I was hesitant at first to review Blitzkrieg 3, due to its “mixed” reviews on Steam. But given that it’s still in development, I figured I’d give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.

Blitzkrieg 3 is a fantastic strategy game, with features I haven’t seen elsewhere. The key thing to remember is that it’s not Company of Heroes. It isn’t about moving your troops cover-to-cover. It’s about blitzkrieg—lightning war. It’s Patton’s no “holding ground” strategy, and the strategy that allowed the then-evil Germans to steamroll half of Europe.

It also doesn’t feel like a WWII game. You can play as Americans and still fight against Americans, and the same goes for the Soviets and Germans. It feels more like a post-apocalyptic war-game with WWII weapons, where you build your defenses and raid the camps of neighboring tribes.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the point: these factors are what makes Blitzkrieg 3 fun. While one side needs to try and plow through the enemy, the other side needs to build a base to defend against the attack, and this means finding all kinds of creative ways to ambush them.

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The game starts with you at your base. You get a set number of fuel and supplies to spend on upgrading building and units, or on your defenses. The base building is a game in itself, because your base is technically a full map that other players can attack at any moment.

Think of it like Home Alone, only with tanks and guns.

For my base, I have all kinds of traps set up. The enemy can easily spot landmines, for example, so I put mine in trees and bushes. I also put barbed wire fences in the trees so the troops automatically path-find right over my minefields if the commander is careless.

Trees hide behind buildings, infantry lay hidden behind their garrisons, artillery is carefully situated behind buildings. It’s a game that makes you start thinking strategically, and my defense strategy is to let the enemy send a scout to check things out, assume it’s safe, then get hit from every angle possible.

The problem with base building, however, is that eventually you run out of fuel and supplies to build your defenses, and to get more you’ll also need to attack another player’s base.

Each map has set supply points, one of which is your main base. The attacker needs to capture these supply points in order to win.

Attacking is a whole different game. You bring along a set number of troops or vehicles—which you can purchase, upgrade, and level up—and then try to figure out what types of elaborate defenses your opponent has put together.

It’s one of those games where just when you think you’ve seen everything, your opponent does something completely new.

I had one opponent, for example, who decided to place half his assets at the starting area so that I got barraged as soon as the game began… I survived the initial attack, but his mortars killed some of the infantry I needed to dismantle tank traps and disarm mines. I eventually won, but did it with only two units left.

There is also a lot of room in Blitzkrieg 3 for bluffs. One time the enemy attacked my main base, which I was totally unprepared for. You see, I thought they’d go for the closer supply point first, rather than drive across the map and attack my main right away. So, I moved my tanks from the smaller outpost and hit him from behind. The enemy eventually wiped out everything at my main. I had almost nothing left, but since I had moved my army they must have believed there was still a full outpost to take, and they surrendered.

When I reached the stage where I believed no enemy could possibly make it through my defenses, I was attacked and I got stomped rather quickly. The enemy used a trick I hadn’t factored in: he used a spy to view my base, which revealed all I was hiding.

But live and learn. Losing in Blitzkrieg 3 isn’t that bad. After my swift and unforgiving defeat, I moved some of my artillery and tanks around to better prepare for such a scenario.

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Every unit in Blitzkrieg 3 has a purpose, and each has something that’s good at destroying it. Tanks are great at destroying emplacements (except anti-tank guns), infantry are good for killing garrisoned infantry (except machine gun crews),

There are anti-tank tanks, anti-infantry vehicles, heavy armor, light armor, and scout cars. There are regular infantry, assault infantry, machine gunners, snipers, and anti-tank squads. There are mortars, artillery, spies, and smoke screens.

I was also surprised at how many units this game has. By merging the multiplayer and campaign modes, the devs created an online game where unit upgrades make sense. As you upgrade construction buildings, you also unlock new units, new defenses, and new defensive structures.

One of the best parts in any online match for a real-time strategy game is when you launch that final push. It’s the moment when you finally muster up the courage to roll your full force into the enemy’s base and hope you have enough firepower to break through. Blitzkrieg 3 is built around that, and I enjoyed every minute.

Blitzkrieg 3 is available in early access on Steam for $29.99.

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