The designer (Joe Angiolillo) wrote of his frustration about the parameters within which he was forced to work. For example, his preference for the Panzergruppe Guderian (PGG) untried units system. But as you read further he credits the OT developer for taking his initial submitted design and making it playable under the parameters set forth. That developer was Joe Balkoski, whose contributions to the game were significant enough to credit him as co-designer.
Despite the designer's misgivings OT is considered by its fans to be the one SPI monster game that is most playable. And there must have been something about the game mechanic of untried units (a refinement of the PGG system) that appealed to JB, since he used it in Patton's 3rd Army (P3A) and Operation Grenade (OpG).
P3A and OpG are much smaller games than OT, which give players the opportunity to try the system as a way to work up to OT. But these two games - as published in S&T - have ease-of-use problems.
- Counters are hard to read.
- Corps designations not easily recognized.
- Strength chit shortage due to magazine game counter limit.
- Long(ish) set up time: almost all units begin on the map.
These can be improved in a VASSAL module.
VITW Modules and Chit Tables
Created as VASSAL game-piece images, unit type symbols are color coded by nationality and corps.
Top line of each counter shows the unit ID (left) and parent division (right, in bold).
US 12 Corps: pink | 20 Corps: orange
German 13 Corps: white | 80 Corps: feldgrün | 89 Corps: pink
A unit's parent division, if any, is in bold-faced text (upper right).
Unit strength background colors -
white: intrinsic combined arms | yellow: no ZOC
There are no strength chits in the module: instead, a game-piece layer is used along with a dynamic property.
Instead of drawing a chit from a cup to determine initial unit strength, a VCS table has been created for this module. The VCS table has nine columns - one for each morale/class combination. The sum of a 2d6 roll yields a bell-curve range of strengths. For each class of unit, the maximum, mean, and minimum strengths are equal to those generated by chit draws in the game as published.
[See above for VCS Chit Table download links - one per game.]
Whatever method used (chit draw or table), the strength assignments are recorded in each unit's Set strength levels (Shift-Crtl-V) property sheet as show below.
Having assigned strengths to an untried unit, the next step is to set the unit's current strength (Crtl-V) from property sheet. "CDR" is used to show a cadre.
IMPORTANT: Current strength is displayed under each unit in the mouse-over stack viewer. This retains a low-level fog of war by hiding actual strength of a unit until you hover the mouse pointer over it.
All units have a layer to indicate supply status:
unsupplied (red dash) | isolated (black slash)
Artillery units have a layer to show that the unit has provided combat support in the current combat phase. All artillery units in the game can be reset from the toolbar with the "AS" global key command after each combat phase.
The module uses a scan of the hex-grid area of the published map, with hex numbering removed wherever practical. As usual in my hex-grid modules, mouse-over hover text includes hex ID, even on empty hexes.
The turn track is in a separate map window, holding reinforcement units and with space to hold eliminated units.
P3A: US objective hexes are marked on the map. Marginal victory: "army" green, Decisive victory: purple.
The US Support Points track from the printed game map has been replaced with a game-piece having dynamic properties for 12th and 20th Corps support point tallies.
The Air Points marker is a handy tool to keep track of the air power allocations of each side.
The modules are geared toward solitaire play, with minimal allowance for the "fog of war" rules (i.e. concealing variable strength levels in the mouse-over stack viewer). There are no player sides defined, so no unit masking is possible.
The VCS table is offered as an improvement on the published game's strength chit draws, since VASSAL game pieces are able to record their own properties the chits are not necessary.
One nitpick is that north and south on each map runs left-right. Rotating the map 90 degrees clockwise to put north at the top was not practical since all the location text (cities, towns, forests) would read sideways.
How many random elements are needed in a combat resolution mechanic? As long as there is a die roll and a CRT with a wide array of results, further random inputs just complicate the process. Perhaps untried units and variable combat strengths simulate a specific random element that the designer does not want to abstract within the CRT results: to prevent the players from factor counting to achieve a particular odds ratio.