Heavily Engaged: Close Combat 2

By Tim Stone on May 2nd, 2011 at 1:02 pm.

This week’s battle broadcast comes to you from a picturesque Dutch city on the banks of the Rhine. It’s September 1944, and a beleaguered force of British paratroopers, clinging by their fingernails to positions around Arnhem’s strategically-vital road bridge, are about to participate in what could well turn out to be their final action. All that stands between the Red Berets and total annihilation is a couple of 6-pounder anti-tank guns, a flamethrower, two PIATs, a few dozen Stens and Lee-Enfield rifles, and one mediocre wargamer who has known and loved Close Combat 2: A Bridge Too Far for the best part of 14 years.

If my 40 men are to survive the coming onslaught, they’re going to need to demonstrate as much discretion as valour. We start in nominal control of seven of the map’s nine victory locations. If the German attack is as ferocious and tanky as I suspect it will be, the Brits have little chance of holding onto all of these. Rather than fight for every stuccoed villa and leafy square, I aim to draw the foe into the maze of streets and parks beyond the main north-south bridge road. The more claustrophobic the fighting, the better chance my lads have of ambushing armour and splintering infantry assaults.

Well, that’s the theory.

Like a pigeon driven from its roost by the rumble of passing Panzers, the deployment cursor stirs and begins circling Arnhem’s trim boulevards. I’m looking for promising positions to place my pair of 6-pounders. As CC2′s AT artillery can’t be pushed or towed, if I choose poorly, I risk squandering two of my most precious assets. Eventually I settle on a spot next to the tramlines on the right edge of the arena. A gun set-up here should be able to engage any vehicles using the bridge underpass. The second gun is plonked higher up, at the end of a side street near the river bank. Fingers-crossed it may get to hurl a few shells into the sides of distracted AFVs before being overrun or KOed.

The rest of the Paras are bundled into buildings well away from the threatening black ‘L’ that is the Axis deployment area. The sprinkling of green ‘hide’ dots indicate that most won’t show themselves until the enemy is very close. British bayonets and submachineguns should be kept busy today.

 
The first sights and sounds of the battle don’t inspire confidence. The German deployment veil lifts to reveal a Jagdpanther lurking behind a row of houses on the far left of the map, and a swarm of SS Schutzen (riflemen) and Sturmgrenadiers (assault troops) already moving across the bridge road towards one of my abandoned VLs. Worse, in the gaps between CC2′s atmospheric dog barks and birdsong melodies, there’s the unmistakeable sound of a mortar clearing its throat. As my 60mm bomb tosser is currently hiding, the report must emanate from an enemy weapon.

Yes, a Granatwerfer is targeting the 6-pdr near the tramline. Has the gun really been spotted so soon, or has one of CC2′s small bugs crawled out of the woodwork? There’s no way of telling. The important thing is to get some counter-battery fire organised before the German bombs do damage.

Too late. As my mortar begins lobbing thunderbolts at its counterpart, a cry goes up from the 6-pdr crew. Corporal Webb, the gun commander, has been fatally hit. Bloodspattered and bewildered, Lowell, the gunner that was crouching beside him, begins to panic. I shake my head in dismay. Barely a minute in, and I’m horribly close to losing one of my lynchpins.

But maybe there’s still time for the shaken 6-pdr to make its mark. On the left side of the underpass a Panzer IV has just trundled into view. A lime-green LOS line and targeting reticle indicate my gun has the chance of a kill. Come on lads. Nail him for Corporal Webb.

But it’s not to be. The shell strikes brick rather than steel (a consequence of Lowell’s panic?). Before a second AP round can be sent on its way, the Pz IV disappears between two buildings. It seems the medium tank wasn’t alone though. Further down the road, a previously unseen Panther pivots nonchalantly onto the tramline. Within seconds, Private Mustard (automatically substituting for the rattled Lowell) has the big cat in his telescope and is tugging his fire lanyard. Damn. Another miss. Come on chaps, pull your puttees u..

Suddenly, the crew of the little 6-pdr are hidden by a starfish of grey smoke. When the smoke clears, none of the sprites are moving. That damned Granatwerfer has just made a hard task, a near-impossible one.

