Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Combat Commander: Europe first play

I got a game in this weekend of Combat Commander: Europe which is a card driven board wargame made by GMT Games.

This game has become quite popular over the past three years and not only has been nominated for various board wargaming awards but has been acknowledged as a favorite among wargaming clubs.

In 2008 the sequel for the European version of the game,Pacific, was runner up for best WW2 boardgame.

Best World War 2 era Board Game 2008
Combat Commander Pacific (GMT Games LLC)
Conflict of Heroes (Academy Games)

In 2007 Combat Commander was nominated but lost to Case Blue, and in 2006 it was nominated but lost to "A Victory Lost"

I had a buddy come over from a local suburb gaming club and he taught me how to play and we duked it out in the smallest introductory scenario we could play.

The games has really nice components however to a flashy euro gamer or PC gamer, the counters and the map will not impress as they are simple and impart all the knowledge you need. For a wargamer however the contents are well built and the cards that you use to play orders are of a good stock and not too flimsy.

The scenario was simple enough. My wandering German patrol meets his wandering Russian patrol. Exit victory points were doubled, the building on victory circle 5 was double points for the occupant, and elimating enemy units were worth double points. The game entered sudden death on turn 5 or 6? at which point it could end immediately.

You give orders in the game by playing cards in your hand however I dont want this be a review more than an after action report so I will get on to the details of what I did.

During my first turn I quickly ran forward and occupied the victory point building and made sure I had a line of fire to cover the woods and all approaches. I detached a squad on the far right to run up and try to occupy a house there before the Russians got to it but after we setup I realized they were way outnumbered.

That squad on the right attempted to throw smoke and take the house, which they did, but they were immediately thrown out and Corporal Winkler and his squad were eliminated in assault.

On the left side the Russians came at me hard and gunfire erupted all around. After several sniper attacks missed and some stray artillery rounds set the woods south of my on fire, my men were slowly getting fatigued and the Russians sheer weight of troops meant that I could not stop many from exiting the board. When I tried to exit the board myself I was greeted by timely Russian reinforcements that boxed me in and drove me a stop. Despite controling the house that had the best viewpoints for cover fire I was not able to budge and my victory points slowly dwindled.

My hand was not kind either. On a lot of turns I got cards that would not let me move or were simply worthless so I was not able to exploit a lot of plans I had. When people say they hate that randomness of Combat Commander I want to agree but that is part of war. You won't always get to execute a plan in the heat of battle and have to roll with the punches and adapt. I did have some good combo cards like in the picture below but that was far and few between and I was down a lot of points at that time in the game.

When turn 6 rolled around we hit sudden death, I flipped a card and the die result on the card was less than what we needed so the game ended.

The final score was 9-0 Russians and most of those were from my opponent exiting units off the board. My men were too thinly spread out to stop him and losing my cover on the right side really hurt.

Overall a fun game and although I still prefer Panzer Grenadier by Avalanche Press Combat Commander is a nice simpler version of Advanced Squad Leader with fluid rules, fast gameplay and some good expansions like Stalingrad.

Until next time Hudson out.