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Combat Commander: Solo

Adventures in solitaire playing of Chad Jensen's World War II Tactical Game System: Combat Commander: Europe, Mediterranean, Pacific and Resistance.

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19: Fat Lipki (Scenario 1)

Joe C Faust
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Hartville
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Fat Lipki Solo. After a break away from CC, I returned and decided to revisit Fat Lipki and forego the traditional German opening of trading the initiative card to get the first move.

The Russian opening put Cpl. Krylov far enough down the road with a MMG that he was able to murder Cpl. Winkler and his squad before they could move off of the road. The Germans were paralyzed at first by a lack of Move cards, and the Russians got a squad into the pond house first.

Lt. VanKarsties didn't give up, however, and inched himself and two squads up to the pond house, then took the house in close combat. The second squad took the Objective 1 house, and the third remained behind at Objective Three.

The Russian right shifted and poured fire into the two houses, killing the squad in the second house, but not being able to budge VanKarsties. On the Russian left, Cpl. Krylov began inching his men toward the edge of the board, but the German squad at Objective 3 crossed the road and jumped one of the squads in close combat, eliminating it. Then Krylov and a squad jumped the Germans, killing them, with a German ambush leaving Krylov in a broken state that would last until the final moments of the scenario, in spite of many Recover cards being thrown at him.

VonK and the remaining Axis unit kept pouring LMG fire at the Russians until the gun malfunctioned. About this time, Russian Walking Wounded - apparently survivors of the Melee for the pond house - turned up in the Objective 1 house. The Germans made short work of them and pegged the VP's at zero - but the Russians still had the initiative.

The battle continued with the Russians slowly closing in and the Germans trying to keep them pinned down with fire. The Sudden Death crept from 7 to 10, consistently rolling 11's. The Germans turned over an event card, and the draw reinforcements triggered the time check at turn 10. A draw of 5 ended the game, score tied, with Russians winning for holding the Initiative card.

---
Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
France: 1/0
Germany: 5/11
Japan 0/4
Russia: 4/4
United States: 6/0
U.S. Marines: 3/0
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Sat May 21, 2011 8:33 pm
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How I Solo Combat Commander

Joe C Faust
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Mail. I get mail.

Geekmail, specifically, ever since I started up this blog, with the same question in common: How do you play Combat Commander solo? So it would be a useful thing for me to divulge my secrets right about now.

Basically, I use a slightly evolved variation of the system put forward by Avalon Hill in the rule book for Banzai for use with its parent game, Up Front.

The Banzai rules lay it out like this:

Quote:
1) Pre-designate all actions before resolving anything.


Okay, back in my Up Front solo days, I did this pretty diligently - at the start. Then I began to see the reason for the rule, to throw a little artificial uncertainty into the works. There was enough of that in UF already, and when I realized that elements 2 and 3 of the solitaire rules worked well for me, I left this one behind. Mostly (see below).

Quote:
2) Place both hands face-up on the table. As new cards are drawn at the turn's end, place them face down.


Ah! Putting some mystery back in the game! I already have a certain amnesia about what's in my hand anyway - ask anyone who has played CDG's with me. I carried this technique over into my solo plays of Memoir 44, and it evolved again. Instead of leaving cards face up, it was much more effective for me to turn the unused cards back down. Then it got to the point where I would just gather the cards up into a single packet and put them face down on the respective side of the board. This is the style of play I carried over to CC.

I've found it helps to not be reminded of a killer card still in the hand and help me make blind decisions - although I sometimes still hear myself saying, "Okay, I don't know he has two Ambush actions in his hand, and since I was planning to go into Melee here, that's what I'm going to do." But it's not that much of a suspense robber since there will undoubtedly be some passing to-and-fro of the Initiative Card.

Quote:
3) Play each side to the best of your ability and don't favor one over the other.


This is the key here. We all tend, in our heart of hearts, to see one side win over the other. It's natural. However, I think CC makes it easier to avoid favoritism because, as has been said in many a CC forum post, the game ain't over until it's over. There's none of that inevitability that sets in like in other games, where you realize that the battle is lost and all you can do is try to minimize your loss while making your opponent's victory costly. CC has those wonderful swings of fortune that can turn a game around instantly - which means it pays to play both sides well.

