Takashi Ishida
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Game Title : Central Command

Publisher : SPI games

Game Designer : Charles Kamps Jr.

Game Thema : Hypothetical battle on Holms strait

Game Components
1 game map, 1 counter sheet, rulebook
You must prepare a die for combat resolution.

In late 1980s, anti-American Iranian government suddenly closed the Holms strait. Immediately the United States government reacted to control the important airports and ports on Holms strait. But, the Soviet government thought that this reaction is a good chance for them to invade this important area.

Honestly speaking, because Gorbachev proceeded the Détente in late 1980s, this scenario became out of date soon after publish. Due to this unfortunate, it is very hard to hear the reputation of this game.

The victory is determined by how many important hexes the U.S. occupy at the end of game. There are 7 important hexes, 4 airports and 3 ports.
Though, the game is fought between U.S. and Soviet, there are Iranian units on these important hexes at the start of the game in entrench mode. They are neutral until they are attacked from someone.

The problem of U.S. force
At the start, as above there are only Iranian forces. The U.S. player first airdrops the 82nd Paratroopers into the area. They can drop onto any flat hexes. Their first mission is to control an airport.
After them, 101st Paratroopers can drop onto the airport occupied by U.S. engineer unit.
Then, the 1st Marine units can land onto the port occupied by U.S. units where it has a supply line to the airport controlled by U.S. unit.
So, U.S. player must plot his invasion carefully step by step.


The problem of Soviet force
The biggest problem is that Soviet player can decide to invade this area after U.S. force really invades the area. So, the first motorized rifle divisions can enter the map on 7th turn. The second motorized rifle division can enter even after the first division.
As a result, he can use only Paratroopers at the start of the game.

The unique situation
As described above, there are only Iranian units at the start. Then, only very limited number of Paratroopers from both forces can enter the area in early part of the game.
Due to the nature of Para drops, the game is fought in very different manner from typical land battle such as Eastern front of WW2.
In addition, because the important hexes are concentrated in one quarter of the map, the battle area is also very limited.

Since Paratroopers can drop into even an enemy ZOCs, every player turn each player can make very effective surprise encirclement here and there. So, the play is very very fluid.
But, sooner or later the U.S. player can get an airport and accelerate his speed of reinforcement. After that, the balance of power in the hottest area swings to the U.S. player.
But, this is not an end of the story. As described above, the Soviet player can have his core forces in the middle of the game from edges of the map.
So, in the first part of the game, the U.S. player can have initiative, and then the Soviet player can get it in the middle of the game. I think this is a very good point of this game. Both players can have initiative in the game.
Though the first part is fought in very limited area, the second part is fought all over the map including bridge destruction for delaying action or cutting supply line.

This game has a typical WW3 game system.
Among games of late SPI and Victory games, typical WW3 wargames have similar characteristics.
1: Air forces are much stronger than WW2 wargames.
2: Based on the fact 1, land units looks to be targets of air forces.
3: Though the fact 1 and 2, still land units are the only forces that can capture the important hexes.
4: Most of games have chemical warfare and electronics warfare.
5: Helicopters, new age cavalry play very aggressive role at least in first few turns.

In this game, Su-24, B52, and A10 have awful attacking powers to land units. They can eliminate a lone land unit by 1/3 or 1/2 of the time.
But, if a player would like to directly bomb a land unit with these strong bombers, he must first allocate these units onto the target. Then, the opponent has a chance to intercept these bombers with his fighter units.
Since bombers are vulnerable to fighters, it is not easy to bomb a target land unit, as you would like to.

But, Soviet Air force has an advantage of quantity. Thus, they can use over-load tactics against the U.S. Air force. If they plot enough numbers of bombing, then the U.S. player cannot intercept all of them.
On the other hand, the U.S. Air force has an advantage of quality. Thus, they can successfully intercept the most important hex with their strongest fighter.
I think the air combat rule in this game is quite good. They are playable and exciting. You must think twice or more to allocate your bombers or interceptors.

Conclusion
As described above, this game is very unique in several ways. The situation is really interesting and story telling.
The importance and bargaining of air combat are quite good.
I think the biggest problem of this game was its timing of publish. I think Gorbachev killed this game with his Détente.
If you are searching playable WW3 operation combat games, I strongly recommend this game and Berlin ’85.
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Brian Train
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I really liked this game and played it a lot back in the day. It was designed by Chuck Kamps, who also worked on the series of games that ran in Strategy and Tactics magazine on future conflict in Germany that also never came to pass: Fifth Corps, Hof Gap, BAOR, North German Plain, Donau Front. Kamps also did Nordkapp, which is kind of the same situation as Central Command but up in Norway, and you may find it interesting.

I liked the way the sub-systems meshed with each other, and the decisions players had to make.

Another game on the same subject, but more intricate is 3W's Light Division.

Thanks for the review!
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Takashi Ishida
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Thank you, Brian.

I'm really happy that the game designer of Battle for China liked this game , too.
I played Fifth Corps, North German plain, NordKapp, and Korea '95.
But, I think the best of Kamps' game is this game among the games I've played.
Which one do you like best ?
 
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Brian Train
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I like Central Command best of all. I've played the Central Front series of games but this one moved the fastest and had me involved most in the experience. Nicest looking map of the bunch, too.

Thank you for the compliment on Battle for China!
 
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Takashi Ishida
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ltmurnau wrote:
I like Central Command best of all.


Thank you for your response.

I also found that you've rated Berlin '85. I also like that game.

I hope I can play your game Algeria. But, so far I've never seen that game in Japan.
 
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Brian Train
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Berlin 85 is also one of my favourites, though the Modern Battles system is maybe too mobile for the situation. JOe Miranda has tried to address this with his Manila 45 and Leningrad 41 games, which are all about urban combat but are not overly complex.

Unfortunately I do not have any copies of Algeria to trade.

Brian
 
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Takashi Ishida
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Hi I finally got my copy of Algeria.
 
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Glad to hear it Takashi!
I hope you enjnoy it.

Brian
 
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