No time for self-pity though. While I was distracted by the Panzers, SS infantry have swept past the uncontested Public Works VL at the centre-bottom of the map, and are now a few jackbooted strides from my hidden infantry in the Lower Park. Before I can order a withdrawal, a two-man PIAT team crouching in one of the houses on the edge of the tramline finds itself in desperate close-quarters combat with a Sturmgrenadier squad four times its size. A Schmeisser burst incapacitates one of the Brits, then the unholy detonation of a hurled demolition charge, eliminates the second. Good God, this is turning into a rout.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. A paratrooper called Walker may have just turned the tide, or at least checked its progress. Seconds after steamrollering the PIAT team, one of the Sturmgrenadiers barges into the building occupied by my solitary flamethrower operator. After a few tense moments of melee, the German is dead, his killer directing a four-shot salvo of blazing napalm at the plentiful targets outside. In seconds, most of the grenadiers are either kaput or fleeing. Walker is a true inspiration.

And in the game.

Above and below this scene of smoky slaughter there are other pleasing signs that the Paras aren’t going to sell their Dutch foothold cheaply. SS Schutzen crossing the triangle of turf between road and tramline run into a flurry of small-arms fire from hidden recon and PIAT teams. Near the bottom of the map, a three-man Aufklarer (scout) team find themselves advancing through a building occupied by one of my rifle squads. The intruders are eliminated but it’s a costly victory. Sergeant Riley, the defending CO, is killed, the rest of the squad left either wounded or close to breaking.

Yes, it seems Riley’s men have had their fill. In dribs and drabs they slink back towards the safety of the righthand map edge. The scarily thin Lower Park defence line  now consists of Walker and his fire-spitter, and a nearby squad of rifleman under the control of a Sergeant called McLaughlin. Can they hold on? It looks like I’m about to find out.

Undeterred by the charred corpses of the Sturmgrenadiers, an SS MG team is attempting to infiltrate along a similar route. It pays dearly for its lack of imagination. Flame and bullets finish two of the three machinegunners. The third goes to ground and begins spraying MG42 fire in the direction of his tormentors. Keep your head down Walker. If one of those lead bees stings you, you’ll go up like a Roman candle.

It looks like the Panther is finally heading in my direction. It’s crossed the bridge road and is rolling slowly down the tramlines towards the intersection covered by the remaining 6-pdr AT gun. That’s it you dumb brute. Keep coming.

In the sixty seconds that separated this paragraph from the last one, five Red Berets have lost their lives. I’ve just witnessed one of CC2′s trademark acts of heroism. Sadly for me, the hero in question was wearing an SS smock. McLaughlin’s entire squad has just been culled by one MP-40 toting, stick-grenade hurling loon. It seems there was one survivor from that Sturmgrenadier barbecue. A soldat called Lang had slipped away unnoticed. After grabbing a VL close to where my 6-pdr perished (The State Archive building) the lone avenger returned to take on McLaughlin’s men. I watched him enter the crowded building, heard the frantic sounds of close-quarters battle fully expecting the defenders to quickly overwhelm the intruder. But somehow Lang stayed on his feet. Somehow he scythed his way through five elite paratroopers. Walker is now the only British presence on the lower half of the map, and somewhere very close to him, is a blood-badged SS killing machine with a crazed glint in his eye.

In a side street close to the roiling Rhine, a weary British gun crew allow themselves a wry grin and some mutual backslapping. That Panther finally reached the intersection, and the boys on the 6-pdr keyholed it with a single shot. Frost would be proud of them. I know I am.

A few seconds after taking the surrender of two of the Panther’s crew, the recon team on the corner of the intersection, find themselves under withering MG fire from across the tramlines. After listening to a plaintive “We’re under heavy fire!”, I decide to order a withdrawal. Annoyingly, one of the team chooses to cower rather than retreat.

Another friendly unit snuffed out. Soon after the recon team’s hasty departure, three SS MGers assaulted their semi-vacated position. The cowerer paid for his funk with his life.  His two comrades died after returning to the building in an attempt to save him. It takes an assault by one of my two remaining infantry squads to neutralise the squatters.

