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Posted on Feb 7, 2019 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

“No plan survives contact with the enemy”  Open Panzer Computer Game Review

“No plan survives contact with the enemy” Open Panzer Computer Game Review

By Rick Martin

Open Panzer PC and Android Computer Game Review.  Designed by Nicu Pavel.  Based upon Panzer General II.  Price 0 – Totally Free!

 

Passed Inspection:  great selection of units, works on any platform, tons of scenarios and campaigns, great fun and free

Failed Basic:  some bugs, some scenarios are completely unbalanced and unwinnable, no multiplayer, needs comprehensive rules, can only play from the German side, no zoom feature

NOTE: I played this game on both a PC and on an Android phone thus, the review is based upon that platform.  It is also available for iOS systems.

Panzer General was a groundbreaking game when it was released in 1994.  It was simple, almost a beer and pretzels game, but addictive and fun.  Strategic Simulations followed it up with multiple sequels one of which sold in excess of 100,000 units!  Sadly, Strategic Simulations is no more but Panzer General lives on and now it’s free thanks to Nicu Pavel.

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Open Panzer is a multi-platform version of Panzer General.  It is available to be played on-line, to be downloaded and played on PCs, Macs and even Android and I Phones!  It takes up very little storage space and has beautiful map boards, 3 D units and great sound effects.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find a manual to this edition of the game but I did find a manual for another open source version and it seems to be very close to Pavel’s version of the game.

In Open Panzer, you are the German General in charge of an army.  The units you control include hundreds of different types of infantry, paratroopers, armored cars, tanks, artillery and even aircrafts and ships.  Each unit is represented by a 3D icon and is rated for many different areas including hard and soft attack strength, hit points, anti-air capabilities, movement, defense, engineering skills such as building bridges and many other abilities that I’m not sure about since there is no manual for this version of the game. Each unit is also rated for fuel (if appropriate) and its ammo.  When fuel or ammo gets low, you will have to stop your advance and resupply the unit.  In addition, each unit is rated as either a “core” or an “auxiliary” unit. Core units travel with you from campaign to campaign and earn experience and new leaders while auxiliary units are only for the battle you are playing.

You can play campaign games from Poland and France to the war in the East and the post D Day battles against the Western Allies or you can play individual battles.

Sound effects can be turned on and off as the sound of  battle may prove a horrible distraction if you are playing on your phone while waiting in line at the grocery.

When you click on a unit, the screen shows you how far that unit can move.  A take back option allows you to re-do your move if you need to.  If your unit has an enemy unit in its range, assuming you have ammunition, you can attack. Unless air units are in the hex, only one unit can occupy a hex at a time.  Only one air unit can occupy a hex with or without a ground unit in the same hex.  A bug is exhibited by the air units as sometimes they disappear from the screen and all you can see is a dot in the hex where they are.  When this happens, you have to move the cursor over the dot and then hit the “magnifying glass icon” which allows you to see the stats of the unit in the hex.

I could find no option to allow your units to dig in and I’ve found that the terrain seems to provide only limited defensive adjustments although I have found that units attempting to ford rivers are very vulnerable when attacked (as they should be).

Units can be embarked on trucks and other transports or debarked to attack by a very simple button which appears when you click on the unit.  The same holds true for paratroopers who can be deployed by hitting an icon when the unit is active.  Very simple and effective.

For this review I played the game on both a 10 year old laptop and a brand new Galaxy S9 + cell phone.  It ran very fast on both platforms.  I played the Poland and French Campaigns.  I played as a German commander.  If there was a way to play from the other side, I couldn’t find it.

The game is fun and very addicting but, that being said, I found that some of the battles are very unbalanced and unreasonably difficult to win.  The battle called “Panzer-Verbaende Ostpresussen” was so difficult that I replayed it four times and lost each time.  The battle entitled “Closing in on Dunkirk” is unreasonably difficult and, were it this way in real life, I’m sure the Germans would have lost the French Campaign.  If you lose a battle, Open Panzer sometimes lets you continue to the next battle but with damaged forces or sometimes it just says you lost and you have to play again.  This is very frustrating but I seem to remember similar issues when I played the original Panzer General game.

Combined arms blitzkriegs are critical to success in this game.  Hit the target with artillery and air strikes prior to attacking with infantry and panzers.  I have found flanking maneuvers to be of dubious value as the target units simply adjust their facing to attack back.

Unlike many games available to cell phones, you have to save the game before you close the window unless you want to lose all your progress.  Fortunately, you can have multiple game save files on your phone or computer and even save the game to a cloud account so you can play some turns on your phone, save the game to the cloud and then continue that particular game on your computer!

In addition, if you play the game on your cell phone, you’ll find it really needs a zoom control.  It also could benefit from a multi-player mode; as it stands, the game is only single player.

None-the-less, with hundreds of units in multiple battles and campaigns to play with, and being a free game, you really can’t go wrong.  Pavel is constantly updating the game and fixing bug reports.  I think this game is only going to get better and better.  It’s not a bad way to pass the time.

Armchair General Rating:  85 %

Solitaire Rating: 5 (range from 1 which is not solo compatible to 5 which is perfect solo experience)

About the Author

A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin also works in the legal profession, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!  He is also the designer of Tiger Leader, The Tiger Leader Expansion and Sherman Leader for DVG.

5 Comments

  1. Glad to see more reviews lately of computer wargames, since it is the way most of us play nowadays. This looks like a nice update of a 25 year old game, and you certainly can’t beat the price. There are other much more recent games of this type out there now. Matrix Games Panzer Corps series is available very inexpensively on Steam. It’s VERY comprehensive. Also Order of Battle WWII is free, but the add-on missions cost additional. Both are excellent additions to this genre.

  2. What a awsome article, Found Interesting while reading it, thank you, keep it up

  3. Thank you for your review, zoom and better air mode UI are next in development queue.

    P.S. Game rules are those of Panzer General 2 (somewhat relaxed for easier play) so digging in is automatically done if unit doesn’t move for a turn depending on terrain. Flanking works differently by having bonus attack depending on surrounding units and number of attacks.

    • Thanks Nicu. You’ve done a wonderful job on this game. I started “Untermehmen Seeloewe Training” today! Very surprising scenario and great fun! Please keep us informed as to updates and such.

      • You’ll have an easier experience playing USA Big Red One Division campaign or even the new 1SS Leibstandarte Division. Zoom can be managed from Settings (Map Scale). Stand alone scenarios are better balanced in latest version (by allocating prestige for player to buy equipment).

        Just get “panzers” :) once your core units are well experienced game is too easy sometimes.

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