COMMAND 39: Strike North - Review and Commentary

Command 39's "other" game...along with Hoorah! is Strike North, a look at Scandinavia in WW2. The title is significant because this game goes way beyond the two other games on this event out there...GDW/GRD's Narvik (for the Europa system) and GMT's game whose name I'm completely blanking on...This game is built around 3 scenarios featuring a Allied invasion of Norway (instead of Sicily) and a German invasion of Sweden (after a successful Kursk). Two "1940" scenarios cover the initial German invasion and add the Swedes to the mix...but warning, these constitute essentially a separate game in themselves.

SN features a 34x22 inch map, 2 full sheets of big counters. Each hex is 20 miles, turns cover 1 week. Map is basically colorless, in various shades of brown/ dark but fits everything up to Narvik and the Gulf of Bothnia. Units are div/bde, NATO icons; attack, defense, move factors and a variable number of steps ranging from 5 - 2. For SN'43, there are some nice naval units too and a plethora of game markers. Certain sides (dependent on scen.) win by accruing / denying Vps, mostly for holding terrain. Scenarios vary from 5-9 turns whose makeup also varies by scenario. Frankly, I'm still studying the rulebook (28 pages) to note what rules applies to which scenario...

The German invasion scenario goes: Ger. invasion/sea move; march "mode" moves; op moves; mobile assaults; prepared assaults; then Swede march mode moves, op move, prepared assaults, surrender check. The Allied invasions go: mutual nav/air segment (Ger Air commitment; KM sortie, aerial supply/paradrop plot); Allied sea move, replacement, march mode/air move; operational move; mobile assault; airborne; prepared assault. Then the Ger repeats.

Up to 5 divs in one hex...can lead to tall stacks. Air / naval heavily abstracted, depending on scenario... Supply is tracked by line to a source or by air. OOS are basicaly halved in move/combat....there's an elaborate ballet for the Allied amphib assaults which basically call for the identification of 4 hexes and follow-through...replacements to build up existing units and reinforcements (both by sea & air) are available depending on the scenario. Movement is fairly traditional with bonuses for Mtn units and penalties for terrain. March "mode" basically means units can move double if they don't move adjacent to an enemy.

Mobile assaults are combat conducted during movement by armor units, which pay a MP penalty (4) and are limited by terrain. Airborne assaults are similar save the drop zone must be cleared of enemy else the jumpers are eliminated....prepared assault is "regular" combat and is voluntary. CRT results are step-losses (though a defender can retreat 1hex and reduce his step loss by one). PA get possible Allied carpet bomb and naval gun support. Other CRT adjustments are for terrain, concentric attacks, and a German para bonus.

The 1940 scenarios are somewhat simpler...have their own units which show just combat factor/steps....15 turns (weather check, Ger replacements; Ger then Allied single-unit move until all are done; adjust fog'o war counters; Ger than Allied single-unit combat until all are done; adjust fog'o war again; check for Nor surrender. Stacking is limited to 1 "mobile" (as opposed to garrison) unit. There is no march modes. Sea and air movement.

So help me this game reminds me of GDW's Narvik...with nowhere the chrome or complexity of the GMT game. But it seems very playable, esp. the 1940 scenario...I'll report back after a few games.

Doug Murphy

Date sent: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 09:25:54 -0600 From: Doug Murphy

Played the German invasion of Norway scenario solitaire last evening. It's very interesting. There are relatively few units, they all move just 1 hex per unit per "pulse" so you get the sense of the difficulty of deployment without tons of rules. A fascinating mechanic allows the about 47 German "replacement steps" of two flavors (mtn inf & regular inf) that basically flow into controlled hexes (like Oslo or an airfield at various limited rates per turn) and through transport. lines to replenish "depleted" units. Certain German units can have up to 6 steps each so you end up "leading" with "big" key units and garrisoning VP hexes with others. The Allies (both Anglo-French and Nord units) have tremendous flexibility in sea movement around most of the coast... but are very heavily outnumbered in "steps" so the game revolves around the Allies blocking and Ger attacking around key VP hexes. Frankly, I was impressed with the simplicity and elegance of this system in comparison to some of its more complicated cousins by GMT, GDW/GRD and even the '43 scenarios (which essentially are separate games with diff. rules). Anyone else play this yet?

Date sent: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 09:26:15 -0700 From: Danny Holte


I haven't played yet, but it's sitting next to one of my computers waiting for a reading... (I'm playing the old S&T COBRA solitaire right now, in addition to KRIEG, pbem Kingmaker, (2) Empire 2 games, Stars!, etc)

You've wet my appetite though, so I'll probably yank it out tonight between Midnight, 2:00, 4:00, etc. feedings...

Date sent: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 11:50:53 -0500 From: Patrick Collins

I'm reading the rules. The naval/air system seems rather neat - is it present in the '40 set-ups, or 1943 only?

The more I read, the more I like about this one.

Date sent: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 11:19:39 -0600 From: Doug Murphy

I'm reading the rules. The naval/air system seems rather neat - is it present in the '40 set-ups, or 1943 only?

Pat, only in the '43 Allies invade Nor scenario (the other has the Germans invading Sweden). Nav/Air is treated differently and abstracted a tad more in the '40 scenarios which appear to begin after some Germans are initially ashore...(eliminating the need for a whole interception sub-routine). There are German-dominated sea spaces and Allied-dominated sea spaces...which very neatly allow things like replacements, etc. to flow in. There are a few counters that modify combat (Me-110s) for the German...