During the last few minutes the only foes my troops have spotted have been stragglers: broken Schutzen or retreating crewmen. Have we weathered the worst of the infantry assault? Assuming we have, what about the two(?) remaining Panzers. Where the hell is that Jagdpanther and Pz IV?  Perhaps some cautious scouting is in order.   
     
While I’m figuring out who to send forward, one half of the remaining PIAT team decides to remove himself from consideration by legging it. I send the now  ammo-less mortar team after him in the hope of steadying his nerve, but it’s no use. The bugger exits taking with him one of my force’s only mobile AT weapons.

Moments after the deserter quits the field, the Pz IV shows itself. It seems to have slipped past the intersection without drawing a shot from the 6-pdr. Unfortunate. Perhaps the closest Allied unit – the marvellous Mr Walker – could cook its goose with his trusty fire lance. I send him scampering over to have a bash. He arrives in a nearby building just as the tank starts moving back towards the underpass.

No luck. The flamethrower spews one accurate but ineffective feather of fire before the tank moves out of range. Walker then proceeds to use up the dregs of his napalm tank on a lone approaching Schutzen. When the scorched Panzer begins pounding the walls of his position, I hurriedly pull my talisman back into cover. I’d hate to lose him now.

Its curiosity revived by Walker’s attack(?), the Pz IV chugs soundlessly (one of CC2′s oddest flaws is its totally silent tanks) back towards the intersection. A split second before it enters the 6-pdr’s pencil-thin field of fire, I paint it with a red targeting dot. Nothing to do now but watch and pray.

The SS war machine looks like it’s going to scurry right past the intersection, but at the last minute seems to catch sight of the gun shield at the end of the street to its left. Braking abruptly it slews its thicker front armour towards the threat, and adjusts its turret in readiness for a shot. The years melt away. It is 1997 again. Wide-eyed and trembly, I am playing CC2 for the first time.

A shell screams low over the cobbles. 5cm of Krupp steel fails to halt its progress. Just off-screen, my grubby-faced gunners punch the air in triumph. Amazingly, another Nazi dragon is dead.

Of course, the Jagdpanther, the King of the Dragons, is still out there somewhere. I order my two remaining infantry squads (one rifle, one Bren) to head left in the hope of spotting it. Spot it they do. The turretless leviathan is just beyond the bridge road, making towards the river through a network of alleys.  For a few moments it looks like my 6-pdr gunners may get the chance of a snap shot, but the target stops metres away from the fire lane. What’s it up to? Could it be bogged?
 
After watching the motionless monster for several minutes, I weigh up my options. The eagle eyes and steady nerve of the 6-pdr crew can’t help me on this one, neither can the magma-less Walker. And that yellow-bellied bastard with the PIAT is probably in Brussels by now. Things seem desperate – a stalemate inevitable – until I notice the rifle squad’s green AT indicator. It seems some of my infantry have thought to bring Gammon bombs. If they can get close enough to use them, those little stockingette bags of BOOM might just save my bacon/gammon.

Cripes. I think the word for that is ‘fiasco’. While assaulting the Jagdpanther, my gallant Gammon bombers were caught in a vicious grenade shower. (I’d forgotten that CC2 modelled the fiendish Nahverteidigungswaffe). Only one escaped with his life.

Without mobile AT capability, I think my best bet now is to attempt to grab the remaining Victory Locations and force some sort of result.  Maybe if the Jagdpanther sees VL flags flipping, he’ll  move those crucial few metres into my 6-pdr’s line-of-fire.

These SS types don’t know when they’re beaten. While making for a VL, the British mortar team blundered into a separated Schutzen. By the time my Bren squad had dashed over to provide support two of the mortar men sprites were daubed with crimson. Sorry Buckere. Sorry Jagger. I should have been more careful.

Aha! The Jagdpanther is on the move. My VL-seizing antics seem to have done the trick. 

It’s retaken the Bridge Access VL and is looking it might trundle down to the Lower Park. My 6-pdr might get a shot at that hat-trick after-all.

