In our quest of late for a suitable set of rules for 15mm WWII (although the size of the figures is actually irrelevant), last night we tried out Blitzkrieg Commander. In the past few weeks we have tried Field of Battle by Piquet, I Ain't Been Shot Mum! by Too Fat Lardies, and Rapid Fire. My first impression of Blitzkrieg Commander was when Vidal handed me a well-presented glossy rule book. This always catches my attention. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm attracted in this hobby to nice shiny things (this would partially explain my latest jump into the Perry 28mm Carlist figures). I've bought and played many rule sets that are quite good but whose production, writing, or editing values are, frankly, sub-standard. While, as I said, they may have provided good games, there is something to be said for glossy rule books with professional photography and graphics. The Warhammer historical sets come immediately to mind. I remember buying the ECW set just for the pictures! Of course, having said this, I have also bought many a glossy set and been sorely disappointed in the content. OK, so back to Blitzkrieg Commander. The good news is that it seems to be a good combination of professional production values and solid rule writing. When I say solid rule writing I don't mean necessarily that I like them (although in this case they are like-able). I mean that they're clearly written, with clear examples and logical and obvious organization. How many times have I read a set of rules that is quite good in terms of mechanics or philosophy but is quite un-readable because of stylistic problems or lack of any attempt to organize? Far too many. I've gotten to the point now that if I find myself reading such a set of rules I will not bother to continue, regardless of the quality of the ideas. This applies also to books. I just don't have the time or patience anymore to sift through someone else's laziness or lack of ability to see that others may be trying to sift through the muddled ideas of the author. But, I digress....back to Blitzkrieg Commander. Without splitting hairs, these rules are firmly grounded (and are surely based upon) Warmaster from Games Workshop. This is actually a good thing since, although I have limited experience with Warmaster, they are a decent set of rules. Now I should point out that I have no intention of giving a detailed critique of Blitzkrieg Commander. That would be far too pedantic for my taste (even more so than this blog!). What I can do, however, is give my overall impression of the rules. In a nutshell, it gives a good feel for WWII command in combat (at least as I perceive it to have been) and an easy narrative could be written. My only issue after playing only one game, is the I-GO-U-GO method of playing. I've been playing Piquet systems for so long now (and lately interested in Too Fat Lardies' systems) that going back to I-GO-U-GO is, well....uninspiring. The bottom line is that predictability in wargaming is so old school! That's not to say that I can't or won't enjoy I-GO-U-GO systems. Quite the opposite, in fact! It's just that if you present me with a choice, I will always go for the Piquet-style system.
As for the game last night, we weren't able to finish it because of time constraints. This is definitely not a reflection on the rules. I think they play quite quickly once you can get a handle on the command and order system (which really is the heart of it all). We were learning the rules and thus the game slowed down considerably. I commanded an American force in the Ardennes 1944, trying to stop a determined German push to take the river crossing that I defended. You can see some (rather inadequate) photos below. I forgot my good camera and was stuck taking shots with my Crackberry camera. The terrain, figures, vehicles, and venue (and beer!) were supplied by Vidal.
Shane, the German commander, in deep thought before the game even begins! And Vidal, the game master, obviously amused by both commanders' seeming lack of understanding.
Some shots of the battlefield before the game started. The town in the left of the left picture and the right of the right picture is where the bulk of the US force started. The German objective was to capture the bridge while the Americans were to keep that from happening. The Germans started from the opposite end of the table, moving along the road axis. The river was un-crossable, except at the bridge.
The German attack developing.
The spearhead of the German attack clashing with the US outposts.