The Conflict of Heroes series is a comparatively new tactical wargame. Lots of comparisons have been made with ASL and I suppose with ASL being the big daddy of all tactical wargames its inevitable. But like wise it has mechanisms that will be familiar to non ASL gamers as well as Euro and Ameritrash players. I bought this after only reading a few reviews on the geek as I just knew it was the game for me. I’d tried a few of the older classics and the complexities felt too much like a chore. I was used to a PC doing all that stuff for me so to garner the same level of excitement and immediacy I realised I needed more abstraction. Something that retained the flavour, immediacy and realistic meaningful tactics but dispensed with all the charts and tables and endless rules clauses. Conflict of Heroes promised much.

And boy did it deliver.

Academy Games

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear – Russia 1941-42

Board Game Geek entry

Awakening the Bear (AtB) revolves around the early battles during the invasion of Russia. Starting with small scale partizan skirmishes, the missions progress gently introducing new rules as you go until by the 4th mission you’re using the full ruleset. The missions feel historical and are balanced as you’d expect. Early ones find the Germans faster and better organised than the Russians but by the last mission the Russians have more than evened the odds. T34’s have the same impact as they did in real life when the Germans first met them. Missions play fast and fluid and the better tactics usually win, as it should be. There is luck .. dice and chit pulls for damage. But these even themselves out.

Each side and each unit has a number of Command Action Points and Action Points respectively. These very cleverly and very simply represent leaders, supplies and command and control. Having been abstracted it allows you to concentrate on men and machines, on the immediacy of the fight and it all just works. Theres no charts and very few rule exceptions. Everything you need to know is on the chits and cards and all makes sense. It does suffer from the gaminess of the victory point mechanic ie. you can sometimes find yourself doing unrealistic things just to secure that last victory point but its not alone in this and can’t really be criticised for it. My one issue with some of the abstraction is that some detail that I like is just not there (eg in Red Orchestra I would avoid using a Tiger unless fighting long range or with a driver as it takes over a minute for its weak motors to rotate its turret) but I can live with that for a system that plays so well.

One of the design aims of the series is to show how tactics have changed through different conflicts. At the moment they’re concentrating on WW2 but over those five years tactics and military doctrine changed radically for each nation and CoH has managed to depict this very, very well. Even during the coarse of this first game the Germans start off strong and seemingly invincible while at the end the Russians have developed their T-34 and are no longer push overs. Learning to use the different weaponry effectively is essential to success and what is most impressive is that contemporary tactics work. The role and effectiveness of individual weapons are distinguishable and its all achieved without look up tables and charts. Wonderful.

Conflict of Heroes: The Marsh

Board Game Geek entry

The first add-on for AtB added a new map board and a couple of missions. The missions are very interesting and the marsh environment really makes you think around how to deploy and use your vehicles.

We’ve had 2 games featuring this board, two player and three player. As an attacker the open water and marsh do funnel your troops into potential killing zones and perfect ambush spots. But as a defender you can find that if one avenue of defence is over run then its very difficult to reinforce it from else where. Anything that adds more maps is good in my book especially as there’s talk that Uwe, the creator, is putting together a scenario generator.

Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel – Eastern Front 1943-45

Board Game Geek entry

Storms of Steel (SoS) has moved us on to the incidents surrounding the famous Battle of Kursk. Mine’s yet to be played but I will up date once I’ve had a chance. I can say that it includes the big guns, the Tigers, early Panthers, T34-85’s etc. and maps representing the local farmland and many of its unique features. For the first time it introduces map overlays to vary the terrain.

There are several more expansions in the pipeline centring around Poland, Normandy, Guadalcanal and Africa. Price of Honour – Poland 1939 is due for release very shortly.

I’ve played CoH solo, two and three player. Two player is excellent and three player could of worked if I hadn’t screwed up big time! Heres some pics of our sessions.