Notes on Case White [Europa] Game play and an inevitable comparison

Case White one of the early Europa titles, is indeed a juggernaut of a game for the Axis. I think in my playing we could have seen the Poles do more defense in depth, and counter attack less, and last a few turns longer. But really it is over pretty quickly regardless.

I was not too fussed about how the game played out, this was more of a ‘lets do it for completeness’. It is however enjoyable, and allowed me to explore the Europa system with little to fear on the scale of worrying about resetting for a major mistake etc.

I am skipped much of the Air War as it is practically over, after turn 1 and flying a bunch of dudes around to gain 2-3 CF seems like a waste of time with the wealth of arms at hand. The Air rules are tedious as is the tracking of AA units, much of this should have been incorporated into the general divisional units and Panzer units for ease of play. I can see purists getting up in arms about this, but at some point playability must come to the fore. Whereas having EVERY single unit from a front represented becomes a nonsense, which gamers then abuse.

The big thing for me as I have it(Case White) and DAK2 setup at the same time is that OCS and Europa share some clear similarities. In fact Dean Essig gives a solid nod to his usage of the RE (Regimental Equivalents) concept in the game. I dot know the design history so I am inferring here.

I think the similarities go deeper than that. Well perhaps more that concepts touched upon in Europa have been taken expanded, re worked and re applied for better cleaner effect.

The over wrought thinking behind Armor effects on combat in Europa are painful to use. OCS take a simple color coding of unit type and applies a multiplier to the units combat ability, subject to who it is fighting and in what terrain. Brilliant. At a glance I can see who receives x2 or x1.5 for combat factors. The need to calculate 1/7th of the proportion of the total “non neutral” combat factors goes away….sheesh.

Then of course the big innovation for OCS was the Combat results table and the impact of Action Ratings. The way these two elements work together is the heart of combat in the game and allows every unit to have is proper proportional value versus just a stack of 1 rated combat units.

The CRT with its attrition based results also means that the game is less about attacking any where and more about finding the “right place” to attack. I find the Attacker benefit to be too strong in Europa for my liking.

None of that however is of much use without the love/hate relationship with Supply. Supply is the OCS gatekeeper of gamey play prevention, and historical accuracy. Too much supply? un ending hordes advancing to anywhere heedless of lines. Too little your ability to do what you need when you need it is gone.  Tuning that spigot is the designers job based upon the history presented. I can see potentially how Essig may have played Europa and toyed with the notion of trucks as they are applied in Fire in The East, and wondered how you could obtain a better result from those truck supply trains and routes.

The combination of HQ and supply truck usage with rail is the essence of the command and control system that feels lacking in Europa. From playing Case White and going thru the Scorched Earth Rules and summarizing them I can see that Europa to me would have been a well suited system to smaller titles such as Case White, but really feels at any rate to struggle to capture specific issues at hand in the larger games due to a lack of command and control, and supply management. That said the supply rules in the non East front titles are simple for Europa and make it a painless part of the turn sequence. I must admit the dread that befalls me with OCS if I have been getting “all crazy” and now I have to struggle to re connect supply or avoid attrition rolls.

All high level stuff I know but I wanted to share some initial impressions as a person coming to Europa AFTER playing OCS, rather than the other way around. I see a lot of the minor faults of OCS, and understand that at some point a system has to just “DEAL with IT”, I am sure that Europa had it’s share of baggage along the way also.

Similar but different systems, that really scratch different itches.

4 thoughts on “Notes on Case White [Europa] Game play and an inevitable comparison

  1. Another excellent post! I hope you don’t mind, but I put a link to your post in the Master Europa Yahoo group. I want Tom Johnson to take a look at it and share his thoughts.

    I’ll be doing just the opposite from you, playing OCS after Europa and Master Europa. I look forward to making the same comparison that you made so well. But I must say, my new job (District Math Specialist for a school district in San Antonio) is kicking my butt. I haven’t played a game turn in months. I figure it’s going to be a few years before I make the move to OCS.

    1. You and Tom Johnson are my two favorite experts on wargaming. Tom’s understanding of Europa’s rules-as-written (RAW) is better than anyone I know. Master Europa, his improvement to the system, is super. You should try one of his modules. Here are his comments to your original post:

      Posted on September 9, 2013 by hipshotau
      Case White one of the early Europa titles, is indeed a juggernaut of a game for the Axis. I think in my playing we could have seen the Poles do more defense in depth, and counter attack less, and last a few turns longer. But really it is over pretty quickly regardless.