Right now, the realism-hungry game critic part of my brain is tutting at the Jagdpanther for straying so close to the carcasses of its dead cousins (Surely it should suspect a threat?) while the gamer part wills it to continue on its perilous path. A few more metres and my sharpshooting gunner will have a fat slab of Panzer under his crosshairs. He’ll have the chance to cement a famous victory.

In my mind’s eye I can see the raised arm of the gun commander (the aptly named Sergeant Hunter) sweep downwards. I can see the little artillery piece buck as the shell leaves its muzzle. What follows requires no visualisation. A cloud of oily black smoke plumes from the target. Stunned crew flop from hatches. Someone  -  I suppose it has to be me – mutters under his breath:

 ”Got the bastard! Got ‘im!

A short time later, the victory screen interjects. It appears the Germans lost 42 soldiers during their failed assault, as well as that trio of tanks. British losses? 24 Paras and one AT gun. More than half their strength.

As usual, the ‘Details’ section of the debrief makes riveting reading. Predictably, Walker was my most lethal warrior (5 kills + an immeasurable impact on enemy morale) and the shiniest gongs – a Military Cross and a Distinguished Service Cross – went to the loader and gunner of that supremely effective 6-pdr. Listed in the survivors on the German page, is Sturmgrenadier-extraordinaire Lang. The ’4′ in his bravery column,and ’3′ in his cowardice column  suggests he may have hidden after single-handedly wiping-out McLaughlin’s squad. For Walker’s sake, I’m rather glad about that.

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70 Comments »

  1. GraveyardJimmy says:

    Great write up. I recently tried to play CC4 (Invasion Normandy one) but it seems to have problems with windows 7, with units not updating their positions. What OS are you running to play this? Any tricks to get them to work in w7 ( I tried all the compatibility options, apparently its a directdraw problem).

    I also remember playing the CC3 demo (was that the Russian one? There was a flame T34) for ages and ages. It must remain one of my longest playing games when I was younger and I never played the full game, just one map included in the demo. Great series.

  2. Laminer says:

    To me, this game was as close as it got to the joy of table top gaming. I also remember struggling on my 56k modem to play this on-line. Easily one of the top 5 games of my youth. Thanks for the story.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Seconded. Just last night after a tooth-and-nail battle online of CoH, I found myself ruing the absence of individual soldier reports at the close of battle. It was the individual troops that really made CC so fertile a place for the imagination.

  3. DarkFenix says:

    Ah I remember CC2, bloody good game. You really were up against the rails playing the allied campaign, after all you’re playing an operation that historically failed. That said, I did manage to hold onto a tiny tiny sliver of ground in Arnhem, inflicting just enough casualties to make the Germans rethink their assault each time. Then the tanks arrived and I slaughtered the German armour with a smile on my face.

    Personally I found CC4 to be a bit large a departure from the formula I liked, CC3 was probably closest to the mark for me with the ability to form a very large armoured force with a mere few infantry as scouts.

  4. Fwiffo says:

    Well I’m going to associate CC with David Niven cursing the War Paparazzi forever now.

  5. DainIronfoot says:

    Another extremely entertaining strategy read.

    Any chance of some kind of overview of Les Grognards? The demo was extremely… clunky. Some people tell me it’s improved since then but I remain sceptical.

    • bartleby says:

      It’s out now? Wow. Yeah, I’d love to see a review of that.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Les Grognards is pretty high on my list of potential subjects. There will definitely be something Napoleonic soon.

  6. DiamondDog says:

    Many, many hours lost to this game when I was young. All before my family even had a PC and I got all my mouse-based fun from going round my friends house (best friend on those days). It was like playing with toy soldiers but they turned into bloody bits when hit with a tank shell! What kid wouldn’t love it.

  7. Wulf says:

    …why is he wearing a helmet made of syrup drenched waffles?

    I think I approve of this.

  8. Bradderz says:

    This game was one of my childhood gems, its still on my hard drive, the CD is as battle scared and worn as the men who fought there. Never managed to get the multiplayer aspec nailed down, we had a lot of difficulty trying to connect. Hope to give the multiplayer a bash next time im on leave though.