Look at it this way: doing that makes it a win-win situation.

Now with CC there are some extra steps. When I start moving troops around, I have to check the opponent's hand for fire cards. Should I see there are no Op Fire cards in the hand at all, I stick with my original plan for cautious movement, because that's what I would have done in a FTF game. Shades of rule number one, above.

Ditto checking cards during fire for Concealment actions. I'm especially bad about doing this, but then, I always seem to forget I have Concealments in my hand during FTF too, so maybe that's not such a big deal.

So that's how your faithful host does it. And I've even carried the system to one more game, my just-arrived copy of Manoeuvre, and it works quite well.

One disclaimer: I haven't tried any of the solitaire systems in the CC files section. I tend to shy away from things that add a lot of extra bookkeeping to the game system, although these may not do that. All I know is that this system works really well for me, and it doesn't seem to make CC the impossible-to-solo frustration fest that some people find it to be.

Well, your mileage may vary.

Meantime, if you have any of your own personal tips or tricks or methods, feel free to chime in below. After all, when it comes to the Combat Commander system, it's all good.
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Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:16 pm
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18: West Tank Barrier (Scenario D)

Joe C Faust
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From 4/8/11

A real nailbiter of a scenario. I was hard pressed at first to see how the limited number of Japanese would resist the American forces, especially as the latter cleared the central hill of a Team with a MG and a treetop sniper. But then the sightings kept popping up, and many of the Marines were pinned down on the exposed part of the hilltop by surrounding enemy units.

The US finally suppressed the attacks, and late in the game when a Japanese victory looked assured, found the movement they were looking for and were able to exit several squads through a 3 point exit hex. This swung the points around to the US. The Japanese were able to exit a couple of squads to damage the lead, but it was at too great a cost, and the game ended in an American victory on Sudden Death 11 (!).

I should add here that this is my 45th game of CC, and of all the times the Americans were involved, I had never seen a White Phosphorus event. In this and the previous solo play of Pacific, I have now pulled several. It's an interesting tactical choice, and after having seen it and put it to use, I'm kind of sorry it's been so rare. But if it were more common, then maybe I wouldn't appreciate it as much.

I'll be taking a brief break from soloing CC to put my ancient copy of The Russian Campaign on the table. Perhaps when I finish, the New Guinea Battle Pack will be in my hands for some solo (and otherwise) fun.

---
Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
France: 1/0
Germany: 5/10
Japan 0/4
Russia: 3/4
United States: 6/0
U.S. Marines: 3/0
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Wed Apr 27, 2011 2:05 pm
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17: Ichiki Attacks (Scenario C)

Joe C Faust
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From 4/3/11

Scenario C, Solo. The Japanese moved ahead quickly and frighteningly on the back of three Charge orders. Fortunately, the cool-headed Marine defenders concentrated on slowing the Banzai's movement using the strategy of targeting leaders when possible. When it looked like the U.S. would be flanked on their left, reinforcements arrived to pin down the Japanese right with machine gun fire. The fight boiled right up to the Marines' line, but before any Melees could turn the game, sudden death reared its head and the U.S. carried the day with 43 (!) points.



The situation at sudden death: Japan across the river, pressing the fight - but too little, too late.



U.S. Marines end the game with 43 points.

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Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
France: 1/0
Germany: 5/10
Japan 0/3
Russia: 3/4
United States: 6/0
U.S. Marines: 2/0
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Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:25 pm
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16: East By Northwest (Scenario 54) - Best.Ending.Ever.

Joe C Faust
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The Russians Germans set up grouped tightly with their leaders, owing to the quality (or lack thereof) of the Conscripts and Green Troops. The French wisely decided to form a defensive line based on the Chateau, with squad plus Bren gun in the stone buildings to the west, two Brens and satchel charge in the main house with Lt. Marienne, and Sgt. de Villers with the commandos and satchel in the K7 Woods.

The Russian German advance began slowly, met with stiff resistance from the French, who built up a fast lead in points by carefully mowing down low morale units as they tried to consolidate a base of fire against the chateau. Lt. Kulakov moved his men into building N9, only to find it booby trapped. de Villers' men moved south through the woods to keep Kulakov and his men pinned down, effectively halting their flanking maneuver.

