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Outside, the leaves have turned and begun to fall in droves, Christmas nears and that familiar music is in the air. On my computer scree...

Strategic Command: World War I Strategic Command: World War I

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Fury Software



Outside, the leaves have turned and begun to fall in droves, Christmas nears and that familiar music is in the air. On my computer screen, I can only feel pity towards the counters representing hundreds of thousands of soldiers as I begin turn one of the campaign. They think they'll be home for the holidays, but I know there is only a long and difficult war ahead.

Strategic Command: World War I from Fury Software is the studio's second stab at the Great War. I enjoyed the original game  quite a bit a few years back, and the game has only been refined further since then. The most fundamental change that fans of the older game will notice right away is that the square grid is gone, replaced with more traditional hexes. Also, the game is much nicer to look at without a doubt. Beyond the visuals, the gameplay will be very familiar to fans of the series, to the point that you can jump in and play without bothering to check the manual.



For those approaching the series for the first time, here's a look at how the game handles. Strategic Command WW1 (SCWW1) is a grand strategy turn based game where you take on the role of leading either the Entente or the Central Powers in WWI. Unit density is kept to a minimum by using a corps as the standard unit size for infantry. Aircraft, artillery, and HQ units are around as well, but never in great numbers. On the sea things flip the other way, with individual ships each having their own, very valuable counter. The combat is, at a glance, similar to Panzer General and the like, with unit health being represented by a scale from 1-10, and the average combat knocking off 1-3 points from that total. Things aren't quite that simple though, as morale, supply, terrain, entrenchment, and more factors come into play to determine the odds. Still, the game keeps things simple, and it is a great place for less experienced wargamers to dip their toes into the deep end of the pool. 



As someone who likes to fancy myself a hardcore wargamer, but in reality never finds the time for the real monsters, the Strategic Command series is a perfect fit. SCWWI is no exception to that rule. The reason I enjoy the games so much is because they are just complicated enough to make you think hard about decisions, while keeping each aspect of the game simple enough that you can easily pick up and play a few turns a day without any need to consult the manual or go hunting for answers on the forums. I say that in terms of the mechanics of playing the game. When it comes to the actual strategy, well, I can always use a little more help. SCWWI actually delivers on that need right out of the box. 

Besides a manual describing how to control the game, there is also a lengthy strategy guide included for the full campaign. It goes over all of the quirks of the gameplay which are not readily apparent to the new player. Things like decision events, partisans, naval blockades, and how certain specific actions you might take will influence the game. Besides that, the guide includes broad strategies for each side, and specific tips for each individual nation. Skimming through this document is a good idea before you embark on the full campaign, since SCWWI, like the other SC games, contains a lot of scripted events that will fire on specific turns or under certain conditions. All of these events are listed in the strategy guide, with information about when they will fire and what the possible outcomes of each decisions will be. 




These events can be very powerful and important, sometimes giving you special new units, or allowing you to take a unique action that is otherwise unavailable. You can opt to take the historical path in each of these decisions, but you can also explore the "what-if" of an alternate choice. Many of these events can also have randomized outcomes, so history may take a different path even if you make the historical choice. For example, the Zimmerman telegraph just might work this time around, drawing Mexico into the war. Unlikely, but you never know! Some people might feel that this approach can railroad the game a bit, but I appreciate how it is used to handle things that happened historically, but would be difficult to replicate organically through game mechanics. 

Besides all of the combat occurring on the map, the player will also need to concern themselves with managing diplomacy, production, and research. All of these areas share one pool of resources (MPPs), and that same resource is also needed to repair damage to existing units, and to use railroads to move units great distances. This means you'll need to be very judicious in how you spend those precious points. Choosing to build a very expensive unit like a battleship, which will take many turns to complete, is not just a simple choice, but something you are actively building your entire campaign strategy around. Other long term decisions like influencing other nations to join your side, or focusing on aerial warfare over submarine warfare, are likewise not choices to be made lightly. No matter what you choose to do, your opponent will put up a stiff fight, and only by matching your choices with an effective strategy will you prevail. 