    Tbh after just finishing portal 2 i may indeed treat myself to a grand campaign again :D

  9. Njordsk says:

    I love CC serie.

    No new game come close to that feeling.

    (please do not mention MoW)

  10. Vinraith says:

    The CC series was a staple of my mid to late 90′s gaming. My favorites were 2, for its sense of progression, and 4, for its sense of large scale strategy. No one makes games with that kind of sense of strategic context anymore, everyone wants to foist a crappy scripted plot on you instead. It’s really kind of tragic that games where you can lose a battle and still win the war just don’t seem to exist anymore.

    Tim, have you had a look at the Matrix remakes of CC’s 5, 4, and 2?

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      This.

      Its part of what makes XCOM so great – that every decision impacts every other (and that the first decision you make in the game is the most important). Genius design.

    • Tim Stone says:

      No, but I’ve been meaning to. Some of the updated maps look fantastic. Good to see they’ve actually put Arnhem the right way up in the remake. Writing this piece without compass references was tricky.

      The new version of the AAR map (http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=2531954) also includes the full length of the bridge meaning Viktor Gräbner’s plucky but mad armoured car rushes could be gamed.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Tim

      Thanks for the reply. I picked up a copy of Wacht am Rhein a little while back but haven’t had a chance to do much with it. WIth CC2 always having been my favorite of the series I’m intensely interested to see what they did with the remake. The notion of a slightly more flexible campaign structure, enhanced maps like the one you mention, and the other promised improvements… if done right that could be a downright dangerous time sink.

      Anyway, thanks for injecting the occasional big of grognard into the proceedings around here, much as I love RPS this place does tend to be a bit light on the wargame and military sim coverage.

  11. scut says:

    I first played Close Combat 2 via a cover disk demo, from PC Zone I think. It forever changed my ideas about what a PC wargame should be, and in a sense has spoiled me for just about everything that’s come since.
    There were a few good sequels in the Close Combat series, with Russian Front being the best, but it seemed like they were games that got ignored by most gaming press. The camera view probably didn’t help, even though it was functionally perfect, it makes for uninspiring screenshots. The modelling of the frictions of war might have turned off players expecting the sorts of ham-fisted tactics of conventional RTS games.
    I’ve tried other games that attempt to offer a solid tactical experience, all of which failed in my opinion because they missed the elegance of Close Combat’s design. My point isn’t that other games are bad, just that Close Combat was so /good/ it’s been burned into my knee-jerk response processes.

    Also a brief rant, I really wish the design had not been restricted to WW2 settings. It could be adapted to much more novel applications.

  12. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Even to this day that cover is still fantastic, I remember playing the demo over and over in my young years, which I think was on a Microsoft Games Studio demo disk.

    CC really was a great series, I still play CC3 from time to time, there really isn’t a similar game that captures it.

  13. digby5000 says:

    This article finally pushed me over the edge to register and state how awesome this site is. Great game and great article. Please keep up the good work!

  14. Uglycat says:

    A bridge too far was an excellent film.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Hearts!

      (I most recently watched it on the way to see Relic’s Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. Coming straight from it to the German-controlling Market Garden campaign left a somewhat ashy taste in the mouth.)

      KG

    • GreatUncleBaal says:

      Every time I watch that film, the bit where Frost asks Carlisle about his umbrella puts a lump in my throat. Every time.
      Enjoying this new series of AARS, but bugger me does it tempt me to pick up more strategy games – and I already have a rather large backlog to play through thanks to a series of recent sales (and have started lurking on the War in The East AARs now – it is too complex for me, I know it would destroy me mentally and physically, yet I am drawn to it and its terrifyingly large map).

  15. GenBanks says:

    Your choices of games are spot on for these articles. Good job RPS!

  16. Premium User Badge

    Kong says:

    Thx RPS for reminding us of great games they do not do anymore.
    Close Combat is my favourite pc war game. Nothing came close, except for…
    ok I will not mention MoW.

