As covered in the old Shenandoah Blog post the units went through many iterations. The aim to be simple and functional so as to stand out against the busy, textural maps – taking the essential elements used in traditional wargames while exploiting the computing power of the device. So while the layout and hierachical structure of the elements draws a lot from cardboard counters, the use of variable strength pips, additional flags and badges, coloured outlines and glows, variable unit symbols and irregular shapes are only practical or possible with a computer.

(A lot of people have asked about why we didn’t use 3D models .. there are a number of reasons ..

  1. Shenandoahs remit from the very beginning was to avoid the money and time sink of 3D. As a 3D artist by trade, this was a bit galling but considering the subject matter and budget, 2D niche wargames on a niche platform to a small niche audience, it made perfect sense.
  2. I knew from experience that miniatures/models, on a realistic map/environment, could often be difficult to see without resorting to extra tricks, such as glowing outlines. That immediatly breaks the first rule of wargame functionality.
  3. A miniature, by its nature, conveys relatively little information¬† – that’s why with real miniatures games you often need a card of stats for every model. The solution in computer games is often to have extra, space guzzling UI panels full of stats (not great on a space limited iPad/iPhone) or to float lots of extra badges over the model. I’ve seen some games where theres so much on map clutter that it becomes nothing but visual noise and is very difficult to read.
  4. Miniatures often feel like toys. Sorry but they do. Don’t get me wrong, I like minis, there’s nothing wrong with them, but well, Memoir 44.
  5. CiC games were Operational scaled so one unit counter would represent between 10 and 200 tanks/soldiers/support vehicles etc.. We didn’t want the visual confusion of having a realistic looking tank in a realistic looking environment not actually being realistic.
  6. As an extention of the above, I personally only like miniatures when playing 1:1 scale, tactical games .. ie. one tank model represents one tank .. the effective range of a Tiger II ‘s gun should be more than 1km, not 2 hexes.¬† Having a 3D model in no way aids suspension of disbelief or immersion if at the same time you have to totally ignore the expectations inherent in that model. Having a 1km wide model of a tank cover the entirety of a town is in no way immersive. It just looks silly. )

 

Units_Bulge

Bulge had relatively few units though it did distinguish between the US and British forces. We introduced the use of unit badges to highlight the elite units and the use of over sized unit icons to add a sense of power.

Units_Moscow

Moscow expanded to include the variable usage Paratroopers and fast, supply-agnostic Cavalry.

Units_Desert_Fox

Desert Fox introduced defensive Flak 88’s and upgradable Allied armour, also differenciating between German and Italian units. A whole new level of supply was introduced and reflected in additional unit callouts and outlines.

Units Arnhem

Like Bulge, Arnhem made use of mixed nationality Allies (and map deliniated Axis units) and introduced mobile artillery attached to individual units.

Units_layers

This is a small selection of the additional elements used to indicate the likes of selection, spent/used, out of supply, out of fuel, paralyzed, eligible for replacements, advance etc. and for use in the Combat Preview, Calendar, Combat Resolution etc.. Note that the out of supply and out of fuel are relatively inverted colours. These two effects were mutually exclusive and indicated in the same position on the unit. The colour change maintained the consistent pallette and style but was enough to be obvious when the map was quickly scanned.

Animation, by its nature, attracts your attention and can be distracting, so we tried to use it sparingly and only for either dramatic effect – during combat – or when the player really needed to be aware of something during gameplay – the out of fuel/supply icons pulsed slowly and the surrounded icon pinched in and out. It was important to us that these effects were functional, but not aggrivating.

Various Bonus icons from CiC

And these are a selection of the bonus icons used to show when various terrain or unit bonuses where used during combat. These range from Bulge, right through to Arnhem and show a degree of iteration as the games developed and bonus requirements became more varied or multi-facetted. For example the first two simply show Allied attacking across a river, and Axis attacking across a river respectively, based on the predominent direction the factions moved. Made sense in Bulge but didn’t work in Moscow. The next four show the evolution of water obstacles; frozen river, river, beach and canal. Eventually, all terrain effects were enclosed in a box, representing the map bounds. Elite effects were all contained in the r shield (to echo the shield badges each elite unit displayed). All armour effects indicated by the helmet and infantry by the dagger.