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Posted on Apr 12, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Strategy: Computer War in Europe II

By Johnny L. Wilson

This article was originally published on Johnny L. Wilson’s Blog, but with his kind permission we are proud to bring it to our readers at Armchair General. 

New Polish for an Old War

Anyone who has ever been to a game convention with a large war gaming contingent knows the scene. A crowd arrives early, commandeers about four tables in the open gaming area and sets up one of the classic "monster" games from Strategic Publications, Inc. (the legendary SPI). Then, they proceed to play out War in Europe over the course of the entire convention. Even then, they rarely completed a game.

War in Europe was the ideal game for those who wanted to cover both fronts of World War II’s European Theater without the almost silly abstraction of Axis & Allies or the later "rules hearings" required to play one of the versions of World in Flames or the lifestyle fanaticism of the dedicated Advanced Third Reich players. Although the board game was expensive by the standards of its day (even though it would be average priced if it offered among today’s board games at the same price), it didn’t cost near as much as owning all of the various expansions of a lifestyle game such as the Europa series.


NOT A BORED GAME The coming version of Computer War in Europe II won’t keep you paging through complex rules, but it will let you play a classic "monster" board game with a real chance to finish it.

It was a game I always wanted to play, but never paid the price in purchasing the game (I was a student at the time, picking up Squad Leader and Third Reich on sale at Target instead of paying full price for SPI games at the game store), investing the time (I always played multiple games at conventions and didn’t want to invest in one convention-long game), or finding opponents (There was a group in Southern Cal, but they only played at the regional conventions). So, I’ve always felt a little guilty when I hear the title, War in Europe. As a war game aficionado, admitting that I haven’t played the game would be like a professor of Literature who hadn’t read Moby Dick, War & Peace, or Ulysses –inconceivable. (Unfortunately, in this age of multiculturalism, I’m not sure that "inconceivable" means what I think it means. There are probably many tenured professors of literature that have ignored one or more works of that triad because they are merely writings by long-dead white men. I’d love to rant on the trade-offs of adding more Asian, Latin, and Women’s writings to the literary curriculum, but none of you would get what you were looking for in this column. In fact, we’d better move quickly to the computer aspect of this blog or I’ll lose all of you.)

I rejoice to say that the magic of the PC has made it possible for me to hold my head a little higher. I have now played War in Europe. Admittedly, I have played it in a pre-release version with only one front represented, but I have played that scenario more than once. Admittedly, since it lacks an artificial opponent, Computer War in Europe II (it had a predecessor that ran on more primitive machines) is more of a utility for PBEM (Play By Email) than a PC game, but unlike other PC-based utilities (Aide de Camp 2 and Cyberboard), it handles the game rules for you. The game shows allowed movement, handles mechanized exploitation sequences, calculates air allocation/ground support/interdiction, enforces zones of control (the ZOCs that board game players love to debate and designers like to modify by making more or less bonding), tabulates combat odds, rolls the dice according to the standard combat results table (the infamous CRT of which old guys like me are prone to speak), and provides sound effects and minimal animation for the results.

Even better than being able to say that I have played War in Europe (with the caveats noted above), I am now able to say that I have won the game (okay-so I only had the scenario where Germany invades Poland in 1939 and I was controlling both sides, but I met the German victory conditions). I can also say that I like it and hope to experience the complete game when it is finished. I believe the only way most of us mortals can ever play these "monster games" is by email and there is no way that said mortals can keep up with all of the various rules without earning our legal degrees. Most of us like to play too many different games and rarely take the time to master rules completely. So, to be able to swap files back and forth with a friend-making a daily or even a move every few days-is a delightful luxury.

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  1. Sorry to see that this is almost three years old and there was nothing more recent. I have played the monster game in its nine map/3000+ cardboard counter incarnation and would be interested in getting the computer game if it was even close to the original. Any news lately?
    May 2010.

    • Yes the game is out.
      Yes it is being played
      Yes It is well suited to PBEM

      It has a vibrant community of gamers

      And a mailing list plus a discussion forum

      The Game can be obtained From
      Who also provide a discussion forum

      And there is an independent mail list at

      Where strategies, oppponents, developments and support can be found.

  2. What are the system requirements for Compter War in Europe II?

    • There is a demo one can download and try out the game. I downloaded my demo from Decision Games. It is of the first eight turns to the Russian campaign, Operation Barbarossa. I have been playing it solitaire, which is what I would be doing if I pulled out the old Board game out of the attic and started setting it up and playing. I haven’t played War in the East (part of War in Europe) for over 30 years but it was fun to toy around with the computer demo.
      I’m not sure what the computer requirements are but if the demo runs on your computer then the regular game probably will too. My computer is over 10 years old, (I bought it in April 2001), although it was a latest and greatest when I bought it. I have 768Megs of RAM, and it was OK.

  3. Been playing WIE since ’78, and this since it came out. Finally a version of the game that can be played to a conclusion without too much grief. Has a good feel, much like the board game. All the options from various sources are included. An over all winner.