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"Command Decision III" Topic

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Achtung Minen10 Aug 2022 2:53 p.m. PST

CD3 just arrived after a long wait and I am starting to absorb the rules. The art and design is quite exciting for me… the cover reminds me a ton of one of my favorite video games as a teenager (Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far) and in general the design of CD3 just oozes terrific 90's nostalgia for me. As I start to make my way through the rules, I'd love to hear some comments about Command Decision 3 (what works, what doesn't, how you used it, memorable games or scenarios you played etc.)

I was intrigued when I read in the designer's notes that one of the guiding principles of CD3 was to make the game play much faster. That is always a good thing in my book, although I don't know how this was achieved particularly in CD3. The notes suggest that CD3 accomplishes this at least in part by standardizing the game mechanics for spotting/firing to four range categories and reducing the number of times a stand would fire. I'd love to hear about other rules and mechanics that I should keep an eye out for as I read further.

The game in generally seems very well tuned for big group games (whether a regular gaming club that plays large multiplayer scenarios or a convention game that does the same). Unfortunately the chances that I ever get to play CD in this fashion are probably slim to none… I haven't seen it pop up at conventions in my area and the gaming clubs around me are not into older games at all (it's mostly skirmish games like Bolt Action and Chain of Command). Therefore I am likely going to play this solo… should I stick to about a battalion per side in this case?

Also, I suppose this doesn't matter at all if I play solo, but I use a different basing scheme than the one recommended by Command Decision. Instead of the 20x20mm, I plan to use the models I have based for Battlefront WWII (another game I love), which are based two 15mm models on a 28x22mm base. This shouldn't cause any issues, right? In the unlikely event that I ever meet another CD player, do you think there would be a problem with mixing 20mm square bases with the larger BFWW2 bases? I'm not that interested in rebasing (not only because it is a pain to do, but because I do plan to continue playing BFWW2 as well and in any case I do not find CD's recommended platoon frontage of a mere 37.5 meters to be wildly convincing).

jekinder610 Aug 2022 4:47 p.m. PST

The base size was the size needed to fit the back of a ROCO 1/87 Opel Blitz. Don't worry about it unless your opponent has his troops on large FOW bases.

jekinder610 Aug 2022 4:49 p.m. PST

Command Decision is still popular in the Midwest and at the HMGS east conventions.

Achtung Minen10 Aug 2022 4:58 p.m. PST

The base size was the size needed to fit the back of a ROCO 1/87 Opel Blitz.

Wow! What a neat little bit of history, I had no idea the basing was designed around Roco minitanks. That makes a lot of sense I suppose as I have heard they were very popular in the early days of 15mm.

Martin Rapier10 Aug 2022 10:46 p.m. PST

I always thought the CD infantry basing was a bit on the small side (a whole platoon crammed into 50 Square metres?) . I put my guys on bigger bases, and no it doesn't affect the game. If you bunch up, you die, so they tend to be spread out anyway.

Achtung Minen11 Aug 2022 6:55 a.m. PST

Ok a few more thoughts and questions. I am thoroughly enjoying reading the CD3 rules so please don't infer otherwise from the tone of my questions!

The "Official Command Decision 3 Simulation in Progress" placard is a cute addition to the game package, but it makes me wonder if it wasn't also a conscious attempt to get more visibility for the game (i.e. by releasing a "prop" that gamers could use to advertise what ruleset they were playing at a convention or gaming hobby store). Frank has a somewhat maudlin passage in the designer's notes where he complains that other recent (to the 90's anyway) rulesets have overtaken the Command Decision throne. My question is:

What games were stealing Command Decision's thunder in the mid to late 1990's? I know Rapid Fire came out around 1994, but I wasn't under the impression that it was ever very popular in the US. Battleground WW2 was a big 90's game, but that was more of a skirmish game and in any case it came out only one year prior to CD3 (in 1997). Arty Conliffe's Spearhead and Crossfire were both popular games from the mid-90's, but they don't seem all that similar to Command Decision (which Chadwick specifically cites as the inspiration to the new generation of games that were overtaking it). So what is Frank talking about here? What games were usurping the position and prestige of CD in the 90's?

