I like the games designed by Sam Mustafa, Maurice is an intelligent mix of a card game and traditional wargaming, Fast Play Grande Armee is excellent, Blücher a favorite of mine, but Rommel…. I hesitate when I see a gridboard wargame. Is it miniature wargaming or just a large scale 3D boardgame? More, is it fun, is it challenging, is it more challenging than popular games like the gamey Flames of War, fastplay Blitzkrieg Commander or puzzling I Aint Been Shot Mum? I’m in doubt.
I found a good review here. Tom Burgess from WWPD writes:
Rommel picks up where the other WW2 wargames leave off. Wargaming with Rommel starts at the Division command level and extends upwards to the corps and even army level, this level of command in wargaming previously was for the most part the domain of board based wargames.
Indeed, many may see Rommel as more of a board game than a miniatures game, and I can tell you that’s exactly what Sam wants. As with rest of the Honour series, he wants you to make what you want out of the game. Sam has designed Rommel and other Honour series wargames to be equally playable using miniatures or without by using unit cards.
The battlefield is set up as a 8 x 12 grid system where each grid approximates a kilometer. On a 4′ x 6′ table this would make each grid square 6″ x 6″, however with 15mm and smaller scales you could go with 4″ x 4″ grid squares to either expand the battlespace for your games or possibly play it at the standards size on a 3′ x 4′ table (Kitchen table?).
Combat occurs in Rommel when opposing units end a tactical phase contesting the same square with enemy units. The combat power of units in a square is combined and modified based off of tactical considerations. A die roll then determines how many hits the enemy must take. Generally combat results are simultaneous. If after the combat, the defender has a unit remaining in the square, the attackers retreat. If the defender is eliminated the attacker wins the square. Motorized/Mechanized units may make an evasion move after combat in which they discard their last hit taken, but retreat from the contested square
If I want to play a fast pick-up gridded wargame, why not play… chess?
If I want to play a quick WW2 boardgame, what’s wrong with Axis and Allies? Memoir 44?
If I want a fast paced square gridded WW2 unit card wargame, why not play Heroes of Normandie, a unit card gridded wargame that is a miniature game printed on cardboard?
Maybe it depends what your starting point is.
If you have played 28mm or 15mm skirmish or platoon games so far, then Mustafa’s approach is refreshing. Rommel allows you game something on a grander scale, using your 15mm now not as single elements, but as playing pieces representing armored divisions of brigades.
I play 6mm grand scale battles. I will reserve my final judgment until I have played a real game. But for me on first sight the Rommel ruleset appears to have not much added value to other grand scale non-grid-sets that I own. Small BKC2 games for example are played with 20-40 bases per side and large games with 100 bases per side. In other words I can play grand scale BKC2 on a proper table. So, hell, why should I play grand scale on a gridded map?