Brigade Commander is billed as 'a new concept in computer wargaming', with the following justification: it's played in real time. It also comes with a built-in editor, as seems to be the fashion these days, and a whole range of different scenarios. Half of these are supplied on the accompanying Operation Desert Storm data disk and are based on the events of earlier this year, in which four of the game's authors apparently saw service.
So what's all this about 'real time'? Well, traditionally, wargames are more or less direct transcriptions of their paper-based counterparts, meaning that each side has to take it in turns to move and attack. While you're doing that the computer sits back and lets you get on with it, and once, you've finished you do the same for the computer.
Brigade Commander does away with such courtesies. It's every man for himself, so while you're sitting there wondering whether to hide your tank division in the forest or make a break for the coast, the computer's units have very likely outflanked it and wiped it off the face of the earth. (The basts).
It's a system that works very well, and adds an element of urgency to what is undoubtedly the most boring sort of game of all.
In fact, the whole thrust (if you will) of this game is one of streamlining and simplifying. Most of the game's operations have been cut down to reduce the amount of time you have to spend faffing about with lists of numbers. Click on a hex - the map is built up from these - brings up a list of the friendly units on it, along with a list of the actions they can perform.
If you want to move some of them, for example click on the relevant units, select Move and then trace out the path you'd like them to follow. Attacking is similarly straightforward. Underneath this apparent simplicity, however, are enough complex strategies and options to keep the most hardened of pros happy. All the usual types of unit are catered for (and you can of course, design your own, along with such obscurities as mine-laying and cargo-carrying.
It's nice to see so much thought being put into a wargame - they're usually just endless rehashes of existing games. The result is something which deserves a much wider audience than it's likely to get. Call it blasphemy, but I reckon if they put a bit more work into the presentation they might even sell a few copies.
(Now please - don't make me review ay more of the blooming things.)