  17. Rudawitz says:

    Close Combat 2 was the first game I ever purchased and few other strategy games (discounting CC3, CC4, CC5 and their re-makes) have been able to match it. I just finished Close Combat: Last Stand Arnhem, the re-make of CC2, and I strongly recommend it (runs great on Win 7). Thanks for the blog and the article!

  18. MadMatty says:

    Yer im also a fan of the series.
    I thought Kharkov 1943 looked like a contender for the new CC but it lacks multiplayer, but it does have strategic maps.

    • Shadrach says:

      Last Stand Arnhem is the re-release of CC2:
      http://www.matrixgames.com/products/386/details/Close.Combat.-.Last.Stand.Arnhem

      Longest Day is the rerelease of CC5.

    • Torgen says:

      $50? Matrix Games certainly do think highly of their entire catalog, don’t they? (or are using $80 boardgames as a pricing metric.)

    • Janek says:

      Yeah, I find Matrix’s pricing strategy a bit depressing – I for one would go on one hell of a spending spree if prices were at a more reasonable level. £66 for Battles From The Bulge sticks in both the mind and the back of the throat.
      I mean obviously someone’s run the numbers and decided that going high and relying on sure sales from hardcore grogs is more profitable than enticing people who are a bit more casual, but it still seems a real shame if you happen to be one of those people. I’m sure I’d get my money’s worth, too, but it just doesn’t feel right to be paying £26 for, effectively, a digital download of a 15 year old game.

    • Megadyptes says:

      Yeah, Matrix really seem to do themselves no favours with their prices. I’ve looked at a few of their games in the past but have been put off by the prices.

    • Terribleperson says:

      Is their licensing also why we can’t get the original from any of the many download options out there? It’s cool that they are keeping it alive, but it would be cooler if i could download the original for five regional-unit-of-currency-here. (If it’s out there somewhere, please do correct my mistake.) I wish i could get it, because i dearly love the game, and while it’s installed on my PC, the game disc accidentally found its way to some deep storage…

      Thanks for the memories, Mr. Stone. The tension in the silences is so great. So many maps just waiting for the MG42 to drown out the crickets as my troops crawl towards a VL. Good times.

  19. TT says:

    CC series is a must for any RTS fan, you will forget is dated graphics after the first shot.
    For me the best is CC5, with is two layers off strategy/ and tactical play (improved over CC4)

    This is the only! site i know to keep track of the series and the extensive collections of mods:
    http://www.closecombatseries.net/CCS/index.php

    ….keep on waiting for a CC6

  20. Nimic says:

    I love Close Combat. I remember seeing A Bridge Too Far at some point, but not really playing it. And then I quite randomly bought The Russian Front while on holiday in the Netherlands, and I was hooked. It’s just so… good.

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    Walker: he’s a dealer, not a healer.

    KG

  22. BooleanBob says:

    Great article. But is it really feasible that the humble 57mm could lay the heavy- and super-heavyweight armour of the Wehrmacht low?

    • Torgen says:

      All the Jagdpather’s armor is in the front, as it’s meant to lie in wait and ambush tanks (which is also why it doesn’t have a turret- for low profile and so it can present an almost-unbroken wall of steel to its opponent.)

      At the knife-fight ranges in this battle, the 6 pdr had decent chances at penetrating the regular tanks as well.

    • pepper says:

      The panthers side armour was rather low. The panther was always advised to engage the enemy with its frontal armour.

      If the 6pdr also had APDS shells then it would have gone through the tank as a knife through butter.

      Also, not quite sure if mobile 6pdr’s had these shells, but phosphor smoke shells made a great way to disable the crew on axis tanks, the smoke got sucked in through the ventilation system and forced the crew to abandon the vehicle.

    • President Weasel says:

      Back when I played it (I borrowed it from a friend after spending many, many hours playing 3) the tanks in close combat 2 seemed rather fragile to me. Shermans in particular brewed up if the enemy so much as sneezed in their direction (although to be fair, being a petrol engined tank with relatively thin armour, high flat sides, and poorly protected ammo storage, Shermans were depressingly prone to catching fire when hit – the Germans apparently called them Tommycookers). Even the German tanks seemed a bit easy to knock out in 2 compared to 3.

