Some time ago, I mentioned having bought Blitzkrieg Commander, one of a new crop of WWII wargame rules (the remarkable recent explosion of rulesets in this period will probably form the subject of another post). I have now read (most of) them and will share some of my thoughts, unencumbered by any actual experience in playing any games with the rules (so a pinch or other handily sized portion of salt might be in order).
First off, it seems that the rules are based, at least in some limited way, on the Warmaster rules, which are considered by many to be the most ‘developed’ wargames rules from Games Workshop. I have not read or played these rules, so I cannot comment on this. If someone is reading this that by any chance has played both rule systems, feel free to comment as to their similarity (or lack thereof, as the case may be).
Blitzkrieg Commander has an interesting command & control system: each army has a number of commanders of varying capacity (expressed as a number between 1 and 12, not coincidentally the range one can roll on 2D6). To enable units under command of that commander to do something, the commander needs to roll equal to or lower than his command score. If unsuccessful, that commander is done for that turn. If the command roll is successful, the units execute their action (moving, firing, whatever) and the commander can continue to issue orders, with a -1 modifier to the command roll per extra successful order.
This last thing is what makes the command & control system so interesting: you can continue to issue orders with a commander, as long as you keep succeeding the ever more difficult command rolls. With a decent commander, this means that you can probably get in multiple orders, but you’re not sure. This means that players should prioritise their actions and do the most important ones first, which I think is quite realistic (not that I have any relevant real life experience). From experience with other systems like this, I find that this gives a tense and exciting game, which can only be applauded.
The combat system of Blitzkrieg commander is unified across different types of combat: whether close combat, direct or indirect fire is executed, the same system of resolving the combats is used. This is good. What is worse, is that the system that is used seems a little top heavy.
To hit someone, you roll a number of D6 equal to the attack value of the firer, where the ones above a certain target number — depending on cover and with a very small number of modifiers — are hits. The target then rolls saving throws for these hits (mostly only armoured targets have saving throws). The hits that are not saved are then actual hits, which need to be recorded or indicated near the target (by means of chits or a small die or such). Each unit has a number of hit points, and if it has received that many hits, it is wiped out. If a shot does not wipe out a unit, it can suppres or recoil that unit. That is determined by rolling a number of D6 equal to the number of hits scored and trying to roll the to hit number again. Any ‘hits’ result in suppression or recoil if the target was already suppressed. If rolling for a recoil, the total number of pips rolled is the distance the target unit will recoil.
As you can see, that’s lots of dice rolling. I do not have a problem with buckets of dice style games (I like WAB for example), but this system adds some complications on top of that. While in WAB, you just roll to hit, reroll the hits to wound, and reroll those to save. In this system, the basic flow is similar, but there are added complications when suppressing and especially when recoiling, which I suspect will slow down combat resolution a bit. Add to this the need for bookkeeping and I think the system might be a bit top heavy. That said, I have not played any games with the rules yet, so I might well be wrong.
That’s about it for this mini-review. I think I will have to play a game with the rules to get a better feel for them, and to see whether the cringing feeling I get when looking at the combat system is correct or not. Exciting, is it not?