Developed by Jo Bader (Hexdraw) and a small team in Austria, Second Front has been in the works for, as far as I can recall, almost five years. There have been tidbits posted on various ASL social forums over the years, and from early looks it unabashedly borrows heavily from the Advanced Squad Leader system.
But there may be some people who haven’t even heard of Second Front as they don’t follow the videogame genre closely. So what is it? Here’s is the developer’s spiel:
Second Front is the tactical WWII game that genre enthusiasts always wanted and never really got. Sporting a full-fledged 3D engine and an easy to use user interface, the game is easy to play but hard to master. Why is that? Because Second Front is a project born from the developers’ passion and experience with realistic and deep tabletop tactical board games. Playing a tactical game that is deeper than your average X-Com clone, with a competent AI and a powerful editor to create scenarios and campaigns has been the dream of tactical players for long.
As someone who easily has 1500 hours devoted to playing games from the X-COM series over the years, I can safely say that not a single person will ever compare Second Front to X-COM. The only thing it might have in common is that it’s turn-based, beyond that, zero commonality.
Putting that little tidbit aside, the real question is how close does Second Front, as a videogame, compare to the Advanced Squad Leader system? I will briefly touch on how the game works in itself, but most people reading this, or watching the video, have a heavily vested interest in the ASL system … so that’s where my focus will be, on to some comparisons.
Below are a few graphics I whipped up to show that Second Front has a direct 1-to-1 correlation with some of the unit stats of ASL.
As you can see with the infantry unit comparison those used in Second Front are, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same as those used in ASL. Second Front doesn’t include all the infantry types as ASL (including USMC), but there’s no difference in stats.
A comparison of leaders shows the same. The only difference is the use of icons to build up their morale level. The red chevron indicates a 6 ML, while a single green chevron logo indicates a 7 morale with each additional logo adds one extra ML to the leader. The stars represent leadership modifier. Red = +1, grey = 0, gold = -1 leadership, each.
Eight MF is the maximum movement if the leader “runs” (uses Double Time, CX).
Support weapons follow a similar pattern. The only difference is “Weight” versus “Portage Points”. Other than that they are identical to ASL
Second Front vehicles duplicate the numbers of their ASL analog. In this example every number is the same, with every slight deviation in the Armor Factors. Second Front seem to give AFVs a one higher AF for side ratings, while ASL typically bundles side/rear together.
These four comparison examples shed some light on how similar Second Front is to ASL. It also points to the high probability that the math under the hood follows the 2d6 system that has generated all the action, triumph, and despair on ASL battlefields for decades.
Let’s take a look at what Second Front actually looks like and how it plays.
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