Panzer General
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''Panzer General'' is a 1994
computer wargame A computer wargame is a wargame played on a digital device. Descended from Board wargame, board wargaming, it simulates military conflict at the Tactical wargame, tactical, Operational art of war, operational or Grand strategy wargame, strategic ...
developed and published by Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI). It simulates conflict during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. The designers of ''Panzer General'' were heavily influenced by the Japanese wargame series ''
Daisenryaku is a series of war strategy video games by SystemSoft and SystemSoft Alpha in Japan. The series debuted in Japan in 1985 with exclusively for the PC-9800 series, NEC PC-98. Games in the franchise have been released for many platforms including t ...
''. ''Panzer General'' was a major commercial hit: 250,000 units were sold at full price, and
long tail In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a ...

long tail
sales continued in the years ahead. It became and remained SSI's best-selling game across all genres, and was named the best-selling computer wargame of all time in 2007. It is the first in the commercially successful ''Panzer General'' series.


Gameplay

''Panzer General'' is a
turn-based In Video game, video and other games, the passage of time must be handled in a way that players find fair and easy to understand. This is usually done in one of the two ways: real-time and turn-based. Real-time In real-time games, game time pro ...
game, set on
operational level In the field of military theory Military theory is the analysis of Norm (sociology), normative behavior and trends in military affairs and military history, beyond simply describing events in war. Theories and conceptions of warfare have vari ...
hex map A hex map, hex board, or hex grid is a game board Board games are tabletop games that typically use moved or placed on a pre-marked board (playing surface) and often include elements of Table game, table, Card game, card, Role-playing game, ro ...
s. One plays lone scenarios from either Axis or Allied side and against a computer or human opponent. In Campaign Mode, the player assumes the role of a
German German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, people of German ancestry, or native speakers of the German language ** For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law **Ger ...

German
Generalissimus ''Generalissimo'' ( ) is a military rank of the highest degree, superior to field marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the ...
against the Allied computer. ''Panzer General'' is an operational-level game, and units approximate battalions, although the unit size and map scale from one scenario to the next are elastic. While the names and information for the units are reasonably accurate, the scenarios only approximate historical situations. Its novel feature was to link individual
scenario In the performing arts The performing arts are arts such as music, dance, and drama which are performed for an audience. It is different from visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of ap ...
s into a campaign spanning World War II from 1939 to 1945. Units are able to gain experience and become stronger, where success in one battle would award the player prestige to upgrade units, acquire additional units, and select a better scenario for the next battle. The game requires the player to use combined-arms tactics, where each unit is strong against some unit types but very vulnerable to others. Dug-in enemy positions must be softened by artillery, which is vulnerable and needs protection. Before attacking the infantry and anti-tank, one needs first to destroy the enemy artillery that protects them from behind. If no tanks can get within range, one does this mostly by bombers, but then it is advantageous to destroy the air defense units first. The fighter planes must negotiate dual roles: destroying the enemy air force and protecting their own bombers. The player must carefully observe the road system to speed the advance, or may use Bridge engineers to cross the rivers. The game rewards a
Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg (, from ''Blitz'' lightning"+ ''Krieg'' war" is a method of warfare where the attacker spearheads an offensive using a rapid overwhelming force concentration Force concentration is the practice of concentrating a military for ...

Blitzkrieg
strategy - penetrating deep into the enemy positions while postponing the destruction of some of the encountered enemy units for later. The performance of units is increased by their experience points, which are acquired through combat. In Campaign mode particularly, one then has to protect the experienced units as the most valuable assets.


Campaigns

''Panzer General'' has 38 scenarios based on real or fictitious battles from World War II. The player can engage in a single battle or a campaign mode. In Campaign Mode, a series of battles unfold as a campaign heads to victory. There is one long campaign as Germany, with five starting locales: * Poland (1939); from
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...
, through
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
, to the West with possible amphibious
invasion An invasion is a military offensive An offensive is a military operation A military operation is the coordinated military action War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
in Britain. *
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...
(1941); from North Africa to the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...
. *
Barbarossa Barbarossa, a name meaning "red beard" in Italian, may refer to: Arts and entertainment Fictional characters * Barbarossa Rugner, a character in the 1995 ''Suikoden'' PlayStation role-playing game * Barbarossa, pirate and protagonist in the 1953 ...

Barbarossa
(1941); from the initial invasion of the Soviet border to
Moscow Moscow ( , American English, US chiefly ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐˈskva, a=Москва.ogg) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia. The city stands on the ...

