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Blitzkrieg Commander Review

Mal Wright, August 2004

I don't know if it is perhaps dangerous to say this after only one battle! But on Saturday Night my group used the new WW2 rules BLITZKRIEG COMMANDER and I would have to say that these are the BEST WW2 land rules I have ever used. Fast and easy to play with innovative systems. Brilliantly laid out and with just about everything you need, rather than lots of supplements.

These are the only rules I have ever used on a tabletop, where I actually got the feeling of 'Blitzkrieg'. Les was attacking a Polish Cavalry regiment that had occupied a farm during the 1939 Poland, PBEM campaign I have been running for the Wargames Mongrel group on the www. Everyone caught on to the system by move two or three and from then on everyone called out the system and scores to get results. I felt that by the end of the game everyone knew the rules and could have refereed a game. It was bloody brilliant!!!

Les's Panzers thundered across the tabletop in a manner that certainly gave one the impression of a blitzkrieg and the overwhelming power of armour vs cavalry! By the end of the game his Panzers had done everything he had asked of them and more, while his Panzer Grenadiers really let him down and he was keen to shoot the commander of that unit.

On the Polish side they had also reacted well, but simply lacked the firepower to resist the force attacking them. 17 German armoured vehicles were thundering about the tabletop under a single wargamer, yet in effortless moves and time, in tabletop terms. In fact we completed what was quite a large battle on a large table, in two hours, with the total agreement of everyone that it was fair, yet exciting and fast to play. Les was in his full mood of excitement such as I have not seen him in many years.

After the game everyone sat around for longer than the battle took to fight, while an excited de-brief and boasting session took place. Everyone wanted to get their paws on the rule book to look through, and everyone wanted a copy. (They cost about $32 AUD delivered from the UK by airmail.)

That was quite a good result in a group where the junior member has been playing for 15 years and most have been playing 30 years or more.

I don't think I have ever seen a set of rules where it not only encouraged the players to use combined arms and support...but that if they didn't...things went badly. Mutual support etc. was very important and at last the Panzer IV with short gun is more than just another tank! (In fact I can see that the British CS tanks will also be vital in battles.)

Physical casualties are fairly light. Most units break and run, or are overwhelmed. Units tend to suffer suppression and withdraw more than they get destroyed. One Panzer III was stopped in its tracks by combined fire which was not powerful enough to knock it out, yet obviously strong enough for the crew to have had second thoughts and halted.

Record keeping is almost non existent because the hits that are recorded, are removed at the end of the move. Hence we rattled through move after move, needing nothing more than a 'neutral die' alongside some units during the firing phases, to record hits on its spots.

Die used are all six sided. Much of the simplicity looks dauntingly unrealistic at first look, yet when you examine it you find that the Math has been done. The simplicity has been achieved without loss of the 'feel'. For example, Les's Panzer 1's were almost impossible for the Polish to knock out with normal fire, yet in return the fire of the Pz 1 was pretty weak. The Pz35(t) and 38(t)'s really ruled the roost in that game because once Les had suppressed the anti tank rifles and field guns, those tanks were as formidable as a Tiger 1 might be in later years.

The rules themselves only take up about 20 pages of the large rule book. The rest is full of data to enable units to be used on an almost year by year basis. These lists cover all the real campaigns of WW2 and give data for the units involved in them, rather than a generic one for the whole war. It also helps by showing what you can and can't use. Supplementary information helps recognize the differences in various unit types, or to give yourself poor, standard or high quality units.

All rules are explained with full colour photographs of wargames units moving on a beautiful tabletop layout, in step by step visual explanations.

I could see a lot of several rules in them and Les felt they had a 'crossfire' feel about them, but far superior. But it all comes together in an extremely innovative manner. The two hours flew by so fast that I don't think anyone paused for a drink, or to slip out for a smoke or anything.

Highly recommended. These rules deserve to be seized on and widely used. They can return a lot of the fun and excitement to WW2 battles. I'm adapting them for Korea too!

 
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