TOAW IV: Playing a new game

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Starting Game Menu

After launching the game, you will be presented with a menu of options:

The Operational Art of War IV Start Screen.png
  • 'New Game' will allow you to start a new game (played locally, typically against the computer, as opposed to online).
  • 'Load Game' allows you to select a previous
  • 'Scenario editor' is used to create new scenarios or edit existing ones.
  • 'Play online' allows for playing against an opponent using play-by-email (PBEM)

New Game

After selecting 'New Game', you will be presented with a list of scenarios, the selected scenario's briefing, and buttons to navigate menus, make choices related to the selected scenario, or to play the scenario. As your mouse cursor hovers over certain on-screen elements (e.g., buttons), an information bar at the bottom of the screen will explain what options do. This concept also applies when you are actually playing a scenario, so look there for potentially useful prompts and information.

The list of scenarios, scenario briefing, and menu options displayed after selecting 'New Game'.

You can select the 'Folder' button to bring up the 'Select Theater' dialog which lists all directories under the C:/Users/<Your-User-Name>/Documents/My Games/The Operational Art of War IV/Scenarios directory. Clicking the 'Folder' button again will bring up the browse for folder dialog for Windows.

Expand the Scenarios folder to view all the included Scenarios within the game; TOAW IV has broken them up according to timeframe and region (NATO Warsaw Pact, Middle East, etc.). Find a folder/timeframe that interests you, select it, and a Select New Game window will be displayed which contains all the available selections for that folder.

If either pane has more information than space to display it, that pane will have a scrollbar on the side of it. The Available Scenarios within the folder you selected are listed at left; highlighted Scenarios will have information regarding them in the pane at right. Select a Scenario you wish to play.

Below these two panes are buttons, as follows:

  • Folder - click to change the default directory of your current Scenarios. This will allow you to select a different folder from which to load Scenarios from other eras.
  • Side - indicates the types of players that will be involved in the game which can be clicked to cycle through:
    • Two Player (Hotseat) Game
    • Play by EMail (PBEM) Game
    • Computer vs. Human Player Game. Each Scenario has a “Player 1” and “Player 2,” set by the game. In this mode, the player selects to have the computer represent Player 1 and the player to represent Player 2. For example, in the “Red Thunder 1988” Scenario, Player 1 is set to be NATO while Player 2 is set to be the Warsaw Pact. Having this button displayed will set NATO as the computer player and the Warsaw Pact as the human player.
    • Human vs. Computer Player Game. Having this button displayed will set Player 1 as human and Player 2 as computer. For example, in the “Red Thunder 1988” Scenario, Player 1 (NATO) will be human while Player 2 (Warsaw Pact) will be run by the computer.
    • Computer vs. Computer Game
  • Set Game Options – Brings up the Player Options dialog.
  • Cancel – Exits to the Main Menu.
  • Play – Starts the currently selected Scenario.
  • Scenario Documents – Launches the appropriate reader program for any scenario documents that accompany the selected scenario.

Documents can use any of the following file extensions (.htm, .pdf, .doc, .txt, .xls), and the file must be named the same as it appears in the TOAW IV Scenario Editor. This button will appear blank if there is no associated document, and as a printed page if there are any associated documents.

Load Game

Clicking on the 'Load Game' button brings up a standard file open window. Select your saved game and click “Open” to play. This can also be used for older (legacy) play by email (PBEM) games. Select your saved game and click “Open” to play.

While the new PBEM++ system is recommended, the older system is still supported for people with unstable internet connections. Note that only legacy PBEM can use the “Trusted PBEM” option. TOAW IV can optionally create/overwrite an Autosave.SAL file every five minutes in the Saves folder of the Documents/My Games/The Operational Art of War IV directory.

If you choose to play by legacy by email, the game will automatically prompt you to create PBEM game files for your opponent at the appropriate times. These files are like saved game files, but they include some additional information and have a “PBL” file extension. Send the PBEM file to your opponent when your Turn is finished. You may continue your Turn using the PBEM file he sends back in response. Another save file is simultaneously created when the PBL file is written; this file will have the same file name that you gave the PBL file but will have a “SAL” file extension instead. DO NOT send this SAL file to your opponent, unless you want to give him some free intelligence. This file is for your use only, should you wish to view the status of the battlefield at the conclusion of your turn. You may load this file at any time by selecting Resume Saved Game from the first control screen displayed when TOAW IV is started.

