Blitzkrieg Commander Review

James Shields, Miniatures Atlas, October 2004

Blitzkrieg Commander's subtitle says it all: Fast-Play Tabletop Wargame Rules For Combined-Arms Operations, 1936-45. Normally I view subtitles as just more hype from someone's marketing department. In this case, it's simply the truth.

I'm mostly an RPG'er. I cut my teeth on Boot Hill, Metamorphosis Alpha, D&D, and other such games. Miniatures to me are a means to represent a battle. They're a tool for the game, not the game itself. So, when I received Blitzkrieg Commander, I wasn't sure where to start. So, I started at the beginning.

Not actually having played a miniatures game before, I was starting with a bit of a handicap. Pete definitely assumes that you understand the basics of miniatures gaming. There's not much, but I was lacking it. I read the book cover-to-cover and was still a little lost (my ignorance, not his fault).

The book is an easy read and is written well. It's laid out like a reference manual. Rules in the front, charts and tables in the back. Pete doesn't use a lot of extra words, which is very nice in a rule-set.

When I went to read the rules a second time, everything made sense. The rules are complex enough to cover the game, but simple enough to keep things moving. I guess that's what Pete means by "fast-play".

At this point, I was anxious to try out the game. Lacking any WWII miniatures, we substituted 10mm OGRE grav tanks for actual tanks and our Micromachines Star Wars Imperial Officers and Stormtroopers for infantry. Naturally, we had hills and trees so we didn't end up using any improvised terrain.

Even though neither of us knew the rules well, the game went quickly and smoothly. We only paused when we had to look up the meaning of a roll. The pair of quick reference sheets that came with the rules made this quick and easy. The glossy heavy stock is nice ... since my friend's chili rolled a critical hit against the reference sheet. It cleaned up without any permanent damage.

After a really enjoyable battle with our improvised troops, I looked at the campaign rules for Blitzkrieg Commander. They're impressive and yet simple. Blitzkrieg Commander lists fifteen basic battle types. Each battle type describes deployment and resolution completely. After resolving a battle, one looks at a table lists battle types versus outcome. This determines the next battle type in the campaign. Simple and effective.

Now, aside from being a total miniatures junkie, I tend to be a chart freak. Blitzkrieg Commander doesn't disappoint here. There are nearly sixty pages of charts detailing the armies. These charts range from the Spanish National Army in 1936 to the Polish Army is 1945 Northwest Europe, and everything in-between.

Each army list details the unit types available to the commander, special rules, special equipment, equipment limitations, and even a hint or two regarding how to play that particular force. Army lists are broken down by nationality, date and theater. The attention to detail while still keeping things fast is astounding.

The book includes some color photographs showing unit movement, resolution, and other topics. While these are nice, they're basically expected in a rulebook. What was surprising and simply brilliant was the inclusion of details of each picture. Pete lists the manufacturer of every piece in the scene. No more hunting around trying to figure out who makes that cool unit you saw!

If you even think you might like miniatures gaming, I heartily recommend this book.

Pete Jones at The Wargames Directory wrote Blitzkrieg Commander. It costs GBP 16.00 (US$29.42 at the time of this writing). If you're willing to put up with a scuffed cover, you can buy it for GBP 12.00 (US$22.07). These prices do not including shipping.

Blitzkrieg Commander has its own dedicated page and forum. You can find it at http://www.blitzkrieg-commander.com. This page has purchase information, other reviews, battle reports, detailed orders of battle for specific conflicts, new and optional rules, and various other goodies. Considering Blitzkrieg Commander's young age, there is a lot of additional material for it.

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