ORIGINAL: V22 Osprey
Good point. However, one could argue the fact that in steel panthers you get leaders as well. The leaders are integrated into the squads, otherwise they work the same way the leaders in SqB does. In steel panthers, your squad leader will try to rally, if he fails, and if you are near the lead squad of the platoon, the platoon commander will also try and help rally. Sure you can't move around leaders the same way SqB does, but it works.
As a sparate unit, your leaders can get killed just by the act of rallying, and their proper placement and use is important. This leads to mroe tactical options and immersion.
Also, I guess you have never right clicked a squad in steel panthers. Te leader of each squad gets a name and rank just like SqB, heck you can change it during the game or in the editor when creating historical scenarios. You can also tell a squad to not shoot certain weapons in the right click info screen as well.
I do right click to manage the individual weapons. But it like it better when I see pictures and faces instead of text and numbers. In SP, it seems that infantry is just a "statistic".
Steel Panthers also has an Op Fire filter, so you can tell your squad to shutup to maintain surprise or save ammo. If there is function like this SqB, I have not seen it. I agree SqB feels more realistic and engaging but whereas SqB fails at it's representation of armor, Steel panthers being armor based also does a rather decent of infantry as well.
Hold fire command (in the Command menu) can be issued to each individual weapon type. But what's lacking is the range filter like SP. So squads in SB will completely hold fire for the whole of your opponent's turn. But still, very handy in doing ambushes. SB brings it to another level where you can actually pick up a dropped weapon (by dead friends or enemies). So if your LMG gunner dies or if you see a nice enemy weapon, you can have someone pick it up. ...But with less effectiveness because you don't have time to scrounge for all the ammo and is not trained to use it. All these little things add to the immersion factor.
Also, don't get me wrong. I love Squad Battles. I have both and play both.
Good discussion on Steel Panthers and SB, I too always felt (as much as i enjoy all the versions of them) Steel panthers had a very "cold" feel to them... I never cared about any of my units, whether tanks or inf squads, despite the experiance/ morale gains, kills noted and individually named leaders with their 3 skill sets... They were always , as Jomni put it "statistics" .
I dont have any of the Sb games but have been tempted, i think what holds me back is: Not quite sure which ones include 3d graphics( must have 3d at the squad level, not nato icons or squares with faces on them ), no map editor( I am ok w HPS not having the editors for the larger operational or even napoleonic games, but squad level combat is so personal, i cant imagine making a scenario without a personalised map to go along with it), and finally, I feel i have an eternity of gaming left with SPW2 and MBT, so why buy another squad level game?
BTW the wargamer has a link posted , looks like a fan(s) finally completed the Civil War mod for SPWAW, nice