Also, I have read in some old threads here on TMP that, for some gamers, CD3 was the edition that "killed Command Decision" for their group. That seems extremely surprising, as CD3 appears to be largely an improvement on CD1 and CD2, particularly in making the game easier and faster to play. Does anyone know where this sentiment comes from? What exactly was so blameworthy about CD3 that made it kill the Command Decision dominance over the gaming scene? Or is it actually more so a result of newer systems coming around and stealing the scene (as suggested by Frank in his designer notes) and CD3 was actually not itself responsible for any loss of enthusiasm in Command Decision in the mid-late 90's?

On that point, would it be fair to say that CD3 was the least popular and least played version of Command Decision (from CD1 to Test of Battle today)? If so, why do you think that is the case?

On a different note, I noticed the 4th Edition (Test of Battle) is co-credited as Frank Chadwick and Glenn Kidd. Does anyone know the reason for this? As far as I can recall, Chadwick had always been credited as the sole designer of the main ruleset (with many others getting developing credits, of course). Was Frank less involved with TOB than with previous editions? I'm curious because in his introduction for CD3, Frank claims that Command Decision 3 will be the "final" and "definitive" edition of Command Decision. Was this a case of Kidd pulling Chadwick back from retirement to give his imprimatur on a new version of CD that was more strongly derivative of modern gaming concepts (like fog of war cards and competition-friendly mechanics)?

Along those same lines, I was surprised to see that order chits are placed just prior to morale checks in CD3, which means that "the results of the morale die rolls may render orders impossible to issue or carry out" (CD3 Basic Rules pg 17). Unless I am mistaken, I could have sworn that I read this was a CDIV innovation.

Ponder Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2022 8:55 a.m. PST


My opinion CD-IV, aka CD Test of Battle (CDToB) is an improvement on CD-III, and is recommended. I have played this game since the late 80's and the First Edition.

Ponder on,


Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian11 Aug 2022 9:48 a.m. PST

I was in on the CD3 'beta'. I think 'hard' simulations started to fade. I agree with Jake (Ponder) that CD4 is an improvement, less table clutter and better 'feel' for the overall progress of the scenario/game.

I also think by the mid 90's that Game over Simulation was where the Hobby was starting to go.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2022 9:56 a.m. PST

In my experience, people either played CD, Spearhead, or ASL, without much mixing between the groups, at least as far as WWII games were concerned.

Achtung Minen11 Aug 2022 2:35 p.m. PST

@Saber6, that's interesting, what do you feel were the "simulation aspects" of CD2 that were played down in CD3? I don't own CD2 yet (planning on getting it when I can), but I heard that it had many different range increments for weapons. Did players actually miss things like that?

Martin Rapier11 Aug 2022 11:48 p.m. PST

". So what is Frank talking about here? What games were usurping the position and prestige of CD in the 90's?"

We went straight from playing CDII to Spearhead in the late 90s, even used the same stuff a lot of the time. I haven't played a game of CD against an opponent since (although I solo played CDIV a fair bit). Rapid Fire was also getting big at the time but came from a different direction as it was less aimed at one base = one platoon players.

There were a lot of one base = one platoon rules coming out, when I started going to the Sheffield club we played a lot of TAC:WW2. In the end I wrote a sort of mashup of Spearhead, TAC and CD. which covered brigade level actions.

The main criticism of CD from my gaming buddies was that it was a skirmish game pretending to be a grand tactical game, brigade commanders (and battalion commanders) don't care if platoon X has run out of APCR. So I guess the world moved on.

Achtung Minen12 Aug 2022 6:20 a.m. PST

Rapid Fire was also getting big at the time but came from a different direction as it was less aimed at one base = one platoon players.

I thought Rapid Fire was 1 base = 1 platoon?

The main criticism of CD from my gaming buddies was that it was a skirmish game pretending to be a grand tactical game

I think that is true, particularly by contemporary standards. There are games that abstract out small unit tactical considerations entirely (like Panzer Korps) and thus perhaps give a better impression of the scope of command decisions on the grand tactical scale.

Of course, that modern impulse to get LESS detailed (we see this in games like Blitzkrieg Commander for example) does clash with the game design mood prevalent in CD's time. Command Decision was clearly informed by the games environment from which it emerged… that Tractics, Tank Charts, detailed rivet-counting side of wargaming that fell out of fashion sometime in the 90's and has never really made a comeback since. CD is different than these games in certain respects, but also clearly evolved out of them as well. For example, in the CD3 designer's notes, Chadwick doesn't actually take issue at all with the complexity of these games, but rather argues that their 1:1 scaling gave a poor impression of operational-scale tactics. He recalls an enormous game of hundreds of 1:1 tanks representing a division on each side… after a long day of gaming, the battle resulted in massive 50% casualties to each side, which he thought was an absurd result for a game representing only a handful of minutes of fighting.

