Cold War Commander Review

BattleGames.co.uk, March 2007 by Graham Knight

Cold War Commander is the companion set to BlitzKrieg Commander (BKC) and deals with wars from 1945 until 1991+. The rule set is suitable to play games set in the brushfire wars of Africa, the Wars in the Middle East, Korea and Indo China and will handle small scale operations through to main force battlegroup clashes. Within the definitions given in the rules a unit equivalent to platoon is the smallest depicted although there is no reason not to make the squad the basic unit should the player wish.

As with its sister set the rules depend on command and control mechanisms adapted from the Warmaster model, with each command unit having a rating against which the player must successfully roll a die in order to move or fire his forces. The more orders one issues in the move, and the more dispersed ones troops become the more difficult it is to succeed. The system is elegant and easily learned, and has developed from BKC with more refinement being built into the close assault mechanism.

The game has moved away from the bug bear of many modern rule sytems which focussed the player on " how do I do it" and technology, rather than "what can I do" and the command possibilities. Perhaps the best illustration is in the treatment of Anti Tank Guided Weapons. One does not need a detailed knowledge of how each system works in order to operate them under these rules, nor do such weapons operate over 2 or more game moves as has also been attempted in the past. In the system the weapon is fired, and because of its visibility in launch and flight the target gets a chance to evade away from it. Furthermore the offensive use of ATGWs is limited to specific tank hunting units. Other units in possession of such weapons, the Soviet BMP and BMD vehicles for example are limited to defensive use. Armoured units are thus more likely to be driven off by ATGW fire than destroyed.

Army lists are given for 13 conflicts, with 33 army lists, providing the combat charts for the units availability to each army. Points values are allocated for pick-up games, as well as sample historical organisations for those who wish to develop scenarios. I am particularly impressed by the way that the author has picked out the salient new tactical advances for each of the conflicts listed.

The rules share the same production values as BKC. The individual mechanisms are illustrated by annotated coloured photographs, as well as fully worked examples that are side barred to the pictures. Not only does one have pictures of well presented and painted models to delight the eye, but also a very clear idea of how the writer intends the game to be played out. There are a number of generic scenarios included, as well as some support pages which include the Designers Notes, and information on where the models in the pictures came from. Both Cold War Commander and BKC are supported on the web.

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