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Subject: Combat Commander Europe Experience rss

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B. de Groot
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So, finally played a second game, almost a year after the first.

We played the first Europe scenario to familiarize ourselves (again) with the rules. The Germans got to deploy near the farm, the more numerous Russians split to enter on two roads in opposite corners. Even though the Russians got reinforced by a HMG and a hero, the Germans managed to hang on and win with 2 (or 4, forgot) VPs.

Tactics: Germans hid in the buildings and woods and shot at everything.
Russians tried to assault, but did so without proper use of cover. That resulted in too many Breaks, Routs and units lost. But at least now we know all the rules!

Some questions/observations:
1- It seems that a better German play in this scenario would have been to move to engage one of the Russian groups to prevent them from joining?
2- At one point a German unit had to rout out of a building, but because the closest woods hex was 'full' it could only move into a crossroads hex, i.e. they routed from an excellent position to cower in the middle of the road. Seems a bit odd, to run from cover to the most exposed position?
3- One Russian unit managed to assault its way right into the middle of the German position, on that same crossroads hex (and yes, it then killed the cowering Germans). There it remained inactive until it was shot to pieces. However, had Time been Triggered, the Russian player could have played Foxholes (was in his hands). I.e. assault the enemy position, then be allowed the time to dig foxholes in the most exposed part there and enjoy the protection it now offers. Would that have been a correct play?
4- That Russian unit triggered another question: it was 1-2 hexes behind the Germans targeted by other Russians, notably some MGs. Yet the unit can't be hit? Same goes for enemy units lined up like that of course.
5- What's the reason that units have such short ranges? (This has probably been asked before, but I couldn't find anything about it.)

Btw, fun game so we'll play again soon. I've also started work on some pastic 15mm figs on 1" bases, and a game board with 3" 'hexes' to see if that looks good (I've got plenty of terrain for this scale to dress up the table).

Cheers.
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Brian Morris
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ForeverGame wrote:

Some questions/observations:
2- At one point a German unit had to rout out of a building, but because the closest woods hex was 'full' it could only move into a crossroads hex, i.e. they routed from an excellent position to cower in the middle of the road. Seems a bit odd, to run from cover to the most exposed position?


The optional rules provide for over stacking in hexes. Basically every guy you have in the hex over the stacking limit deducts 1 point from your defense (Ok, been a few months since I played so I may have the exact usage there wrong). In that case had you used the optional rules which are in C3i issue #21 I think you could have had the guy hide in the woods with his buddies (if I have the image of how this was set up correctly in my mind). Someone's butt though would be hanging out from behind a tree as a result however.

Quote:
3- One Russian unit managed to assault its way right into the middle of the German position, on that same crossroads hex (and yes, it then killed the cowering Germans). There it remained inactive until it was shot to pieces. However, had Time been Triggered, the Russian player could have played Foxholes (was in his hands). I.e. assault the enemy position, then be allowed the time to dig foxholes in the most exposed part there and enjoy the protection it now offers. Would that have been a correct play?


In terms of play the guys aren't digging a fox hole in the middle of the road but discover cover that provides them with the equivalent of being in a fox hole.

I strongly suggest picking up C3i #21 and get the optional rules. Everyone I know plays with those as part of the standard rules.

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-235-c3i-magazine-issue-21.aspx

Glad you enjoy Combat Commander. I was never much of a tactical WWII wargamer but Combat Commander changed that. I've had some incredible games of it. Be sure to try out a randomly generated scenario. The game's random scenario generator system is the best I have ever seen for a game.

Welcome to the wargames forum!
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Bart de Groot
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ForeverGame wrote:
2- At one point a German unit had to rout out of a building, but because the closest woods hex was 'full' it could only move into a crossroads hex, i.e. they routed from an excellent position to cower in the middle of the road. Seems a bit odd, to run from cover to the most exposed position?


People don't always make the best decisions when they panic. Maybe they think running along the road will get them out of there faster?
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Jon Karlsson
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ForeverGame wrote:
5- What's the reason that units have such short ranges?


My guess is "because that's how they were in Squad Leader".
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David Janik-Jones
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ForeverGame wrote:

5- What's the reason that units have such short ranges? (This has probably been asked before, but I couldn't find anything about it.)

Because of the reality of fire combat in WW2. Sure, a British No 4 rifle, which is a 9 pound 44" long "short" rifle (I've fired one), or other infantry rifle can hit something out to roughly 3,000 yards, doesn't mean it's at all effective at that range. 400 yards is more it's effective combat range, and even then, against targets who were even partly trying to take cover, let along dug in, it's even shorter than that. The reality is that weapons don't become effective at killing anything until far closer, and most firing was simply used to keep the opponents heads down until one group of your men got up for a close assault. Find, fix, flank and finish is the key method to killing enemy infantry, not long range rifle fire.

