Thursday 17 February 2022

Rommel: The Refight

 As planned, we reset the previous week's game and had another try of the Rommel rules. Not as planned, it descended into farce. 

The British commanders are caught out by a daring German attack on their HQ

We have been trying the rules at the behest of Mark, who wishes to rebase his existing collection of Western Desert models to suit this game (*). In the meantime we have been using James' stuff and his gridded desert cloth as originally made for Crusades and To the Strongest!. Unfortunately, Mark wasn't able to make the game, even more unfortunately the rulebook didn't make it either. We were left reliant on the quick play sheets and what James and I could remember from the previous week. It wasn't enough. It was never going to be enough.

I didn't really help by repeating my tactics of the previous week - I was once again the Axis commander - and making an armoured thrust straight for the British supply dump. I confess that I was partly doing this to demonstrate where I thought the game was a bit broken. If units can't be supplied then there are consequences. The problem was that without the rule book we weren't sure what those consequences were. In particular the reference sheet - and one of the action cards - differentiate between being 'isolated' and being in a state of 'low supply'. Handily we had the page references for the relevant rules, less handily we didn't have the pages. We carried on regardless, but the game rather drifted. The Panzergrenadiers on Hafid ridge were as indestructible as in the first week, but this time I moved the Panzer reinforcements into the centre to try a two pronged attack on the British armour. Unfortunately I had misread where the grid markings were and there wasn't actually a route for me to get through. It seemed to sum up the evening and so we gave up.

We're clearly going to put Rommel to one side for now and do something else. On the negative side, they are all a bit abstract. As James observed, Command & Colors is a board game that becomes a wargame if you use figures to play it, whereas this just stays a board game with clunky playing pieces. On the plus side, I think there are nuances within that board game. For example, after a few combats it becomes clear on which occasions you should play cards to try to improve your odds of causing casualties, and where you should be trying to reduce those of the enemy; you can rarely achieve both. 

Overall verdict: meh.

* One of the reasons that I like wargaming is that the hobby covers such a wide range of activities: military history, modelling, painting, rule writing, playing the games etc. We can all dabble in a bit of everything, but choose the one on which we wish to focus most of our attention. For reasons known only to him, Mark has chosen to specialise in rebasing, an activity he carries out pretty much continuously.


  1. Lol...sounds like a challenging game, and not in a good way! Mind you, I have known some wargames who would prefer to play without any rules, and just make things up as they go along to suit themselves! Your description of these rules dies not recommend them to me....Command and Colours with figures is still not a real wargame, the card system means you are reliant on luck as to what your troops can actually can have a plan to hold in the centre and advance on the right, but if you never draw any cards allowing this manoeuvre , you are stuffed. Your friend Mark needs help....rebasing is a torment to be avoided at all costs!

    1. We play EPIC C&C Napoleonics (Expansion 6, but the rules are freely available online) and find they work very well. On your turn you play two cards into different sectors, one from your hand and one from a shared tableau. And don't forget that you can always discard a card to activate one unit in any sector.

    2. Semi valid points but I prefer to stick to my prejudices! CnC is fine as a game to pass a couple of hours and I have enjoyed playing it a few times but I dont think you have enough control over what your army can do...of course, one might argue the farther one goes back in time, the less actual control any commander has/had - but representing this by randomising what the commander can get his troops to do is a bit too gamey for me!