Saturday, December 3, 2011

Resisting Combat Commander

After a long period of time when we were playing long games that weren't really conducive to blogging, we've decided to get back to shorter stuff and resuscitating the blog. There's been a lot of OCS played this year, in fact we've played pretty much nothing else for most of this year, most recently play testing a new, smaller OCS game on Operation Exporter. That's been an interesting experience, one I'm prepared to take on again, and I hope that our input was useful.

With a plethora of choices available, Eric wanted to try the latest release in the long (and getting longer) list of titles in the Combat Commander franchise, CC: Resistance (BGG entry), from GMT. Previous readers of this blog will already know that this is a game that I have a love/hate relationship with. I kinda love it, I think it comes closest of all the tactical games I've played in portraying the chaos of combat, but it just hates me back. Outrageous things happen in a lot of the games, and I'm (mostly) on the receiving end. In fact Chuck has now referred to it as 'Mike's ugly girlfriend' game (in homage to 'Chuck's ugly girlfriend', a reference to Twilight Struggle), and he refuses to play it with me any more, on the grounds that just too much outrageous wackiness happens, and it's no fun to play. And yet I keep coming back to it.

So, what's new in this incarnation?

  • Partians have their own deck, which has only 36 cards, rather than 72, so time triggers happen quickly
  • When discarding, the Partisan player has to discard his entire hand
  • Partisan leaders don't have a leadership range, but can command all units within LoS
  • Partisan units can grow a step in size with Muster orders - from a 2-man Crew to a 6-man Gang; however, the Fire strength + Movement Points always total 7, so as it gets larger, with more Fire strength, it gets less mobile
  • Reinforcements appear by use of the Infiltrate order, which costs 0-3 VPs to play, and are placed on the Time Track rather than directly on the map; so the partisan player doesn't know when they will appear
  • Reinforcements are decided by a draw from the Force Deck, which gives two options on the reinforcements; so the partisan player doesn't know what will appear
  • Reinforcements appear at a Sighting marker, and each time a Random Hex draw is made, a Sighting marker must be moved to, or adjacent to, the random hex; so the partisan player doesn't know where they will appear
  • When a Partisan unit is eliminated by a second break, a card is drawn from the Force Deck; if the unit symbol at the bottom of the card is a smaller force than unit on the map, the unit on the map is replaced, still broken, by the smaller unit, and no VP is lost; if not, it is removed to the VP track, for the loss of 1VP, regardless of the unit
As might be expected from GMT, production is good. Maps, counters, rule book, all look very professionally done, and up to the expected standard. The one omission, that I found to be annoying, is that there is no summary card included for the new Partisan deck, so you have to memorize the distribution of the cards - Orders, Actions.

What must also be mentioned is that CC:R continues the CC tradition of having the tightest set of rules of any game I have played. I have yet to encounter any game situation or question that isn't clearly covered in the ruleset. Given some of the rules abominations we've had the privilege to encounter (yes, Prussia's Defiant Stand, I'm looking at you), this is little short of remarkable.

In our game Eric had chosen scenario #72, and I was randomly assigned the Resistance. I'd only had the chance to briefly flick over the rules, and that bit me in the first card draw, as I discarded my hand of 2 Recover cards, a Command Confusion, and an Infiltrate-0. I drew an Infiltrate-2 card, then decided to check on the rule retail, to find that the card I'd just discarded would have given me reinforcements for a 0VP cost. Oops.

There were a lot of pot shots in the early game, to no effect, and it took half way through my deck before I found a Move order, having previously found a single Advance order, so I was very slow to get moving towards the VP objectives. In the meantime, Eric had been moving forward, and had occupied 2 of the 3 objectives. With his lead units.

I eventually managed to grind him down, timed a couple of reinforcements (playing an Infiltrate order with only a few cards left in my draw pile, so I knew when/where they would appear), and at the high point I had control of all 5 objectives on the map, due to Infiltrating into his back field, with 11VPs in my favor. Then, as might be expected, it all went south.

I missed the draw for ending the game in turn 7 (requiring a 6 or less, I didn't think it was worth the Initiative card), and then we traded rolls at the end of turn 8 as the Initiative card went back and forth several times before Eric drew two cards higher than 7 in a row. Drat. From there he used his big group to take back one objective, killed a few units in Melee, and then managed to rout a unit off the map. (It had missed 4-5 Recover attempts, needing 6-7, and drew 9, 9, and 11 in his Rout attempts. Pfft.

With hands full of Command confusion, Artillery Denied, and Infiltrate cards, I couldn't find a way to get the single VP required, and the game ended at the end of turn 9 on the first draw.

Other points of note: I managed to get 3 '10' strength Fire attacks in the game, and rolled 4, 4, and 5; I used both Molotovs, 12 strength attacks, and they both failed; Eric got a reinforcement, choosing the IG, which then fired at range 4, drawing snake-eys to miss, jam, and then was removed on a subsequent Random Hex roll.

That's probably the closest CC game I've had, I think. Whilst it's easy to view the failure to Recover that unit, and the Rout draws, as the game loser, failing to recognize that the Partisan units don't want to go toe-to-toe with the German units was the real game-losing mistake. I should have been pulling back away from him, in order to not give him the Melee attempt. Ho hum, lesson learned.

We missed the rule that the Partisans only spend 1 MP per hex, which would have helped me a fair bit, and that eliminated Partisan units are removed from the game, not that it had any impact. And I didn't grok the Partisan Leader LoS command rule for some reason. It's pretty clear in the rulebook, I just couldn't get it into my thick head. So I wasn't making the best possible use of my Move/Advance cards.

Overall, an excellent expansion. With the Force Deck and Infiltrate mechanism, the Partisan player doesn't know what he's going to have to play with, and that seems realistic.

So, if you like CC, you'll totally groove on this latest addition to the family.


Eric said...

BTW, I found the card manifest. It's inside the back cover of the Resistance! rulebook. Not the same place as every other one, but they were already at 55 cards, so they likely didn't have room to fit it on the typical sheet.

That said, this manifest has something the others don't: a count of all the triggers in the game.

Myk said...

Ah, hadn't noticed it there. And a count of the Triggers is, indeed, useful.

Dug said...

Apparently you both found those missing... Aw, screw it.