Regiments launched a surprise open playtest. This threw a wrench into my Dad of Boy-playing plans. Luckily, the playtest is all about showing off the operations mode, so having finally completed it, I can pen these words and go back to crossing swords*.
In Regiments’ operations mode, you’ll be progressing through several maps. You don’t have to conquer a map/complete its mission in one go, however. There are several phases per operations, and each phase is a battle, so you can allow yourself two or three phases to complete a map. Seeing how much ground you need to cover and how the game limits the amount of forces you can control at any one time, that’s a good thing.
Before the operation, you’ll get your main regiment and it will remain static – losses and veterancy aside – throughout the op. However, you’ll be able to attach task forces to it, choosing them in this screen – and not in the field like we saw in skirmish mode. This also where you spend your operation authority – gained for conquering zones on the map – to increase your deployment limit, amount of supplies, tactical aid points, and engineer points. Only deployment points are permanent – the rest are very much consumable. The events (as seen on the button below) are modifiers for the next battle. You get a random hand of four at the start of the op, you must choose at least one, and the leftovers are persistent until you clear the hand, at which point new ones are drawn. The events could be good (AI allies turn up to help, cheaper arty, etc..) or bad (longer redeploy times, an elite enemy battlegroup appearing), so choosing which events to take when is actually a strategic consideration.
But wait, there’s more! You can also spend operational authority to upgrade those battle groups, which can improve the units the units they bring (one BMP detachment starts with BMP-1s and finishes with -3s), new units, unit numbers, and tactical powers. See how this detachment first gives you access to Su-25 missile runs and eventually even Hinds?
But the old adage holds true: boys before toys. I found that maxing out on deployment in Regiments‘ operations mode is more important than new battlegroups or upgrades. It’s also important to spend points to replenish your lost units. Say, for example, that you retreat a platoon of T-64s that lost one of its three tanks. See that number 5 counter next to the symbol down there? That’s how many individual vehicles – not platoons – are in reserve. So while your platoon will return with full health, unit count, experience, and supplies, you can’t do this forever.
Now, let us talk about tactical aids. They will be familiar to any coffin dodger what played World in Conflict way back. They are off-table assets you can call in for tactical points and which go on a cool down after use. They can be of tremendous importance, like arty smoke giving infantry platoons the time to close in to a defensive position and dismount. TBM is the one we didn’t have in skirmish, and it’s just a big ol’ missile that makes things go boom not unlike the Company of Heroes I’s V-rocket. However, it has a 20 minute cooldown… in a battle that lasts 20 minutes. Personally, I found it the most useful for counterbattery fire against the enemy long range artillery – the AI either didn’t have any in reserve or was loathe to call it in.
There’s also the matter of supply. Regiments follows the Wargame model, in that supply is quantum stem cells that can be used to repair tanks, heal/resurrect/respawn fallen men, and resupply ammo. However, it’s a global resource that can and will run out, especially if want to bring the sky down on them with a Grad. You’ll still get a small trickle of supply by camping your own spawn point, but it’s not nearly enough. Therefore, you have a good reason to spend precious points on something so easily expendable.
The rest of Regiments’ operations mode is just fighting the battles, and that’s something we’ve already experienced before. I do like how the game prevents Wargame-type spam of garbage tanks, but there are rough edges that can still be sanded down in development. It’s stuff like all units of the same type – tanks, IFV platoons, etc. – costing the same, which doesn’t make inferior variants that attractive to field unless you have more deployment points than units. There’s also the issue of the 25-point-increment deployment cost Tetris – if you’re left with 25 or 50 you, you can’t deploy anything, really. But that’s stuff to be solved before the 2022 release.
I know Kratos doesn’t use a sword in the last game, shut up.