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Old Contemptibles20 Oct 2018 2:00 a.m. PST

I played CD2 a long time ago. Looking to get back into it. I have read that Test of Battle uses points. I was wanting to get away from points and just do historical scenarios. Our local group plays BA. I don't want to be bothered as to whether or not I want a 1st Lt or a 2nd Lt. etc and I am not interested in tournament paly.

I thought the original CD was a company or battalion level set of rules. But now it looks like a single based skirmish game. So what exactly is Test of Battle? What are the scenarios like?

Martin Rapier20 Oct 2018 5:13 a.m. PST

It is just Command Decision version 4, still platoon sized elements, still fine for battalion-brigade sized actions and the historical scenarios are fine too.

The biggest change from CD2 is deterministic spotting and and saving throws based on quality.

But yes, it also has a scenario generation system which uses points, which you can use it you want. Or not if you don't.

There are a bunch of western and eastern front historical scenarios included with the rules.

Walking Sailor20 Oct 2018 7:11 a.m. PST

As you recall, in our last episode (CD 1-3), a single stand (one platoon) could step (depending on it's quality) from Green, to Yellow, to Red, to Gone. In CD:TOB (aka CD v.4, note subtle reference to FOW v.4) that single stand/platoon goes from here to gone in a single die roll. Gone is the suspense of can this stand hang on for one – more – turn. That stand now is gone before you can react to the hole in your line. Where before your focus was how long a single stand could survive, now it is how long it's company can last. Essentially you go from counting steps per platoon to counting steps per company. It is a refocus of command level attention.

The other change that required relearning was the To-Hit mechanic going from long lines of Ph-Pen to range bands S-M-L-X. But as you learn the 7-5-3-1, your speed picks up.

Over all the changes make the game(s) less granular (repeat above subtle reference to v.4).

lkmjbc320 Oct 2018 7:26 a.m. PST

You've gotten some bad information. CD4-test of battle is the same scale as it always has been. The attack/casualty system has been improved and simplified. If you liked the earlier versions, you probably will like this one.

Joe Collins

wargamingUSA20 Oct 2018 8:56 a.m. PST

@Joe Collins… not certain everyone agrees CD4 is "improved and simplified" or about "you will probably like this one".

CD4 is really quite different than CD1-3 and I've talked with quite a few folks who have gone back to playing CD2 or CD3.

Not making a judgments about CD4, just putting out some ground truth concerning its acceptance.

Trierarch21 Oct 2018 1:48 a.m. PST

CD:ToB (aka CD4) has changed one thing – the time scale is now half hour turns vice 15 minute in the earlier versions. Otherwise, as said above the scale is basically the same (50 yards per inch, 1 stand per platoon).

This does make the "saving throw" approach a bit more believable than the "step-loss" approach (I think).

Is it "improved and simplified", it is definitely simplified in some areas (spotting notably). Is it improved? That is a matter of opinion, originally I was unconvinced (and I would be happy to play CD3), but after giving CD4 a try I'd be as happy to play that.

"But now it looks like a single based skirmish game" – is this a confusion with "Men under Fire"?

Cheers
David

Old Contemptibles21 Oct 2018 6:04 p.m. PST

Do you need CD3 to play CD4?

Rich Bliss21 Oct 2018 6:42 p.m. PST

CD4 is completely stand alone. In terms of "quality" I've been playing CD since the first play tests and I prefer the current version in terms of ease of play and a better focus on Battalion level decisions. But as stated above, your mileage May vary.

langobard21 Oct 2018 8:54 p.m. PST

Interesting.

When CD4 came out, I stuck with CD3, but for the life of me I can't remember why! I may have to pick it up as my CD3 is pretty much falling apart at this point and I'm not seeing anything above that would deter me now.

Grumble8710615 Nov 2018 9:56 a.m. PST

Rallynow, you have actually played CD4 (also called Test of Battle which is confusing because that is also the moniker of the company that produces other games as well, such as Volley & Bayonet)). Years ago, I ran a couple of CD 4 games at your house scenarios from Benghazi Handicap. They were "Derna Airfield" and "Hafid Ridge".

The one-figure-per stand game is Men Under Fire, a tactical game that is a totally different animal. I like it and I use it (most recently at Fall-In! 2018 for WW1 East Africa) but it ain't the same thing at all. Nothing to do with CD.

WARNING: Below is a lengthy explanation of CD4 and its differences from previous iterations.

I think the changes in step reductions and the randomizing of results in CD4-TOB were steps forward. Having ALL Veteran stands able to take several hits before going away and ALL green stands taking one hit and going away made the game too predictable. I like randomized results, as long as they are based on probability. Veteran stands are likely to absorb more punishment without adverse results and Green stands are less likely.

With TOB, I have had Green stands hang on grimly for several turns because the hits on them were followed by low results rolls. And occasionally a Veteran stand will be eliminated on the first hit. These things happen on real battlefields -- not often, but enough that there should be SOME chance that they will occur on the table as well. A successful commander will be one who plans on the basis of contingencies, not certainties.