When you begin the game, you will be asked for a password. You will need this password to continue the game from the PBEM file returned by your opponent. Keep your password secret from your opponent to prevent him from viewing information that should not be available to him. You will be given an opportunity to view a playback of your opponent’s Turn when you load a PBEM game.

There are certain restrictions on PBEM games:

  • Variable Initiative is locked out, so the order of play will never change during a Scenario. You will need your opponent’s password if you decide to end the Scenario early, so it is only possible to end a Scenario if both players agree.
  • While the undo function is functional during PBEM games it does leave a record in the playback. If you undo an action in a PBEM game, you should be prepared to explain your reasons to your opponent!

Play Online (PBEM++)

TOAW IV fully supports Matrix’s online play by email (PBEM) system, PBEM++. Use of this system not only makes it easy to obtain opponents, it comes with built-in cheat prevention that detects all reload cheating. PBEM++ is a monitored, secure play against an opponent. You create and respond to Challenges (New games) and download your turns, upload them and can save them at any time to continue later. It is provided free of charge by Matrix. The PBEM++ system is entered via the PBEM++ button on the startup screen.

When you first enter the PBEM++ system, it will prompt you for your username and password. These should match the Matrix Games user account you used to register TOAW IV.

There is an input box for your username and an input box for your password. There is a checkbox to save the password you enter.

On the Control Panel, there is a button to Exit (this will proceed to the PBEM++ window) and a button to return to the start window. Click the Exit button.

The PBEM++ window has five tabs (Challenges, Accept Challenge, Load next turn, Waiting turns, and Completed games). There is also a Control Panel on the bottom of the window, and it contains at least the “Close” button for all the tabs and on some tabs extra buttons will appear as per below. Clicking on the “Close” button will close the PBEM++ dialog and return to the main game.

Load Next Turn Tab (default)

Upon initial opening, the default tab is the Load Turn Tab, but you can switch between tabs by clicking on the desired tab.

This tab allows you to Start a Turn or Resign a Game by clicking on either button. This is where you will load your current turn and proceed to play through it. You can also resign a game from this screen.

There are six headings:

  • Instance – a PBEM++ code that IDs the game in progress.
  • Updated – last date a turn was uploaded.
  • Game Name – the scenario being played.
  • Turn – the current game turn.
  • Side – the side you are playing.
  • Opponent – who you are playing.

There are then two buttons with each line:

  • “Start Turn” Button – click to enter a turn.
  • “Resign Game” Button – click to resign a game.

The Control Bar has one button:

  • “Close Button” – Exit the PBEM++ screen.

Challenges Tab

This is where you can challenge other players and view the challenges you have out there. The first step is to create a challenge which will take you to the New Game screen. You can also cancel your challenge at this screen.

There are four headings:

  • Issued – date the challenge was issued.
  • Game Name – scenario to be played.
  • Challenger – who issued the challenge.
  • Side – the side that will be played by the Challenger.

The Control Bar has two buttons:

  • “Create a Challenge” Button – Create the challenge (this opens the Select New Game dialog, where the challenge is created upon starting the desired scenario).
  • “Close” Button – Exit the PBEM++ screen.

Accept Challenge Tab

This is where you will accept a challenge. Note that accepting a challenge may or may not start your turn depending on which player the scenario designer has specified as player 1.

There are four headings:

  • Issued – date the challenge was issued.
  • Game Name – scenario to be played.
  • Challenger – who issued the challenge.
  • Side – the side that will be played by the acceptor.

There is an “Accept Challenge” button on the right of each challenge. Click to accept a challenge.

The Control Bar has one button:

  • “Close Button” – Exit the PBEM++ screen.

Waiting turns Tab

This is where you can see the list of games that are waiting for your opponent to play.

There are six headings:

  • Instance – a PBEM++ code that IDs the game in progress.
  • Updated – last date a turn was uploaded.
  • Game Name – the scenario being played.
  • Turn – the current game turn.
  • Your Side – the side you are playing.
  • Opponent – who you are playing.

The Control Bar has one button: “Close Button” – Exit the PBEM++ screen.

Completed Games Tab

Here you can view the games you have won or lost

There are six headings:

  • Instance – a PBEM++ code that IDs the game that was played.
  • Updated – last date a turn was uploaded.
  • Game Name – the scenario that was played.
  • Turn – the last game turn played.
  • Your Side – the side you played.
  • Opponent – who you played.

The Control Bar has one button:

  • “Close Button” – Exit the PBEM++ screen.

Edit Scenario: Clicking on the Edit Scenario button will send you to the Scenario Map Editor.