Sunday 13 February 2022

Combat Commander: Europe

 The contents of the box. The game comes with 12 scenarios but I am reliably informed that there is the facility for generating your own and with plenty of terrain options and troop types to choose from the potential replay value is huge. The base game covers German, American and Russian forces with others being available in the expansions out standalone games - Mediterranean and the Pacific. I am very excited about this and am looking forward to when my copy arrives (mercifully with the counters punched out!)

I have been a fan of low level tactical boardgames for many years although to be completely honest have only played a few. Memoir ‘44 and the various expansions most recently although I have also dabbled with Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal (good, but rather limited in scope), Heroes of Normandie (again good, but something about just did not feel right) and even a quickly aborted attempt at the rabbit hole that is Advanced Squad Leader. Back in the day I really enjoyed Squad Leader before it morphed into the advanced version although even then I felt that it had reached its complexity peak with the release of Cross of Iron - the first expansion that covered the Russian Front. The two following expansions, Crescendo of Doom and G.I. Anvil of Victory were obviously useful for the additional nations but made the system increasingly complex and unwieldy. I can remember also having lots of fun with the classic PanzerBlitz and PanzerLeader by Avalon Hill and not to be left the SPI game Panzer ‘44 was gamed pretty extensively.

Of the current crop of tactical WW2 games around the one that has really caught my eye is the Combat Commander series. The entry point is the game you see above which I have been fortunate enough to snag a copy of. 

I have been following with interest Paul Liddle’s excellent blog Pauls Other Wargames in which he has played through a number games of Combat Commander (including the Resistance expansion which I would love to get!) and this has been both helpful and inspirational. Many thanks Paul for helping me with my decision - having said that my wallet may not be of the same opinion!

As a rule I am usually wary of card driven game mechanics - only because I am of the opinion that these need to be rather more detailed than some of the early Command and Colours types. For most of the Richard Borg’s games these days the use of two decks seems to be the way forward - Ancients, Napoleonics, AWI, the ‘45 and Samurai Battles, not to mention the various expansions for Memoir ‘44 - as these enable a ‘closer’ degree of involvement. I have to say that I much prefer this additional layer of complexity as it gives one the impression of a greater degree of control even if the cards still are not alighting as one would like!

Hand management in Combat Commander is key and each nationality has their own deck which builds in a degree of national flavour/doctrine. Note that I deliberately refrained from using the word characteristics….

I have never had a problem playing a card based system solo and indeed, Paul has done this very successfully during the games on his blog. The table footprint appears quite compact so will suit the man cave well. Paul uses a sheet of Perspex to keep the maps flat which is something I may well do although having the maps laminated (which I have done before) may be an option albeit perhaps not as convenient for storage etc.

My decision to acquire this game was basically driven by wanting to have a low level tactical game with sufficient ‘meat’ in terms of complexity that sat between Memoir ‘44 at the lower end and Advanced Squad Leader at the top. Only time and playing the game will tell if my decision was the right one.

Once again many thanks to Paul for his excellent battle reports and help.


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


In interesting purchase. It’s not a game that I’ve played, but it sounds as if you will find lots of fun from it.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

At first glance it kind looks like the lovechild of a union between Memoir ‘44 and the original Squad Leader. It has plenty of low level detail to mull over and so will fill a particular niche in my gaming. Of course, there are also a whole heap of expansions of varying complexity and ease of acquisition. I have my eye on a couple but will get my hand in with the base set first.

The same applies to Wing Leader: Victories.

All the best,


Steve J. said...

Not something I've heard of before but sounds interesting and certainly look forward to forthcoming AAR's:).

David Crook said...

Hi Steve J,

This represents a further step along the path to addressing my board game shortfall! I hope to get some AARs on the blog and Frey are as good as Pauls I will be happy. Whilst waiting for my copy to arrive I am wondering how easy it would be to use the Comabat Commander system with Squad Leader scenarios.

Something to think about anyways.

All the best,


Graham C said...

I shall watch your journey with this game with interest, like you I’m after a low level WWII game and I was an avid squad leader gamer, but eventually my brain could cope no more with its complexity. Good luck and enjoy

David Crook said...

Hello there Graham C,

I must confess that I started to lose interstellar in Squad Leader with the last two expansions - Crescendo of Doom and GI: Anvil of Victory. Cross of Iron took the game to the level of details and complexity I wanted. Combat Commander appears to be a good alternative in terms of detail with the bonus of a more detailed card mechanic than Memoir ‘44. For sure it looks like a detailed game but not so much a brain jarring experience as Advanced Squad Leader.

Time will tell and I strongly recommend taking a look at the games on Paul’s blog for more insight.

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Totally agree with your views on ASL
They took SL and broke it
Combat Commander looks interesting though
I have a P500 on a reprint of The Last 100 Yards
But gawd only knows if I will ever see that

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

For me Squad Leader peaked with Cross of Iron in terms of the system and try as I might I have never been able to get enthusiastic about ASL despite hearing many good things from devoted acolytes of the genre.

I hope that Combat Commander scratches a particular itch.

All the best,