2022 WWIII Video Game Tournament: Round 1, Gold Region

#1 Steel Panthers MBT vs  #8 Mech Brigade

Another unique matchup early in the tournament. Steel Panthers MBT’s predecessors and Mech Brigade were both published by SSI and many features of the later game are evident in every title of the Steel Panthers series. MBT is no exception. Both titles simulate armored warfare between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces in a hypothetical future conflict. It was designed by Gary Grigsby as a successor to his earlier game Kampfgruppe. MBT is a tactical simulation that covers the years 1945-2025 and beyond. The orders of battle for 30+ nations are included, along with a scenario editor, map maker and a large number of generic scenarios ready to play. If you want to simulate tactical ground combat at any point from the end of WWII up to the present day this is your game. Mech Brigade was advanced for its time, but simply cannot measure up to MBT.

Winner: Steel Panthers MBT

#3 Jane’s Fleet Command vs #6 Team Yankee

Both of these games have strong pedigrees behind them. Team Yankee came from the wildly popular NY Times Bestseller of the same name and takes a look at tactical armored combat in a hypothetical WWIII. Jane’s Fleet Command was published by EA but is part of a series of realistic military simulations known as the Jane’s Combat Simulations line. Jane’s Information Group was heavily involved in the development. Fleet Command simulates just that: command of a modern fleet in wartime conditions. The ships, aircraft and submarines of the world’s leading navies are included. Sadly, this is where the pedigree influence ends. Team Yankee plays like an arcade game trying to mask itself as a tank simulation. Fleet Command is based along similar lines, but the trademark Jane’s realism and accuracy was joined by excellent graphics that put the player right in the middle of the action.

Winner: Jane’s Fleet Command.

#4 Strike Fleet vs #5 NATO Commander

This was one of the more even matchups of the entire tournament. Both titles are products of the ‘80s with NATO Commander’s biggest claim to fame being it was designed by Sid Meier of Civilization fame. The title was an operational simulation of war in modern Europe (NATO-WP) that contained good mechanics and moved quickly. Unfortunately, like many NATO-WP games from the early to mid-80s, NATO Commander has been largely forgotten.  Strike Fleet is an operational level naval simulation where the player can command US and NATO warships in a variety of challenging scenarios. The graphics are not grand, but they are clear and well thought out and the game’s pillars are action, strategy, depth and playability. Consider Strike Fleet to be a lighter version of Harpoon, perfect for those players intimidated by that game.

I went back and forth with this matchup. In the end both games came up with even scores, so it came down to a coin toss. Heads-NATO Commander. Tails-Strike Fleet.

Winner: NATO Commander

#2 World in Conflict vs #7 Baltic 1985

 Baltic 1985 was the third of SSI’s “When Superpowers Collide” series, very similar to its predecessors in many ways. Not a great wargame for its time, it is regarded as ancient and forgettable these days. World in Conflict, on the other hand, was a real time strategy game that introduced NATO-Warsaw Pact/US-Soviet Union 1980s Era wargaming to an entirely new generation, helping to keep the genre alive at a low point. This contest was a no-brainer. Expect to hear more about World in Conflict in the coming rounds of play.

Winner: World in Conflict

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