His conclusion to this problem was that to accurately represent grand tactical battles, the time and unit scale needed to be adjusted to give more realistic results. Chadwick also felt that players in these sluggish games were given few opportunities to think beyond shoving their units into the meat grinder so as to get tangible results as quickly as possible. Thus, Chadwick also concluded that rules must give players more space to make the kind of decisions that are more appropriate to a battalion or brigade-level commander (with attacks, counterattacks, reconnaissance probes, keeping a reserve etc.) Chadwick claims this last point is literally where the name of the game comes from: Command Decision is all about modeling the decision making environment at higher levels of command (i.e. field grade officers like battalion CO's and higher).

Now we get to an interesting point, as this precisely contradicts what we said above…

If CD is "a skirmish game pretending to be a grand tactical game," i.e. if you are making the decisions of a platoon or company commander while commanding a battalion or an entire regiment, then how does Command Decision satisfy Chadwick's stated goal of modeling high level command decisions?

The answer to that question I think is that Command Decision represents operational level decision making well for its time.

Contrary to what one may expect, I do not mean that CD does this poorly in comparison to modern rules… in general I am not a progressive person and I don't actually believe in progress in the dogmatic and uncritical way most people do today. Games in different eras are just different. It is every individual's personal responsibility to decide for themselves whether they find things in the past are better or worse.

Rather, what I mean is that Command Decision defined grand tactical and low-operational decision making in a way that was relevant to its predominant gaming environment in the late 80's and early 90's. We are talking about a time when games did not reward even basic things like keeping a reserve, using reconnaissance, cutting enemy lines of communication and maneuver and so on. Rather, the most popular games were all about figuring out how to accurately represent armour penetration angles and kinetics, which made a lot of sense when all of this gaming hobby was still really new: they wanted to make sure that they understood the technology aspect, which is the foundation for everything that came after. Nowadays, games can focus on "men over material, psychology over rate of fire" because we have a reasonable collective understanding of what the technology made possible, but we take for granted all of the gaming and game design research that has come before us and underpins the general consensus on these issues that we enjoy today.

It is interesting to think of Command Decision 3 as an interim game between the rivet-counting of the 80's and the abstraction of the early 2000's games. As I said above, Chadwick finds no problem at all with game complexity. He defends it rather well in his CD3 designer's notes. The issue he takes is with game complication, which he basically defines as needless, time-consuming game mechanics that add little to the decision making of the player and just serve to make games unbearably slow. He takes aim here at the variety of asymmetrical rules in CD2, which had slightly different subsystems for every aspect of the game (spotting, direct fire, indirect fire, close combat etc.).

Thus Chadwick hammers a lot of this mechanical asymmetry out of CD3, which doubtlessly loses some detail that some players may enjoy… something of value is always lost whenever rules change. Nevertheless, CD3 comes off as a very 1990's game. One of the things that makes 90's games distinct is that they try to have game rules for every possible eventuality. I remember reading Battleground WW2 and finding rules for troops on skiis, soldiers with night fighting infrared scopes and other completely bizarre stuff that probably nobody would ever use. Nevertheless, I was quite pleased to know that IF that situation ever came up, there was a rule in the book (or binder, as it were) that I could flip to.

CD3 is much the same. If you compare CD3 to modern games, it is amazing how much it covers. In CD3 you can seep recce patrols into the enemy positions, cut telephone communication lines, overrun headquarters units, blow bridges, snorkel tanks across the river and more. There are rules for wind and multiple kinds of smoke, but also troops emerging from smoke. There are rules for a variety of artillery fire plans but also locating artillery by sound and flash and using counterbattery fire. There are rules for three different types of mud and for unditching vehicles. There are rules for supply and fuel and porters and pack animals. There are rules for aerial spotting, glider landings and naval fire support. There are rules for sea sickness.

There are rules for sea sickness!