Moscow
. *
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...
(1943); from the Allied landing on Sicily to the
end End, END, Ending, or variation, may refer to: End *In mathematics: **End (category theory) **End (topology) **End (graph theory) **End (graph_theory)#Cayley_graphs, End (group theory) (a subcase of the previous) **End (endomorphism) *In sports an ...
of the war. *
Kharkov Kharkiv ( uk, wikt:Харків, Харкі́в, ), also known as Kharkov (russian: Харькoв), is the second-largest List of cities in Ukraine, city and List of hromadas of Ukraine, municipality in Ukraine.
(1943); from the German spring offensive to the end of the war. The task in most scenarios is to take all objective cities in a given number of turns; taking them at least five turns earlier is considered a ''major victory''. In scenarios from later stages of war, the Germans try to hold positions against a stronger enemy. A typical task is then "hold at least two of our objective cities for 20 turns; for a major victory, hold at least five". All campaigns branch out and end either by the general being sacked for incompetence or end of the war. In Campaign Mode, a major victory could possibly change known historical events. For example, after a major victory over France, the player invades Britain. Later in the game, after a major victory in Barbarossa, the player can convince the German High Command to attack Moscow immediately (which costs him or her much prestige) rather than diverting to
Kiev Kyiv ( uk, Київ) or Kiev . is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also share ...
before Moscow. If the player achieves a major victory both in Britain and in Moscow, he or she is allowed to carry out an
invasion of the United States The concept of an invasion of the United States relates to military theory and doctrine which address the feasibility and practicality of a foreign power attacking and successfully invading the United States The United States of America ( ...
and reach Washington. In any other case, he/she must fight well in many battles to get another chance to attack them. If either Britain or USSR survive this attack, they drive the Germans all the way back to
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...
. The best the player can do is to fight well in each battle to have enough prestige for the next one - and to achieve a major victory in the final defense of Berlin.


Development

The design of ''Panzer General'' was based on the Japanese wargame ''
Daisenryaku is a series of war strategy video games by SystemSoft and SystemSoft Alpha in Japan. The series debuted in Japan in 1985 with exclusively for the PC-9800 series, NEC PC-98. Games in the franchise have been released for many platforms including t ...
''. The
Strategic Simulations Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) was a video game developer A video game developer is a software developer specializing in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range fro ...
(SSI) team had played a Japanese-language version of the game's
Sega Genesis The Sega Genesis, known as the outside North America, is a 16-bit History of video game consoles (fourth generation), fourth-generation home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis was Sega's third console and the successor ...
release extensively, and were inspired by its streamlined design. Scenario designer
Chuck Kroegel Chuck Kroegel (born 1952 in Oakland, California) is an United States, American video game game designer, designer. He was an executive for many years with Strategic Simulations (SSI), and played a role in developing their position as an industry ...
later described ''Panzer General''s structure as "diametrically opposed to the
Gary Grigsby Gary Grigsby is a game designer, designer and game programmer, programmer of computer wargames. In 1997, he was described as "one of the founding fathers of strategy war games for the PC." ''Computer Games Magazine'' later dubbed him "as much of ...
type of game that SSI was used to making". He noted that SSI founder
Joel Billings Joel Billings is an American video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or mo ...
was initially hesitant to adopt the design style. The company's Graeme Bayless later wrote of ''Daisenryaku'': "The genius in this game was the fact that it took the highly complex subject (WWII conflict on land) and boiled it down to the pertinent parts". ''Daisenryaku'' would go on to serve as the inspiration for the entire ''Panzer General'' series.


Reception


Sales

''Panzer General'' was a commercial success. By November 1995, it had sold over 100,000 copies in the United States and 50,000 in Europe. According to William R. Trotter of ''
PC Gamer US ''PC Gamer'' is a magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The prese ...
'', it was particularly popular in Germany. By August 1996, sales had surpassed 250,000 copies. Describing the situation at the time, ''
Computer Gaming World ''Computer Gaming World'' (CGW) was an American computer game magazine published between 1981 and 2006. One of the few magazines of the era to survive the video game crash of 1983 The video game crash of 1983 (known as the Atari shock in ...
'' columnist Terry Coleman wrote: "When you consider that a new Windows 95 and Macintosh version has just been released, it seems fair to say that ''PG'' will be incontestably the best-selling historical wargame of all time". The following year, T. Liam McDonald of
GameSpot ''GameSpot'' is an American video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information on video games. The site was launched on May 1, 1996, created by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein. It was purch ...
reiterated that the game had sold over 250,000 copies, and noted that 60,000 of these sales came from its
PlayStation is a video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing dev ...

PlayStation
release. In 2007, ''
Retro Gamer ''Retro Gamer'' is a British magazine, published worldwide, covering retro video games. It was the first commercial magazine to be devoted entirely to the subject. Launched in January 2004 as a quarterly publication, ''Retro Gamer'' soon became ...
'' dubbed ''Panzer General'' "greatest-selling true wargame of all time", and SSI's most successful title across all genres. The magazine noted that it had accrued 250,000 full-price units sold "and many more in the following years".


