Qt3 Games Podcast: Hawkeye Fierce and Steel Panthers

Steel Panthers? Why would Hawkeye “Ben” Fierce, who just finished charting his head-on collision with the flight sim A-10C Warthog, want to talk about these guys? Listen to find out. And brace yourself for the dramatic outing of a secret identity!

I’m really glad you made the Steel Panther reference with that pic, because otherwise I would have had to. :)

I’ll bump this one up in my backlog. I’m already a big Combat Mission fan, but I like the idea of another wargaming gateway game.

Just to be clear: is World at War an exact port of the original? Ben, you mentioned some of the freeware versions made the scale too big compared to the first game, and I couldn’t tell if you were talking about World at War.

Fantastic discussion - brought a tear of nostalgia to my eye :) I cut my teeth on Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader back in the day, and at the time Steel Panthers was the best digital analog for Avalon Hill’s classic tactical sim. I still boot up SP once in a while

It’s not an exact port, but I wouldn’t bother with the original at this point. I actually recommend the Camo Group version over WaW. The scale is unchanged from the original game in both freeware versions, it’s just that the scenarios and campaigns are too big in terms of map size and unit number for the UI.

I went back to listen again. I wasn’t listening carefully when you mentioned the split that eventually found its way to both Matrix and Shrapnel. I thought I had the Shrapnel / Camo Workshop version because the name “winSPWW2” looks so familiar. But it looks like I’ve got World at War installed instead.

If the Camo Workshop version has smaller scale scenarios I’ll start with that.

Haha, I forgot that like Combat Mission they give you a whole mess of scenarios to stare at on the main screen. Do you (or anyone else) have a few favorites that would be good to start with?

Wow. A very unexpected but beloved paean to Mechbrigade. I remember beating my HS history teacher by ambushing his armor with choppers (I quickly forgot the other stompings). Great game with deadly LOS issues.

Well done on Panthers with the obligatory ski team reference. I remember how much fun it was fighting Italians in North Africa. The first time I saw them I was like whoa, they’re hundreds of Italian tanks. And then the beauty as they quickly turn and run away en masse.

Just downloaded WinSPMBT and the patches…wheeee! Free Games! The question of political assumptions/bias as game parameters sounds fascinating. I would read that book.

I actually bought the CD version of winspww2 from Shrapnel a couple months ago. It’s amazing how fun the game still is. I’m looking forward to listening to this!

I’m a little sorry Tom and I couldn’t talk about that more. Any game which attempts to portray any part of history is by definition making assumptions about that history. As a simple example, for decades following World War 2, the only primary sources about the Eastern Front available to Westerners were German. As a result, most of the early games are fairly pro-German in their assumptions about the relative strength of the German and Soviet armies… Hell, the very fact that we refer to it as the “Eastern Front” represents a German outlook.

That was a great discussion of the tactical-level wargames. I never cared much for the strategic-level games, and still don’t. Being a bit older, I started with Squad Leader in my pre-computer days, then played a lot of SSI’s Combat Leader on the C64. It was still ten years until Steel Panthers & Close Combat came out. Combat Mission will always have a soft spot in my heart.

Something else I always found about the guys that loved to play the SS troops - they never wanted a fair fight. In Squad Leader, they always had some mega-stack of elite troops, as many MG42s as you had counters, and every JagdTiger chit they could buy. In Combat Mission, you could always count on them to take anything with an 88mm while demanding a huge map that was as featureless as a billiard ball.

I played the tutorial mission tonight. When I destroyed a vehicle, it gave me that same crunchy feeling as Combat Mission.

It seemed to take forever to play that single scenario. I even quit early because I was almost wiped out.

The podcast episode which made me register. It was so good to hear about the old classic.

I’d comment on the IGOUGO vs WEGO conversation. In general it’s true that wego is more modern, more realistic and more suited to pbem play. But igougo has one advantage: it’s continous ‘play’ whereas in wego you have a distinct plotting and replay phase. In CM the larger scenarios require 1 hour or longer plotting phases, 60 minutes of pure planning. That’s not fun for everybody. In igougo you shoot/plan/move etc. all simultaneously.

But did the Steel Panthers series ever include the Swiss Navy? As they even have an aircraft carrier, surely it should have been included based on how comprehensive the game was described to be in the podcast.

I was a few years younger than Hawkeye at the time that he picked up this game. I remember seeing the numerous ads in PC Gamer and seeing the boxed copies in the store, at the time stuff like Warcraft 2 got my measly pocket change.

Now that I’m older, and a bit more conservative, I’m going to dig into the Camo Workshop version, thank yee fellows.

I was able to quote Ben’s story of his teaching experience and political thoughts to my father, whom is a teacher on the verge of retiring in Wisconsin. He appreciated what Mr. Fierce had to say.

To this day I can still hear the machine gun sound from Steel Panthers clearly in my head :)

I was actually thinking, “hmm, wouldn’t wargamers, on average, tend to be conservatives?” earlier in the show, and then you guys brought up the topic! It’s been a while since I heard the names “BMP”, “BRDM” and “BTR”, but M1 Tank Platoon and Gunship 2000 drove those home to me when I was a small kid. Heck, to this day, whenever I hear “ITV”, I think of the Improved TOW Vehicle (which appeared in the M1 manual), which makes for some odd mental associations when I see a mention of the British TV channel ITV.

Regarding people playing the Nazis, at the strategic level there’s also the, “Could you do better than ________?” element. For example, Germany seems to be by far the most popular nation in Hearts of Iron.

Sure, I think it’s entirely possible to play the Germans and find it interesting on an intellectual level without approving or fetishizing them. But there are wargamers that take it considerably further than that. Those are the ones I was referring to.

Great work and thanks for doing this, Ben. I finally got to listen to it this weekend and really loved it, especially with how you guys allowed yourselves to move into political discussions as you talked about games (and teaching). Well done all around.

Also, congrats on getting married! Your thing about party costs vs. wedding costs reminded me of how I felt while planning my wedding and made me laugh. God I was so annoyed by that. “I want to order a cake.” Okay, that’ll be a hundred dollars. “Um…it’s a wedding cake.” I meant to say a thousand. Arg!

Thanks again.


Very enjoyable to listen to, I played Steel Panthers to death, it was such an awesome game. I thought Steel Panthers III sucked kinda, I remember how the super-artillery would bomb then mine everything…and you could spend the next 2 weeks with engineers clearing it instead of having a battle ;)

I also liked the politics part, I really feel for the teacher unions and unions in general and the terrible unfair treatment they are getting in the USA