Sinclair User28th February 1987
Published in Sinclair User #62
Vulcan: The Tunisian Campaign
Vulcan - The Tunisian Campaign is the latest wargame from CCS.
Like two previous CCS releases, Arnhem and Desert Rats, it's been programmed by R T Smith.
I don't know whether R T Smith is a him, a her or an it, but Vulcan is another winner. An excellent wargame offering substantial challenge for the strategy gamer.
The setting is North Africa during the Second World War. The allies have recently conducted Operation Torch and have landed units along the coast. Now the joint American, British and Free French forces are driving on Tunis. Meanwhile, to the east, the remnants of Rommel's Afrika Korps are fighting a rearguard action agains Montgomery and his Eighth Army.
The screen is divided into three parts. Most of it is taken up with the map window, which shows a small part of the total map, about 15 units square. To the left of the map is a menu window, where the various options the player can choose from are displayed.
If you are playing one-player, then the computer will take either the Allies or the Axis forces, whichever you want. The scenarios are: The race for Tunis; Kasserine; Eighth Army; Operation Vulcan; and The Tunisian Campaign.
Giving units orders is remarkably simple. One of your units flashes: the menu lists the orders you can give to that unit. These include things like Move, Assault, Hold, or Move by road. You pick the one you want, then move the cursor to where you want the unit to go. Once you've finished ordering that unit, you progress to the next.
The beauty of the system is that everything is done by simultaneous movement, of both sides - you and either the second player or the computer. The result is your plans can very easily be upset by the enemy's actions you don't know.
Various types of unit are available to each side, including armour, infantry, paratroops, motorised infantry and headquarters units. The latter are vitally important, as they distribute supplies.
There are also aircraft, which can be used either to support ground attacks or to fly reconnaissance missions. The latter are necessary because, to complicate matters still further, there is an option to have hidden movement. This is absolutely murderous, as you haven't the faintest idea where the enemy are. I tried it, and kept losing units to Allied armoured divisions which popped up all over the place. Finally I discovered how to fly recce missions with my aircraft and discovered that most of the Allied army was about five miles outside Tunis, so I surrendered gracefully.
This is also one of the first programs to make me wish I had a 128K +2. With the 128K version of the game, you get a number of added features, including a debriefing option, which is like a sort of post match post mortem, listing the units on each side and what happened. The best bits, though, are the Historical 'what ifs' menu, which allows you to alter the game to reflect what might have happened had various events taken place. What if Malta had fallen to the Axis, for example - or what if the Deutsches Afrika Korps had been totally destroyed by the Eighth Army.
Brilliant. Smith's best yet. It has to be a classic for any wargamer and the 128K version is even better.