      TJ: Well, that varies, it was Europa IV or V originally, then reissued some time later as “First to Fight with some upgrades. It is a bloody massacre for the Poles unless the German player has had a great deal to much shnapps before saying “Loss!”. There is a 3 day turn (I think that is the space) version in “First to Fight”.
      I was not too fussed about how the game played out, this was more of a ‘lets do it for completeness’. It is however enjoyable, and allowed me to explore the Europa system with little to fear on the scale of worrying about resetting for a major mistake etc.
      I am skipped much of the Air War as it is practically over, after turn 1 and flying a bunch of dudes around to gain 2-3 CF seems like a waste of time with the wealth of arms at hand. The Air rules are tedious as is the tracking of AA units, much of this should have been incorporated into the general divisional units and Panzer units for ease of play. I can see purists getting up in arms about this, but at some point playability must come to the fore. Whereas having EVERY single unit from a front represented becomes a nonsense, which gamers then abuse.

      TJ: A common complaint abut RAW, as the classic air system is insanely detailed for the game. Personally I feel that the newer “air on demand” concept also is not right, but errors in the other direction.
      The big thing for me as I have it(Case White) and DAK2 setup at the same time is that OCS and Europa share some clear similarities. In fact Dean Essig gives a solid nod to his usage of the RE (Regimental Equivalents) concept in the game. I dot know the design history so I am inferring here.
      TJ: Well, Europa has its beginnings in 1972, and DAK ver 1 was released in 1997, yeah, Dean was able to view the ideas and move forward. Europa was the first game to really use and present a way to show the effects of force mixture, and while not perfect, it was pretty good.
      I think the similarities go deeper than that. Well perhaps more that concepts touched upon in Europa have been taken expanded, re worked and re applied for better cleaner effect.
      TJ: I would say that the concepts were there as a guide, and that sparked Dean to come up with a different way to get there. Not so much taken, or expanded, as studied and an alternative method devised.
      The over wrought thinking behind Armor effects on combat in Europa are painful to use. OCS take a simple color coding of unit type and applies a multiplier to the units combat ability, subject to who it is fighting and in what terrain. Brilliant. At a glance I can see who receives x2 or x1.5 for combat factors. The need to calculate 1/7th of the proportion of the total “non neutral” combat factors goes away….sheesh.
      TJ: Well, that kinda depends on taste, in my new stuff there is NEVER a change to the combat factors, (no math!) its all done with column shifts.
      Then of course the big innovation for OCS was the Combat results table and the impact of Action Ratings. The way these two elements work together is the heart of combat in the game and allows every unit to have is proper proportional value versus just a stack of 1 rated combat units.
      The CRT with its attrition based results also means that the game is less about attacking any where and more about finding the “right place” to attack. I find the Attacker benefit to be too strong in Europa for my liking.
      TJ: The overwhelming power of the attacker (to succeed) in the RAW CRT has been commented upon for years indeed it was one of the first areas I started with when beginning the Master project.

      None of that however is of much use without the love/hate relationship with Supply. Supply is the OCS gatekeeper of gamey play prevention, and historical accuracy. Too much supply? un ending hordes advancing to anywhere heedless of lines. Too little your ability to do what you need when you need it is gone. Tuning that spigot is the designers job based upon the history presented. I can see potentially how Essig may have played Europa and toyed with the notion of trucks as they are applied in Fire in The East, and wondered how you could obtain a better result from those truck supply trains and routes.

      TJ: The study of logistics, and procedures, demand etc. is one of the central needs for a good designer, and a good study will leave you with the base upon which to build a structure with the appropriate links, levels, and system. Europa cut it short and went with the ‘all the stuff in the universe’ can roll right down this track, and support the entire German army (if desired). I have not played the OCS system to give a real comparative.
      The combination of HQ and supply truck usage with rail is the essence of the command and control system that feels lacking in Europa. From playing Case White and going thru the Scorched Earth Rules and summarizing them I can see that Europa to me would have been a well suited system to smaller titles such as Case White, but really feels at any rate to struggle to capture specific issues at hand in the larger games due to a lack of command and control, and supply management. That said the supply rules in the non East front titles are simple for Europa and make it a painless part of the turn sequence. I must admit the dread that befalls me with OCS if I have been getting “all crazy” and now I have to struggle to re connect supply or avoid attrition rolls.

      TJ: Logistics is highly abstracted in RAW, to include what I refer to as “manna” points (Resource points). These things can do all manner of things and are there to try and hold back really wild stuff, but its really a game artifice in total.

      All high level stuff I know but I wanted to share some initial impressions as a person coming to Europa AFTER playing OCS, rather than the other way around. I see a lot of the minor faults of OCS, and understand that at some point a system has to just “DEAL with IT”, I am sure that Europa had it’s share of baggage along the way also.

      TJ: Yes, all games do (sigh).
      Similar but different systems, that really scratch different itches.
      TJ: True. RAW has its issues, Master Europa (my stuff) has issues, heck even the new stuff I am doing may well have them, but we are working hard to make them hard to find! I hope these comments have answered your questions, please feel free to contact me directly if you have more.
      Tom J

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