Saturday, January 16, 2010

Petroglyph Develops a Panzer Blitz of Its own!

I recently bought an Xbox 360 (refurbished- do you think I am nuts enough to pay full price for a video game machine) and started playing over the internet via Xbox live. I'm too cheap to buy a new game so I settle for purchasing used games from my local GameStop! One of my favorite titles is the Quantum of Solace game, based on the 007 movie of the same name (but actually a mixture of action sequences based on both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace). However, during a break I made an exciting discovery. I played a demo of "Panzer General: Allied Assault" and was instantly hooked. In moments, I had pulled out my credit card and purchased the full game. I was delighted later to discover that the game is in reality a boardgame that is being published by Petroglyph games. (The Xbox version is designed by Ubisoft).

So, how can I describe this one. It is a mixture of board and cardgame. The board is something like a chess board, with individual rectangles representing areas that are controlled by one side or the other. The goal of most games is to capture the home row of your opponent. Player may hold ten cards and the cards truly drive the game. Some cards are units, which allow placement of combat units. The units are fairly standard artillery, infantry, armor, mechanized, etc. Units can normally move one square. Moving into an enemy occupied square creates a combat situation.

Combat it really very, very cool. Each attacking unit has a specific attack level. Other surrounding units may be used for to support an attack. If a force attack a unit that is "dug in" then that unit gets to fire first. In the midst of a combat, players are allowed to play combat cards that can change the flow of the battle. Some of these do immediate damage to an enemy unit, some of them increase attack or defensive levels, etc. After both player finish playing combat actions players can burn ANY type of card using its level (7 is the highest I remember seeing) to boost their attack or defense level. Then, as if that wasn't enough, a die is rolled. The die has positive and negative 1-3) That number is either added or subtracted from the total attack being made and then the results are computed.

Another key element to the game is the use of prestige points. Players earn prestige points for holding territory or elimintating enemy units. Prestige points must be used to play cards (each card has a value of 0-7 on it).

The game has a great ebb and flow to it, whether playing another player online or simply playing against the artificial intelligence of the program. There is a large luck factor which will put some gamers off. After all, having the right cards in your hand may not be the easiest thing to accomplish. Still, players must use the proper strategic movement, plan the use of cards, and then choose when to make attacks, etc.

This game was a wonderful discovery and I can't wait to get my hands on an actual copy of the boardgame. In the meantime, my Xbox 360 is getting a lot of use between Quantum of Solace multiplayer, watching Netflix films, and playing Panzer General: Alllied Assault.

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