Steel Panthers is a realistic tactical-level turn-based computerized wargame series for DOS and Windows XP with World War II and modern warfare settings. The original three-part Steel Panthers series was developed and released by Strategic Simulations, Inc. from 1995 to 1997, with design and programming by Gary Grigsby and Keith Brors. Later the series was supplemented with freeware remakes by two different parties.
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 game mechanics are basically a streamlined version of the system used by Grigsby's late-80s series of three strategy games for the Commodore 64 and Apple II: Panzer Strike, Typhoon of Steel and Overrun!. The original Steel Panthers series includes the following titles:
- Steel Panthers (1995)
- Steel Panthers II: Modern Battles (1996)
- Steel Panthers III Brigade Command: 1939-1999 (1997)
Rights to the game and source code were later acquired by Matrix Games who developed and released as freeware an improved remake based on the Steel Panthers III engine (but limited to the timespan of World War II), Steel Panthers: World at War!
There also exists ongoing development by The Camo Workshop based on the Steel Panthers II code. The Camo Workshop have introduced many new and innovative 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 wide variety of different real and hypothetical conflicts.
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.
Despite dating to the 1990s, the game still has a large 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.
- For a full download on WinSPWW2 and its latest patch
- For a full download on WinSPMBT and its latest patch
- The Steel Panthers Online website features a full download version (freeware) of Steel Panthers: World at War! ver8.2 as well as an upgrade to 8.4
- The SP:WaW Depot Official support site