It is absurd how many eventualities these games actually cover! Now I can see the latter-day argument that a field grade officer shouldn't care about just minor details, but what games like CD3 let you do is have extremely complex situations for your decision making. Take a more abstract game which I quite love, Battlefront WW2. While it obviously borrows a lot of ideas from CD3, you cannot overrun an HQ in BFWW2… I mean, there are HQ units but they aren't really all that important. There is no telephone line that connects regimental HQ staff to subordinate units so you can't cut lines of communication. And while I really enjoy BFWW2, I am honest enough to admit that the lack of these features in the game system results in fewer interesting decisions you can make as a player and fewer interesting scenarios you can design as a game master.

So this is my point… does CD3 actually represent the decision making of a higher level commander? Yes, yes it does. It does because there is (for example) an actual reason to outflank, cut off and surround enemy positions. What happens when a maneuver element is encircled in other games? Maybe a penalty, maybe nothing at all. In CD3, you limit their ability to maneuver, cut them off from supply, cut them off from their commanders, capture their noncom support elements and demoralize them. Those are higher level decisions that matter in CD3 and are rarely represented in similar scale games.

It is also true that CD3 lets you make low level, small unit tactical decisions. It's an admittedly odd feature that the game simultaneously represents multiple levels of command. I suspect that this is the result of Command Decision being an interim game between the era of rivet-counting in the 80's and the higher level command abstraction of the early 2000's. I hear the argument that games should be purist and stick to representing one level of command only… It's a valid argument.

In its defense, I can only say that CD3 seems like it would be a lot of fun to play.

wargamingUSA13 Aug 2022 9:23 a.m. PST

Quite an interesting thread. To answer the original post's question, the Battlefield base size will certainly work with CD's geographic construct. Don't know how it will mix, visually, on the same gameboard with CD's 20 x 20 basing but that is likely a matter of personal preference.

I have played a lot of CDII and III, only a couple games of IV, over the years, sometimetimes with Frank or one of his principal gamemasters.

Having had many enjoyable games of CD, played with familiar and unfamilar players, I have to say it has always been "playable." And I do like CDIII better than CDII. Yes, I have/have had some angst with certain rules mechanics and representations. An example, about 30 years ago I asked Frank (or Tom H.) why CD used the 20 x 20 bases. The response, already noted above by John, that the base size fit in the back of Roco Opel Blitz trucks… drove me batty. My related-responsive thought, that the base size should roughly correspond to the area occupied by the unit, is one of the factors that led me to develop the rules I'm currently finishing-up and play testing; which use base sizes similar to FoW's.

I like CD and am generally positive on the game play (unlike my thought about Frank's new Divisonal game system which has me wishing for a boardgame rather than a miniatures game). So, I hope CD III provides you with many enjoyable games.

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2022 3:46 p.m. PST

I played CD4 only. I actually find the 20mm bases fiddly and hard to identify on the table with uber tiny labels.

FOW size bases should work fine. If you want someone in the back of the truck, feel free to make a few small bases.

Achtung Minen18 Aug 2022 9:41 a.m. PST

I've been enjoying reading more CD3 lately. I see what some mean when they argue that Command Decision is a game about maneuver (as opposed to games about firepower). In many games, a group of soldiers might move something like 8 inches at most in a turn while they can fire 24 inches or more. In Command Decision, movement rates are generally as long or longer than weapon ranges. As a result, it actually seems quite important to physically block important intersections and roadways that the enemy can use to bound into your formation's rear area and cause trouble. We often see photos of this in WW2, but rarely do games make it necessary to do this… to place infantry or anti-tank guns in positions close to roads where they can interdict enemy travel.

What I have also been finding interesting is the morale system. A battalion may consist of three or four companies, but each company checks morale individually. This allows for fairly granular morale results so that a battalion may be able to press forward while a single company (just three or four stands, typically) is forced back.

When a company does get chewed up, it can be effectively out of the action for a long time. For example, a badly attritted company may require five whole turns (over an hour of in-game time) to recover from a bad mauling, allowing a battalion commander to Take Command, Regroup the survivors, Rally off the demoralized status and slowly recover from pinned status. This means that while the tremendous movement allowance of units in the game does allow you to potentially rebound quickly from a failed attack and come at the enemy again, the condition of your men may make this impossible to do quickly and thus conversely give the opponent plenty of time to seize the initiative and counterattack your weakened forces.

