When evaluated strictly as an engine for simulating large-scale combat in WW1, SCWW1 does an acceptable job. To some extent WW1 combat is like WW2 combat but simpler, so there is not much room for flash here. No one will like or hate this game based on the combat rules.
The important mechanisms are the ones that allow your nations to build and support your armed forces. There are two basic values that impact your nations' ability to wage war: Military Production Points (MPP) and National Morale (NM).
Of the two, MPPs have more impact on day-to-day operations. An MPP represents an abstraction of the material basis of warfare - the bullets, food, oil and other material resources your army needs - and this value depends on the resource sites you control, the efficiency of your industry, and the split between civilian and military production. Almost everything you do costs MPPs directly or indirectly.
The most obvious MPP cost is building and reinforcing units. The usual infantry, cavalry and ships are here, along with the more exotic Zeppelins and railroad artillery among others. The player will want to balance their purchases carefully, lest they fall into the historical trap of trench warfare accidentally. There are never enough MPPs to build and reinforce units, and yet other things cost MPPs, too.
MPPs can also be spent on research. In the real world, WW1 ended as much because of advances in technology and its use as war exhaustion. You will want your coalition to be the first with tanks and poison gas and strategic bombers and the other weapons needed to break the stalemate. Of course, if you spend too much on research then your current army will be weakened.
Diplomacy also relies on MPPs. It is important for both sides to sway neutrals such as Holland and Norway as Germany needs their resources and the Entente wants to starve Germany. This is a somewhat underdeveloped portion of the game, but a patient player can turn the war in their favor through adept diplomacy.
All the MPPs in the world do not matter, however, if your people do not want to fight. Individual units have morale, but so does your entire nation. Certain places on the map are important to your people - Konigsberg is important to the Germans, for example, while Warsaw is treasured by the Russians. When the enemy captures these locations, the NM value of the losing nation goes down and the NM of the winning nation goes up. The same thing can happen when resource locations are taken, or convoys are raided, or when certain game events fire. If the NM of a nation goes down far enough (to 1% or so) that nation may surrender. Since NM goes up or down every turn for every important place taken it is important not to let the enemy hold them for too long.
When put together, the non-military components do a good job of forcing the player to make important decisions. There are never enough MPPs to go around, and National Morale can force sub-optimal courses of action simply to keep the nation fighting. The economic, technological and diplomatic components put the "Grand" in the "Grand Stratgic".
In summary, "Strategic Command - World War 1" is, despite a retro-looking interface, a decent game covering WW1 at the grand strategic level. It plays more like a wargame than an economic simulation, but it does a good job of making sure the player pays attention to both aspects. There is nothing great here, but this is a solid game set in an under-appreciated conflict.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
If you like turn-based, hex-based, strategy-heavy wargames this one will fit like an old shoe. If you don't there is nothing here to warrant giving it a try.
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