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Field Commander Rommel from DVG

By Aaron Skinner
Published: August 10, 2011
Field Commander Rommel box
Field Commander Rommel contents
Product: Field Commander Rommel is a solitaire strategy game that puts the player in charge of Rommel’s forces across his three most famous campaigns — France, 1940; North Africa, 1941–43; and D-Day, 1944.
Components include three 11 x 17-inch maps, 176 double-sided counters, a six-sided die, a player campaign log, and a 16-page rule book.

The paper game components have a matte finish and the game maps are heavy paper rather than mounted on cardboard.

Gameplay: After deciding which campaign to use, the player lays out the forces indicated. Both Axis and Allied starting force selection and placement is spelled out on the campaign maps, as are reinforcements. In fact, almost all of the information needed during the game — supplies, play turn sequence and battle plans — is on the maps.

The maps show the battlefields divided into geographical areas rather than geometric shapes, such as squares or hexagons.

Double-sided cardboard counters represent forces, with one side indicating full strength the other half. Dice rolls based on attack and defense strengths printed on the counters determines combat.

There are three things I really liked about Rommel. First is the emphasis on supply. Almost everything you do in the game uses your limited supplies, and your actions on the battlefield affect how many supplies you receive. Managing those supplies is critical to your effectiveness as a commander.

Second, although the game is turn-based, all combat is considered to happen simultaneously. It’s possible — indeed, it happened several times during play — for a seemingly overwhelming force to suffer serious or fatal damage in battle.

Third, and probably most important, is how well Rommel works as a solitaire game. One weakness of similar games I’ve played is how the enemy functions. Rather than being dumb automatons, the Allies’ actions in Rommel are determined by die rolls and affected by the disposition of forces across campaigns.

Marketing: Field Commander Rommel is a terrific game that should appeal to anyone with an interest in history and World War II in particular. The rules are simple and easy to understand; even casual gamers or newcomers should have few problems learning to play.

Encourage gamers to pick up a copy for those times when they want to play but don’t have the time or place to get together with a human opponent. You can reassure them that the game offers plenty of challenges and should not be considered a poor substitute for a two-player game.

The maps are small enough that you may be able to lay out a sample game on a counter or table and demonstrate the intuitive gameplay and innovative rules.

If you sell models as well as games, use cross-merchandising to its greatest potential. Stock Field Commander Rommel with both Axis and Allied armor and soft-skinned vehicle models used during the Afrika Korps campaigns. Create “speed bump” displays featuring DVG games models of vehicles featured in those games.

Mention the game to modelers purchasing WWII kits. Many are history buffs and may be interested in gaming. Rommel may be easy to learn, but it is compelling to play, so it might just serve as a gateway into other boardgames and wargames for the as-yet uninitiated.

VITAL STATS
Product: Field Commander Rommel
Maker: Dan Verrsen Games
Stock No.: 32046
MSRP: $39.99
Availability: Contact your favorite game distributor or visit DVG's website

BOTTOM LINE
Fun, easy-to-learn gameplay
More than just strategy
Attractive components

Note: A version of this review appeared pg. 16 in the September 2011 print edition of Model Retailer magazine.
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