More broadly, I love how the game plays at a fairly abstract level (1 stand = 1 platoon), yet it also flirts with smaller scales. You can break up units into recon patrols that are sub-platoon level, you can reform small groups of survivors into platoon-sized fighting formations and the hits mechanism actually does a good job tracking casualties with a platoon so you can understand when your units are not at "full strength." Comparing this to many wargames that are not 1:1 scale, it is really uncommon to see a system to even track casualties on a stand. Usually, a stand may be "damaged" by an attack but then return to full strength with a good morale die roll… not so in Command Decision. The attrition of warfare is really beautifully modeled. I actually do not think I've ever seen a system that even allows for destroyed units (having been removed from the tabletop) to return to the game before.

Of course, it's inevitable in any game that a player will push his little Pewtermenschen into oblivion without regard for casualties. After all, it is just a game… you don't need to preserve the strength of your forces for future games and you don't need to care about the "lives" of your little lead soldiers. But even here, Command Decision has a brilliant answer to the instrumental way in which players seem to recklessly lead their troopers around the tabletop. A unit that is badly mauled can be returned to action, but it will take considerable time for this to happen. This makes a solitary decision ("Should I continue to squeeze every drop of usefulness out of my troops? Yes, of course, no reason not to!") into an interactive decision between you and your opponent, since it gives your opponent time to react and seize the initiative and surround or destroy your forces in a moment of weakness. As a player, you will need to commit reserves to protect damaged formations and give them enough time to work themselves back into fighting form. As a player, you will need to decide what is reasonable, feasible and worthwhile when it comes to recovering lost forces. Likewise, a hard-pressed enemy will have to decide whether it is better to exploit an opportunity to finish off a weakened enemy formation for good, or to use this temporary victory as a chance to redirect his now freed up forces to deal with other, more urgent fronts. Those are all interesting decisions to make in a game.

The other interesting thing about the time commitment involved in recovering troops relates to pinned troops. Like many game systems, pinned troops have a hard time hitting enemies, but they are also harder to hit in Command Decision (presumably because troops naturally go to ground when they are pinned). Because attack numbers are based on range, shooting from and at pinned troops effectively can only take place at shorter ranges. Pinned troops can actually move in CD, as long as it is away from the enemy, but pinned command stands cannot issue orders and thus an entire company may be stuck in the mud if the command stand gets pinned.

All of this is made more significant by the fact that units are pinned for two turns at a time (and this clock is reset if they are pinned the next turn as well). This allows the enemy to stop the advance and seize the initiative for a counterattack, but the enemy is disincentivized from just sitting back and pouring on more fire (due to the penalties for shooting at pinned enemies). Rather, he is encouraged to go on the offensive himself, either getting into a better position around the attacker's flank or breaking the advance permanently with close combat. This fluidity that encourages taking advantage of a stalled enemy to go on the attack yourself makes for a very maneuver-centric game.

wargamingUSA20 Aug 2022 12:19 p.m. PST

@Achtung Minen – I notice you have three threads dedicated to CD running here on the Command Decision board as well as another thread over on the Game Design board. You have either become a serious CD enthusiast or Frank is bankrolling you to breath new life into the CD family… LOL. Seriously, CD (both II and III which I have enough experience that I feel I can scomment on), do deliver very playable WWII games if you like stand = platoon gaming.

Achtung Minen20 Aug 2022 8:05 p.m. PST

If Mssr. Chadwick is reading, I'll be waiting on that check in the mail!!

Achtung Minen24 Aug 2022 3:20 p.m. PST

Ok! So I managed to play my first few games of CDIII and there are a lot of things I noticed in playing the game that I didn't really notice or appreciate while reading the rules.

The first thing I saw was how small a footprint this game has (or at least can have). As I mentioned before, I had been thinking that Command Decision really shines with large, multiplayer games with a huge table and lots of participants. I still think that is true, but the game also plays very well with a small amount of models on a small table.

For example, I played a few games solo as well as with opponents and each time there was a battalion or so per side on a 3'x5' table (3 feet is a mile in the CD ground scale). What you quickly realize is that a battalion is actually a really small number of models, consisting of only 10 or so 1" square stands. The battalion is then broken down into smaller formations (i.e. companies) of three or so stands that maneuver around the battlefield on their own. The tiny footprint of the forces made the rather small gaming area feel surprisingly spacious. To be honest, the battles did not even particularly feel like they were "small" games… each side had at least three or four companies to order around and there were a lot of tactical decisions to be made. It felt like a full game each time.

