Strategic Command WWI 1914-1918 The Great War

Review

posted 4/8/2011 by Tom Bitterman
other articles by Tom Bitterman
One Page Platforms: PC
World War 1 doesn't get much love from gamers.  It has the reputation of being a prolonged meat grinder of a war, with armies grinding against each other along static lines for years at a time.  World War 2 is much sexier with fluid fronts, tank battles and air wars to be enjoyed.  So why would anybody make a game around WW1?

It turns out the standard view of the war is not how the war started out, and only it ended up stalemated due to historical contingencies.  At the start of the war it was far from clear which way things would go.  The Germans were able to advance rapidly in the early days, coming to within the outskirts of Paris in about a month.  There was no reason to think that this war would be less mobile than, say, the Napoleonic conflicts.


And that was the problem - the military heads of Europe were intent on fighting the last war with this war's technology.  This did not go well, as massed infantry assaults worked poorly against barbed wire, trenches, and artillery.  When Russia entered the war against Germany, she dug in on the Western Front and let the Entente bleed themselves to death in trench-to-trench warfare.

"Strategic Command - World War 1" (SCWW1) gives you the chance to change all this.  As the ruler of one of the major coalitions - Entente or Central Powers - you have the opportunity to do things differently.  Fans of the Central Powers will be able to execute the Schlieffen Plan the right way this time, while Entente players will try to keep Russia from leaving the war part-way through.


The game, to be honest, looks like a throwback to the 80's.  The units are sprites and they sit on solid-colored bases which rest on a bland, 2D map with washed-out colors and pixellation everywhere.  The graphical presentation looks like "Civilization 1.5" or nearby.  It is not ugly, per se, but it is not attractive, either.  The whole aesthetic hearkens back to the earliest computer wargames, which were thin ports of hex-based board games.

This throwback mentality carries through to all the facets of the game.  SCWW1 is turn-based (of course) and is played out on a square (not hexagonal) grid.  Every unit has a strength (which depends on size, morale, tech level and other factors) and combat modes (infantry attack adjacent units, artillery can bombard, subs sink shipping, etc.) and the player is in charge of deploying their units to achieve maximum combat effectiveness.  It is very standard stuff, using mechanics from a long line of games before it.
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