“Combat HQ World War Two Wargames Rules” by Jim Bambra

I was very excited to start playing with this new set of rules i found by Jim Bambra. After using Battlegroup Overlord for a while, i felt ready for a change, and to try something i hoped would be a bit more original and exciting.

The game revolves around six sided dice rolls, and sticks to this formula throughout the games processes. For a start this keeps things really simple and fast moving. For every action, reaction and result you throw a few dice and the game moves on. However, what i found most original and extremely playable was the way in which command and control of your units is handled. Traditionally a game would take the form of alternate moves ie each player would move and fire all his available units, then the other player would follow suit. You would probably get some kind of ambush fire order thrown in so moves could be interrupted. In Combat HQ each player rolls a number of command dice, determined by the size and type of force you are commanding, which are then formed into Dice Chains. So a chain can be made up of multiples of the same number, or if you throw 6’s they can be added to existing dice to make bigger chains or used as wild dice to affect orders in different ways. If you throw any 1’s in your command dice these may result in a command failure and end up being donated to your opponent who then can use them to expand his dice chains.

The significance of the dice chains is that players alternate orders or Command Pulses, each using a dice chain to move, rally, attack, disengage or other action, until each player has used up all their dice. The longer the dice chain the more you can do. So if you have a dice chain of say two dice you can make a double move, or you could rally units and then move, or any other combination of orders. So dice chains can be very powerful.

You form up to four units into Command groups and then activate them using a dice chain. So there is great flexibility for each commander to plan and execute his strategy while still affected by some good, or bad, luck. I feel the rules make game play very balanced between good strategy and good luck, rather than being random and annoying. If you roll a command failure and donate some dice to your opponent this can really tip the battle in their favour quickly.

Another excellent, and very simple idea that Jim has come up with, is that every unit may use opportunity fire during a turn. If an enemy unit fires or moves within your Line Of Sight then your unit may interrupt the move and fire, or fire simultaneously, if they have not already fired this turn. This negates the need for “overwatch” or “ambush” orders and is far more realistic i think. If you see the enemy then shoot.

Combat was quick and sometimes brutal, with tanks rolling attack dice against reaction dice, and results being suppression, dispersion and ultimately destruction. Each unit has different stats which are complex enough without being cumbersome. Again Jim reaches an excellent balance between realism, playability and fun!

In my battle from Charles Grant’s book, which i wrote about in my last blog, my British forces made very light work of a German tank group. Only losing a brave little Humber scout car the Brits managed to knock out a Puma, two Panzer 4’s, while leaving a third retreating and wounded. The Germans failed their morale before they could even fire up their troop of Panthers! If you are looking for a new set of rules you should check these out. Below are a few snaps of the game showing mainly burning wrecks.

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5 thoughts on ““Combat HQ World War Two Wargames Rules” by Jim Bambra

  1. Available on kindle for £4.99 amazing value.
    I shall read on my return to the UK. Sounds good 😊 I just hope playable via email. As you mentioned sometimes very quick, but we shall see.
    Lt Col ‘Chalky’ White

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  2. Dear Col. M. I enjoyed your review, and it has given me an interest in the Combat HQ WW2 rules. Currently, I’m using the Battlegroup Kursk/Overlord/etc. set of rule, which I enjoy. (I used to use a set of obscure WW2 rules titled Streaming the Reich that were very good, too.) Unfortunately, I have a couple of members in my group that are not fond of Battlegroup rules (they consider them “dense”, but then they favor the FOW rules).

    I understand that these rules use multiple figurines on a base, so would that be a problem for me since most of my figurines & vehicles are single-based 20mm or 1/72 (or at the most 2 to a base)?

    Also, since we usually have 3-5 players per side in a game (totaling 6-10 players), would the Combat HQ rules work with that many players? Are games can be played over multiple single evenings in our “club”.

    At your convenience, your responses would be welcomed.

    Ivor

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    1. Hey Ivor i use individually based figures too and just use a certain number for each squad ie 8 men. They all face the same way and it works the same as Jim’s rules basing in 3’s. It doesn’t matter. It just takes longer to move. Personally i like using more figures than less so 8-10 men per section looks more realistic. As far as playing in teams goes i am sure you can just split your forces up and make decisions in a team. Or nominate a leader who orders the team around. As far as Battlegroup goes i quite like their rules but i find Combat HQ far more original, flexible and interesting. It plays a much more fluid and realistic game. Thanks for checking out my blog!

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      1. I agree with your comments, and would use about the same number of figurines as you do. I’ve given the rules a quick perusal, and they do seem to be fluid, etc., as you’d mentioned. Though I’m not ready to give up on Battlegroup Kursk rules since I’ve invested so much into that rules system, e.g., I have designed stat cards for the vehicles and men. Still, I wouldn’t be opposed to trying the rules, or even recommending them to anyone looking for a low-to-moderate complexity system.
        Thanks! Great blog!

        Ivor

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