Hey Pete, from my (somewhat limited) experience with CC multiplayer, you have two choices. I'll try to make this as unbiased as possible for you so you can make the informed decision.
Panthers in the Fog uses Slitherine's in-game server system, which makes it fast and easy to connect with other players. All you have to do is make sure the game is updated to the latest patch and you're good to go (the game checks for updates for you, and it takes seconds to check). The problem is the limited number of players online at any moment in time. This is not PitF specific - there isn't a lot of CC multiplayers out there - but the game leaves you with little choice. You can either wait around in-game until someone pops up, or you can go out onto forums etc and try find someone to play. That's it.
For all the other games in the CC series, you connect via direct IP, not a server system. This makes it harder to connect when you've found a player. Expect crashes to desktop and freezes. And updating your game can be hard too - you will have to go out there, find the patches, and install them manually. Even with both players using the same patch, it doesn't always connect. (This is one of the reasons I don't play much multiplayer.) On the flip side, you can go on GameRanger (which is free) and see just how many players are playing CC games and host/join all the games you want. There's still limited numbers of players, but if you had CC3 for example, other players from every game in the series can see you have CC3 and join your game. This makes finding games much easier.
A lot of CC multiplayers think PitF "isn't the best choice" because the server system limits them to Panthers in the Fog. Nobody knows you're sat in Panthers in the Fog waiting for other players. Whereas on GameRanger people know you're there - even if they're waiting for a game of Age of Empires or whatever, they can see you sat there waiting - so GamerRanger allows you to find more players. Plus, if the server system ever went down (probably won't happen for a few years at least), that's it - no more PitF multiplayer. THAT's why the CC multiplayers think PitF isn't the best choice for multiplayer.
You could technically go on GamerRanger, set up a CC5 game and write "Panthers in the Fog Only" in the description, and maybe find players that way. I've done that before, and it worked. But it's not ideal.
My advice is to go on GamerRanger and see what it looks like. Then consider whether you can live with the easier-but-fewer-players server system, or the problematic-but-more-players IP connection method. If you have friends or your brother to play against, I'd probably say PitF for its ease. If not, and you have to find players, PitF may not be the best choice. But it's your choice at the end of the day.
If you choose NOT to go with PitF, I would recommend Close Combat 5 (The Longest Day has CC5 bundled in it, I think. Maybe someone else can confirm that?). It's got solid gameplay, good mods, good multiplayer, and is probably the best overall of the Classic games for single-player/multiplayer. (The best singleplayer is CC2 though, my favourite ) Check out Close Combat Series Forums and see what people are playing. I'd post a direct link, but I don't have 10 posts so can't.
I hope this helps you Pete. Let me know if you have any more questions
< Message edited by TIK -- 6/8/2013 10:07:44 PM >
I have a Youtube Channel
that features Close Combat and Panzer Corps Let's Plays and videos, as well as historical documentaries.