At first glance, Unity of Command 2 may look intimidating, the fame of the small tanks and military men that populate the battlefields of World War II obscured by an impenetrable mist of non-intuitive slang and confusing icons. But once the confusion is gone, it reveals a surprisingly straightforward war game whose sharp focus on supply line setup and disconnection delivers remarkable strategic depth. This is our Unity Of Command 2 Review.
Unity Of Command 2 Review: About
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, Macintosh
- Developer: 2×2 Games, Croteam
- Publisher: 2×2 Games
- Genres: Turn-based strategy
- Release Date: November 12, 2019
Unity Of Command 2 Review: Official Trailer Video
Unity Of Command 2 Review: Gameplay
This is not a strategy game about marching your troops forward to attack the enemy. Unity of Command 2’s twist on the genre makes it a game about maneuvering your units to occupy spaces that keep clear supply lines to your troops and deny delivery to the enemy. The winning move often means keeping your position. Sometimes you don’t even have to attack the enemy; you have to starve them.
The campaign, which puts you in charge of the Allied forces in 1943, begins in North Africa before it travels through Italy to the heart of Western Europe. Missions arrive in groups known as conferences, one of the first unpleasant terms you come across. At the beginning of a conference, you can spend prestige points on upgrading your field headquarters, increasing their range and efficiency during combat, and buying theater tickets that you can play in the battle to grant additional skills.
Happiness and short-term planning come together here in an interesting way. The cards you can buy are shuffled randomly, which means you can’t always rely on picking up a favorite and may need to include one or two curveballs. And the choices you make are locked in for the duration of the conference, so you have to deal with what you have in terms of HQ upgrades and make those cards last multiple missions. Knowing that you only have three chances to use a naval bombardment on a single mission does a lot of focusing your mind.
Such restrictions force you to make bold choices about which goals you need to achieve and when is the right time to do it. If you play these plays well, you will feel like the greatest general the world has ever seen. During missions, additional cards can be collected as you complete specific goals. Still, they come more like a relief pack – an unexpected boon to your cause rather than a way to subvert the decisions you made at the last conference.
At the beginning of each mission, you can examine the map and plan your approach. Typically, several primary goals must be fulfilled to complete the scenario, accompanied by a few secondary goals that, if achieved, provide a bonus reward or even a small tactical advantage in the next mission. These objectives are designed to guide you across the map, and the attentive player will gain valuable benefits.
Completion of the preparatory phase, the units at your disposal are pre-allocated according to the scenario, so you never have to choose whether to deploy the US 13th Airborne or the 7th British Armored Division – they are already there, conveniently positioned on a hex, ready to use. While units come in only two types – tank and infantry divisions – there is a myriad of critical features that can distinguish one tank division from the next, assuming you can delve into the collection of mysterious icons used to describe them.
Units are composed of ‘steps,’ an unpleasant, unknown term that measures the health of the unit. If everything else is equal, a five-step unit beats a three-step unit. But things are rarely the same on these variable battlefields. Small stars and crosses next to a unit indicate whether it is an elite, veteran, or regular unit. However, these icons are all too easily missed, and even after tens of hours of playing, I still found myself occasionally not noticing that I sent an ordinary infantry to their demise against an elite.
Once you’ve taken stock, there is the option to make last-minute adjustments, adding more regular or specialized units to this team or that, to better suit the strategic bet you want to use. Deploying an engineering specialist to the siege as your primary target will help reduce the enemy’s reinforcement bonuses. Still, you might be better off assigning them to the infantry in the east to help wade through all those rivers and secure a secondary target? However, all of these resources are limited, and the tradeoffs to make always carry weight.
The importance of every decision you make is enhanced by the tight cornering limit applied to each mission. You are, of course, free to take all the time in the world at every turn. But Unity of Command 2 is a fast-moving war game, which is precisely what makes it so accessible. Short battles are the order of the day rather than prolonged, protracted stalemates. Often you will be asked to check off secondary goals within three or four turns, while 10 or 12 turns is a generous amount of time to accomplish the primary targets. Experimentation is encouraged by the short time scale.
Roll the dice on one strategy, fail quickly, and then before you know it, you’ll be back in the battle planning phase and think about a more practical approach based on the lessons of your failed mission. Battles are won through a combination of precise, decisive attacks and a conservative support structure that can respond quickly to any offense in your line. The way you manage logistics through the supply system is turning what could have been a puzzle game of finding the right solution into a tough strategy game packed with flexibility.
Victory is all about identifying where you need to break through the enemy line to secure that crucial rail link that cuts off the supply to every enemy unit in a specific area of the map. Or the point is to realize that you can drop those paratroopers behind enemy lines to blow up a bridge that will deny the Germans’ ability to continue to supply the front line. Successfully executing your plan is incredibly satisfying, but at the same time, it’s still entertaining to watch a plan fall apart as enemy tanks flood a critical chokepoint. You suddenly get confused about holding the line and stock to lead to your now stranded troops.
During our Unity of Command 2 review, we found it to be an excellent war game. Starting early can be difficult, as it takes time to acclimate to some quirky terms and learn to interpret the raft of poorly explained icons. However, perseverance – not to mention some helpful community-written guides – pays off. Stick with it, and you will be rewarded with one of the best strategy games of recent times.
Unity Of Command 2 is a surprisingly straightforward war game whose sharp focus on supply line setup and disconnection delivers remarkable strategic depth.