The next thing I noticed is that the game plays very quickly. From my very first game, turns took less than the actual representative time scale of the game (15 minutes). Most games were over in about an hour. There were a few reasons for this, I think… the movement rates of units are extremely generous. Unless I misunderstood the rules, infantry can march 24" on a road. That covers a lot of ground on a small table. Vehicles can generally get to their intended destination in a turn or two. The only thing that stops this is opportunity fire, which means the battles very quickly got to the part where troops were heavily engaged and things were happening.

The second thing that made the game resolve quickly is that shooting is incredibly deadly in CDIII. Shooting is resolved simultaneously and generally one of two things happened when troops moved within range of each other: 1) if one side was moving, the stationary side shot first and generally repulsed the enemy, or 2) both sides shot each other to pieces and were pushed back. If you attacked on a broad front and everyone could bring everything to bear, generally both sides were badly hurting after a turn or two of shooting. Which is to say, if you commit your troops to an engagement, expect them to be bloodied (and hope the enemy gets it at least as bad as your guys will).

The third feature that made the games run quickly was that the rules are indeed pretty simple. I might even call them kind of rough. A game like Battlefront WW2 (which I cannot help but compare with CD in my head, given the similarities) has a ton of mechanical nuance and subtlety in its rules design. Command Decision feels like a toy battle game… get your toys on the table and make everything go boom. That doesn't mean that you cannot try the same tactics in CD and have them work, but CD is much more swingy (to the point of making BFWW2 look rigid and prescriptive). The upshot of all this was that it was easy to remember the rules after about the first turn of the first game and I never felt the need to keep the rulebook in my hands while playing.

There were also somethings that I expected to be onerous, but really were the opposite. I expected shooting to be a pain… I had read that each stand can make many attacks per turn, but I realized this was for earlier versions… In CDIII, a stand may only shoot once per round. Attacks are also divided up into different phases… stationary troops fire in the earlier phase while moving troops fire in the later phase. This actual helped to break things up and make it not seem like you need to resolve twenty different attacks for all the stands in the battle in a single phase. It also quickly became apparent that not everyone actually shoots each turn. There were many cases where a stand would be hidden, or out of line of sight, or have line of fire blocked by a friendly unit, or be pinned or only have pinned targets (making fire impossible due to penalties). In fact, stands were frequently driven back by fire, which effectively put them out of range or line of sight for the round.

I also expecting spotting to be a pain. Simply put, it wasn't. Under the rules, you only roll spotting once per target. We rolled the die and left it next to the stand so that any enemy could compare their modifiers to the roll to see if they spot the stand later in the round. Eventually, we used a single die roll to cover an entire area, leaving the die on the table at the center of the spotting area. I assumed I would be making many spotting rolls each turn but it ended up being maybe two or three at most (and none once both sides were heavily engaged, which was generally turn two or three and onward). I don't think I understand why the spotting rules were changed in CDTOB, as they really did not seem intrusive at all.

I'll make a further observation… I think CDIII would be brilliant for Operation Barbarossa, particularly since it has relatively strong detail in how it handles armor. The interesting aspect of Barbarossa for me is how it involved such a great number and variety of lightly armoured tanks. In 1941, there were many ways to destroy tanks… you could use satchel charges and anti-tank grenades, you could use anti-tank rifles, you could use solid-shot small caliber cannon munitions (like the 37mm anti-tank gun), you could use APHE or you could use regular HE from field guns of 75mm or better caliber. Each of these methods killed the tank in a different way… solid shots cut through the lightly armoured tanks of 1941 like swiss cheese, but they often did not produce a kill because there was no explosion. ATR's might cause armour spalling or rattle around inside of a tank. APHE had the power to penetrate and the blast to take out the crew, but early APHE was either of poor quality or shot from low-velocity guns that quickly lost penetrating ability at range. HE shells could work at any range as they relied on completely caving in the thin armour and demolishing the tank with brute force, but even a moderately better armoured target might shrug off the blast. The effect in each case is different and needs to be modeled differently. Command Decision III actually does this and does it fairly well (in comparison to Battlefront WWII, which abstracts this all to a single modifier on a weapons table).

williamb25 Aug 2022 7:28 a.m. PST

To answer your August 12 question about Rapid Fire: Vehicles and guns are platoons or batteries. Infantry are indiviual figures in company units.

