Did you like war strategy game Battle of the Bulge on iPad? We did. A lot. Not only was it a "hugely enjoyable strategy game", wrote Richard Stanton, it used its Second World War source material in a way that "enraptured" him.
Shenandoah's only gone and announced a sequel to Battle of the Bulge, called Drive on Moscow.
Due this autumn on iPad, Drive on Moscow recreates the Axis attacks on Moscow in the autumn of 1941. One side plays as the Axis forces (chiefly Germany), the other as the Soviets trying desperately to defend their land.
There are different weather conditions, Soviet defensive fortifications, new units, a bigger map than Battle of the Bulge, improved Game Center features and other bits and bobs, apparently.
One of my most vivid memories is watching an Armistice Day service as a kid and, during the minute's silence, noticing old people crying. This was a puzzle. For me, and I suspect for you too, the World Wars are something that happened a long time ago - not only in the literal sense, but in the sense in which the actual experience is fading out to the point of vanishing entirely. My parents grew up among people who had lived through and fought in the Second World War, whereas I vaguely remember a great-uncle who'd been in the air force. Even as a kid, I understood that I didn't understand something. The World Wars seemed like history rather than real and recent events.
This may seem a rather heavy introduction to a strategic wargame, but Battle of the Bulge is an exceptional production. It combines its strategy core with a wealth of supplementary material, and more importantly it hard-wires the reality of the battle's circumstances into its mechanics. The game plays out over 14 days, and over this time certain incidents will always occur (such as random German tanks running out of fuel) and reinforcements will arrive on the day they did arrive - all of which can be seen on the calendar.
Battle of the Bulge is an asymmetrical strategy game, both sides having highly pronounced strengths and weaknesses - as well as totally different objectives. But what's amazing about it is that, to play the game with any competence, you have to understand what the Battle of the Bulge was. It was the last throw of the die for Nazi Germany, basically, which was losing on all fronts, and a near-impossible task for the generals charged with executing it; yet it was also the biggest single battle the United States has ever fought and one of the bloodiest. At its end there are casualties of just under 200,000 across both sides and the Axis is broken.