A more critical question is why we keep making tactical games with a simple two-state broken/dead model for a unit, that actually encourages firing at broken units when, in reality, they'd have been hunkered down and much more hard to hit in that state. That's a trope that goes back to Squad Leader.
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Russ Williams
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DaveyJJ wrote:
A more critical question is why we keep making tactical games with a simple two-state broken/dead model for a unit, that actually encourages firing at broken units when, in reality, they'd have been hunkered down and much more hard to hit in that state. That's a trope that goes back to Squad Leader.

At least they are indeed harder to hit in CC, due to higher morale (at least in many cases)!

(It's been too long since I played SL; are broken units not harder to hit in SL?)
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David Janik-Jones
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russ wrote:
DaveyJJ wrote:
A more critical question is why we keep making tactical games with a simple two-state broken/dead model for a unit, that actually encourages firing at broken units when, in reality, they'd have been hunkered down and much more hard to hit in that state. That's a trope that goes back to Squad Leader.

At least they are indeed harder to hit in CC, due to higher morale (at least in many cases)!

(It's been too long since I played SL; are broken units not harder to hit in SL?)

They are harder to hit, yes, but not so much so as to discourage you from firing at them.
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Enrico Viglino
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DaveyJJ wrote:
russ wrote:
DaveyJJ wrote:
A more critical question is why we keep making tactical games with a simple two-state broken/dead model for a unit, that actually encourages firing at broken units when, in reality, they'd have been hunkered down and much more hard to hit in that state. That's a trope that goes back to Squad Leader.

At least they are indeed harder to hit in CC, due to higher morale (at least in many cases)!

(It's been too long since I played SL; are broken units not harder to hit in SL?)

They are harder to hit, yes, but not so much so as to discourage you from firing at them.


The problem here is not that the results are inaccurate, but that
player control is. A sensible 'finish routing shaken units' approach which
works in games doesn't in real life because the guys doing the finishing
are more concerned with saving their lives by suppressing any fire
which is coming at them.

It's the same problem that happens at every scale. If all you do
is model capabilities, and don't include sufficient command and control
simulation as well, you get ahistorical actions.
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B. de Groot
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Thanks, I'll put that magazine on the list and use those rules.

Does it also amend the rule that Leaders cannot activate other (esp. lower) Leaders? After all, an Lt should be able to get his Sgt to move with the rest of the Sgt's squad.

The game seems to use the card deck to do a lot of the command and control simulation.
It's understandable that they've added the limited ranges to account for shorter 'real life' engagement distances, but then still: why these particular numbers? Besides, LoS and grouping already limit the amount of firepower we can put in any hex. On top of that, CC games are really very small engagements, so I'm not sure if those 'real life' distances should be this small. True, the battle might also range outside the board, but that doesn't play a role in the game (e.g. random fire attacks). So why not use the ranges that all those men trained for? It would basically mean that:

O20.1.1 Check Target Range
All units with firearms have unlimited range (can reach any hex on the board), apart from SMGs (Range 4) and melee-only firearms like pistols.

Shooting across the board will never happen with all the LoS restrictions of course. If we then still want to model 'real life' ranges, then instead of using arbitrary but constant numbers, it makes more sense to model that in the same way most other things are modelled in this game: by using the card deck, i.e.:

However, after you announce the target, you draw a card: the dice score it shows is the range of that fire attack. Double the score if using a Weapon. Use only the lower die score if Suppressed or Broken.
You may then use actions that increase FP to increase range instead.

It's a simple method which also allows us to add the three other fire issues I'm missing: the benefit SMGs at short distances, continued shooting at the same location/target (like Op Fire), and shooting through units. I.e.:

i- No draw is needed at Range 1 or 2, unless using a rapid fire unit (SMGs, assault rifles), then: add the lowest die score to its fire power if the target is at Range 2; add the highest die score to its fire power if the target is at Range 1.
ii- No Range draw is needed if the same unit in the same hex is targeting the same hex as during its previous turn, unless that unit has since Moved, or is now Suppressed or Broken.
iii- Any unit behind the target and in range is hit too, but the original FP is halved (rounded up) for every hex distant from the target. A draw is needed in these cases of course, even if the orginal target is at Range 1 or 2.

This method will also stop players cherry picking targets: they're more likely to keep shooting at whatever they've just hit. Plus Weapons will be used more often at longer ranges, as they w/should.

For similar reasons, I'm inclined to do this for Movement:

O21.0 Movement Allowance
After you announce that a unit will move, you draw a card: the highest dice score shown is the number of MPs the unit has for this Move. Add 1 MP if the score is a double.

