Panzergruppe Guderian – Or how I played my first game in Vassal

Well, this is my first blog post on wargaming. And funnily enough, it is not about a board game, but about its incarnation in Vassal. And, it is about my experience with playing a game whose rules I had not really read before (usually, before I start a wargame, I read the rules several times over and then get going). However, due to time-constraints (new car, new kitten soon arriving) and because I had a gracious invitation from Kev to play PGG with him on Vassal, I had to go onto the battlefield unprepared. So, I downloaded the latest version an the module and on Friday, we took it for a spin. This was my first time playing a wargame against another person and online. Since I neither know PGG nor Vassal well enough to do a proper review, this blog post will be just a brief one about my experience.

The experience was very exciting. First of all, PGG is easy to pick up (and I will do a video review at a later time), you can learn the basics (i.e. movement, combat) etc. as you go along. Deeper strategy and tactics will take time to learn and figure out, of course. The Vassal module was quite intuitive, and since Kev let me play the Germans, there was plenty to do (of course, I tried to attack as soon as possible, I’m reckless that way, I always want to try out how to do combat, it is a wargame, after all). I did annihilate some of his units, because they turned out to be “zeroes” (in PGG, the first time you attack, you do not know the strength of the Russian enemy, so it is quite tense, and every now and again, I drew the short end of the straw and got whacked).

We played, I believe, 2 turns in full, and it played really fast (considering I had never played before and I had to get used to the fact that I could not see the whole board and could not move around the pieces physically, which was quite a noticeable change).

All in all, I have been wondering if this “you cannot see it all” is not more “realistic”, since, in real life, while you might have a good map of the area where you are going to move in, actual troops etc. are not visible until you come upon them. You may have intelligence regarding the movement of enemy troops, but that intelligence might be incomplete, delayed or simply false. So, in a way, only being able to see a part of the map added to the tenseness (although I know I could have viewed the whole map if I had wanted to). PGG is also different to the other games I have played so far as it has dedicated turns associated with historic dates on which certain things happened, I have read elsewhere that some people do not like this because it feels scripted to them. Since I play wargames because of the historical experience, this was not a problem for me and I just took it as “this is how you play this game, so go with it.”

We finished after a good 2 hours, saved the game (I look forward to retrieving it) and will definitely pick up where we left off. And I will thoroughly read the rules before our next match.

2 thoughts on “Panzergruppe Guderian – Or how I played my first game in Vassal

  1. PGG is very good for introductory purposes because if the newcomer plays the Germans they will have an exciting time even if they lose rather badly in game terms. You have the initiative and can get things done, even if it isn’t enough to win the campaign.

  2. Great post! Was this also your first time playing a wargame opposed? I saw that you scored a physical copy as well and am curious, selfishly hoping you’ll also do a video play thru, how the initial fog of war mechanic will come into play. I’ve yet to play an actual game on Vassal, let alone any wargame with an opponent, so it’s good to hear your positive first-hand experience.

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