While the AI is prone to make the occasional odd move, and leaves itself open to attack from time to time, it will mostly put up a good fight. If you find the default settings too easy, it's possible to gradually turn up the difficulty, putting yourself at a disadvantage, though this won't necessarily make the AI play any smarter.  To get the ultimate challenge, you'll need to go online and find a human opponent. Although I didn't use the online function while preparing this review, it uses the same PBEM++ system as most Matrix/Slitherine turn based games. Using this system you can play asynchronously, completing a turn and coming back later when your opponent has played their turn. It might take quite a while to play a full campaign against another player, but I imagine it would be a thrilling experience. If you want to try a shorter match, there is a scenario included which begins the campaign in 1917, with the end nearing, but much tough fighting still to be done.



Overall, I have no real complaints about the game, though there are a few areas where improvements could be made. Naval combat continues to be the weak point of the series, as it is difficult to portray those battles on the same map and scale as the land combat. Some abstractions are forced upon the game due to the question of scale, such as ships entering specific zones in order to be teleported across particular areas.  Naval blockades involve parking units on specific hexes, which works but always feels a bit odd. The other main complaint I have is the lack of alternate scenarios. Only three scenarios total are included in the game, the full 1914 start, an alternate version where Italy switches sides, and the 1917 start. I don't recall if the original base game had many extra scenarios, but I really enjoyed all of the smaller scenarios included in the Breakthrough expansion. I was hoping to see some of those reappear here, but no luck. Perhaps they will come along in a DLC at some point.

Strategic Command: World War I is a solid entry into the series, and I can very comfortably recommend it to anyone who has enjoy the series before, and anyone looking for a good WWI strategy experience. I think Strategic Command strikes a near perfect balance between depth and fun.  Few other games can give you so many details and potential strategies to explore, while remaining mechanically simple enough that anyone could sit down and learn all of the mechanics in under ten minutes. 

- Joe Beard

Strategic Command: World War I is available directly from Matrix Games and on Steam.







Strategic Command WWII:World at War by Fury Software Matrix/Slitherine  Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Calling all would ...

Strategic Command WWII: World At War by Fury Software&Matrix/Slitherine Strategic Command WWII: World At War by Fury Software&Matrix/Slitherine

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Fury Software

Strategic Command WWII:World at War

by

Fury Software

Matrix/Slitherine








 Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Calling all would be strategists; there is a new sheriff in town. You can now play with Takagi, Yamashita, Balbo, Graziani, Kleist, Busch, Alexander, Dempsey, Clark, Hodges, Vatutin, Rokossovsky etc. The units are armored trains, battleships, tanks, planes, rockets, any armament that played a role in World War II. I didn't mention the big names because you are in charge of your nation's destiny. The scenarios go back to 1939. Hopefully we get a DLC or a mod that allows players to go further back in time to build up their nation as they want. With these scenarios only Japan really has enough time to alter their force make up. So let us look at what scenarios come with the game:

1939: World At War
1942: Axis High Tide
1943: Allies Turn The Tide
1942-45 Race To Victory
1943-45 Race To Victory




 Without rewriting the entire list of the sales pitch, here it is:

  • New Features! From limited naval repairs to Kamikazes.
  • Take command of the Axis or Allies, and re-fight the whole of WWII!
  • Let the computer take control of some of your allies so you can concentrate on your favorite theaters.
  • Play on a top-down hex based map spanning the entire globe.
  • In addition to the Grand Campaign starting in 1939, Strategic Command WWII: World At War also includes shorter scenarios.
  • A realistic Fog of War simulates the historical atmosphere where you have to make decisions with only partial knowledge of your opponent's intentions and dispositions.
  • Play with a choice of 3-D unit graphics, or NATO counters if you prefer a more traditional wargaming experience
  • Research and upgrade your units with a unique level of choices! Infantry Weapons, Rockets, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Amphibious Warfare, and more!
  • Use Diplomacy to win over new allies and use your intelligence to undermine the enemy!
  • Contains a large number of strategic level Decision Events for you to choose your path to victory.
  • Very easy to use Editor to make your own “what-if” scenarios or create new maps and campaigns from scratch. Modders will be glad to know that this game can have 10 Major powers.
  • Very active modding community eager to share their developments with other players, whether it be changing the look of the map or designing new campaigns, even covering conflicts in other time periods, there is a lot there!






