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Posted on Apr 8, 2010 in Electronic Games

Strategic Command WWII Global Conflict – PC Game Review

By Steven M. Smith

Strategic Command WWII Global Conflict. PC Game. Published by Battlefront.com. Developed by Hubert Cater. Suggested retail price: $55.00.

Passed Inspection: The user interface is very straightforward and logical. System rewards those who think several turns ahead. Detailed manual. Layers of detail are designed to not overwhelm the player.

Failed Basic: Beginning sequence of tutorial in manual is jumbled. A few typos in the manual. New "diplomacy" mechanism feels too abstract compared with other game features

Gamers who enjoy planning ahead but don’t want a lot of complicated steps for each turn will enjoy this game.

Strategic Command WWII Global Conflict from Battlefront is a turn-based grand strategy computer game. If you are concerned that only bean-counters could love strategic games, think again. This game has a clear focus on the military aspects of WWII-only those aspects of diplomacy, research, and production that support the tip of the spear, the armies, fleets, and air formations-are presented to the player. The non-military aspects of the game are abstracted to the essential big-picture decisions. Micromanaging is left to the military units.

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The game can either be downloaded or purchased as a CD and manual in a box. According to Battlefront’s website there will only be one printing of the paper manual, which is also a available as a PDF file.

At the beginning of a turn the computer calculates resources, supply, morale, entrenchment and action points, and determines which units are visible. The player then can do the following in any order: move units, set diplomacy, attack with units, set research, upgrade units, set production, and reinforce units. When a turn is over the computer checks weather conditions, country status, events, fortifications, sea unit damage, partisan activity, diplomacy results (current side), and research results (current side), and it calculates production points. The number of decisions and actions a player can take in a turn is well balanced, so they don’t feel overwhelming, thanks to the streamlined diplomacy, research, and production systems and the ease of moving and fighting.  Turns take an amazing short time to play through.

Diplomacy, research, and production support the clash of military forces. Units attack at full effectiveness if they attack before moving. As units succeed in battles they gain effectiveness. Conversely, units losing battles become less effective. Reduced units can be brought back up to strength; however regular reinforcements can reduce effectiveness bonuses. Elite reinforcements are more expensive but don’t reduce effectiveness bonuses. The easiest way for a unit to regain lost effectiveness is to set them up to deliver the final attack that eliminates an enemy unit.

Units have a strike value which represents the number of attacks that unit can make per turn. Action points are used to move, reinforce, or upgrade a unit. Armor units have enough strike value and action points to move then attack, and repeat. Alternatively the armor could attack twice then move. The combination of strike value and action points provides a tactical feel to strategic military actions.

Attacks take place one at a time, so units may not combine attacks. At first this seemed like a strange restriction for a WWII game, but once I started playing it felt right and gave a feeling of accomplishment when pulling off a sharp sequence of attacks.

Diplomacy has four different mechanisms. The one that is called "Diplomacy" is a new mechanism that allows the player to influence neutrals and even enemies. This means that the Germany or Japan player can try to delay the US declaration of war. Heavy use of diplomacy can cause neutral minor countries to switch sides before being pulled into the war. The actual mechanism consists of purchasing and applying chits to a selected country. The diplomatic chit is supposed to represent all aspects of diplomacy: promises of aid, threats, cajoling, etc. Reducing all types of direct diplomatic activity to a single chit feels overly abstract and less satisfying than the other abstracted mechanisms, Research and Production.

The second mechanism is "Belligerent Status". This can lead to situations such as the USSR being an Allied power but only fighting Germany and not Japan. The third mechanism involves military action against another power. This can trigger an early entry of a country into war, say if Japan attacks a US position such as the Philippines. The fourth mechanism involves decision points that are triggered by events. For example, after conquering Poland the Axis player is presented with a message about the agreement Germany has with the USSR about partitioning Poland. The Axis player can chose to affirm or disavow the agreement. Disavowing the agreement moves the USSR closer to declaring war on Germany.

Research can improve the capabilities of military units in a number of ways, such as creating heavy tanks, amphibious warfare (for infantry units), long range aircraft, and advanced subs. Once a researched capability becomes available, existing units can be upgraded or new units produced with the new capabilities. Upgrading or building a unit with the researched capabilities is voluntary because additional capabilities add to the cost of a unit.

Diplomacy and Research use a combination money-and-chit system. Only a certain number of chits can be applied per country or research project. Spending money and chits seems a little strange at first, but it’s an elegant way to handle resource limitations without bogging the player down with a lot of details.

Production is where long-term planning really comes into play. A player has to consider what will be needed several turns out in order to produce the right units that arrive at the right time.

