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Combat Commander: fog shrouds more than the battlefield

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Still playing our way through the original CCE scenarios, Liam and I turned our attention to Scenario 12: Misty Mountain for Tuesday's game. This is a big scenario, which pits a large force of German Volksgrenadiers with reasonable weaponry, some good fortifications and average leadership, against a much more substantial Brazilian force with poor leadership and plenty of weapons. The Brazilians (represented by the Americans, as I will refer to them henceforth for simplicity) are nearly twice as numerous as the Germans, but a significant chunk of them arrives as reinforcements in the form of 8 Green squads with one command 2 leader. The scenario is also noteworthy for the fog and for the German snipers. The former is a hindrance of 3 which is cumulative with other hindrances, and which reduces by 1 each time a breeze event occurs. The latter are effective at 2 hexes distant from the random hex instead of the normal adjacent hexes.




Random selection gave Liam the Americans, so he got to work on his setup. This is another interesting feature of the scenario: alerted to the impending attack by an untimely artillery attack elsewhere, the defenders get to set up in response to the attackers' deployment, rather than vice versa as is more typical. I wouldn't say this gave me a false sense of security, but it certainly made me feel a bit more comfortable as I contemplated my dispositions.
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Wed Oct 7, 2015 3:24 pm
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Combat Commander: a bit too up close and personal for comfort

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Liam and I have played 4 games of CCE since last I wrote (not in a single session I hasten to add). Two of the games were victories for Liam: as the Russians in Scenario 8: Breakout Dance, and as the Germans in Scenario 10: Commando School. I was wiped out to a man in the former scenario, which was otherwise notable for a string of 4/5FP op fire attacks by Liam in which I couldn't make a defence roll to save myself, thus foiling my dash for exit VP and victory. Liam finished me off in melee, wiping me out to a man in the process. The latter scenario was notable for the short and brutal exchange of fire between 2 firegroups which set up facing off at 2-hex range. Mine had 18FP- more than enough to break Liam's MG nest every time it fired; Liam's had 13FP, which turned out to equally effective. The exchange came down to who'd run out of Recovers first. That proved to be me, so my 2 leaders and a squad with an HMG bit the dust. Although my Pioniers did for Liam's flanking forces with their flamethrower and satchel charge, Liam won by making a quick exit dash with the rest of his units, thus bringing the game to an early end with him comfortably in front.



Scenario 11: Hold the Line
We played this scenario twice last night. It is noteworthy for 2 reasons, both firsts and onlys in CCE: the appearance of the SS- simply the best troops in the game bar none; and the presence of a tank- an immobilised Sherman represented by a bunker, a crew with a pack howitzer and a leader with a .50 cal MG. The scenario pits a compact but well led and well armed German force against an American force that is frankly puny, apart from the tank. The Americans do get 4 line squads as reinforcements, but these arrive in dribs and drabs and without leadership, so it's doubtful they'll be able to play much of a role in the battle for the hill.
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Sun Oct 4, 2015 3:33 pm
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A Combat Commander mega-session

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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As I noted elsewhere earlier this year, my neighbour Liam is a big fan of Combat Commander, and really good at it too. The last four months have seen us turn to the Pacific, which saw a significant upturn in my fortunes as something about the different factions' play-styles in that theatre of operations just seemed to click for me. Last night however it was back to Europe, which Liam had been keen to see because he basically prefers it. I must confess I was nervous at the prospect because the battle of Stalingrad, the fall of France, Operation Sealion and partisan warfare still loom large in my memories as times of ignominious defeat after ignominious defeat. Still, there are bucket-loads of scenarios Liam hasn't played yet so last night we sat down to what turned out to be a CCE mega-session.





