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Posted on Feb 14, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Making History: The Calm and the Storm – Recon (PC)

By Jim Cobb

As the World Boils

The Calm and the Storm starts in March 1939, too late to avoid war but not too late to prepare for it. Players can choose from three different victory goals: alliance, ideology or simply being the strongest country. Preparations for war include trade agreements to assure necessary resources are at hand, diplomatic activity to either gain allies or at least territorial access to likely hotspots, carefully switching from a peace time to a war time economy, choosing research projects with a view toward a quick victory or a long war and raising military units.

Creation of military units is done by ordering single ships for the navy at ports, divisions of the army and squadrons for the air force. The units of maneuver for each branch are typical army groups-fleets and air groups respectively-even if only one ship division or squadron is present. Movement can be done through the military panel or, for moves to friendly or allied regions, by clicking on one of the animated 3D icons and then clicking on a destination. A menu in the destination region will show the actions possible.


Declaring war is dicey. A unilateral declaration of war is no guarantee that allies will come to help. Even if they do, their forces may not be ready. However, an attack on any member of an alliance will result in all members having the opportunity to honor their commitment. The computer player is not tied to history so Germany is not obligated to attack Poland first before gobbling up weak neutrals. The Western allies must either wait for Germany to become rash and aid prospective victims or one country concentrates enough forces to take on Hitler alone, hoping for a response from allies.

Combat is a simple matter of comparing the combat strength of opposing units. The combat strength is a function of numbers and technology so quality can win over quantity. Land combat occurs when opposing units meet but air units can choose to bomb various kinds of targets such as cities, mines and factories within range. Naval units can bombard coastal facilities in the same fashion. Fighting occurs after a turn ends with an orange explosion on the map indicating battles. The turn summary shows the losses of each battle and allows a detailed review of each combat.

Unless a quick knockout occurs, the game can last 337 turns. A nation may want to have a respite to lick its wounds and so may offer a peace settlement by ceding territory, installing a friendly government, allowing military access or joining an alliance. Conversely, a country with the upper hand may demand terms. This give-and-take plays nicely into the games multi-player capability. Chats are possible and a timer can be used to set limits on the time players have to move. Innovative save game features include a walkthrough showing each turn and the ability to play other countries each time a save is loaded.

Using a simple interface, The Calm and the Storm lays out the geographical, economic and political considerations surrounding World War II in a clear and accurate fashion. While meeting its pedagogical goals, Muzzy Lane has also created an enjoyable game. Such a combination deserves applause. Strategists should look forward to the final release later this year.


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