Friday 26 May 2023

Combat Infantry or Block Based WW2

From Columbia Games - the first game in the series covering the Western Front 1944/45 at battalion level. There is a further volume covering the Eastern Front. Nothing for the desert or the Far East as yet though.

The back of the box featuring a selection of the units included.

At last I finally managed to lay my hands on a set of the above - as new, still in the shrink wrap and less than half the retail price! 

Combat Infantry is Columbia Games entry into the tactical WW2 board game arena and features battalion level formations plus support assets for the Germans and Americans. There is also an Eastern front version and presumably other theatres and nationalities - including the British - will feature in due course. 

The units include Company and Platoon HQs, rifle squads, company level machine guns, mortars, anti tank rockets (bazookas and panzerschreks), battalion level engineer, snipers, tanks, anti tank guns and both artillery and air support. In short, all the usual bits and pieces one would expect for a battalion level tactical game. There are also man made defences and some twenty terrain types to fight over. There are also two geomorphic map boards to fight over but no terrain tiles or overlays in the style of Memoir 44 for the former or Advanced Squad Leader the latter.

The ‘coastal’ map and….

….one for inland.

In common with other Columbia Games games the units are represented by blocks which serve to add to the fog of war as they are intended to be deployed with their backs to the enemy until activated by either a platoon or company HQ. The blocks are rotated to show the strength of the unit at the top of the block and different units have different strength points. For example, a US rifle squad has a strength of 4 whilst it German counterpart has 3 - the difference being a reflection of the diluted manpower situation facing them in the late war period. 

A US rifle squad - assumed to be 12 men strong as opposed to 9 for the Germans. Initially I thought the blocks would be a little on the fussy side in terms of the amount of information on them but they are quite clear compared to those of Advanced Squad Leader in my opinion!

Combat uses a D10 rather than a D6 and units typically have a firepower rating which determines how many they roll - this is the ‘F’ number on the counter, along with a myriad other numbers and symbols.

Units have to be activated by the appropriate command level in order to do anything so the tactical implications of what to do and when are clearly catered for. 

There are half a dozen scenarios included in the game which is quite modest and given that there are only a couple of maps one could be forgiven that the repeatability would be quite modest but I reckon when one factors in using other maps - for example those from Axis and Allies, the miniatures game - there is certainly a lot of mileage from this set. I have already thought about figures - perhaps 6mm or even 3mm - so I am really pleased to have acquired this. 

I will certainly look to get the Eastern Front version in due course as between the two sets my tactical WW2 grid based gaming will have a firm foundation to take forwards.

I should also mention that the rules including examples of play are a mere 12 pages long and there are some suggested solo rules. Interestingly enough there is also a few side bar comments outlining what the game does not include and why - always useful to know the thought processes behind a game design.

That is now three Columbia Games I need to spend some time labelling the blocks for!


Glory to Ruritania said...

Nice looking game, the maps are good and rules seem not overwhelming like some rulesets. Best wishes- Quinn

Chris said...

You got me interested! I've been playing around a little with Avalon Hill's PanzerBlitz and PanzerLeader rules for microarmor. I hope you post an AAR to show us how it plays out.


David Crook said...

Hi Quinn,

It is an attractive game and with a low unit count. The rules are pretty straightforward and as overwhelming as Advanced Squad leader or even ordinary Squad Leader. I am a huge fan of Columbia Games in general for that very reason - their games are clearly thought out and with ‘lean’ rules. I have a couple of sets of the Axis and Allies miniatures maps that would also be ideal for this system and using models would be an easy adaptation to make.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Chris,

I played both the Panzer games back in the day and had heaps of fun with them. Using models would be easy enough and would look great! I need to label the blocks first and I would certainly give it a spin and write an AAR as well.

All the best,


Aly Morrison said...

Very nice David…
Right up you’re street indeed…
You could have a lot of fun adding miniatures on nice chunky blocks…

All the best. Aly