The rules feel like they have been adapted from skirmish rules. My only real complaint is the artillery deviation system and watching an enemy unit drive through a continuing artillery barrage with no effect because artillery fire was resolved after movement and the enemy unit was no longer in the barrage area after it finished moving.

Achtung Minen30 Aug 2022 5:53 a.m. PST

Managed to get another game and it was great fun! I ran a scenario involving a Soviet forward detachment probing a possible route of advance in the hilly countryside of Lower Silesia, February 1945. A ragged company of Volksgrenadiers and a couple companies of Volkssturm were the only thing in the Soviets path, tasked with holding a pair of nameless villages on the Western side of the map, flanking either side of the Soviet exit road.

The battle began with the Soviet motorcycle reconnaissance battalion advancing on the village and things escalated quickly. After a few turns, the motorcycle troops were followed by a Soviet breakthrough tank battalion consisting of several companies of T-34-85 and one company of IS-2. A few turns later, the surprise appearance of a Tiger II platoon on the exit road slowed down the Soviet advance (the Tiger II had simply been transiting the area and thus this was a surprise to both sides).

We played with limited ammunition rules, which made quite a difference on how the game played out. When you work it out, tanks and various anti-tank weapons (like the Panzerschreck sections of the Volksgrenadiers and Volkssturm) really do not have a lot of ammunition to spare… As a result, both sides were holding fire until they got close enough for an effective shot. This meant that those units that had a relatively good amount of ammo (in this case, the Tiger II and a 7.5cm IG37 firing HC rounds) were given many opportunities to pick off the enemy while they waited to get into position.

This fact alone led to the considerable Soviet tank losses, I believe… The Soviets did manage to destroy the Tiger II and drive off or destroy other German units, but they only exited the table with a single IS-2 and a company (2 models) of T-34-85's, having taken five armour losses in the attack. The Soviets were just forced to move and save their shots for a close ranged attack that they were not guaranteed to live long enough to make.

Otherwise, I think the Soviets were somewhat mismanaged overall… their reconnaissance infantry were not cautious and instead advanced on hidden German forces quickly, suffering casualties when the Germans triggered their ambush. As reconnaissance troops, the motorcycles should have dismounted much earlier, carefully spotted everything they could draw line of sight to, and then focused their attack on one weak point. We also forgot about the regroup rule, though, which did not help the situation. If we spent another game turn to allow the Soviets to do regroup orders, the fate of the motorcycle battalion would actually end up being much better than the fate of the Soviet breakthrough tanks.

So regroup orders and actual reconnaissance are certainly important, but one thing that struck me was how difficult it was to attack. If you advance on the defender, they will always get to attack first and with the ROF bonus for remaining stationary, the defender will likely cause considerable damage to the attacker and drive them back. Since hits in CDIII represent real casualties and losses (unlike a game where you can simply "rally" the damage away and make your units as good as new), this defensive fire actually weakens the attacker considerably. What is more, the attack is also driven back by this fire, which means you lose all the ground you just (tried) to gain in the advance.

So my question is… just how exactly are you supposed to attack in Command Decision? Since this was a forward detachment, the Soviets had no artillery and couldn't make use of smoke (there was a single battery of motorcycle-mounted 82mm mortars, but that wasn't going to help much). The terrain was fairly open and the Germans had placed their troops in good overwatch positions, so there was no obscured route of advance that was out of the defender's line of sight. If you have nothing that can outrange the defender, you are forced to move while the defender can use opportunity fire against you. If they hit (and they generally will, given the bonus ROF), they will drive you back, which means you will lose all of that ground you just made, you will generally be out of effective firing range yourself for the general fire phase (not to mention pinned!) and you will also be permanently weaker from losses to boot.

Is there a way to attack that doesn't incur these casualties and actually allows you to advance into a position where you can start to put fire on the defenders and hopefully drive them out of their positions? Does attacking always just mean taking casualties, having most of your advances thrown back and just hoping for the best (a lucky break where you can actually keep the ground you cover and get into a good forward firing position)?

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