Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Suck At Combat Commander

Matt came over last night as part of our new "Third Monday" gaming regimen. The idea was to get in some light 2 player war/euro gaming seeing as we live in more or less the same part of town. On the table was Combat Commander, and the scenario was #28 from the Paratrooper Pack, or as our resident Scot Mike likes to say, "yanks and cranks". (Or something like that. Apparently he's unhappy that there are no Brit 'troopers included, although given that the pack came out (days) before the CC:Med expansion came out, that's not a huge surprise.)

The scenario takes place shortly after D-Day, with a US paratrooper battalion (or whatever - I'm an idiot when it comes to military organization) having just taken a farmhouse on the Caretan peninsula in Normandy and a group of German FJ troops trying to take it back. As such, the US is in Recon posture rather than defensive. The map is a few building scattered around with a lot of hedges (they are not treated as bocage in this scenario, so cover is scarce and useless against arty), with the big points in the middle of the board held by the Americans. The Germans, on the other hand, start out either on or having to cross a road before they can begin advancing on the Germans. 

Of course, I started on the road and then drew three Command Confusion cards and one Move. I did manage to get off the road, but it wasn't pretty as my big stack of units in the middle of the board, including one of my 2-command leaders, was wiped out in a big melee that started at even odds. In my defense, I did not start that particular fight - Matt did, and while he had a 3 point advantage going in, he had no ambush cards while I did (plus an action that would give me 2vp if I won. I didn't). He also traded a paratrooper for a paratrooper with me in an adjacent melee. 

With no units in the middle of the board, and with another 2-command leader wiped out when I didn't recognize that he could shoot at me in a particular hex from the main farm structure, I was in deep trouble. Even when I felt like I was about to start making progress (good stack next to one of his, plus an arty request), the arty ended up doing as much damage to me as to him and preventing me advancing with three, count 'em, three Ambush cards. 

In the end, I lost when the vast majority of my Germans were running past the Surrender level, although Matt was up nearly 20 points. I did almost get a German into one of his objective hexes, and had an advance card to do so, but just couldn't do it. My Recover cards seemed to come out in clumps, and at one point I had two entire units on the board (out of 15 that I started with) that weren't broken. Once I lost my last leader (and I even gained Private Herzog at a really critical point), there was no way I could garner enough firepower to take the central hex, and there certainly wasn't any way I could generate enough firepower to even take out a unit. 

I'm starting to think that I'm playing the game poorly. In this case, I was so excited to have the opportunity to do some real melee damage that I sat on cards I should have used for other purposes. I definitely shouldn't have started out on the road, which negated any benefit the hedge row provided. I had a mortar that could have provided smoke, but positioned it poorly as it had a minimum range of three hexes. Placing it to the side and shooting smoke down the roadway I needed to cross was clearly the correct strategy. My dearth of play in tactical level games is pretty obvious. 

Still, it was a fun game, and there were definitely exciting moments when I *nearly* got momentum going again. All I need is a little more discipline in handling my cards (and a couple more Recover cards when I need them - at the end of my first deck, the last three cards were Recovers that had been sorely needed earlier), and I'll be a Combat Commander. 

Suuuuure, you will...

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