Introducing Strategic Command
Here are some strategies and miscellaneous thoughts for Strategic Command. I will add to the list whenever I get time or inspired to add more. If you have any strategies or tips that you would like to add, then please e-mail them to me.
Good news everyone! This is a fun, easy to play, and yet very engrossing game that covers a lot of ground and provides a lot to do. I have to say that this is the best turn-based strategy game that I have played since SSI went out of business, or at least stopped making games. Finally someone has picked up the gauntlet of making a great hex-based game and succeeded. Hubert Cater has singlehandedly, I think, designed and programmed this terric game. Anyone who has read some of my prior writings knows that he has incorporated many of my ideal features into this game. It is currently in beta mode, but is slated to be released this summer. [Note: The game has now been released as of August, 2002!] You can only buy it directly online. (See the links below.)
Here are some of the key features of this game. Quotes are from the Fury Software web site.
This is the beginning of a strategy and tips guide that I will add to as I get time, so that this becomes a real living document.
One of the cool things that I like about this game is that it is relatively easy to play it and have the game play historically. For example, it is hard to invade the UK successfully without taking significant losses if you don't have a kind of a Battle of Britain to weaken the enemy air units. Gibraltar is a true chokehold. The Maginot Line does get unhinged when it is hit from the rear. But in any case, you never even need to attack the Maginot Line, but rather go around it, just like really happened.
Image from the Battlefront.com Web Site
Terrain (rivers, etc.) doesn't appear to have any effect on combat that I have discovered yet. But that sounds wrong. So I'll have to investigate that some more and update this later.
Vichy France is created the turn after Paris falls.
What happens to French units when Vichy France is created? It looks like the ones that aren't actually on French soil stand some chance of becoming Free French. I would guess that the chance is about 50/50. I have seen both air and naval units survive the fall of France and the resultant creation of Vichy France.
Note that Vichy France can be conquered, but if you overrun Marseilles, then the Vichy French government will retreat to Algiers and keep fighting from there. So have your Axis forces ready to hit the beaches of Algeria too to put an those pesky Vichy forces. If you are the Vichy French and have been activated by a German or Italian attack, then remember that the Vichy are now allied with the Allies. So save whatever equipment (especially ships) you can by moving it to non-Vichy terrain. Another thing I like to do is to transport my infantry unit in Marseilles to Algeria. That makes taking Algeria that much harder for the Axis forces.
Rebuild weakened units
The per point cost of rebuilding a unit is half of that for building a new unit from scratch. Plus you get the benefit of keeping a percentage of the experience that is not rebuilt. For example, an air unit may cost 400 points if you build a new one. So the per point cost is 40 (40x10=400). But to rebuild a weakened unit from a strength of 2 back up to 10 costs 20 x 8 = 160 points with a 20 point cost per point.
Transports and Ports
Load transports from any hexes adjacent to ports. So keep those adjacent hexes free of aircraft or other units that you won't use for an invasion. Load all of your adjacent hexes up with land units, and try to invade with as many as possible at the same time.
I haven't quite figured out leaders yet. Basically the more expensive the leader is, the better he is. They appear to help units of the same nation that are within about three hexes of that leader at the beginning of the turn.
The Maginot Line
If you are the Germans, then ignore the Maginot Line. You will expend lots of energy and points in trying to capture the Maginot Line hexes. The French units will move off on their own when Paris gets threatened.
If you are the Allies, then do whatever you can to stay on the Maginot Line as the Germans will expend considerable resources trying to capture it. Reinforce the French units relentlessly with available supply points at during each turn.
Gibraltar controls access in and out of the Mediterranean. If you are the Axis powers, you will not be able to move units back and forth without controlling this vital hex. Spain may come in on your side at some point, which would greatly facilitate attacking this crucial hex. If you are the Allied power, then make sure that you have at least one unit here at all times. You do NOT want to lose this valuable hex. The same applies for Malta.
As the Axis, I have tried mounting several campaigns against North Africa (especially Egypt), but have never been succesful yet. Of course, I have yet to throw more than two armies and a corps along with assorted naval support, but that never does the trick. I did try adding a Air Fleet into the mix, but the game ended before I could get anywhere. What has been fun has been to savage the Allied Fleet based out of Alexandria. I usually lose a ship or two, or at least get one or two mauled, but take down the entire Alexandria-based British fleet as well. An Italian carrier would help, but the cost is prohibitive.
