Playings; 3 (2 hours)
Having just about finished off this rag and found a suspiciously large gap towards the back pages I felt compelled to try out something quick and painless. Command's graphic presentation goes up and up, Strike North being twinned with Wahoo but unlike similar twins the 2 games have separate rules, maps and counters allowing the package to be bought separately. I cannot comment on Wahoo not even knowing where Pittsburgh is let alone being inspired by the rational.
On to Strike North which an unguarded comment by an unnamed reader rendered worth a look. The map covers Norway to just North of Narvik and in order to fit this in also stretches far enough to cover most of Southern Sweden. Not wishing to waste map space the game covers Jerry taking over Norway in 1940 plus options to invade Sweden at the same time and exploring Germany taking on Sweden in 1943 and Allied invasions of Norway at that time. Unusually this is handled in 2 (almost 3) game systems each with a separate counter sheet. The 1940 scenarios are easiest but rather than being presented before the 1943 rules they come at the back and throw out a lot of the earlier rules. This is a reverse of the usual procedure of starting with basic rules and adding bits on. The 1943 scenarios use the bulk of the rulesbooklet but the 1943 invasion of Sweden assumes German air and naval superiority and hence most of the air and sea rules are not required. To complicate the countermix there are grey German units to invade Sweden and another, green, set for the scenarios in 1943 involving Allied troops.
Having a historical bent I aimed for the 1940 Norway scenario which has the limited good point of being over quickly. This system is retro-gaming at its worst and makes one long for the good old Napoleon at Waterloo clones. Units are few but multi-step involving up to 5 counters for each unit each involving a drop of 2 strength points. Single step garrison units can be dropped off to hold towns and cities but cannot be picked up again. The German units are naturally much stronger than the Norwegians and Allies and also have such high replacement rates that they will not be worrying about losses. Non-German units have no replacements although the starting Norwegians are joined by new British units on turn 3 and French units on turn 6. There is a victory point bonus for finally eliminating non-garrison units and the Allies are not going to be earning it often. The only limit on German replacements apart from the ample initial allowance is that these must come in by air (3 steps maximum per turn) or sea (6 steps per turn in Oslo, limited levels at other ports) so occasionally units will have to nip back to Oslo to fill up. Apart from 1 unit on each side that may move an unlimited number of rail hexes all units are limited to 1 hex movement or 2 along roads. Naturally this cuts down on the manoeuvre and both sides are going to grind each other down until the Allies run out of units and the Germans mop up. Victory is really dependent on just how long this takes.
Moving on to 1943 the rules are years ahead although still well in SPI days. Units have fewer steps Germans are 3 or less counters per unit, the Swedes are 1 or 2 steppers. We now have real movement rates (up to 8) with bonuses for roads and the ability to move double if the unit never goes adjacent to an enemy. Units can also attack during movement (once) if they are motorised and in clear terrain (mostly on the South of the map). The basic scenario is 5 turns long and involves overrunning Sweden. The Swedish defences are pretty strong but neither side has any replacements and eventually the Swedes will run out of units allowing the German to mop up again. This scenario has some merit to fill in limited time but does not have a wide variety of options. Certainly there are far better ways to spend this time,