One of the many things I really like about CD4 is the artillery rules. As others have said on this forum, the indirect artillery rules are brilliant. They achieve what real WW2 artillery did -- mostly suppress but occasionally destroy. Yet sometimes the artillery doesn't show up at all when called. Just as in real life. Artillery does what it historically did in WW2 -- a lot of suppression of units without damaging them, but enough of a chance to do serious damage, too. And suppression has definite effects that reward the player who uses artillery as it was intended.

The original CD1 artillery IDF rules were so complex, I made a flow-chart that ran in convoluted patterns all over the page. So I really like the CD4 artillery rules -- and the fact that a command stand doesn't have to spend its whole turn just calling artillery but can actually do something else as well.

Instead of simultaneous movement, each side rolls a die, and the high roll moves first. Note that the high roll does not allow that side to decide who moves first; priority is mandated by the roll itself.

The infantry rules for firing are no longer a separate system. Infantry, MG, etc. all fire on charts similar to the CD1 direct fire artillery/anti-tank charts. The range bands have been reduced to 4 for all weapons: Close, Medium, Long and Extreme. However, infantry and certain others that can conduct close assault have range bands of Contact, Medium, and Long, with no Extreme. There is no separate Close Fire Phase or Close Assault phase; these are now a part of the Opportunity Fire Phase and/or General Fire Phase

The CD4 artillery rules are much simplified from CD1. There is no "Call Fire" order chit; rather, in a given turn an eligible pure or mixed command stand can call fire while also doing something else such as moving, firing, rallying subordinate stands, etc.

Most importantly, the CD4 rules permit artillery to do what it mostly did in WW2, which is to suppress enemy units. It can cause damage, but the suppression role is much more important to the combined-arms play. There is even a Harassment and Interdiction option, which can suppress -- but not damage -- anything within the blast template. H&I is map fire and does not require a stand to spot the target and call in the fire, though a success die must still be rolled (1-3 for it to come in).

There are still several Fire Phases; however, a given stand can only fire in one of them. This speeds up play considerably. There are also two additional Fire Phases in CD4. First thing each turn is the Artillery Phase (including aircraft ground attack). Then, before movement, there is an option for HE weapons to do direct Prep Fire, which suppresses an enemy target stand (and may hit it as well). Again, it's an important feature for combined arms.

Instead of four levels of troop quality as in CD1, there are six in CD4 (instituted in CD2): Green, Trained, Regular, Experienced, Veteran, and Elite. Each has a different level of vulnerability and reaction to being hit.

A stand that is hit may (1) suffer No Effect, (2) be Forced Back, or (3) be Eliminated. (Armor stands, by the way, no longer have results of Damaged, Disabled, and Destroyed; they have the same results as any other stand, but taking into account the armor rating versus the penetration of the gun firing at them.)

Instead of accumulating a certain number of hits until a stand automatically goes away, each stand that has been hit is rolled for: of course, Green units are the most likely to be forced back or eliminated, and Elite units are the least likely. But there's a CHANCE (however small) that a Green unit will be unaffected or an Elite unit will be eliminated by one hit. I've had a Trained Italian stand shrug off three successive hits from an Elite Australian stand. It can happen in real life, and now it can happen in a game.

A Force-Back from a hit no longer automatically pins the stand that was forced back. In CD4, a Pin is strictly a morale result, caused by failing a morale check by 1 or 2. A higher level of morale failure results in either Forced Back Shaken or Forced Back Demoralized or Elimination. These results also pin the stand. Shaken or Demoralized markers can only be removed by a Rally order from a higher-ranking command stand that is within six inches. There is no permanent morale reduction in CD4. If a unit is rallied, it has the same morale as before.

All in all, I consider the rules to have become less complex but more complicated -- that is, the mechanics aren't as convoluted as they were before, but the combined-arms possibilities and subtleties are there to be exploited -- or not -- by the players.

Thomas Thomas29 Nov 2018 3:49 p.m. PST

RE: Command Decision

I have played CD in a pre-publication version as a playtester and have played several games of all the following versions.

CD1 remains one of the most brilliant game designs in the history of miniature gaming. The integrated sequence of play and use of order chits were state of the art then and now. But there were problems. The simo movement system never worked, the fire mechanism were table heavy and the morale rules unnecessarily complex. Accumulating hits on stands required marker counters and had some odd effects. Spotting rules were wildly overwrought.

CD2 remains one of the great disappointments of game design. It did not fix the simo movement problem and added un-need complexity to what was intended to be a fast play battalion level game.

CD3 – well the less said the better – the worst of three editions introducing complex range charts and the need to apply modifier where previously the system had worked without them.

CD4 (Test of Battle) – finally fixed the simo move problem thought in the most sterlie way. To get away from the hit markers a weird dicing system was introduced. It added a die roll and did not fix the "bullet proof" vets syndrome (at least not entirely). The deterministic spotting rules improved the complex spotting system (but not quite enough).
Morale remained convoluted. Artillery somewhat improved but still quirky and subject to some gamey methods (typical of most complex mechanisms).

CDs basic methodology still remains the best for WWII era battles available. But execution is a problem. Constant pressure to add complexity detracts from the high level maneuver feel of the original game. All the intentions of CD4 were good – get rid of simo move, get rid of hit markers, try to do something better with Art rules etc. But the solutions were imperfect.

But to be clear it was system far ahead of its time when introduced and remains so decades latter.

TomT

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