOS program, but has movable dialog boxes and other visual interface advantages of Windows, without the disadvantages of Windows programs (slower speed and bugs). The program faithfully recreates the mapboard, as well as displaying photos from World War II, and a portion of speech by Churchill.

WIE is a DOS program, but will work out of a Windows 3.1 DOS box, or Windows 95. It requires 3.5 MB RAM, VGA monitor and graphics card, minimum 386 processor (recommend 486 at least), hard drive with 6 MB free, mouse, and a keyboard. A soundblaster or 100% compatible sound card is needed for sound.

The program costs $40. The program has extensive online documentation covering all aspects of the rules and game play. Currently, Decision Games has not yet printed a manual, but will provide free of charge a manual once printed (near future) to all those who purchased the game before the manual was included, as well as providing a free update to the program.

To order WIE, call or e-mail Decision Games: (805) 723-2088 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Pacific Time) (they take credit cards) >>

My focus on this program has been to make it very easy to use and intuitive. I was disapointed with most DOS games' user interfaces, and was resolved to make this program easy and fun to use. The program contains lots of functions that help the player--such as an inventory function that instantly list the player's units that are on the mapboard, or any front, or country, and such as Display Mode which graphically displays the map in terms of who owns each hex (as opposed to Terrain Mode).

I did not create an AI (computer opponent) because I did not think I could create one that would challenge any but the most beginning gamer (because of WIE's complexity and size), and therefore would not be worth the gigantic effort, as people would simply play PBEM and solitaire anyway. To create a good AI for a game, this must be a consideration in the design of the original game which was not the case here.

If people are interested I can upload the online rules for these options, or even the entire online rules (unlike most games, these online rules are complete). Where is the appropriate place to do this? I'd also be happy to answer questions about the game, if this is the appropriate place for that.

-Greg Ploussios

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