If all this extra card drawing causes too many extra events, then simply ignore them for these Range and MP draws.

Hey, one more advantage: I now have to remember fewer numbers when using miniatures instead of counters.

Cheers.
 
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Bart de Groot
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ForeverGame wrote:
If all this extra card drawing causes too many extra events, then simply ignore them for these Range and MP draws.


You can't ignore deck depletion 'events'. Drawing cards is not just for events, it also regulates the flow of time which is a very important game mechanic. Drawing more cards means scenarios end sooner.

You say you have played the game twice. No offense, but we've seen many people come onto these forums and propose their own chances to 'fix' this game after playing it once or twice. When they've played it more they realise the rules as they are are rather elegant indeed, and any tinkering on this scale is quite unneccessary. Then there are the official optional rules to implement variations to taste.
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Enrico Viglino
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bdegroot wrote:


You say you have played the game twice. No offense, but we've seen many people come onto these forums and propose their own chances to 'fix' this game after playing it once or twice. When they've played it more they realise the rules as they are are rather elegant indeed, and any tinkering on this scale is quite unneccessary. Then there are the official optional rules to implement variations to taste.



This is a key issue with carefully designed games which hide the
intuitive aspects which were long a part of wargaming. A
person with good historical understanding used to feel comfortable
changing those things which seemed to defy their understanding of
the actual events being modeled. Even someone without could easily
change things to suit their own view. Now though, some games have separated
the player from what the causes of events are that it almost seems like
a different hobby. You just have to trust that the designer has absolute
command of the subject, and makes no errors in creating an accurate
representation; moreover, that their interpretation of the history
matches your own. That's an impossible demand, IMO.
 
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B. de Groot
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Thanks. I do think that you should always be able to get from a rule to whatever it simulates in 1 or perhaps 2 steps of explanatory 'proof'. Like you say, anything more clouds the realism factor: instead of a game that's firmly and demonstratively based in reality, to me it then becomes a (hopefully) fun game packed in a nice theme (like Wings of War is to me).

Thanks, yeah, forgot about "reshuffle = time advance". So this might solve that:

6.1.1.2 Double Marker
Use two Time markers. A Time event moves both up. The actual time is the lowest of the two. An empty-deck-reshuffle moves the lowest one (or, if they occupy the same space, either one).

Tinkering with rules is fun, but you're right: it can (will?) have unexpected consequences (more fun?). Of course tinkering only works if your game partners accept it, so I'm of course happy to play the rules as-is. But these rules do have some question marks for me. The dice scores aren't as random as real dice scores for example. Perhaps the designer used complex calculations to come up with them and only used the two-dice-picture because he wanted a nice way to display the resulting numbers, I don't know and it doesn't matter (if the cards really are supposed to create randomness, then one can argue that despite the other new rules, the rule mentioned above should be ignored). The game mechanics show a similar ambiguity, with random and constant exchanging places all the time. I prefer a game to stick with one method throughout (a nice example of the opposite is Fields of Glory, with three completely different ways to score results).

What I like about CC is that as a player you lack a lot of the control you'd like to have, thanks to those cards. But at the same time, play is smooth and well paced, again thanks to those cards. They decide what you can do (or can't!), how effective you do something and what else happens. Basically the only thing you as a player can (should?) do is point 'your' men in a direction and hope that all their training and your clever plan will pull them through to defeat the enemy.
Now in that picture, using constants for distances just feels off. I mean, if I order my MG to shoot at that unit over there, I have no idea if they'll actually achieve a result. Yet when I order that same MG to haul ass to that house, I AM certain that they'll achieve the result (in both cases barring interference from the enemy of course). Same story with range: they'll be sure to hit the target, it's just that I don't know how hard. Interestingly, the other two constants (fire power and morale) ARE already 'randomized', they both require a 'dice score'. This only increases the ambiguity: some 'constants' actually aren't.

So ideally, you'll either go constant all the way or random. CC to me clearly has the goal of feeling like the second, random type of game. That's why I believe Range and MP should be 'randomized' as well, in line with the other two constants. It will increase the players' feeling of uncertainty and add extra simulated chaos and game stress. On the other hand, it might make the game seem too much out of control and too random, like 6-person RoboRally on a single map tile, who knows (which then might explain why the official rules use these two constants). But I will try it next time anyway and see what happens. After all, I am a Rules Tinkerer.

Cheers.
 
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DaveyJJ wrote:
A more critical question is why we keep making tactical games with a simple two-state broken/dead model for a unit, that actually encourages firing at broken units when, in reality, they'd have been hunkered down and much more hard to hit in that state. That's a trope that goes back to Squad Leader.


Like a PIN +1 marker?
 
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