About game:

This is a long overdue review. There was always something more urgent to address or other topics to be covered. However, the time has come so let me write about one of my favorite wargames of all times – Combat Commander Europe (CCE) from GMT Games.

Since my first contact with CCE in 2014 I played that game around ~30 times. I usually put to the table Base Game, Paratroopers or Tournament Battle Packs (both are great). My review will be based on those experiences.

Combat Commander: Europe is a card-driven board game covering tactical infantry combat in the European Theater of World War II. One player takes the role of the Axis (Germany) while another player commands the Allies (America or Russia). That corresponds to 3 decks of cards, one per nationality. These two players will take turns playing one or more cards from their hands in order to activate his units on the board for various military functions.

In order to achieve victory players attempt to attack their opponent’s combat units and destroy them or to occupy as many objectives as possible. The degree to which a player succeeds or fails is measured by a scenario’s specific objective chits – that is one of my favorite mechanics, making each scenario unique.

A game of CCE is divided into several Time segments. Each such segment is divided into a variable number of Player Turns, each of which may consist of one or more Fate Card orders conducted by the active player. Events — of course, both good and bad — will occur at random intervals to add a bit of chaos and uncertainty to each player’s plan. Those events are another hallmark of the CCE which I appreciate very much.

Would you stand-up to the task and manage to prevail against your opponent?

Number of players:

This is one of the best 2-player wargames and fits ideally such set-up. There were multiple attempts to create a solo system too, but those were mainly unofficial, fan-made.

Playing time:

Definitely the game is not overly long – first sessions might take you up to 2 hours, but with experience you can finish in 1.5 hour. As mentioned above, the number of Time Segments heavily depends on some variables which might be distributed differently between the sessions.

Complexity:

The game is not overly complex and the scenarios are created in such a way that you are gradually introduced to some mechanics. Fantastic rulebook helps immensely in familiarization with the game and I would evaluate it as medium-complex. That game have a moderate entry barrier but could be really hard to master!

What I like:
  • Rulebook – I thought it might be an overstatement but I think I have to say this – this is by far the best rulebook I had a chance to use. Many times we had some specific question and to our surprise we were always able to find the answer and/or example in the book.
  • Quality components – the units are great and detailed, especially once you clip them (see pictures below!). The map graphics are very aesthetic and what is important – functional. There are really no ambiguities regarding Line of Sight or Terrain Type.
  • Events and Objective Chits – and the resulting battle chaos. Careful here! – not everybody likes it, many players are fans of total control. For me, this is most attractive part of that game – so many times, being on the brink of defeat, event allowed me for a hero placement or some reinforcements. Or to eliminate key enemy stronghold. Just take it with appropriate state of mind and you will be fine 🙂
  • Tremendous replayability – the game simply shines in that aspect. There are 12 scenarios in base game and what is most important – a Random Scenario Generator (RSG). Pay attention here! CCE was created initially as a game without scenarios, only with RSG – so this is not some add-on, more or less tested, but a key element of the game.
  • Hand management – I also like this mechanism, representing in the end your strategy – which cards will you save for later and which you will use immediately. Will you plan for a strong, devastating attack against one point or rather be prepared for any enemy moves during his turn? The choice is yours and possibilities plentiful.
What I do not like or would like to see in the game:
  • There is of course some luck in the game – both in events and objective chits (which I am fine with) but also in dice rolling (cards are used for this). This is to some extent limited by the fact you have plenty rolls in the game and on both sides, but it still exists.
  • The maps durability – there are 6 of them in base game – and they wear out after some time. You need to be careful with them as they are not specially thick.
For whom?

Without hesitation I can say this is a fantastic position for each and every wargamer – a great position for everybody who has his first steps in the hobby already after him. A moderate experience in that type of games is needed – as I mentioned above, rules are not overly complex but mastering them can be hard. 

More about the game:

And now let us have a look at the components – all pictures taken during my plays:

The detailed, picture-rich session reports is what I like. Above Battle of Lanzerath Ridge and valiant defense of US troop during the Battle of the Bulge.
I love hand management aspect – you know what to collect when you expect melee attack!
Events can really introduce a lot of battle confusion – especially when you first softened the opponent
Concentrated attack of elite German platoon inflicts huge losses on US troops
Staggering causalities on both sides

VERDICT:

ocena_4

Combat Commander Europe will be for me always a pinnacle creation of Chad Jensen. I cannot express enough how I like it and appreciate this design – the game is immersive, difficult, beautiful, re-playable, with various options and modes. It actually started a very successful series, with 7 battle packs and two separate large games (Mediterranean and Pacific).

Combat Commander series (click to enlarge)

I can wholeheartedly recommend that title to any player interested in fast-playing and exciting tactical level wargames. You will spend many hours mastering it and with proper approach, would enjoy the twists and turns that game involves. Again, highly recommended!

See you in another game review!