Thursday, February 01, 2007

Combat Commander One More Time

Wow, 5 plays of this title in within half a month, eight plays total since publication a month ago. I guess I really like this one.

Ben, a member of Rip City Gamers who has shown interest in lighter wargames, invited me over on Friday night while his wife was out playing Bunco. I didn’t even know anyone even played Bunco anymore! I needed to give Ben a quick once over on the rules, which I’m getting down to the point where I have an OK idea of what I need to explain before we play and what I can explain as we go. So far I’ve got it down to the basic orders (not including arty, which aren’t in the first scenario), the differences between cover and hindrances, the various units and their attributes, what’s on the cards, and what the various objectives are. It still takes a good half hour to do this, but that’s not too bad considering how complex this game is compared to your basic Euro. Explaining Age of Renaissance, say, would take a good hour.

Ben got his daughter to bed with a minimum of fuss (sadly, no more Vegetales in the background… “Oh, wheeeeeere – is my hairbrush?”), and we got started. He took the Germans, and I took the Russians. I set up my medium machine guns purposefully so as not to have shots at him as he had chances to advance his units into the woods on his right and into the objective buildings on his left. We had two open objectives in our game, one gave a point to controlling objective 3 (on his side of the board), the other was double points for eliminating units. Unfortunately, I didn’t read this closely and mistook it for the objective giving doubled points for exiting units voluntarily, so we played a bit mixed up for the first part of the game, although arguably I ended up on the short end of that stick when I exited a couple of units off of the board. They come back, but they were effectively out of the game at that point. My secret objective was to give a point for holding objective 5, so clearly the point was to kill or be killed in our game. Have I mentioned I really like the objective mechanism?

Once I got my main force lined up in the forest and Ben had half of his forces in the buildings, we exchanged fire for most of the game, although I did bring a couple of units around to flank him and take objective 3. Nothing much happened on that front for most of the game, the usual break/recover cycle with no routs or snipers. Even the events in this game were very tame – mostly breezes or other events that had no appreciable effect. Even the snipers rarely did any damage.

I did manage to get my Russians up to objective 4 before Ben could get his two squads into the area. Despite a foxhole in the woods adjacent to the objective, one of his squads and his 1 leader had broken in that space and he decided to “advance” to the rear rather than risk being meleed by my squad/leader in the objective. A good move, as I did have an advance card that I used to take over the foxhole the next turn, plus moving my squad and medium MG into the objective. He did recover the units on the next turn, but I advanced again into the space with his single squad, ambushed them, and squished them like grapes. I then ran with the Russian squad at the edge of the woods for Ben’s board edge, and did likewise a few turns later with another squad that had come over from the other side of the board. It was about this time that I realized that I was giving myself double points for exiting instead of killing units, so I was actually 2 points short of where I thought I was.

Shortly thereafter, Ben decided to make a move on the already-blooded leader/squad combo near objective 4 with his own leader/squad combo, the last units on that side of the board. I did mention that if he lost that combat that I could exit units pretty much at will, but Ben felt that this was critical to his success, and went ahead with it. Of course, he had an Ambush card, but so did I, and I also had the initiative (which is not quite as cool as you might hope, but at least gives you a shot), and sure enough he rolled low and lost both units. By now I was up a good eight points, and unless an event made objective 5 worth 10 points suddenly, the game was pretty much over. Despite bringing over one of his two remaining squads to that side of the board, time ran out shortly thereafter and I finally won my first full game of CC:E. Against a newbie. Oh well, I’ll take it.

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