Strategic Command WWII Global Conflict – PC Game Review
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.
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.