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Commander: Europe at War – Early Moments

June 18th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · Matrix, Slitherine, WW2

I’ve mentioned Clash of Steel (no relation) a few times before. For me, it epitomizes the perfect light wargame. Units arrive, you place them, and then you run across a hex map of Europe killing Nazis.

Commander: Europe at War is better. It’s not perfect, by any means, but I’m pleasantly surprised. Matrix Games has had an off year for me, with the decidedly average Forge of Freedom and recycling old wargames from SSG – done very nicely, but still recycled.

Now add the Slitherine factor. A development house that has churned out a number of average or below average ancients games has joined with Firepower Entertainment to create a satisfying WWII experience, complete with research, strategic bombing and submarine warfare that really make a difference. (I interviewed the developers last year.)

A while ago, I asked about introductory wargames. Though Commander (with its production, research and rudimentary diplomacy) has grand strategy elements, this could be the beginner wargame I’ve been waiting for.

We have a dark horse contender for a half-year honor.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • MikeO

    But Troy, is it better than SC or SC2? :)

    I was wavering on this one, but I’m buying it now based on your blurb. Even if it’s not as good as CoS or SC, it looks interesting.

  • roberton

    I’m thinking the same as MikeO. Since you’ve played SC2, Grigsby’s WaW and nor C:EaR, you’re in a great position to give us adoring readers a brief comparison :-)

    Like quite a few people, I’ve been aching for something which could take the place of Clash Of Steel. I did buy Strategic Command and quite enjoyed it, but it wasn’t great, not by a long way.

  • Troy

    It’s very similar to Strategic Command – units have strengths of 10 or lower, the resource/industry system is really straightforward. It looks considerably better, but is still a bare-bones wargame that focuses your attention on the important things.

    EaW is a simple wargame, and the abstraction of most of the details works just fine. Your decisions are primarily about how to invest your resources and where to place your troops. (If you are the Axis, there are also decisions about the timing of Barbarossa or the invasion of England.)

    Grigsby’s game (what little I’ve played of it) was a mess of detail that seemed design to prevent me from doing things I was interested in. If you like all that detail, I’d recommend Hearts of Iron 2 instead of this.

  • von Schmidt

    Just to be pedantic:
    “recycling old wargames from SSG – done very nicely, but still recycled.”

    Carriers at War is a remake of the original; it fills a need in the market but could be termed recycling.

    However, Battlefront only shares its name with the original SSG game. It’s a completely different gamesystem: IGO instead of WEGO, for one.
    If anything, Panther Games’ Conquest of the Aegean is more of a successor to the original BF than the new BF! WEGO (via pausable realtime); giving orders to intermediate commanders instead of moving each discrete unit…

    I’ve started to play “Commander: blah blah blah” (are companies running out of titles for wargames?) last night and have high hopes. Seems like the love child of Panzer General and Strategic Command 1.


    -von Schmidt

  • Troy

    Thanks for the clarification. CaW is certainly more of a retread than Battlefront, though Matrix has also republished a Tiller series this year. And last year’s highlights included releases of a “new” Operational Art of War and Harpoon.

    We agree on the title. I’ve mentioned bad titles many times – which is one reason I’m giddy with anticipation for Sins of a Solar Empire.