It remained a firefight for a while until the Russians Germans were able to move on the right flank of the French, sending Cpl. Kikalashvili with his squads and LMG up to the west B7 building under cover of mortar fire. They Advanced into the building and easily bested the squad there, then trained their sights on the west end of the Chateau.

On the opposite flank, Kulakov's men rallied and got out of the building, killing the SAS Regulars as they did. de Villers pulled back into the woods.

The points have swung toward the Soviet Axis side.

Encouraged by the lack of fire from the Chateau, Cpl. K used the road to move north and then east into the building, triggering a fierce firefight. The Russians Germans moved into Melee, and in moments had killed Marienne and his squad. Assessing the situation, de Villers crossed the road and entered the east end of the Chateau, not so much under cover as during a lull in the Russian German fire. Two French squads were now in the building with Cpl. K and his remaining squad.

Each side is now one eliminated squad from surrender. The points have swung back to the French - but not by much.

A Sniper broke Cpl. K's squad and de Villers moved in next to him, an Advance and an Ambush in their hands, with plans to go two squads versus one.

Seeing the writing on the Chateau walls, Cpl. K decides to retreat his men out of the line of fire and possible Advance into Melee. They end up outside, in the southwest corner of the chateau.

The French play a rout card. Cpl. K's men take a powder to the edge of the map, where they rally. With no enemy to hinder him, Lt. Kulakov advances his men into the east end of the Chateau.

Smelling victory, the French then Advance on Cpl. K - that's right, out of the building and into the line of fire of enemy units. This pits one broken squad, one good order squad and a 1 leader against a 1 leader.

The French play an Ambush card. Cpl. K breaks, stepping down to a firepower of 0.

Cpl. K draws his card for the die roll. A 7 with event. He draws the event and...

Prisoners of War.

Like many good Russians who were doing the work of the Germans at Normandy, he threw up his hands and surrendered. His elimination as a unit tipped the Russians Germans into surrender.

Now some might think that advancing out of a building to capture an enemy noncom is not a very realistic thing to do - there could be a bit of gaminess there - but I really have to hand it to the CC system that a random event took it and made it totally appropriate and historical.

(The way I see it playing out is that de Villers merely leaned out of a shot-out window and aimed his pistol at Kikalashvilli. "Hey, Ivan," he says, "we've got you dead to rights. You can either die in the service of your enemy or join us. We've got some really great wine in here." I think the day probably ended with the remaining Russians Germans joining their new friends in the bullet-riddled chateau, exchanging rations and barbecuing something brought in from the nearby woods. Okay, maybe not. But it makes a great story, and that's one of CC's great strengths).

And this is why I love this game so much.

---
Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
France: 1/0
Germany: 5/10
Japan 0/2
Russia: 3/4
United States: 6/0
U.S. Marines: 1/0
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Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:14 am
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15: Mazed and Confused (Scenario 49)

Joe C Faust
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Captain Goranson struggled to get his men through the German communication trenches, but ultimately only lost a half-squad, the other half of which returned as Walking Wounded. Goranson played it cautiously and worked the trenches as cover, hampered by a lack of Move cards at the beginning and the constant German mortar fire from three teams at the top of the high hill. The U.S. was gradually able to consolidate several units into a firegroup chain, but couldn't seem to budge the Germans and their HMG out of the last bunker. After many discards, the Germans finally rallied and started with the heavy fire again. Unfortunately, the inexperienced Cpl. Strobel led the mortar teams down the hill to occupy the last objective, where they fell under the eye of Goranson's large fire team. Even though they were in the trenches, the Axis took two sets of 10 fires each turn, enhanced by concentrated fires and good rolls. It was enough to push the Germans over their surrender level.
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Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
Germany: 5/9
Japan 0/2
Russia: 3/4
United States: 6/0
U.S. Marines: 1/0
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Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:12 am
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14: Pointe Du Hoc Planned (Scenario #47b - Map #39)

