Hi. Since you two were veteran contributors on the War in Flames sub-forum, I was curious to know how you think this version of Strategic Command compares to ADW's classic global WWII game?
I assume you are referring to ADG and World in Flames (WIF)?
If so then I would say these are two very different – and in their own way rewarding - gaming experiences. There are two things: the actual game itself and also the practicalities of playing the game.
I’ll start with WIF
I first played WIF (the board game) in the mid-90’s and I have considered WIF the very best war game I’ve played ever since. When I saw the computer game being made by Matrix I jumped at the chance at getting involved.
WIF is fun, colourful and challenging. Aesthetically the computer game is better than the board game as the one thing that let down the board game – the maps – has been improved immeasurably. The counters are works of art (depending on personal taste obviously). For me, whether to use NATO counters for land units is simply not something that is up for debate; NATO counters are a must – and WIF uses these. Every power – major or minor – has its own distinct colour scheme (anyone remember AH 3rd Reich and their dull buff counters for all minors and insipid major power counter colours?). The aircraft counters provide a player with a full colour outline of every aircraft (and many what-ifs) that appeared in WWII. Then there are the ships….. for someone with a keen interest in the naval side of WWII, ADG went above and beyond when they brought out Ships in Flames just as I was starting my WIF journey. Here is a strategic level game about WWII and yet I get to play with just about every ship (and many what-ifs) from light cruiser upwards – and again these are presented (as can be seen to the left) with a beautiful silhouette. That’s mad.
When I say the game is challenging, I mean immensely challenging. A player has to think many moves ahead and constantly be able to react to opportunities and threats - like SCWAW. But there are no random events that pop up – every action involves a player planning the movement of units from place to place.
The dice can be kind or they can be vicious and unforgiving. The game mechanics mean that little, if anything, is ever guaranteed. For example, what units a major power starts with is never guaranteed to be the same, starting positions are not fixed. These features, along with the way turn initiative, weather, the type of action taken and turn length interact, all make for a game with unlimited re-playability.
The game has a few basic rules set in stone that provide the framework that makes every game of WIF feel like a WWII game – even if going outside of history e.g. invading Spain or Sweden. Playing with oil is a must in my opinion, as this just adds to the WWII ‘experience’.
There is no diplomatic shenanigans as such to get countries to join forces. Diplomacy revolves around the US entry chart. Each power must be careful in the actions they take as it may effect (positively or negatively) the opinion of US Congress and thus the speed with which the US enters the war.
The counter-mix and rules means that the owner of a major power will be faced with the problems and opportunities faced by that power. That said, WIF is unashamedly a game made so that either side can win. That means that there are some liberties taken with counter values and OOB. After all, in any WWII game, a real life Japanese OOB is not going to be much fun for the Japanese player…..
The game is a time vampire. It makes me chuckle when people hear that it has just 36 turns and are put off by how short it is….. Er no, a turn can be short (typically in winter and/or when someone gets lucky with ending the turn) but equally a turn can last for ever!
As a game, perhaps WIF’s greatest strength can also be its biggest downside. Ultimately, for all the planning, all the hard work that goes into creating a strategy and executing a plan, if the dice are not going to play ball it can bring a game to a premature end very quickly.
Strategic Command: World at War
I will say less on this as I assume anyone reading this here will be acquainted with the game. A lot of the plusses with WIF are present here too. The game gives a choice between NATO and sprites which is a nice touch. The counters are more generic though. Maybe could do with some love from a colour perspective? But that is personal taste. I would say the same applies to the maps. Some attention could be paid here. For example, when island hopping I often found it a pain to know which territory belonged to who. To my mind this should be identifiable at-a-glance.
I like the combat mechanics with the possible outcome advised in advance. After some pretty hideous games of WIF (from a dice perspective) it was nice to play a game that felt less in the hands of the dice gods (of course I wouldn’t feel that way if the dice had worked) and I really like this feature of SCWAW. I can’t say too much on game balance as I sucked at the game whichever side I played.
The naval side is both more and less appealing than WIF. Less because there is not the same attention to detail (each individual ship) that WIF has, but more because I really quite like the naval rules in SCWAW. I have had many an exciting battle during my games with Fog of War adding that real element of the unknown, and the weather often playing a part too. Neither game is perfect when it comes to the naval war, but both games make a pretty good stab at it.
Like with WIF, SCWAW is a strategic game that allows playing of the whole war – and that is a big plus for me. At the same time both have a WWII ‘feel’ regardless of what tangent a player goes off on relative to real life.
I think there is more possibility for bringing in countries with SCWAW thanks to the diplomatic manoeuvrings. This is a good thing from a replayability perspective, although I must confess I never spent a single DM, Dollar, Sterling or Yen to try and persuade anyone. I could never afford the cost!
SCWAW has research and upgrading of units which WIF doesn't. WIF increases the values of the new additions to the OOB instead e.g. an Me-262 counter appearing in 1944 and older aircraft no longer produced. This need to keep ahead of research in SCWAW is another nice addition as it gives a player more to think about than just the fighting.
One very big difference between the two games are the decision events. These are not a feature of WIF, where a player has to move units manually – no sudden appearance in the desert or Norway or whatever. I think at their best the decision events are an excellent game feature. It’s something different – like the cards in Decisive Campaigns – and after getting used to the concept it was fine. The only issue I have is that some don’t need to be there – there is simply no ‘decision’ to be made (Soviet winter preparations) or there is no decision to be made as the downside of one outweighs so much the upside of another (Indian entry). Most though work really well.
Which is better?
I think there are plusses and negatives to both. I thoroughly enjoyed SCWAW and would recommend this to anyone that wants to play a strategic WWII game. Will I go back to it? Well if I don’t that is no criticism of the game – after all my MO has been to buy a game, really get into it, play it until I’m happy that I’ve done what I can and then move on. I’ve done that with many Matrix titles. The one game I haven’t done that with? WIF. Despite what I write below I always go back to this monster as there is something insanely addictive about it. Perhaps that answers the question?
Those who have been around the WIF forum since it was released, know that the game still has issues (to a greater or lesser extent). One of the things that brought me back to SCWAW was that I had been suffering some frustrations with WIF that meant the fun playing the game was being overtaken by some problems – particularly with production at the end of a turn.
What I absolutely loved about SCWAW is that here is a game that is pretty much stable. It is not temperamental, I don’t play a turn and then hope at the end of it that I am not going to run into problems that take time to fix, but instead I play my turn, I wrap it up and send it back and….. it works! I think I had one crash during the games and that was probably caused by my computer not the game.
My 2 cents
< Message edited by warspite1 -- 5/22/2021 5:19:19 AM >
England expects that every man will do his duty. Horatio Nelson October 1805