The two marks (Mark and Marc), continue their chronological newsreel AAR series thru the sands of time with Combat Commander as the metaphor of their exploration of squad level combat in WWII.
Nippon Proves A Formidable Enemy
Fighting continues apace in the Pacific. Our allies from “down under” seek to drive back the forces of Japan but the Emperor’s troops prove a determined match!
Shootout at Elevala Creek, New Guinea, September 3, 1942
The bonnie Aussie lads are moving against a strong Japanese force. They met across a shallow depression through which flows Elevala Creek. Here is their contact disposition:
A recon of the area showed the Japanese mounted a well-placed battalion gun and medium machine gun. Progress was slow but the jungle wasn’t as thick along the coastline, giving the troops the opportunity to see and fire at the enemy. As the Aussies moved up, the Japanese shifted to the left. There was no fire from the battalion gun but the MMG opened up as they approached the sloped down to the creek. Philips had his men open up and there were soon rounds zipping back and forth. It rattled the men but they held fast until Philips was killed. Meanwhile, on the Aussie left, Foley kept up fire across the creek and then finally led a mad dash down the bank and toward the Japanese foxhole opposite. The Japanese were ready and jumped in, taking out Foley and his men! Orders were coming over the horn but the Aussies couldn’t advance fast enough. Winslow managed to get behind the Japanese lines and take the trailhead but it wasn’t soon enough. A bad day for our allies! Here is the carnage that remained:
We only had time for once scenario today, Scenario M3 from the Combat Commander: Pacific expansion, Combat Commander: Battle Pack #4 – New Guinea. The Australians really needed to grab the objectives that were worth points and kill some of the enemy but we just weren’t fast enough. It was a pretty ineffectual back and forth for awhile but all that did was give the Japanese time to rack up VPs from Time Triggers. Getting a bit desperate, I went for the melee which is not so wise with the Japanese. If I had a couple more turns, I might have been able to kill some more off. It was pretty sweet watching Winslow dash around the rear and grab objective 3 (a ten point total swing) though to no ultimate avail. The reason the battalion gun never got off a shot was because a one hex jungle was a hindrance instead of blocking LOS (scenario special rule) and so I could see it to drop two Asset Denied orders right away. That was a small triumph in an otherwise difficult battle ending in a loss.
This is part of our Combat Commander Series play through of all the scenarios in chronological order. Current standings: Allies-Axis, 8-11.
Not too much overhead here, just 8 pages of light extras for period feel, specifics of the campaign and bits like that.
For instance, fortress hexes have a inherent AR rating (I keep calling them Efficiency ratings..duh) and combat strength, The evacuation of the BEF may happen at some point, so we have special Spitfire Patrol zones, and ferries.
Paras make their mark as do special forces actions for the Axis! Very cool. I put this together to help me track reinforcements, surrender of the Dutch, and Special Ops usage and the Pause Surge impact, along with the usual Supply, and turn records so I dont meander off into the sunset and forget who is doing what.
The Gamers crew have delivered another gem for MMP. Stunning counters, excellent maps, interesting chrome for the campaigns. Let is see what happens when the vaunted OCS system goes West!
I hope you subscribe and follow along.
From the whimsically named blog “I Think We’ve Been Playing it Wrong”, love that Douglas Sun writes a little more about the popularity of the Sub game Silent War. I was not aware that this was the THIRD printing!
Compass Games’ Silent War Still Running Silent and Deep
posted Sep 20, 2012 12:18 AM by Douglas Sun
Through the miracle of electronic mail, I am informed by Compass Games that they are reprinting their strategic-level WWII Pacific submarine service game, Silent War. Pre-order copies are set to ship next month. It sounds rather like a whole new edition of the game inasmuch as the rules set this time around will incorporate the new rules that were published with IJN, the modest expansion that was published in December 2010. But a whole new print run is a whole new print run no matter how you spin it, and if you commission one it means that you see ongoing demand for your game.
IIRC, that makes three print runs for Silent War, including its initial publication in 2005. That’s a pretty impressive record for an historical wargame, given that our hobby is a niche within a niche, and it shows that the movers behind Compass Games chose their first product wisely.
I don’t especially consider myself an expert on Silent War, but I have played through the big campaign scenario three times (once with the IJN rules) and over the last few years I’ve blogged about more than any other single game. I still think that the IJN rules changes tend to unbalance the game in the player’s favor. But I remain a fan, and I can see myself playing through the entire war again, even setting aside a stack of untouched games to do so (heck, I still haven’t even started in on its European theater sequel, Steel Wolves).
I suspect that the secret to Silent War‘s enduring popularity is its mix of abstraction and complexity. It’s not a simple game, but it’s complicated in the right way — in terms of offering you a lot of subtle and interesting decision points, not in terms of convoluted conditions under which you have to make those decisions (i.e., lots and lots of rules). The rules mechanics are relatively elegant, and they convey flavor without laying it on thick. In that sense, I would compare Silent War to two other historical wargames that have been reprinted due to continuing demand, GMT’sTwilight Struggle and Combat Commander.
I would go on to suggest that those three games, taken together, offer something of a model for how to make a successful wargame for today’s market. It’s not about monster games that have a lot of flavor, but take ages to set up and play (as well as learn). But it’s not necessarily about games that are simple to learn and quick to play, either. Simple, introductory-level games have their place in the historical wargaming ecosystem, but I’m beginning to think that simplicity actually mitigates against popularity. What wargamers want most is a deep sense of engagement with the game, but without the bother of digesting a heavy, dense rules set.