Battle of the Bulge

Published on December 27, 2012
By
Players:
1-2
Multiplayer:Yes - same device and online
AI:Yes, various levels
Universal App:No
Purchase for iPhone:None available. Buy an iPad now!
Purchase for iPad:
Battle of the Bulge
Price: $9.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Dripping with historical accuracy and realism, Shenandoah Studios’ Battle of the Bulge is without doubt the most polished and in-depth wargame released on the iPad to date. Although its specific scope and depth may be off-putting to casual gamers, hardened wargame veterans will find a great deal to like here.

Battle of the Bulge 1 500x375 Battle of the Bulge ipad screenshot

Gameplay

Taking one of the pivotal battles of World War II as its setting, Battle of the Bulge focuses on the hard fighting between the Axis and the Allies over the course of a few bitter winter days in France, 1944.

Tanks, artillery and infantry face off in a last-ditch attempt to gain and defend ground, through snowy forests and decimated villages. Heavily-based on historical fact, each unit is accurately placed on a detailed map of the region and is represented by a counter with stats such as health and veteran / elite status. Players then take it in turns to move units across the battlefield: either in an attempt to push back the enemy, or to gain strategic or defensive advantage.

Battle of the Bulge 3 500x375 Battle of the Bulge ipad screenshot

The turns themselves are spread across a number of days. Once again, based on the real historical events, different conditions and events occur on specific days. On the first day of the conflict, for instance, the surprised Allied infantry are unable to move; then on the second day, reinforcements arrive, helping the Allies to repel the Axis onslaught.

The topography of each sector of the map also influences tactics, with towns and forested areas providing extra cover; or roads allowing tanks to move at a faster pace. Additionally, the forces’ lines must also be taken into account, with units isolated from other connected units being cut off from ‘supply’, hampering their ability to move and fight.

With a short scenario set in the first few days of the conflict and another recreating the full Battle of the Bulge, the game allows armchair generals to conduct a short sharp sortie, or to pore over the stats and tables over the course of an involved and in-depth campaign.

Battle of the Bulge 2 500x375 Battle of the Bulge ipad screenshot

Implementation

Shenandoah Studios have done a superb job of implementing this title on the iPad. Interface and menu screens are clear and excellently designed, with a graphical look which fits the context. The map on which most of the game takes place is pleasingly detailed and fully scrollable and zoomable, allowing players to focus on a particular troublesome firefight or sit back and peruse the entire battlefield as a whole.

Behind the main game lies a wealth of background and historical information. Some of it is merely educational (though still fascinating), whilst some of it is tied directly to the game itself, giving players who study the material a tactical advantage. Objective screens not only show the overall success criteria required to win, but also reveal such vital information as when reinforcements will arrive, or indicate which of your units are at risk of being cut off from the chain of command. For those who like to roll up their sleeves and immerse themselves in games such as this, Battle of the Bulge certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Battle of the Bulge 5 500x375 Battle of the Bulge ipad screenshot

Combats are automatically resolved: however, a predicted outcome is displayed prior to the fight being committed. This shows the likely damage inflicted by both sides, including whether a unit has a chance of being destroyed or forced to retreat. Cover, strength, experience and external factors such as air support are all taken into account and can be analysed prior to setting the order to attack: once this is done, however, you sit back and watch as the units exchange fire before the actual result is displayed. To some players, this may seem a bit detached; to others, the tactical information to be weighed up prior to each combat will be more important than the fight itself.

Players have the option to play either scenario against a series of ranked AI generals, or to face off against another human opponent – either on the same iPad or online. Sound effects and music match the rest of the title’s production values, with realistic movement and battle sounds complemented by atmospheric period music in the information screens. As a whole, Battle of the Bulge drips with quality, justifying the premium price tag associated with the game.

Battle of the Bulge 4 500x375 Battle of the Bulge ipad screenshot

Verdict

To devotees of tabletop wargaming, Battle of the Bulge will be an answer to their prayers. It is the most detailed and tactically deep wargame title currently on offer on the app store, and provides potentially hours of entertainment for those wishing to recreate the battle again and again.

For less die-hard wargamers however, the very specific setting and the at-times daunting amount of stats and information to take on board may be a little too much to handle. However even for those players, if they are willing to spend more than a few minutes with the title, there is a deep and rewarding gaming experience to be had.

For the serious wargamers, Battle of the Bulge more than delivers – on all fronts.

Score: 7/10 (casual gamers); 9/10 (serious wargamers)

Battle of the Bulge, 8.4 out of 10 based on 69 ratings

Review By: keith

Has played games since games were first invented on every format ever, but now mainly plays them on the iPad (largely due to time constraints). Lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Freelance digital consultant and photographer.
Players:
1-2
Multiplayer:Yes - same device and online
AI:Yes, various levels
Universal App:No
Purchase for iPhone:None available. Buy an iPad now!
Purchase for iPad:
Battle of the Bulge
Price: $9.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Share this review:

5 comments
Spindrift
Spindrift

Thanks for the interesting review however France was not the location for this battle. The Ardennes forest is in Belgium and the battle was fought both in Belgium and Luxembourg. I'm not aware of any engagements in France.

Rubeus
Rubeus

Totally agree with Jay1242: this is one of the two best turn based wargames for iPad, together with Slitherine´s "Battlefield Academy". And that´s it. I don´t know better wargames than these ones. "Civil War 1863" is very well done, too, but it´s too short. Now, Slitherine is selling "Legion" and Victory Point Games is selling some of their boardgames for iPad, too. I didn´t try any of those yet, but I will. And "Frozen Synapse", "Panzer Corps", etc. are coming next in future... So, let´s see if come slowly "serious" wargames for iPad...  ;-)

Jay1242
Jay1242

Love this site, but this game not getting a 10/10 is a serious oversight.

 

I don't see why there need to be two different ratings, but if their are, not giving a 10/10 for the "serious wargamer " is flat out inexcusable.

 

This is the iPad wargame that all those wargames to come will be judged by. It is a masterpiece.

 

I know in the past this site has mentioned that wargames are not their thing, and it shows in this review. If this game isn't a 10, there are no 10's.

 

Sorry for the harsh tone, but this game marks the entry of the true historical board wargame into the iPad arena, and it needs to be heralded as such so that more such efforts will follow.

James Bruce
James Bruce moderator

 @Jay1242 That's a fair point Jay, we appreciate your input and I expect your vote has been added. Keith or myself would only be able to look at this from the viewpoint of the average game; none of us are particularly familiar with wargaming niche. Perhaps you'd consider submitting a sample review to join the team as a wargaming specialist? I'm sure there's quite a few war games we haven't got reviews for yet.

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Jay1242
Jay1242

 @James Bruce 

 

" I'm sure there's quite a few war games we haven't got reviews for yet."

 

There aren't. That's what makes this game so special. 

 

Oh there are psudo-wargames on the iPad like "Great Little/Big Wargame", but these are just build-destroy-rebuild type games that have no historical flavor and try to be wargames by having playing pieces they call tanks. "Civil War" and "Tank Battle" come a bit closer, but again no true historical underpinnings to the games. "Battle Academy" is a popular wargame, but on a tactical level, with generic units.

 

Shenandoah has created the first strategic level historical wargame for the iPad, and have done so with a brilliant design.