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Combat Commander: Europe» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Solo Combat Commander: Europe, who would have thought? rss

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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Combat Commander: Europe was designed by Chad Jensen and published by GMT games in 2006. While normally a two player game, I will write mostly about my solo experience. The game plays between 90-180 minutes.

An Abbreviated View

For those who read my reviews (poor souls), you know I usually break things down into a components part, a gameplay part, and end with comments on what I think of the game. I will break from that line for this review, because the game has been rather extensively reviewed to this point. As of today, I count no less than 32 reviews. I almost never write a review on a game with more than, say, three or four other reviews, figuring I don’t have much else to bring to the table you have not already read.

However, in this case I would like to give my impressions on CC:E as a solo game, something that is not so often covered. In fact, I would go so far as to say many players have never even thought about the possibility of playing the game solo. Well, I am here to tell you it is an excellent experience, and I have played the game close to thirty times against myself, and it has been far and away my go-to game when I am looking to play a game on a quiet evening and nobody else is around.

All multiple player games played as solo games require a little schizophrenia. Sometimes, the degree of ‘forgetfulness’ that you need to play becomes too much to manage, and the game cannot really work. I find this problem with block games like Hammer of the Scots, especially when the identity or particular blocks (like Wallace) are so critical to the gameplay.

CC:E requires a bit of forgetfulness but does not hinge on it. Basically, my tenats for playing the game solo are simple: the hidden objective chits form my initial strategy for the side with the chit, and that you take each turn assuming the other troops have a ‘fire’ card available. While this may seem a bit simplistic, in actual fact I have found it to work great.

Assuming they have a fire card will reduce the times you really risk the troops to a select few times. This is especially true when the time marker is running down. Since the game is so fluid, the objective chits, while important, are often a more minor component of the final scoring, and so only a weak adherence on gaining a particular objective or not is often not a game breaker.

The best part of the game solo is watching the events unfold and start to tell the story. I often find myself swept up in the efforts of one side or the other, and start ‘rooting’ for them. On occasion, I maybe have overly favored one side as I get excited about taking that hill, but in a solo game, who cares? In the end, it is for my entertainment, and I don’t need to answer to anyone but myself.

So, as I said, this is pretty short, but would like to encourage those interested in solo gaming but not having yet tried CC:E in this way to give it a whirl. You may find yourself addicted as I am.
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Chick Lewis
United States
Claremont
California
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Very nice post. I like your idea of playing as if the other side ALWAYS has a fire card. That would make all the difference in my Solo games. Thanks for the idea.
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Steve Herron
United States
Johnson City
Tennessee
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A thank you from me too, I have the game and have not played it but give it a try now.
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David Grim
United States
Ukiah
California
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I agree with you. CC:E may not be popular as a solo game, but I think it's great. One thing about CC:E is that it "tells a story" better than any other game I've played, and playing solo you can appreciate it better because you are able to understand all the facets of the story. While perhaps not as thrilling as two-player, it's still a theatrical experience. I don't know if that makes sense...
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beresford dickens
United Kingdom
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I've always played solitaire and have all the games in the series. The 'difficult' bit is 'knowing' how many Ambush cards each side has. It helps to not look at the cards when you refill your hand.
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A.T. Selvaggio
United States
Webster
New York
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I have only played solo and find it tremendously fun. The oft made randomness critique of the game actually works in its favor as a solo experience. I find the frequent hand turnover adds to the solo playability. Give it a try!
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Dirk Gaertner
Germany
Steinhoering
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Great! Thank you for this. I'm enjoying CC Solo now for a couple of months sue to a lack of (good) English speaking wargamer-friends, which are scared they only would understand half of it. But I'll try via Vassal now. In the mean time solo will be my favorite. The idea of assuming the "other player" always has a fire order is very good! thumbsup

cheers,
Dirk
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Matt McCourty
United Kingdom
Altrincham
Cheshire
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Good post.

I got CC:E in trade recently after eyeing it up on shelves for years but never taking the plunge... but after 4 solo games I am totally hooked.

I think I'm quite good playing solo, in that I don't mind running into my own traps.

For example, the German Hero came out, and I decided to head him and a squad into a building objective against some Milita (with terrible range of 2 hexes).

On the way over, the Russians drew a 'hidden wire' card which was perfect for stopping the German charge just as they got into range. I didn't feel bad at all holding it in my hand for a few turns to foul up my own charge - in fact it was ace doing it, to see whether the hero could still succeed.

Great game.

I've even clipped all my counters and bought storage boxes for it, and I never pimp games. blush
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Kenneth Stein
United States
Toledo
Ohio
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Thanks for the encouragement to try this solo. I, too, have it but haven't found the time to learn it well enough to teach it. I can proceed at my own pace and still look forward to a good experience. Glad that you shared.
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Jeff Yeackle
United States
San Luis Obispo
California
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I received the Resistance expansion as a nice x-mas gift from my friend, and I setup a scenario two Sundays ago with the hopes we could play it but as usual my chores & work ate up all the time.

The following Saturday evening, while recovering from being sick, I decided to push a few counters around to try out the new rules and see how things went before I put it all away. Well, I ended up playing until around 3AM (great for recovering!) and picked up where I left off the next morning only to witness what seemed like a trouncing victory for the Germans turn into a very slim one. That's when I realized that even solo CC was pretty darn fun.

I immediately setup another scenario and had at it again, and it was just as fun. I just try and play each side like I normally would against a real human (as opposed to the inflatable ones that taste like chicken), sending out OpFire probes first before real movement, assuming at least one ambush card like normal, etc. While not as much fun as regular F2F play (it's less impressive when I brag to myself about winning), I'll definitely play this way again going forward.
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Tomas Lundin
Sweden
Åtvidaberg
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You sir are completely right! I have greatly enjoyed a dozen solo games of CC:E / CC: Med. Like someone said, there's nothing game-breaking about having some card info etc. You have to play each side as best and honest you can. The best war game I've played period. thumbsup
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Bob Khan
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I've played two games solo and I have no idea why this game has such a low solo rating. I second the always assume there is a fire order suggestion too, it makes things much smoother. I really don't feel that the hidden information in the game gets in the way of play unless you're the type that absolutely has to make the optimal choice with all of the information you have available (which in this case is everything)

If you just sit back and let the story unfold the game practically plays itself. Then again maybe I'm just weird the only other wargame I own that I have played FTF and solo is CoH:ATB and even though that game was designed with 2 players in mind. I always find it more enjoyable solo. For starters it completely cuts out any gamey behavior as I simply wont make moves, or utilize strategies that exploit the system or deviate fantastically from my understanding of the tactics of the period.

Besides CC:E in my limited experience seems to be all about what does this particular side want to do now. You can't really plan ahead to the extent you may be able to in other games, so you don't really run the risk of getting mentally countering yourself into a state of inaction. The state of the game evolves so rapidly and unpredictably that you pretty much can only rely on the moment (and that is probably being generous)
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