Try to have units invade together hitting the same beaches. The units that hit unfriendly soil may take casualties just by landing on unfriendly soil - I love this rule! However, when the first unit lands, then any adjacent unoccupied hexes become friendly, and thus won't take casualties. So land try to land three units all adjacent to each other with the unit in the center landing first. Then the two units on either flank will land on friendly soil and not take automatic casualties. Still, all of the units are basically out of supply pretty quickly, and will probably stay that way without a friendly port in your possession. Air power is critical and a must. Air Fleets seem to do the best at whitling down enemy opposition. Try to have your invasion units at full strength before invading since they won't be able to replenish easily once they invade.
It looks like you have to have an unbroken line back to a supply city or perhaps a port. HQs appear to extend supply to units within two hexes of the HQ at the start of a turn. Units also start to become progressively less effective as they are unsupplied. For example, U-boats start to see a decrease in their movement allowances as they stay out at sea for turn after turn. This encourages realism in that they have to return to port at some point.
My favorite area to allocate research points is Industrial Production. Production costs are decreased by 10% with each advancement. This 10% is from the initial cost. So an Air Fleet that initially costs 400 points will cost 360, 320, 280, 240 and 200 with the five possible advancements. Think of it this way: if you get all five Industrial Production advancements, then you are effectively getting twice as much prestige. I spent lots of research points in this area, and was rewarded with three advancements in a few months. Obviously, it's not that big of an advantage to do this for a short campaign, such as the Fall Gelb demo, but it would have paid off for a longer one. But it was kind of nice to see units such as the 700 point aircraft carrier fall to 630 and then further. So this makes a big difference for big-ticket items, and would eventually aircraft carriers to be purchased for 350 points. Note that as your Research is paying off, your units tend to get more expensive. For example, as your Long Range Aircraft research pays off (increases), your Aircraft Carriers, Air Fleets and Strategic Bombers all get more expensive since their capabilities will improve.
I haven't used the strategic bombers very well yet. But I have used the Air Fleet Units. You can use them to attack ground targets. For each ground target you attack with one of your Air Fleet , the enemy will attack your Air Fleet with one of his that is in range (if there is one in range) until all of his units have been involved in one combat. The good news is not only do you get to weaken the ground unit you attack, but you also get to weaken the enemy Air Fleet as well. So if you see odds that read something like 2-4, you may lose more units than the enemy, but you will not only weaken some of his ground units, but also weaken his air units. And then if you have Air Fleet units left over to attack after his Air Fleet units have all been in combat, then you can attack without worrying about his Air Fleet attacking yours.
That said, the best way to destroy his Air units is by getting your Ground units to be adjacent to his Air units. Naval Units appear to have some benefit as well. If you are going to get involved in Air Fleet vs. Air Fleet combat, then try to weaken his Air Units with your Naval or Ground units first.
As of August, I have started using Strategic Bombers more and more. It's very rewarding to have long-range American bombers hit Ploesti and do 30 MPPs of damage in a given turn. Keep in mind that it takes resource centers one turn to regain each lost MPP of its face value. So a 10 MPP site reduced to 0 is effectively a 10+10+9+8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1 hit which equals 65 MPPs loss for the other side.
Armor has one great advantage over other land units: it can ignore Zones of Control (ZOCs). Declaring War
This feature took me several days to find. But the wait just made the reward sweeter. So next time you want to try to conquer the USSR as soon as you have finished attacking France, then go to the War Map, choose a country by selecting its flag, and then click Declare War. By the way, the percentage listed next to certain flags (only those of major combatants?) appears to show the approximate readiness level for war, with 100% being prepared for war.
The problem with U-boats is the ROI. It takes 400 points or so to build a U-boat, and then it takes 40 turns (at 10 points per turn) to get a 100% return on investment. The problem with purchasing the Allied U-boats is they don't appear to be able to attack anything other than Axis surface vessels. Still, in my "1939 Total War" campaign, I did have fun building lots of 13 strength submarines in French ports, and then wreaking havoc on Allied warships and transports! That ended up being an incredibly good return on investment.