Joe C Faust
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From 3/11/11

The planned Pointe Du Hoc attack had to be played after the fun of the historic version, and was even more fun. This time the naval shelling destroyed three bunkers and killed one German squad and leader and broke a number of U.S. Rangers on the beach. The first Rangers up the cliff numbered two squads and a team. One squad and the team took refuge in the northern most building on the point, while the remaining squad got stranded in the open and cut down by German fire. There then proceeded to be a long shootout between Axis defenders, and the Allied invaders in the building. The German deck ran out first, bringing up two more Rangers - and at the end of that time check the U.S. deck ran out, bringing up another two. The next German draw pulled a 6-6 time check and an American colonel came up the hill and entered the house. All of a sudden the U.S. was back in the game. Most American casualties were from Snipers and Routs. While the Americans made good use of Rout cards, a couple of key Melees cleared out the bunkers that just couldn't be cracked, even with the three large fire groups that had coalesced along the edge of the point. The Axis line dithered, never seeming to have the cards they needed to do heavy damage - but the American cards were a strange lot as well. Ended on the first turn of Sudden Death with 15 points for the U.S.

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Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
Germany: 5/8
Japan 0/2
Russia: 3/4
United States: 5/0
U.S. Marines: 1/0
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Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:22 pm
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13: Pointe Du Hoc Historical (Scenario #47a - Map #39)

Joe C Faust
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From 3/9/11

Pointe Du Hoc Historical with an initial bombardment of the German defenses, determined by 5 random cards from each fate deck. These random shellings turned out to be well-targeted and took out two bunkers, with and two double hits killing two squads and a leader. Then the U.S. Rangers started waltzing up the cliff to finish the slaughter. There were only three U.S. casualties - two were deployed teams eliminated by overstacking caused by frequent German use of Rout cards. The third was a broken U.S. squad driven by Rout to the edge of the board that was killed by a sniper attack. All other casualties were German, inflicted to Surrender by the U.S. Rangers. One wonderful moment: a three-hex line of Rangers are targeted by a machine gun nest. The lead squad pops a 5 smoke to cover them all and then steps out of harm's way to join another fire group next turn.

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Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
Germany: 5/7
Japan 0/2
Russia: 3/4
United States: 4/0
U.S. Marines: 1/0
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Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:17 pm
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#12: Pegasus Bridge (Scenario 46 - Map #38)

Joe C Faust
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From 3/5/11

The glider landings were catastrophic for the British. Unable to move, they were pinned down in the open. Starshells were eliminated after one use as time check rolls came quickly - one in the first turn, declined by the Brits via Initiative Card (they would not get it back until late in the game). The late entering Axis Major was sniped for a break and went KIA later. Move cards were dear for both sides, with the Brits needing to storm the trenches (they were only able to fall back into the woods on an Advance) and the Axis needing to bring up reinforcements, but being hampered with the loss of their Major. It looked like a successful Axis defense until the Brits regrouped and their fire suppressed the enemy enough to get a leader and squad into a trench. The game ended as the Axis went into Melee with three units and an Ambush, only to find the outnumbered Brits had two ambushes and the Initiative. The Allied Melee roll of 12 was rerolled, resulting in 11. Successful Melee = British win by squad break.

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Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
British Commonwealth: 1/0
Germany: 5/6
Japan 0/2
Russia: 3/4
United States: 3/0
U.S. Marines: 1/0
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Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:11 pm
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#11: Stand and Die - Battle #5 (Scenario #45 - Map #36)

Joe C Faust
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From 2/26/11

Back in the railyard, the Germans pull out all the stops, bringing in their remaining reserves, including two squads of Pioneers armed with satchel charges, flamethrowers, and a highly motivated Captain Vogel (a 2 leader). The Russians were down to mostly militia and stragglers/survivors from previous battles. The Reds built a defensive line they could fall back to using fortification points but most never got there - movement cards on both sides were at a premium. The Germans were able to inch into position on their left and provide fire, but the squads on the right never made it out of their smoke. Vogel and the Pioneers were responsible for the victory, inching ahead on Advances, going into Melee, and laying down withering fire against the Russians. The battle ended with a sniper shot on a broken squad, and the campaign ended with a German victory on the R2 map.
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Won/Loss
Anzac: 1/0
Germany: 5/5
Japan 0/2
Russia: 3/4
United States: 3/0
U.S. Marines: 1/0
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Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:25 pm
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