Computer versions

''Panzer General'' won ''Computer Gaming World''s 1994 "Wargame of the Year" and ''
PC Gamer US ''PC Gamer'' is a magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The prese ...
''s "Best Wargame" awards, and was a runner-up for the former magazine's overall "Game of the Year" award, which went to '' X-COM: UFO Defense''. The editors of ''Computer Gaming World'' called ''Panzer General'' "the first wargame since 1987 to garner the #1 spot on the ''CGW'' Top 100 poll—a fine endorsement for the most exciting wargame in a long time". In 1996, ''Next Generation'' listed it as number 51 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", contending that though the game's interface is simple, the complexity of the strategy is exceptional. In 1996, ''
Computer Gaming World ''Computer Gaming World'' (CGW) was an American computer game magazine published between 1981 and 2006. One of the few magazines of the era to survive the video game crash of 1983 The video game crash of 1983 (known as the Atari shock in ...
'' declared ''Panzer General'' the 15th-best computer game ever released, and listed the
Game Over "Game over" is a message in video games#REDIRECT Video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer ...

Game Over
scene as #8 on its list of "the 15 best ways to die in computer gaming". The magazine's wargame columnist Terry Coleman named it his pick for the best computer wargame released by late 1996. In 1996, ''Panzer General'' won the
Origins Award The Origins Awards are American awards for outstanding work in the game industry. They are presented by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design at the Origins Game Fair Origins Game Fair is an annual gaming convention that was first held ...
for ''Best Military or Strategy Computer Game of 1995''.


Console ports

Reviews for the 3DO version were generally positive. The four reviewers of ''
Electronic Gaming Monthly ''Electronic Gaming Monthly'' (often abbreviated to ''EGM'') is a monthly American video game magazine Video game journalism is a branch of journalism concerned with the reporting and discussion of video games, typically based on a core "rev ...
'' remarked that the game's high level of complexity makes it difficult to get into and unappealing to anyone but enthusiasts of the genre, but that the gameplay design is solid and there is a strong dose of variety to the campaigns. A critic for ''
Next Generation Next Generation or Next-Generation may refer to: Publications and literature * Next Generation (magazine), ''Next Generation'' (magazine), video game magazine that was made by the now defunct Imagine Media publishing company * Next Generation p ...
'' argued that while the music and battle animations quickly wear thin, the game allows them to be turned off and "what it lacks in style, it makes up in substance". He made particular note of the impressive depth of the strategy and the ability to control nearly every land and aircraft used in the World War II European theater. Sir Garnabus of ''
GamePro ''GamePro'' was an American multiplatform video game magazine media company that published online and print content covering the video game industry The video game industry is the industry Industry may refer to: Economics * Industry (eco ...
'' complimented the accuracy of the 3DO port but otherwise panned the game, contending that war strategy games in general are poor due to their minimalist graphics and focus on thinking rather than acting. In their brief review of the PlayStation version, ''Next Generation'' remarked: "One of the best PC wargames of all time and still highly thought of, this version doesn't miss a trick".


Legacy

In 1996, Robert Mayer of ''
Computer Games Strategy Plus ''Computer Games Magazine'' was a monthly computer and console gaming print magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Seri ...
'' argued: Bruce Geryk of
GameSpot ''GameSpot'' is an American video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information on video games. The site was launched on May 1, 1996, created by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein. It was purch ...
argued that ''Panzer General'' "almost single-handedly resuscitated computer wargaming as a viable genre".


Direct sequels

''Panzer General'' was the first game in the ''Panzer General'' series, which grew in the years after its release. It was followed by '' Allied General'' (''Panzer General II'' in Germany), which allows play from the Allied point of view and features four new campaigns. Other sequels include '' Fantasy General'', '' Pacific General'' and '' Star General''. Its mainline sequel, '' Panzer General II'' (titled ''Panzer General 3D'' in Germany), upgraded the interface to use an overlay of photorealistic terrain, and to display different unit facings, resulting in an improved appearance. In the April 2000 issue of ''
PC Gamer ''PC Gamer'' is a magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial publications that appear in a new edition on a regular schedu ...
'', it was voted the 44th best computer game of all time. The series continued with '' People's General'', an upgraded version of ''Panzer General II'' based on a
World War III World War III (WWIII or WW3) and the Third World War are names given to a hypothetical third worldwide large-scale military conflict subsequent to World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a g ...
scenario between China and the UN. ''Panzer General'' also provided a Play by Email (PBEM) system. '' Panzer General 3D Assault'' arrived in 1999, with fully 3D graphics. '' Panzer General III: Scorched Earth'' was released in 2000, with better graphics and a redesigned interface.


See also

* ''
Panzer Tactics DS ''Panzer Tactics DS'' is a turn-based tactical video game for the Nintendo DS developed by Sproing Interactive Media. It was released in North America on November 7, 2007 in video gaming, 2007. On March 6 2014 in video gaming, 2014, bitComposer Gam ...
''


References


External links

*
Pepa's ''Panzer General'' center
(fan site) {{Authority control 1994 video games 3DO Interactive Multiplayer games Computer wargames DOS games
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NEC PC-9801 games Origins Award winners Ubisoft franchises
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Strategic Simulations games Top-down video games Turn-based strategy video games Video games about Nazi Germany Video games developed in the United States Windows games World War II video games