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BRIEF – Assault IV (1981)

Allow me to cover a game that did NOT qualify, but really was on the verge of qualifying. I will call those short snippets, I don’t know… let’s say “BRIEF” for Bid at Research and Investigation Ended in Failure. Starting with Assault IV.

Jerald Uptain’s Assault IV was released in April 1981 in Softside. It was a type-in for TRS-80 that immersed you in a 1991-1993 European war :

That’s some serious introduction. SSI, take notes !

You are given command of the American 5th Army Group. It will face the enemy’s “strongest combat divisions” North of Dresden, as the latter are preparing for a slashing drive across Germany. Let me tell you that at this point I was very excited about the game.

The story carries on :

What a coincidence! It looks exactly like my old TRS-80 from the 80s !

My anticipation is at its peak, and then the first screen of the “action phase” is shown:

My force is made-up of a random number of Infantry, Airborne and Armored divisions distributed across four corps, plus a reserve.

I can reallocate the divisions between the corps and the reserve. I strengthen the 2nd corps with one infantry division pulled from my reserve, and then start the battle.

After the battle, my 1st corps (with a lot of armors) pushed back the enemy, but the others pulled back. I also lost the airborne division allocated to the 3rd corps.

The game rules are explained nowhere (someone competent in BASIC could probably understand it from reading the code) but I suppose it means that whatever the enemy has in front of my 2nd, 3rd and 4th Corps is stronger than what I have, so I need to bolster these. I distribute all my Armored divisions to my weaker divisions and replace them in the 1st corps with everything I have in reserve, so now my frontline looks like this :

There is another battle, and the outcome shows I made some good decisions indeed :

The 1st Corps did not move, the 3rd lost its armors and retreated further, but the 2nd and 4th are back on their starting line, and it is possible I caused some losses there. I leave the 3rd Corps to its fate and keep pushing. Once I have destroyed most of what is facing the 2nd and 4th Corps, I will transfer to the 3rd one.

The following turn vindicates my strategy :

All my Corps except the sacrificed 3rd advanced. The enemy seems to have 7 divisions left, so I can safely reallocate forces to the 3rd Corps. My friends from the 8th Army (on the left) seems to be doing very well too – though I have no idea of the impact on the game.

Before I can reallocate more than an airborne division, this happens :

But this was a final, desperate attack : the enemy loses the rest of its army :

I have won ! Hopefully, this makes up for my shameful showing in the Battle of Zeighty.

Why is it not a wargame ? Well, first of all, a full session lasts less than 5 minutes. More importantly, the game feels more like a mind game where you have to guess what the AI has in front of each of your Corps rather than a game where you build and execute a strategy. I initially thought it was the fourth instalment in a series of games called “Assault“, so certainly it must have been a great series, but the name Assault IV must come from the fact that you have four corps to play with.

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