This is the first release in the SCWWII: World at War series (hopefully). So there are not many scenarios to choose from. It is my hope that we will see DLCs that encompass some larger maps and separate campaigns like Fury Software did with their earlier games. As I mentioned, I would like an early pre-war scenario to guide your nation or nations.




 At the start of the game you can choose to play the Allied or Axis nations. However, you can also turn over the nations that you do not wish to play during that game to the AI. This leads to a more sandbox approach to the game. The AI is competent, but might throw you a curve ball on occasion. Speaking of the AI, the Strategic Command series has, since its inception, been beleaguered by some players about the Naval aspect of the game. Submarines and other naval units with zero supply has been one of the major gripes. This has been looked at by Fury Software, and the game has had these improvements:


"While not a complete overhaul, there have been quite a few changes, listed below, which have been reported as nice improvements to the overall game during testing.

- supply rule changes:
- subs can no longer dive at 0 supply.
- all raiders can no longer raid at 0 supply.
- defending units at 0 supply will receive 50% more damage from a successful attack against them.
- fighters and carriers cannot intercept/escort when at 0 supply.
- maximum reinforcement points is now 5 strength points per turn for all naval units except Motor Torpedo Boats.
- naval units positioned top of a small island sea enemy hex will no longer be fully revealed under FoW.
- neutral majors can no longer load units onto Amphibious Transports.
- defending subs at zero supply, or defending land units defending from ground attack at zero supply, will now have their morale fully recalculated after any defending strength losses are applied.
- subs will now have a 25% chance of receiving at least a single strength point loss when diving from attack.

We've also added a change to Special Forces, i.e. US Marines and Japanese SNLF which especially help with island hopping in the Pacific. A few other island hopping related changes are listed below here as well:

- Special Forces units, after amphibiously unloading, now maintain supply for up to 5 turns with a drop of 2 supply points per turn.
- minor nation Capitals, Fortresses with 3 or more adjacent enemy units will now have their supply reduced by one strength point per turn.
- Ports no longer provide supply to land units if there is an enemy land unit adjacent to the port.
- abandoned Ports adjacent an enemy City/Town will now switch to enemy control."





 So, as you can see, the game has been worked on. For those of us who own the older versions we do notice the difference. According to Fury Software these changes will also appear in their last game, Strategic Command WWII: War in Europe.





 For those of you who did not buy SCWWII: WIE, the biggest change in these new games is a return to hexes (Please flash the applause sign). I could never get used to the diamond shaped pseudo-hexes in the other games. The scale of the game opens up the modder community to use the entire world or make their own scenarios as they wish. 


Closest Zoom

 Besides being larger in scope than the last game, there are other things to induce a new player. The scripts that pop-up during the game for each country can be turned off and on in the advanced options screen. So, if you do not agree with the historical or non-historical actions, just remove that script. 


Farthest Out Zoom

 The game play is easy to pick up and the user interface is very intuitive, as it should be. The scale of the game is mostly corps and fleets. As in all the games of the series MPPs (Military Production Points) are at its core. You need these to do reinforcement, diplomacy, or research, you name it, you need them. Each country  has a set number of them at the start of scenarios, but you can increase a country's amount each turn by conquest. All of your units in play use APs (Action Points). These are used to move, fight, or do what the player wants. Each nation starts each scenario with some pluses and minuses in the make up of the armed forces. Germany begins with some better numbers in ground warfare, where Japan starts out with naval ones. If playing just Italy, it might behoove you to stay out of the war for as long as possible to build up your might. The Allied nations, as they did historically, have tremendous production capability, as long as they can stay in the war long enough for it to count. You can try Operation Sea Lion, attack Spain (as either side), or go for Churchill's Balkan gambit. If it happened in World War II it can happen here, or even if it was only thought of during the war.




 



 As I have stated, the game has a very long pedigree, and it shows. The game just has a very polished feeling to it. I can easily recommend this to anyone who wants to fight WWII globally on the computer. The very large modding community and the fact that Fury Software is always working on DLCs, paid and otherwise, is just an added plus. Thank you Matrix Games for the chance to review this newest iteration of the series.


Robert
PixelPLaybox.co.uk