Scenario 4: Closed For Renovation
I'll move quickly through the first game, which saw my Americans make yet another attempt to capture the chateau. I was pleased to be playing the Americans here because the Americans have never won this scenario at my table and I didn't want Liam to have the chance to garner that honour for himself! I was hoping to pull a flanking manoeuvre with a .50 cal HMG group going up my left using the cover of the tree-lined wall. Liam saw that coming and stationed an HMG nest in the trees. I pondered going for it anyway- in the hope that my artillery would cover me, but that HMG was just too intimidating given my lack of immediate cover and I opted instead for an extended line behind the wall.
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Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:00 pm
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Combat Commander: RSG radio variant reprised

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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This is just not on chaps
I wrote back in December 2008 about my frustration with the way that Combat Commander: Mediterrean’s updated Random Scenario Generator allows only the attacker to start with a radio. This just didn’t work for me at a basic level of historical authenticity. My general reading has taught me that the German army used their company and battalion 81mm mortars as immediate on-call defensive artillery fire. And George R. Blackburn’s monumental The Guns of War is chock full of examples of British and Commonwealth forces in Europe in 1944-45 using artillery directed by an attached Forward Observation Officer to break up attacks in progress. So I just can’t go along with the idea that defenders can only get access to radios via the Reinforcement event, which has a mere 3% chance even with the Americans for whom it is most likely.

All that said I could see that the essential issue was simple enough: while it was plain that either the attacker or the defender starting with a radio worked well enough, making radios available to both sides risks turning the game into a rather uninteresting exchange of big guns: the choice being mutually available, escalation would be very tempting because why not, after all? The idea that the points cost alone of selecting a radio would be sufficient disincentive just didn’t add up for me. More important perhaps is the fact that most of the ‘Artillery Request’ cards are also prime ‘Defender Only’ actions; eg. 6/9 in the American deck, including the 2 ‘Hidden Wire’ actions. On the other hand though, 6/9 ‘Artillery Request’ cards in the American deck are ‘Dig In’ or ‘Hidden Entrenchment’ actions. It is easy to imagine how keen a defender with a radio would be to use these for the artillery strikes. So the alternative uses of the defender’s ‘Artillery Request’ cards strike me as little more of disincentive for artillery escalation than does the points cost.
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Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:22 am
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Hacking through the endless jungle

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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In full retreat
So, Badger was round last Friday for our regular Combat Commander session, which we had carefully planned to make sure we’d have time for 2 games. Committed as we are to playing all the official GMT scenarios at least once, we turned again to Battle Pack #4: New Guinea for Scenario M4. Templeton’s Crossing. This is a time and place we've visited before: Scenario G. Bitter Creek from Combat Commander: Pacific is similarly set around Eora Creek in October 1942, when the Japanese were fighting to withdraw their overstretched expeditionary forces back up the Kokoda Trail.



The Japanese advance down the Kokoda Trail

The battles of October and November 1942 in Papua New Guinea were the last phase of a campaign which had begun in July of that year when the Japanese landed on the north coast of the southern end of the island of Papua. Their objective was Port Moresby on the coast some 150km to the southwest, from where they planned to launch an invasion of Australia. To reach Port Moresby the Japanese had to cross the Owen Stanley Range, which rises to over 3000m. The Kokoda Trail was essentially the only route suitable for military forces and the Japanese troops spent 2 months struggling through jungle and across ravines as the Australians fought a series of delaying actions to save Port Moresby. Eventually the Japanese fell foul of the perennial problem of over-extended supply lines and were then forced on the defensive as their strategic position in the Pacific was undermined by the Americans’ early gains on Guadalcanal.
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Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:40 pm
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In the eye of the storm: June gaming roundup

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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More games than you can shake a stick at
June saw a glut of games after the recent months’ paltry pickings I noted a few weeks ago- a total of 21 games played in 15 sessions. The Saturday crew turned up again for the first time in several months, and Przemek made a return appearance too. But it was 13 games of Combat Commander which turned regular hearty fare into a veritable whirlwind of boardgaming, thanks largely to the enthusiasm with which Gav and Liam took to the game after I’d managed to persuade them to give it a go: fully 10 of those games were games of CC against Gav and Liam.

Alien wars and other inhumanities
Eclipse: new gaming horizons in the penumbra

I picked up a copy of this hot new 4X multiplayer game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) early in 2012. It was an instant hit with my players and has seen play matched in recent years only by Battlestar Galactica and Cosmic Encounter, a fact that is all the more noteworthy when you consider that Eclipse is a pretty intense game which can take as long as 4 hours or more when you’re not familiar with it. This familiarity has to be hard-won by repeated play and the Saturday crew have proved willing to play often enough to achieve that. So when we got together for our first Saturday games group in some 6 months, everyone was keen for another adventure in space, and I was primed to introduce the new material from the game’s first boxed expansion- Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients.Read more »
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Fri Jul 5, 2013 1:26 pm
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Analogue gamer finally grokks digital? #2. In which, getting neither rules nor manual, I am confounded

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Analogue and digital: opposing skill sets?
Fundamental property or fleeting perception?

