I so desperately want to like WARNO. I like Cold War Gone Hot scenarios. I like army building/deck building in competitive wargames. I like pretty graphics and funky 80’s music. But, try as I might, I just can’t get the hang of it. Every time I try and play multiplayer, even when playing with friends, I find the inability to stop and assess the situation frustrating. If I were quicker, sharper, and a better commander, I could probably handle the micromanagement to a point where WARNO could be incredibly rewarding.
In fact, when playing Eugen’s latest entry in their wargames series, that feeling is so tantalizingly close that I find myself more annoyed than I think I have the right to be. I was wondering if I just had to decide that WARNO, and games like it, weren’t for me. Then Regiments appeared on the horizon, sun shining at its back, and it bellowed, “less micro!” and my heart sang.
Regiments is as (you guessed it) regimental scale 3D real-time wargame about a fictitious Cold War Gone Hot scenario in 1989. Players take control of platoon-sized units and support assets to take control of linked capture points on a large map over several ‘phases’ of an operation.
The comparisons with the Red Dragon in the room are unavoidable, but I’m going to try and stick to talking about what Regiments does and how it feels. Which is ‘better’ will be up to your personal preference and desire for multiplayer.
This is a single player only experience, and it is kind of refreshing to see that angle taken with a game of this type. Real-time strategy style wargames often prioritize the competitive multiplayer aspect. That can be great fun, but it is nice to see the focus placed on making the game work for single player with the ability to give orders while paused and a scale that reduces the number of units you need to individually order.
Operations are the main method of playing Regiments. Operations see players equipping their regiment with additional resources by spending points to increase deployment size, defenses, or add divisional assets. They are then tossed into a large map with a series of objectives that need to be completed over a few ‘phases’ or individual battles. The situation can change from phase to phase, but generally you’ll be engaging enemy forces to capture and hold key strategic positions, though there is some objective variety and even a bit of a narrative throughout the operations to keep things fresh.
Gameplay is very similar to the Wargame series from Eugen with a few key differences. Generally, you control a platoon of tanks, mechanized infantry, or support vehicles as the smallest game unit. You have the usual suite of commands like an attack-move, a quick move, a reverse to preserve facing, and the basic real time strategy game commands. Using these, you maneuver your forces to find, engage, and destroy the enemy.
In practice, it feels great, and the limited number of commands means you’re quickly learning the key binds and commanding the battlefield like a pro. And you’ll need to. The AI can be quite good at providing a worthy opponent. Often they have numerically superior forces, but you will also see them supporting attacks with artillery, bombarding your own artillery, flanking, using concealment, and concentrating force for a counter attack. Regiments tends to keep you on your toes.
The phased battles also make for an interesting change to the general RTS formula. After a phase is complete, there is time to spend newly acquired resources on fixing up units or acquiring new assets, then the battle is rejoined with the changes from the last phase in play. It reminded me of a similar mechanic in the excellent Ultimate General Gettysburg, which saw the battlefield change over time as the battle progressed. Here units will get resupplied, reserve units can occupy captured control points, and the time of day and battlefield conditions will change. It presents a real sense of progress.
The Skirmish mode is also fun, but I don’t believe I will be playing it as often as I redo operations. The basics of gameplay are the same, with the exception that you can add assets at predefined segments of time, and that objectives shift as the battle goes on. These are great ways of keeping the appeal of the operations alive, and playing two against two with an AI companion is still very entertaining. It does lead to the one request I believe everyone is thinking about.
There is no multiplayer. Honestly, there doesn’t need to be, and there probably shouldn’t be given what that would do to gameplay balance. But we can dream. I find Regiments to be much more approachable and playable than WARNO, and while I would like to play with friends… well, WARNO is right there, waiting for me to finally figure it out.
In the meantime, I will be playing and replaying Regiments. It spoke to me. I’m willing to bet it will to you too.