I have not been able to figure out how rockets can be worth their cost, so I have never used them yet. They do, however, appear to draw enemy units in to attack them (and away from other units you may have), so this could be a good thing.
The nation that overruns an enemy nation's capital or gets it to surrender plunders that country and takes over its territory. This is an important thing to know in case two allies attack an enemy. Generally, if I am playing the Axis, I always make sure that Germany takes over the final hex since German units production points typically result in better units than the Italian production points.
The Different Resource Types
There are four different types of resources: ports, oil, factories, and cities (and capital cities too). I'm not sure what the difference is yet as far as the usage of the production points goes. I don't think that there are too many. However, they can get decreased by strategic bombing. Some hexes, such as the Ploesti oil fields, have a face value of 10, but can lose many more MPPS than that. It also looks like there is a fifth type of resource, and that is the standard hex without any other special type of resource. These hexes count as one point.
Looking for Alternatives to History?
Fall Gelb is a great campaign. I fought the standard "invasion of the Low Countries and France" several times. This always went well, with that aspect of the campaign typically ending in three or four turns. However, the subsequent attacks on England always seemed to be relatively prohibitive. I would lose naval and transport units while crossing the English Channel. Then London typically held out for too long, which would prevent my units landed in England from reinforcing properly. So then what? I would just sit around hoping some other country would attack.
It took me a few days to discover that I could attack other countries by unilaterly declaring war on them. So if you're bored, try some of the following ideas:
French Twist: Why wait until the historically accurate November, 1942 attack to take on Vichy France? After the 1940 invasion of France, your units are already there. Keep on going and take over the rest of France. Keep in mind that you'll have to persue the Vichy French over to Algiers...
Back in the Baltic: Thanks to geography, the Baltics provide surprisingly resilient to an Axis invasion unless the Axis uses air power too! I normally park either the Scharnhorst or the Gniesenau and execute shore bombardment in conjunction with the land assaults. But in the end, it is typically air power that seals the deal. The Baltic is typically worth 300 to 400 points, so that's good. On the other hand, it encourages the Soviets to enter the war earlier... But that's fun too. So it's win-win!
Swedish Express: Naval, air and land assault from Norway and the ocean. This may take several turns to win, but it is worth it in watching the War Map turn gray. The successful units can be redeployed to the Baltic in anticipation of a Soviet assault.
Swiss Miss: I didn't try this for a while. After all, Switzerland doesn't appear to have any resources at all, other than perhaps the four hexes that make up Switzerland, which would give the capturing player four more points, but I thought that it would be kind of fun to try. So I did, and got about 400 MPPs for my efforts at very little cost.
I went for Vichy France and Sweden, capturing both. By March, 1941, I was receiving 452 points as Germany. I decided to attack Russian next, just for kicks. I was doing well until the demo ended two turns later. :)
What is Missing
The following have been abstracted in some form or other within existing units or will not be in the first release of the game. But hopefully, with enough support from the User Community, Hubert can later be tempted to add some of these features.
SC: Pacific War?
Some people are nervous that a Pacific War game would change the unit scale. Unit scale is just a word. It doesn't really matter what we call the scale. The islands could consist of two harbors outside of two hexes and would represent island groups as someone else just mentioned...
There weren't too many battles over one mile islands other than Iwo Jima. But the island doesn't have to look graphically correct. The island can be a pinprick for all I care - it's the terrain type that counts. Also some terrain types may have to be combinations of port/airfield, etc.
The rest of the map scale could stay the same.
Fall Gelb 1940 Demo Campaign: Current Favorite StrategyOn the first turn, I attack France. The second turn, I'm still in France and I also attack Switzerland and the Baltic states. The third turn is against the same three countries. And by the fourth turn or maybe the fifth or even sixth turn, actually, I invade Russia and maybe Vichy France. I have started ignoring England since it isn't worth the trouble of paying for all of the transports and dealing with the British Navy and British land or air power. I have also started ignoring Sweden for the same reason.
Strategic Command Links
Also please see the new Strategic Command Downloads page at this website!
May 25-August 8, 2002