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I was idly scanning an article about wargame scales the other day and it surprised me by mentioning four, rather than the traditional three, scale brackets. The additional category was between tactical and operational and they called it "command tactical". The definition is naturally vague but they put it at one counter representing a platoon or company rather than a squad or individual vehicle.
I don't have any interest in debating whether or not this is a valid scale: what piqued my interest is that this is roughly the level which I find most engaging in a game. It allows you to model real historical battles but still have a degree of "personality" and short-term tactical decision making. The Standard Combat Series would seem to be a fine example of this game scale in action.
So the thing is that because this isn't one of the "traditional" scales used when categorising games it's actually quite hard to find and pin down other games that belong here. I'm especially interested in ones that don't have massive counter density like most of the SCS games too and which, as a result, can be played to completion in an evening.
What are the best games fit this scale and those criteria?
Tactical Combat Series, however most of them are probably too long to play in an evening, even with a low counter density. I think Semper Fi! is probably your best bet for that. Anyway, most infantry units are platoons or sections, so it's at the scale you discuss. It's most defining characteristic is its command system, which puts an interesting division between how you can respond in the short-term and what you would like to do, if it weren't for those pesky orders. (edit: I shouldn't speak like part of the TCS old guard here; I'm actually in the process of playing my first solo learning game of TCS via Leros).
- Last edited Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:58 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:38 am
TCS, Tactical Combat Series
This is the last installment:
In this youtube, one of a TCS series introduction, is one of the main reasons why its the best "Command Tactical":
The games from Grand Tactical Series fit and have a few scenarios that can be finished in an evening. Most scenarios are a bit longer, though.
Operation Dauntless: The Battles for Fontenay and Rauray, France, June 1944 is my current favorite.
It is company/platoon level and there are quite a few smaller scenarios that could be completed in a single evening.
The whole Panzer Grenadier series is at this scale.
LnLP's Nations at War series
LnLP's World at War series
Most SCS games are not at this platoon or company level scale, and the ones that are (Bastogne) don't really seem to capture the flavor. That is, they are just operational games with company units.
In addition to those mentioned, there is Streets of Stalingrad and the Tank Leader series.
also Game Developer
1970 Plymouth Valiant Duster 340
Nuklear Winter '68 from LnLP is also at Command Tactical scale. From the BGG game description:
"Units represent platoons of vehicles like T64 or King Tiger tanks, infantry, or helicopters. The platoons are grouped into formations and lead by a commander. The formations are activated by chit draw, and better-trained, better-led units can activate more than once in a turn, moving, shooting, and fighting in each activation. On the flip side of a coin, there is no guarantee that a formation will activate even once."
- Last edited Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:15 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:14 pm
"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
What I find fascinating about this thread is that--when I was getting into wargaming in the early 1970s--there really was little qualification because there were so few games on this (or any scale) for WW II and modern ground combat. So they were simply called "tactical games."
At that time, PanzerBlitz was all the rage and it seemed so new, so fresh. It instantly spawned a host of imitators, such as Red Star / White Star, Kampfpanzer, Panzer '44, and MechWar '77. I also remember the excitement around the release of Panzer Leader. We played the heck out of all these games at my high school's Strategic Games Club.
So I still think of these games as "tactical" games, without qualifiers. If I am forced to discriminate this genre from the "skirmish" level (man-to-man) or "squad-level" games, I simply say "company level" or "platoon level," depending. PanzerBlitz had both companies (for the Soviets) and platoons. Red Star / White Star had platoons and companies (and even battalion pieces for the Soviets!).
While there have been many platoon and company-level titles since then, it seems the proliferation (dare I say explosion?) of squad-level titles has dominated the tactical ground warfare game genre to the point where some feel we need such qualifiers.
My own favorites are these:
Modern hypothetical (WW 3 in Europe):
Assault Series for serious simulation, runner up is Main Battle Area
World at War Series for smash-mouth fun
MechWar 2: Suez to Golan for serious simulation; runner up is October War
The Arab-Israeli Wars for fun
Search & Destroy
World War Two: covered by other posters so I won't go there.
Others to consider because they aren't as glamorous (or appealing, at least to me!):
The Sands of War and The Sands of War Expansion Kit and related titles in this GDW genre
Tank on Tank -- are these pieces platoons? Companies? Who knows? More smashmouth action. Followed up with Tank on Tank: East Front and Tank on Tank: West Front. Whatever. Plays super quick.
Sticks and Stones -- Platoon-level post-nuclear WW-3. I confess, I play it and others in this series. Also plays super fast.
I don't think, however, the term "Command Tactical" really discriminates between company/platoon level titles and those dealing with squads, sections, and man-to-man combat. "Command" happens at all these levels. In games where pieces represent platoons and companies, the player is typically role-playing as battalion commander and/or regimental/brigade commander. For some series, we find ourselves even playing as the Division and even Corps commanders! (Highway to the Reich (first and second editions)/Highway to the Reich (third edition)/Tactical Combat Series/Grand Tactical Series. In squad level games, players typically are company to battalion-level commanders, although some of those beloved Historical ASL modules can make the players command at the regimental/brigade level, although given the time scale one wonders if this is really the focus of the simulation. Skirmish-level games are commonly representing squad leader issues, but there are those larger situations where the player is a platoon leader/commander. Why can't that be "command tactical?"
Maybe the term will catch on--who knows. But it's not terribly descriptive.
- Last edited Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:49 am (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:52 pm