Far from original, my closing remarks last time echo truisms familiar from many online discussions of, eg. how to get more younger people to play wargames (a common enough theme on the BGG Wargames subforum). Once this notion rears its head in any thread it won’t be long before someone observes that the ‘plug-and-play’ nature of computer games’ has ‘spoiled’ younger people when it comes to reading rules for a game, especially those more-or-less complex ones you’ll find in ‘heavy duty’ wargames. And these are games like, eg. the 32 pages of detailed case point of Unhappy king Charles or the similar 28 pages of Twilight Struggle — ie. average complexity medium-sized wargames with clear and concise rules — not ASL’s legendary monumental tome or some such monstrosity.

The basic disconnect

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Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:21 pm
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Analogue gamer finally grokks digital? #1. In which I neither got nor 'get' computer games

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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My sorry excuse for a computer game collection…
Give me the damn instruction manual!

I noted the paucity of my digital gaming experience last September in my review of Death Ray Manta. Getting a bit more precise: as far as I can remember I’ve only ever owned 5 or 6 computer games, and only 5 which I can remember for sure:-
- Quake 2: played a few times but abandoned in frustration when I couldn’t get past the first level (I ended up running around banging on the walls hoping to find the secrets I knew I hadn’t uncovered).
- Abe’s Oddysee: this charmed me but otherwise ditto because I couldn’t solve the problems of the more difficult screens- running around in endless frustrated circles was no fun, however cute.
- Close Combat III: The Russian Front: my most-played computer game and my favourite, naturally enough- abandoned after I'd played the scenarios when I couldn’t fathom the campaign game.
- Panzer General 3D Assault: played once or twice- meh, I'd rather'd've had a rulebook, and probably a map, counters and a FtF opponent to boot.
- Combat Mission: Shock Force: out of the shrink, but otherwise the CD-ROM hasn’t even been inserted into the computer.
Of all of these I still own the wargames.
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Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:53 pm
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Confessions of a one-time would-be career gamer

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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“He’s not dead yet!”
Emerging later than usual from the incommunicado of the long darkness of my annual slough of despond, I found myself drawn back into social networking via BoardGameGeek, as is my wont. One thread which attracted my attention was Deep or Wide: What kind of wargamer are you?, to which I added my tuppenceworth, you can be sure (deep, as we shall see). Before I knew where I was I’d been prompted to make an unexpected return to the keyboard for the benefit of my readers here at RD/KA!.









Never mind the depth, feel the width?
‘Deep’ play- ie. playing a game many times to experience the full breadth of its content and to master its nuances, has been a strong characteristic of my gaming geek since I was a young adult. A quick survey of my 10 most played games shows how strong. Look at my 5 all-time favourite wargames:
- Up Front.
- Space Hulk.
- Combat Commander.
- SL/ASL.
- C&C.

What these games all have in common is that they are as much systems as they are games, and that they are driven by scenarios which gives them great replay value. This makes them ideal for deep play even if they might be simple by comparison to a multimap monster game, eg. the infamous Case Blue (10 maps with a total area of 49 square feet, 3640 counters and 288 pages of rules and scenarios).
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Fri Jun 7, 2013 3:52 am
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Infiltration: the game that almost got away

John McLintock
Scotland
Glasgow
Lanarkshire
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Feel the hype, sigh
The social media advertising for Infiltration passed before my eyes registered but ignored, a disinterest no doubt prompted by its being set in FFG’s Android universe: Android — “a board game of murder and conspiracy set in a dystopian future” about which the consensus is that its attempt to marry narrative to a competitive boardgame failed because of the clunky complexities of Kevin Wilson’s design methods (as seen in, eg. Arkham Horror or Descent, whose heavy status-tracking and bean-counting mechanics are exactly what would suck all the fun out of playing a co-op against a pseudo-narrative solitaire engine) — was one of a handful of later FFG releases enjoying certain novel features sparking an initial interest which quickly waned when I realised what I’d be buying. That is to say: a big box of toys and other shiny stuff thrown together into the interminable clunk of too, too many cards and counters presided over by a rulebook both poorly organised and frustratingly vague.
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Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:03 pm
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