March 4, 2024

First Impressions of Great Northern War by Wargame Design Studio

Peter Robbins, 20 December 2023

With the recent successful launch of their Thirty Years War title, we reached out to WDS to ask if we could show off their prior title Great Northern War, which is also a part of their Musket & Pike series. Rich and crew were very receptive of the offer to give it another public look-see and provided the Armchair Dragoons a press copy to show off the continued exploits of Sweden into the early 18th Century. 

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Strong Advisory: If you have not tried it, play the Vienna 1683 Demo! Available for FREE. The demo has several scenarios, all of which are outstanding, and it depicts the Siege Of Vienna in 1683, with the infamous arrival of the Winged Hussars. (As depicted in the fantastic movie Day Of The Siege from 2014) I won’t sing the Balaton song for you, but I’m tempted to. The demo gives you full access to all functionality of the game engine used in both Thirty Years War and Great Northern War. It will give you a great idea if these wargames are up your alley. Additionally, WDS offers all of the user manuals for Great Northern War on its web page:

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click images to enlarge

My overall First Impression of Great Northern War is:
Great variety of battles, great variety of forces (colorful at that), includes snowbound maps, which does give you a bit more variety of terrain effects in a portion of the battles depicted.
Further below, I’ll provide a listing of all of the scenarios given in the game. I’ll also try and give screen shots from a good handful of them. This is as much a Quick Gallery of what sets WDS Great Northern War apart and worthy of owning, as we will not get too deep into the User Manual level of functionality here. We’ll leave that for after action reports upcoming for both Thirty Years War and this title, Great Northern War. 

“If you liked Thirty Years War, and honestly, who doesn’t, then you will also love Great Northern War. It is similar in total number of battles provided, 80 years later roughly in time, but equally expansive in the number of varied forces involved on both sides of the conflict. The game engine had been improved for this title, and all of those improvements in Great Northern War made their way over into the recent TYW. Great Northern War equally kicks arse. If you’ve mastered one of them, you’ll jump quickly into the other as the game engine is identical and awesome.You will have many hours of enjoyment with both wargames. If you own Thirty Years War, you should buy Great Northern War. The latter rounds out the exploits of Sweden into the early 18th century quite nicely. Both titles deserve to be on your virtual shelf. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t believe that both are extremely well done wargames.” (Me, Just Now)

Sweden and Russia (and their respective coalition allies) take front and center (Russia of which stayed out of the Thirty Years War to a great extent, so it’s nice to see them roll into the game engine now with the Great Northern War). I have a soft spot for both Sweden and Russia, for various reasons for both. For Sweden, I love the country and its people in that I had a great friend in high school from Sweden, and he forced us all to play Drakar Och Demoner, affectionately known as “Swedish D&D”. And for Russia, other than being namesake of Peter The Great (of course) but I’d been in two Russian history classes while at college, and had done a large paper on Tsar Alexander I during Napoleon’s rise to fame and glory. So, both countries I am fond of, and this is a piece of history, in addition to WDS’s recent game Thirty Years War, that I’ve only slightly bumped into as tangential to other history topics I’ve studied. So yet again. WDS has forced me to go read oodles of articles online and check out books or buy them outright on the topics found for both wars. 

Bravo WDS on making me ever so more a Historical Nutcase. I digress, let’s take a closer look at Great Northern War by WDS.

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The full listing of scenarios! Holy cow! That’s a lot of wargaming hours ahead!! It’s safe to assume that the first named scenario in most of the cases above is the Historical version of the battle, and then they have some well thought out What-Ifs mixed in for many of the larger major battles. The game is truly on par with Thirty Years War in its breadth and overall worth.

Getting Started Scenario

As with most WDS titles, this one immediately upon first opening the app for the first time pops up the Getting Started guide, which is well written for this particular title. Below are a few additional screenshots that show some initial decisions during the Getting Started scenario. 

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Above is a shot of the command radius view setting on.When you have the command view toolbar button on, you will see similar as you click on any leader with an A, W, C, D or B on their counter. Which stands for Army, Wing, Corps, Division, or Brigade respectively.

 

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An important point is made about visibility in the getting started guide which is worth noting. Depending upon the time of day and the weather (visible if you click on any hex and look bottom left of the overall UI), you will have a limited Visibility, as shown above, as the Getting Started scenario begins, you are limited to 6 hex visibility range, due to it being 0400 hours on the day of the fictitious battle.

 

Gallery Of Various Scenarios

Below are shots from various scenarios throughout the game, to show off its much varied set of battles to pick from. There is a great variety of battle sizes, terrain types, troop types, and weather throughout. This is a great wargame, and is bound to please with what it adds to your plate. (There’s over 20 shots in this slideshow)

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