      I think Close Combat 3 is still my favourite war game, and still the one I put the most hours into.

    • bartleby says:

      German tanks used gasoline (petrol to you lot) throughout the war. The Panzers III and IV made up the vast majority of German AFV strength, and neither was particularly well-armored by D-Day.

  23. Jamison Dance says:

    Whooooaaaaa this is a blast from the past. This was the first game I ever played wherein I would consciously attempt strategery. It didn’t work very well, but I loved Close Combat and Close Combat 2.

  24. squareking says:

    Fantastic writeup. I remember attempting CC2 when I was trying to get my feet wet with the tabletop Advanced Squad Leader. My future father-in-law is a big ASL player, but I found it tough to dive into. CC2 is sort of a simplified ASL (to me, anyway) but is still an awesome title with some deep tactical tomfoolery.

    • bartleby says:

      Yeah, I think you need at least a dozen pairs of suspenders in order to fully grasp ASL. Although the starter kits do help a bit.

      I remember buying Beyond Valor and the big wonderful rulebook back when I was…11? 12? Let’s just say that not much gaming was done, but how I did love leafing through that wonderfully spiral bound book and gazing at the maps.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      “Although the starter kits do help a bit.”

      A little bit. I’ve got ASL Starter Kits 2 and 3 and they’re plenty hardcore for me. Takes me and my friend 2 or 3 times longer than suggested to play any scenario. Love it though, lots of fun (in a complex, daunting cardboard chit and hex sort of way).

  25. Chunga says:

    Another favorite – I played this a lot on my PowerMac 7600 but I managed to put the CD-R on a shelf by a hot summer window and that was the sordid end of that love story. Served me right for pirating games.

    But I still have my (original, mind you) Myth II CD. Now, that’s a classic if there ever was one. Close Combat but in a different way.

  26. Doctor_Hellsturm says:

    Excellent read! Takes me back to my olden days on MSN Gaming Zone and the CC2-ladder. Some of the most nervewreking multiplayer i ever had.

  27. Jake says:

    Multiplayer Close Combat was so great. Nothing compared to trying not to grin as you watched your LAN opponent’s paratroopers stride confidently across a broad street while your ambushing MG42 teams took aim.

  28. The Army of None says:

    Oh man. I played this so much as a kid. Me and my dad would take turns playing scenarios endlessly. The pure thrill of the close combat! The amazing power of a flamethrower (always my favorite)! The withering hail of machine gun fire through hedges! Classic, classic game. Thanks for the writeup, Mr. Stone

  29. mxu says:

    Yes, Close Combat 2 was great. Combat Mission (especially Barbarossa to Berlin) was better, and the new king of the tactical WWII-strategy games is coming soon: http://battlefront.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=273&Itemid=459

    • Chiron says:

      I think its time I admitted something… I dont like 3d.

      That trailer does nothing for me, I played CC:Invasion Normandy recently and it was awesome but the same game in 3d leaves me cold.

      Bring back isometric top down games

  30. LordCraigus says:

    Simply this was just really enjoyable to read.

    I’ve been intrigued by the Close Combat series for a while, particularly Cross of Iron which I assume is the re-release of CC3? However, for me, it’s a bit daunting coming to a game like this so late because of all the mods, patches, tweaks etc. that are out there for it and I have no real idea which is the ideal way to play the game, especially if a could get a much better experience than the ‘vanilla’ version.

    Still, this article may have almost single-handedly pushed me just enough to see what these games are like for myself. While I’d like to get Cross of Iron most, annoyingly there’s some really nice looking Stalingrad mods for CC5.

  31. TT says:

    yes, Cross of Iron is the re-release of CC3

    CC5 as more mods and I think is still the most played (the original)

    The “Close Combat Series” site will answer all your questions

  32. Eightball says:

    Oh man, another classic and formative game! I remember playing it on the crappy family computer. Whenever there was a high-caliber shot aimed at a tank, the computer would freeze for two seconds as it worked on the calculations. It had the unintentional but brilliant effect of putting me on the edge of the seat – “will my sherman kill the IV or will he kill me?!”

