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Subject: Combat Commander:Europe, A Tactician's Delight rss

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Combat Commander:Europe, A Tactician's Delight



Introduction

I like games. I’m not sure what kind of gamer I am, but I’d probably classify myself as a thinker/AP+ one. I like the strategy of Euros, the flashiness of AmeriTrash and the depth of Wargames.

I’m going skiing this weekend and all I can think about is how I’m going to miss our local Board Gaming Day and the opportunity to play games.

I’ve played CC:E numerous times now, and it’s quickly becoming the GITAMO (Game I Think About Most Often).

Review:

As I often do, I’m actually going to start with Componants, as this is the first thing you get exposed to.

Components: thumbsup



The Rulebook: thumbsup

The rulebook for CC:E is colourful and clearly presented. It contains an extended example of play and sections on all actions and events that may come up on the cards, in case there is any ambiguity. I was able to understand the game after one read through, and I find that, as a reference during gameplay it is easily accessible.



The Playbook: thumbsup

The Scenario booklet contains 12 scenarios and a random scenario generator. For me, this equates to incredible replayability when combined with random objective chits and the ‘chaotic’ gameplay (refer below)

The Maps thumbsup

The six double-sided maps are made of paper. Neither cardboard nor mounted. I use a piece of plexiglass, but they do sit quite flat without it. The maps are quite colourful, and have wonderful giant hexes, so you can fit your squad and leader in the same hex side by side without having to worry about all that terrible stacking nonsense.

They are quite varied from urbanised settings, hills, French Bocage, and water features. Again, combined with the random scenario generator combine to create a huge amount of replayability



The Player Aids thumbsup

There are two Player Aids, the Terrain Effect Chart, and the ‘rule summary’. Both are useful, and relatively well presented, but the TEC does take a tiny amount of concentration the first time looking at it until you are used to the difference between hinderance and cover.

There is also the large Display Track, which keeps track of VPs, Time etc which also has additional play aids for fortifications, radios and some ordinance weapons. Very useful and well done.

The Counters thumbsup



The counters are clearly presented with a nice silhouette of the leader/team/squad. The number of men on the counter determines the stacking limit, so the silhouette is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. There are three sheets of counters.

The Cards thumbsup

The cards are the main driving factor of CC:E and are clearly presented. They contain the actions, events, orders and dice rolls. They are fairly sturdy, but take a lot of abuse in the course of a game, and their longevity is suspect. When mine get too ratty, I’ll probably need to put them in sleeves, which I’m dreading.



The Peripherals thumbsdown

Tuckboxes – There aren’t any. There are a number of designs to make your own, such as in the picture above, but I would really have liked to have had some included. The cards will take the biggest beating and anything to preserve them would be good.

Componant Summary thumbsup

When I first cracked open my CC:E, I felt that with the numerous maps, play aids and counters I was getting value for my money.

Gameplay: thumbsup

Summary of Play:

Game set-up is quite quick following the play book and usually is complete within a few minutes.

CC:E is quite quick to play. Each player gets a hand of 4-6 cards, and on their turn can either play a few orders or discard cards. The number of each is based on nationality and the particular scenario. Downtime is very minimal and play is quick and smooth once you get a hang of flipping the next card for your die roll.

I don’t want to go into depth of how to play CC:E but would rather focus on the Review of Play below.

Review of Play:

As mentioned, Gameplay is quite simple. The meat and potatoes of the game is in the tactical play and order (card) management.

CC:E is more chaotic than most other squad based games I’ve played. You can’t always get the orders to your men that you’d want to, and sometimes you need to pace yourself and get the communication lines clear before proceeding. One order is simply called Command Confusion and is a wasted draw. This may frustrate some players, particularly EuroGamers or ASL players who are used to total control over their pieces/units.

Personally, for this particular reason, I find CC:E more realistic than ASL. Looking at your men and thinking, if I get four more men, to fire at the enemy in that building, I’ll get to roll on the next column of the Combat Effect Chart. As has been said before, there is a lot happening beneath the scope of the game. Bullets flying, Heads Cowering, Orders Missed, Panicked Soldiers amongst others. Sometimes you just can’t get that order to your MMG nest to watch their right because they are too busy cowering from suppression fire from another direction.

This makes CC:E way more about the tactics of play than some grandiose strategy. Specifically, using what you have available at the time to put yourself in the best position possible, which sometimes includes an organised retreat. Often it means giving a fire order and hoping for the best. Or charging an enemy hoping they don’t hold a fire card. This has created a second argument against CC:E saying that it is too random, and luck based, both on dice rolls and cards in hand.