A word of warning: the Campaign Selection and Introduction section of the manual has paragraphs out of order. The first two sentences of the first paragraph are ok, but after clicking on Play Campaign you end up at the beginning of the third paragraph where the instructions take you through the Choose Side dialog. At the end of the third paragraph, go to the third sentence in the first paragraph (click on Advanced). From Scripts select Convoy instead of Supply to see the convoy event described in the second paragraph. At the end of paragraph two jump to the fourth paragraph (game map centered on Germany) picking up the rest of the tutorial. This jumping around is the only major issue with the manual.

(Editor’s Note: ACG notified Battlefront about this issue, and it has been corrected in the online manual).

In summary, this is the best grand strategy game I have ever played. The game’s engine could be used for other grand strategy games such as the Seven Years War or Napoleonic Wars.

Gamers who enjoy planning ahead but don’t want a lot of complicated steps for each turn will enjoy this game. This is the game for players who like grand strategy, even those who don’t normally play WWII games.

Armchair General score: 95%

About the author:

Steven M. Smith has a life-long interest in history especially the Napoleonic and Victorian periods. He started playing wargames in 1975 and has played miniatures, board games, and computer games. He was the owner of The Simulation Corner gaming retail outlet in Morgantown, West Virginia, until 1983. He is currently a member of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society and works for Lockheed Martin in Baltimore, Maryland.

6 Comments

  1. I’ve been enjoying the heck out of this game for the last week.

    One small criticism:
    The naval movement in the Pacific feels a bit ‘out of scale’ with regard to the amount of time it takes to send a fleet on a mission.
    For example I sallied the entire Japanese fleet to attack Pearl Harbor and to support an immediate invasion. Once this was accomplished, I drew the fleet back to Japan to repair and replenish the air units. I then sent the fleet into the South Pacific to intercept a pretty massive American Fleet that had pounded Hawaii and moved toward Australia. I caught them east of Rabaul and decimated them (sank 5 carriers, 2 Battleships, 1 Cruiser, and 1 Destroyer for the loss of a Battleship and a Destroyer).

    This took almost 2 years! I think that the game should include some ‘operational movement’ for fleets. The player should be able to move them from one of their bases to another distant base in one turn (2+ weeks).

    The way the game plays now, moving a fleet from Japan to Hawaii and back takes several months.

    Other than that, the game is great fun to play, and is full of tastey ‘waht – if’s’. I’ll be playing this one for years.

  2. For me, the game doesn’t produce the results I would expect to see in land warfare. In addition, there are some strange things, like an armored unit attacking a battleship. Seems weird to me.

    I haven’t yet gone in depth into the pdf instruction manual, but there does not seem to be a way to stack units. In one game, I had an aviation unit in Berlin, but couldn’t move an infantry unit into Berlin because I can’t find a way to stack units. Since there was bad weather, it wouldn’t let the aviation unit leave Berlin to “make room” for the infantry unit.

    So far, I have fonder remembrance of Panzer General than my experience with this game.

    That said, even all of the problems I had playing it, it has been better than Hearts of Iron III.

  3. @ Mark
    -Your tank unit could only attack the Battleship because it caught the BB sitting duck in port. Once at sea, you can’t attack ships with land units.
    -You can use operational movement to move an air unit, even in bad weather. But you can’t rebase without OP movement during bad weather, in this case you have to use the OP move.
    :)

  4. I strongly disagree with this review. The game has recived little updates that are visible from previous games in the series. The game was very buggy until the most recent patch was released.
    Panzer Commander still looks better…Actually there’s just *to* much stuff everywhere but at the same time there’s not that much to do.

    The wya the interface is setup is bad, i’d like to know the properties of my enemies by clicking on them or hoovering on them, not each time right clicking, scrolling down to properties, clicking, then looking then clicking it away.

    Its a good game but nowhere near 95!

  5. The german online magazine “GamersGlobal” has released yesterday a four page review of Strategic Command WWII Global Conflict.
    They awarded the game 7.5 out of 10 points, while “Hearts of Iron” only got 6.0 out of 10 when it was reviewed there.
    The general message was something like “addictive just like civilization -JUST- ONE – MORE – TURN- a heyday for global strategists, but to dull for RTS-fans”.
    Thats another excellent review for SC WWII Global Conflict.
    :)

  6. I am new to SC WW11 and although I am really enjoying the game I am having problems later in the game when America or China declare war on Russia and Germany in the last scenario when Germany and Russia have a secret pact. Neither China or USA will join in even though they have declared war on Russia and Germany. Anyone know why?

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