    (The Sherman always dies)

    • Bradderz says:

      see this is a great example, my pc was, well to not be too technical… Tonk. and i had a few similar experiences.

  33. Guyver says:

    a nice well written article!
    i would like to see more battle reports! :)

  34. Dances to Podcasts says:

    If I remember correctly, Arnhem doesn’t have trams, it has trolley buses:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolleybus

    • Tim Stone says:

      Not now perhaps, but they were definitely there during the battle.

      Part of an Arnhem resident’s account of the fighting:
      (http://sites.google.com/site/freedomtrailarnhemengelstalig/18-john-frostbrug)

      “By early morning of 19 September the Germans had penetrated as far as the Markt and we saw a German officer ensconced in a line 2 tram. We heard the Germans yelling their orders. The British succeeded in driving the Germans out. They fired from the cellars of the surrounding buildings. The Germans nevertheless returned and began setting fire to the houses.”

  35. Megadyptes says:

    Excellent write up, I quite enjoyed it. I’ve not played any CC games in quite some time now, really brought back some memories.

  36. pagad says:

    I remember CCIII, bloody good game. I remember specifically a map which consisted of two ridgelines, the German tanks on one and the Russian tanks on the other. The Germans won every single time regardless of which side I played.

  37. StoneMason says:

    The six pounder engaging that Panzer IV took me right back, heart in mouth Close Combat right there.

    I’d love to see a really simple version of CC for iPad or iPhone. The interface and visuals are perfect for it, add in multiplayer and you have more depth and replayabilty than pretty much anything on the platform.

  38. powerdontlose says:

    This is easily my favorite game of all time. I’ve put more hours into it than most other games I’ve played combined (aside from EQ). It’s good fun on a LAN, although I tend to annihilate my friends in ways they find discouraging.

  39. jankenbattle says:

    YES! you NAILED that desperate feeling!
    so many times i was left facing a tank with little more than a flamethrower with two shots remaining. ten minutes of skulking around the back and avoiding other enemies before finally hitting it was a nail-biting experience. so many times i was left with a couple of seemingly useless infantry who somehow managed to pull off ridiculous feats.

    and that rousing menu music still makes me shake my fist in victory!

    thanks for taking me back with such crystal clarity.

  40. ritalingamer says:

    This is hitting me with some serious nostalgia. The Close Combat series was my introduction to wargaming and I’ve yet to find a game that combines its cinematic feel and sense of desperation with the crucial identification with your troops as individuals. Utterly brilliant, thank you for doing this excellent writeup.

  41. Stoner075 says:

    I only registered to say you wrote a darn great AAR, you’ve said it all. Das Blut!, Deck Mich!, the screams of those gone berserk, the horror indeed, and (always) the haunting what ifs… And that martial music of the main screen, it all took me there and so did you!.
    Great games this series and wonderful many mods, Last stand arnhem is great too.
    At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, you’ve said it all man, you’ve said it all!

    As for the ABTF movie: two quotes I love: the “Tell’em to go to hell” scene, and “You’re late bastards, but we forgive you”.

  42. luckyshot says:

    How awesome it was to come across this AAR. It sent memories flooding back and a renewed interest. When I purchased my first PC in ’97 (Gateway), it came with a choice of a new game, CC2 (ABTF) was one, and I chose it because it reminded me of Axis and Allies, a board game I loved. Up until this point I had never played a PC game, only consul. I could not wait to fire it up, (the game not the PC). The desire I had for the PC, my first, was quickly overshadowed by the desire to play this game, and I was not disappointed. I was hooked from the first airdrop. I soon turned a friend onto the game and we quickly established a LAN in his house, so we could play one another. This led to both of us joining MSN Game zone and playing ladder matches. What evolved was a 10 year love affair with this game, all the way until CC5. In subsequent years I had moved on, but never forgetting the thrill of combat, the thrill of command, that games lack these day’s. I still have CC2 thru CC5 in all their original glory (remember when games came with books). Your post has inspired me to return to the field.
    Thanks,
    Erik aka Hammer.