After many years I finally got around to playing Combat Commander, a card driven tactical WW2 game system from GMT Games. I owned CC: Europe once long ago and then traded it for something. After I rediscovered and became fond of Fighting Formations, a game by GMT and the same designer, I decided to give Combat Commander another try. So I traded for copies of CC: Europe and CC: Mediterranean and several of the expansions. In for a penny and all that.
Fortunately, Mark Franke and I have been able to regularly schedule face to face gaming time this year. CC's number came up this past week. We played scenario 4 with me as the Americans. Both of us had read the rules and we were pretty quickly and easily able to get into the game.
I am a terrible wargamer. As much as I have read about strategy and tactics, I made a number of poor decisions starting with initial deployment. In scenario 4, the Americans must dislodge the Germans from a large house in the middle of the board. Mark's set up allowed me the flanks, only one of which I managed to take advantage of and this was the more difficult of the two. The easier flank also had cover. I managed to overlook that as well.
So at game end, while I was close to getting to the objective, I was not very close to getting him OUT of that objective. I was the recipient of some poor luck (how likely is it for a satchel charge to break down in the middle of a two hex assault?). But overall, it was my poor play that determined the outcome. Dick Winters, I ain't.
All that aside, I really enjoyed the game system. As Mark pointed out, there is A LOT of chaos here. In spite of this and the few odd things that happened (reappearance of dead units in random hexes behind enemy "lines"), the game is very engaging and it works very well as a game. I like a game that provides a strong narrative and CC definitely provides that.
I think I prefer Fighting Formations (I think I wrote a review of that in another folder on this board) over CC (both by the same designer) but both systems are very fun and provide an excellent gaming experience. I am looking forward to more CC in the future. CC is definitely a keeper. Maybe not Hall of Fame worthy but definitely worth the effort to learn and play. And I think this is a game that non-wargamers would enjoy as it does employ a strong hand management mechanic.