I think this may hold true for some, but for this reviewer, this argument falls flat.

For one, there is the poker element. You can hold on to that fire order, waiting for the enemy to get right up close before breaking them. I can almost vision Ash from Army of Darkness saying “Wait for it. Wait for it.”

Secondly, CC:E is all about tactics. Rolling with the punches. Creating a situation where bad luck will have minimum impact. Don’t make a run for that building where an unlucky roll will break your squad if you don’t have a Recover card in hand to minimise the damages. On the other hand, you want to create a situation where good luck (read: your opponent’s bad luck) will have maximum effect.



The third complaint I’ve heard is the events are too random. Again, it is hard to plan for a lucky sniper, but I find the events provide replayability, an excellent narrative and most importantly, fun factor.

Again, gameplay is simple and fast. This review isn’t meant to be a strategy article, but you need not get hung up on discarding some of your hand two turns in a row to get a good combination of orders lined up to get your men to do what you want. Unlike Eurogames, every turn is not a game-breaker, and you need to play CC:E with a different mindset, otherwise you will end up frustrated at best.

Game Length
Scenarios typically last form 1 to 2 hours.

Rating: thumbsup thumbsup

My overall rating for Combat Commander:Europe has recently gone from an initial 8 to a 9. This is due to its GITAMO factor which comes from its high replayability and numerous scenarios. The upcoming expansion has also become #1 on my wishlist, not because I have played out CC:E but just because I’m an expansion whore.

I would suggest:
Hardcore Wargamers may get fed up with the realistic (IMHO) lack of control and prefer the table and charts of IGO YOUGO games like ASL or Tide of Iron.
Eurogamers would need to -1 minimum, depending on the purity of their Euroness. Again the lack of control may affect them and they may find Memoir ‘44 both a tad more accessible and more predictable.
Ameritrashers may dislike the paper maps and counters, but the actual gameplay should please once they get a hang of using cards as dice.
”Love all” Gamers should find this right up their alley.
Family/Light Gamers should look elsewhere. But then again are probably not reading this review.

Final Summary:
Combat Commander:Europe delivers a wonderful narrative and is very fun to play. It delivers a unique take on the chaos of the tactical small-scale combat and avoids being bogged down in miniscule details and heavy ruleset.

I strongly recommend it to any wargamer who would like to try something a little different or to any other gamer wanting to dip their foot into squad based WW2 combat.
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Chadwik
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Thank you for the kind review, Randy. It was well written, concise, and a pleasure to read. I'm so glad you enjoy the game!
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Jonathan Fried
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Great review -- or should I say, a great review of all that I like about the game, with a nod to some of what people may dislike. Thanks!
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Jonny Lawless
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This review gets my thumb just for having introduced me to the GITAMO acronym! CC:E is also my GITAMO, and despite only a handful of plays is quickly on its way to becoming my all-time favorite game.
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John G
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Excellent review! I had set this one aside but see it must now return to my wishlist. Doh!
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Jayson Ng
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I can't wait for my box to arrive.... :D
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Kris Adamson
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Great Review. Card management is the key to a good Combat Commander. Also a good poker face. However a lucky roll or event can always be welcomed. Having the privlige of play testing and being part of the development of this game is a great honor. Especially having my own counter. Everytime the American battlefield promotion event happens, I get goosebumps.
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Mark Buetow
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What are "componants?"
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Malacandra wrote:
What are "componants?"


a constituent element or abstract part of something. For example, "mispeled" is a "componant" are elements of my Dictionery. kiss

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Tadashi Ishihara
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I know that CC is rated very low for solo play, but is there anyone out that has a modified set of house rules that may accommodate this aspect?
 
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tadcar wrote:
I know that CC is rated very low for solo play, but is there anyone out that has a modified set of house rules that may accommodate this aspect?


Check out This Thread
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Drake Coker
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tadcar wrote:
I know that CC is rated very low for solo play, but is there anyone out that has a modified set of house rules that may accommodate this aspect?


I find that just playing the game straight makes for a fine solo experience. I just keep the inactive player's hand face down and don't look at newly drawn cards until I have to.

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jay murphy

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GeneSteeler wrote:
Combat Commander:Europe, A Tactician's Delight



I’m going skiing this weekend and all I can think about is how I’m going to miss our local Board Gaming Day and the opportunity to play games.




Where were you going skiing?
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jager fury wrote:
GeneSteeler wrote:
Combat Commander:Europe, A Tactician's Delight



I’m going skiing this weekend and all I can think about is how I’m going to miss our local Board Gaming Day and the opportunity to play games.




Where were you going skiing?


I call tangent! I believe it was Mt. Hotham.
 
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