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Combat Commander: Battle Pack #6 – Sea Lion» Forums » Reviews

Subject: They Came From the Sea... rss

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Francis K. Lalumiere
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Brossard
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Before, during and especially after World War II, many of Hitler’s dreams didn’t come to pass. One of them was a full blown invasion of England, which depended on establishing air superiority over the English Channel—and neutralizing the British navy—in order for landing crafts to safely make their way across.
The famous Battle of Britain was to be the opening salvo of the whole undertaking, but the RAF closed the door on that possibility. And so Operation Sea Lion (or Seelöwe) was never put into motion—until GMT revived it with its new, alternate-history battle pack for the Combat Commander system.

Designed by our very own Andrew Laws (I’m saying this both as a regular BBG use and as a Canuck), this sixth battle pack requires both Combat Commander: Europe and Combat Commander: Mediterranean for full consumption, and there’s just no way around it: all but one of the battles involve both the Germans (from CC: Europe) and one faction from CC: Med. The black sheep, Scenario 93, pits Germans against Americans, and I guess you could use proxies for the two British heavy machine-guns that represent AA defensive fire, but why would you go through all this for just one new scenario?
Just grab the Mediterranean half of the game. You’ll thank me later.


WAR PRODUCTION
There’s not much to see here; in fact, some players may even be somewhat disappointed. After all, we’ve been increasingly spoiled with recent additions to the Combat Commander system. The very first battle pack, Paratroopers, was a bare-bones “here’s a bunch of scenarios & maps” affair. But starting with #2, Stalingrad, each addition to the game arrived bearing gifts—units, and even a new fate deck in the case of The Resistance!
This time around, though, we’re back to basics with 10 scenarios printed on cardstock and 10 new back-printed maps, slipped in the usual cardboard folder. And frankly, that’s all we need.


RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

None of the 10 scenarios in Sea Lion is a bland affair. Each one features a bunch of special rules that gives a lot of personality to the engagement, from randomly placed paratroops and second-level buildings, to POWs that need freeing and Op Fire responses to Fire orders—during a scenario at night. Nothing too complicated, but given that a typical scenario sports four or five special rules, I wouldn’t whip those out with a new player.


FUN FACTOR
Let me come clean: I’m not a fan of alternate history. At all. In any medium—I read Harry Turtledove’s The Guns of the South as a teenager, and that was enough for me. (Entertaining book, by the way.) And least of all in wargames. Before this new battle pack, the only alternate-history wargame I’d played was World at War: Eisenbach Gap, and then only after putting it off for a couple of years. What can I say: when it comes to wargames, I derive as much enjoyment from the history lesson as I do from the gameplay itself. Call me crazy.
Of course, I’ll play anything in the CC series. But I’ll admit that I was doubtful when I first read about Sea Lion. Hypothetical scenarios? Really?
Yes, really. But once you drive over that speed bump, what you’re left with are scenarios that show so much variety, sport so many special (i.e. fun) rules, and pack such massive, unadulterated fun, that it’s easy to forget those fights didn’t really happen. At least it was for me.
Naturally, I don’t read the “situation report” with the same mixture of reverence and scholarly interest that usually bubble up when I crack open a wargame. But that’s the only thing missing from the experience—and what an experience it turns out to be!


PARTING SHOTS
The sixth (and hopefully not last!) Combat Commander battle pack offers a truly wide variety of engagements. The terrain goes from dense urban surroundings to a deserted light-of-sight-party environment, with everything in between. Locales include the Portsmouth docks, London’s very own Trafalgar Square, and even Highclere Castle. (Have you ever dreamed of shooting up Downton Abbey? Now’s your chance.) And many a faction makes an appearance here: Germans and British, of course, but also Americans, French, and even Italians! Unless you insist on playing exclusively the Russians or the Resistance, you’ll find something to sink your teeth into.

So Sea Lion might well be on its way to convincing me to embrace alternate-history wargames.
And coming from me, that’s high praise indeed.
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Russell King
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Hebden Bridge
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I'd love to shoot up Downton Abbey. Where do I sign up?
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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Brossard
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Russell King wrote:
I'd love to shoot up Downton Abbey. Where do I sign up?

I actually like the show, but I understand the feeling.
 
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Richard Irving
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Salinas
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Aren't all wargames based on actual events, alternate history wargames?

After all, making the wrong side lose is the goal of one of the players.
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Marc Guenette
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Laval
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This is one kit I'm really interested just for the map
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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Kwebec wrote:
This is one kit I'm really interested just for the map

The scenarios aren't bad either.
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Andrew Laws
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Vancouver
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"I play to win, as much or more than any egoist who thinks he's going to win by other means. I want to win the match. But I don't give in to tactical reasoning as the only way to win, rather I believe that efficacy is not divorced from beauty."
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Thanks very much for the kind words, though a point of order; I'm actually British, though transplanted to Canada. In fact I used to live in one of the houses on the Holloway Prison map.
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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HarlemMimeSchool wrote:
Thanks very much for the kind words, though a point of order; I'm actually British, though transplanted to Canada. In fact I used to live in one of the houses on the Holloway Prison map.

Too late: you're one of us now... zombie
 
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Paul Tavener
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Waterlooville
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The problem with this scenario is that it is not remotely realistic. Had the Germans been foolish enough to actually attempt operation sea lion it is very likely to have been an unmitigated disaster with most of the force lost in the channel.

Can you imagine the chaos if just one British destroyer had got in amongst the hundreds of Rhine barges with all their tow lines?
 
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John Ray
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Letchworth
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mrslartyb wrote:


Can you imagine the chaos if just one British destroyer had got in amongst the hundreds of Rhine barges with all their tow lines?

From memory, Churchill had stated he was willing to sacrifice the Royal Navy to prevent the invasion so it's likely to have been more than one destroyer!
 
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Dan Huffman
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Arlington
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How many Air Force Leaders have promised that their air strikes would destroy the enemy. Until Operation Desert Shield, those promises have always been empty.

This means that for Operation Sea Lion to have actually been effective, Germany would have had to spend much more on its Navy than it actually did. But if they had, it would have at least been feasible, if unwise. Don't forget that the USSR was not a current threat at the time they were considering the invasion. I could see Hitler offering Stalin Iraq to join against the British, say.

Anyway, we all have to suspend reality for the hour that we play in any case, I argue. :-)
 
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