#1 The Operational Art of War (Series) vs. #8 Fifth Eskadra
These 1-8 games in the first round have been nothing short of slaughters so far. Unfortunately for the #8 seed here, this one is no exception. TOAW’s #1 ranking is well-deserved. Norm Koger’s masterpiece set the bar for PC operational-level wargames. The scope and depth of the system allow players to recreate the major land battles and campaigns of the 20th and early 21st centuries. As well as examine hypothetical conflicts to their heart’s content. Its opponent is clearly outclassed. Fifth Eskadra is a naval wargame centered on a NATO-Soviet conflict in the Mediterranean. The player assumes the role of the NATO theater commander and is responsible for air and naval operations. It is a text-only game, but that feature takes little away from the gaming experience. Like Strike Fleet, Fifth Eskadra is a lighter version of Harpoon. If naval games are your thing, search this game out on the abandonware sites.
Winner: The Operational Art of War (Series)
#3 Steel Beasts vs #6 North Atlantic ‘86
Here is another Land-Sea bracket where the land title has a clear advantage going in. Steel Beasts is a controversial selection for this tournament. It is a pure simulation instead of a wargame and this kept Beasts on the bubble right up until the last minute. What saved the game is the subject matter which it simulates; the M-1A1 Abrams and Leopard 2 main battle tanks. These tanks would’ve been heavily involved in a late-80s conflict on the Central Front. As a simulator, Steel Beasts is second to none. It remains popular now, some twenty years after its initial release. North Atlantic ’86 is another game from the crop of Cold War naval titles we saw in the early to mid-80s. This one is certainly worth devoting some time towards. A Gary Grigsby game, it’s immersive enough to keep any gamer happily satisfied for a few hours at least. As one game review stated, this game “definitely should not be your first computer wargame. But, it definitely should be one of your computer wargames!”
At the end of this match up though, it was tanks over torpedoes once more.
Winner: Steel Beasts
#4 Bravo Romeo Delta vs #5 Armored Brigade
Tanks again, only squaring off against nukes this time. Armored Brigade is a title from the newer generation of PC wargames. It is an ambitious project, bringing together realtime strategy and traditional wargaming. There’s no questioning the results, however. Armored Brigade was a hit and remains a very enjoyable, realistic game. Bravo Romeo Delta handles fighting a limited or unlimited nuclear war. The players take command of Soviet or US strategic forces and wage nuclear battle. Nuclear war games like BRD are very rare and perhaps this is one of the factors making it stand out. For everything Armored Brigade has that Bravo Romeo Delta doesn’t…..good graphics, smooth speed, etc, BRD gives the player an in-depth and realistic title where the objective is to fight and win a nuclear war.
Winner: Bravo Romeo Delta
#2 Red Storm Rising vs #7 Cold War at Sea: Red Sky at Morning
RSR the game is the penultimate WWIII submarine simulator. Take command of a Permit, Sturgeon or Los Angeles class attack boat and conduct war patrols a 1980s-based World War III. You can play the game in 1984, 1988, 1992, or even1996 respectively, with different orders of battle. A lot of options, and even 30+ years later this game holds up quite well. Cold War at Sea is yet another simulation of a hypothetical worldwide naval war in the late 80s. Like many other Simulation Canada games, this one is well developed with complex gameplay and high realism. Unfortunately, it also comes with the fatal handicap of being a text-based game. There’s no way to make up for that.
Winner: Red Storm Rising