Thursday, February 01, 2007

Combat Commander Cubed

I said I’d play this game 30 times this year, and I’m already to playing number three in eleven days. This is my fifth game, this time against my good friend Jesse, who got to learn the game over at Mike's place right after Christmas.

Jesse has been teaching his wife how to play, so he clearly has caught up to me in terms of experience. That, and extensive ASL and Up Front play years ago. Today, I tested the mettle of my Americans against a group of Germans holed up in a Belgian chateau during the counter-attack at the Bulge. Jesse set up all of his units in the chateau proper, with his two leaders commanding very strong machine gun nests on each side of the structure. However, he neglected to protect his left flank, which included a couple of objectives but more importantly an easy path to allow me to get units on that flank, shielded by a row of trees and a stone wall. His right flank was well guarded by an infantry gun and it’s crew.

I set up my units to provide heavy fire through the trees to his two main machine gun nests, but it was difficult to get other units into a position to fire on his units. Meanwhile, a couple of units planned to work up to the infantry gun, while three other units and my second leader were poised to move up his left flank. With three directions to advance from, I thought I could overwhelm him with Move and Advance orders and take the building.

Of course, I didn’t set up as well as I could have, nor did I take advantage of the terrain very well. By the time we finished I had only lost a few units, and was just starting to advance with my central front after stalling badly on the right, but doing OK on the left. However, I had lost two leaders (including the reinforcement guy), and had missed an opportunity to take out a light machine gun team.

After I managed to roll the first sudden death roll so that the game would end, then did the same after giving up the initiative, Jesse reminded me that I could have been laying smoke with my off-board arty.


It’s games like this that demonstrate how little squad-level gaming I’ve done in the past, despite owning an awful lot of ASL material (much like about half of the wargamers out there, I suspect). That artillery would have helped an awful lot, especially on that left flank where I only needed a little smoke to get units into position. Given that my arty was fairly weak (8FP with a 76mm gun), smoke was clearly the right choice.

As I said - f*ck.

The other thing I didn't remember is that your hero can activate multiple times during the turn. That would have been helpful too. Oh well.

Yet another learning experience, but the really great news is that the game is so much fun that I really don’t care how well I do. The scenarios are very nicely set up, allowing for players to try all sorts of things both offensively and defensively, I could see playing each scenario seven or eight times before I got tired of it. And there are 14 scenarios, plus roll-your-own rules. This game won’t get old fast for me, that’s for sure. Give me a VASSAL module, and I’ll get in 50 playings this year. If this doesn’t win every wargame award out there, something will clearly be rotten in Denmark. Or, in my own personal case, Belgium on or around December 27th, 1944.

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