|Steel Panthers Series|
Cover art from the first game in the series.
|Developer(s)||SSI Inc., CAMO Workshop, etc|
|Publisher(s)||Strategic Simulations Inc., Shrapnel Games, Matrix Games|
|Designer(s)||Gary Grigsby and Keith Brors|
|Mode(s)||Single-player and Hotseat / PBEM|
Steel Panthers is a series of computer wargames, developed and published by several different companies, with various games covering battles from 1930 to 2020. The first game was released in 1995, and the most recent was released in 2006 and is still updated regularly. In 1996, Computer Gaming World magazine named it their Wargame of the Year.
Players control individual tanks and vehicles from a top-down perspective, on a map with a hexagonal overlay. Infantry are mostly in squad/section (8-12 men) sized units, but some units, like snipers, can be controlled individually. The whole force under a players control would typically be Battalion sized, but may be as small as a Platoon or Company, or as large as a Regiment/Brigade.
The games are turn-based and are played against the AI or other humans via email or hotseat.
As with other tactical turn-based wargames, the game features realistic military control,with the smallest common units being squads, up to a brigade sized force. The player takes control of nearly every aspects of warfare around his soldiers, from simple ammunition usage, to the morale, disposition, and command-chain of his troops.
The game features: packed single-battle scenarios and campaigns (either branched or linear), single battle generator, campaign generator, and long campaign generator.
All of the games in the series are quite similar in features and appearance. However, the third part in the original series is clearly distinct in that it offers platoon-size formations instead of the scale of individual tanks and squads of the other installments.
The games offer various modes of play: human vs. human (hotseat or online), human vs. AI and PBEM (play by email). The players receive historical military units at the beginning of a scenario and have the option to buy reinforcements with points earned in different ways. The units are then moved on a hexagon grid map similar to a large number of board and computerized wargames. In addition to ready-made battles and campaigns, players can customize single scenarios or create their own campaigns.
The Steel Panthers series includes the following titles:
- 1995 Steel Panthers (1939-1945) by Strategic Simulations Inc
- 1996 Steel Panthers II: Modern Battles (1950-1999) by Strategic Simulations Inc
- 1997 Steel Panthers III: Brigade Command (1939-1999) by Strategic Simulations Inc
- 1999 SPWW2 (1930-1949) by Camo Workshop
- 2000 SPWaW (World at War)(1930-1949) by Matrix Games
- 2002 SPMBT (Main Battle Tank)(1946-2020) by Camo Workshop
- 2005 WinSPWW2 (1930-1946) by Camo Workshop, Distributed by Shrapnel Games
- 2006 WinSPMBT (1946-2020) by Camo Workshop, Distributed by Shrapnel Games
Rights to the game and source code were acquired by Matrix Games who developed and released as freeware a remake based on the Steel Panthers III engine (but limited to the timespan of World War II), Steel Panthers: World at War! The latest available patch version is 8.403. No further development is planned.
There also exists ongoing development by The Camo Workshop based on the Steel Panthers II code. The Camo Workshop introduced new features to their two Windows based versions of Steel Panthers. Steel Panthers: World War 2 (WinSPWW2) features battles from 1930 through 1946, with an extreme vast array of OOB (Order of battle). Steel Panthers: Main Battle Tank (WinSPMBT) features battles from 1945 to 2020, with 90 different nations to allow for the simulation of a variety of different real and hypothetical conflicts. Those versions are still maintained and improved.
In 2005 Shrapnel Games took over distribution of SPCAMO's output, handling the distribution of the Windows version of their games. WinSPMBT was released in June of that year as a free download. A CD version with added bonus features was also offered as a commercial product (though the free version of the game itself is a full wargame already), the first time SPCAMO had charged for one of its games. WinSPWW2 was released on May 15, 2006.
The soundtrack to Steel Panthers featured tracks composed by Rick Rhodes and Danny Pelfrey.
A reviewer for Maximum stated that "From the producers of Warlord I and II, Steel Panthers is everything you'd expected, with authentic WWII footage and over 200 digitized photographs of tanks adding an interesting dimension to the proceedings. A must for any war game guru." They gave it 3 out of 5 stars.
The game still has a fan base community. Most of the players gathered at specific forums intended for the game's development and improvement, as well as the game's tournament (PBeM play).
The official support forum for SP:WAW has over 2000 registered members . Scenarios (standalone battles which plays like a single level in a videogame) and campaigns (series of linked scenarios) are still regularly produced by fans. SP:WAW has roughly a thousand scenarios available for it .
- Staff (June 1996). "1996 Premiere Awards". Computer Gaming World. Ziff-Davis Publishing C. 143: 55–67.
- "Maximum Reviews: Steel Panthers". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (3): 158. January 1996.
- The SP:WaW Depot Official support site (with game and add-on downloads)
- Steel Panther series at MobyGames
- For a full download on WinSPWW2 and its latest patch
- For a full download on WinSPMBT and its latest patch