My gold standard for a good game is Strategic Command (the first version, not the god-awful travesty that an obviously deranged Hubert Cater dreamed up with it's isometric view, squares instead of hexes, and silly looking miniatures instead of nato counters). I played SC more than any other game ever. I can remember many nights staying up well past midnight for just one more turn, as victory stayed just outside of my grasp.
Since SC, I've looked for other games that would grab my attention the way it did. Never found one. I've tried every turn-based wargame that has come out since then and nothing really held my interest. CTGW, so far, has finally done it. It actually reminds me a lot of SC. I have been playing the Central Powers the last couple of days and the game seems so well-balanced that I constantly balance on a precipice of either losing ground to one of my opponent nations or gaining the upper hand against them.
My first game was instructive, but disastrous as I threw everything against the Western Front and the Serbs. When the Russians made a lightning move to grab Vienna and were on their way to Berlin, I knew it was time to stop, read the manual, and start over again. Today I did just that and this time, I'm trying to rewrite history. After using enough force to grab Belgium, I have gone over to the defensive in the west. I'm concentrating a good portion of my German troops in the east. AH is making a push to conquer Serbia (we have taken their first capital; can't remember the name), but I'm making an attempt to maintain more balance with them by sending more troops out east.
My thought is that if I can maintain a defensive wall in the west and remove the Serbian thorn in my side, this will allow me to concentrate Germany, AH, and, to some extent, the Ottoman Empire, all against Russia. If I can knock her out of the war, this will give me the freedom to fight a one-front war. I have no idea if it is going to work, but, damn is it fun to find out!
I think you guys really nailed this game. Here's why. Like SC, the game is deceptively simple to get into, but that simplicity hides a depth of realism that comes from how you made all of the moving parts work together. Like how the technology system and the use of PP, MP, etc. work together to show the difference between the Germans and AH. This game, like SC, lets you ask "What if?" and then lets you answer that question. To me, that IS the most fun part of wargaming.
I have been impressed by the AI so far, they have flanked me, both operationally and strategically. One consequence (I'm guessing) of my defensive stance in the west is that I have had British troops land in Serbia! And at first, seeing Russian armored trains running around in my back yard seemed gamey, it helps to remember that they are actually armies with supporting armored trains. Same for fighters.
Anyway, I wanted to give you guys some positive feedback. I can't imagine how it must feel to work your ass off for years on a game and then have people nitpick it the day it comes out. My simple rating for a game is: do I want to play this anywhere near as much as I did SC? If the answer is yes, then it's a winner. For CTGW, the answer is a resounding "YES"!