Time for another review today so as we spin the wheel what do we get?
Hind Commander (miniature helicopter battles).
Produced by Assault Publishing out of Poland, it is their first go at doing a miniature system. So lets see what we have here then.
It is a game of helicopter battles based around some scale miniatures with the aim combat being about the whirlie birds there are chances to use both other aircraft and ground troops.
Like my other reviews I aim to do the following Fluff; Miniatures; Rulebook; Rules/Mechanics; what you get for your money and a Summary. Or FMRRMWYGFYMS for short.
No major story arcs or factions within the game as it is made clear these are real helicopters and that there has been no major helicopter on helicopter action. Very much a ‘what-if’ which lets face it is where a lot of late 20th century conflict type games are going to be (such as Cold War Commander).
This is nice as sometimes more ‘real’ non-fiction games (historicals for example) are a bit tighter on variation.
Like a lot of newer systems these days you can use any companies miniatures, which is always good and helpful if you have particular favourites.
While scale is not much of a problem since on measurements are done to the base, so as long as you and your opponents bases are the same there should not be any difference if one has 1/600th scale and the other 1/25 scale…
Assault publishing does have their own set of miniatures which I believe you can all see within the rulebook and on the website. I hope to do a review of them soon.
Time to look at the book itself, it’s pretty standard book the paper is nice and glossy. The printing is in the whole black and white, while the examples used in the rules are in colour and are actual pictures of the miniatures on a board rather than diagrams.
The book weighs in at around 100 pages and around half of that is made up of the statistics for different miniatures so there are plenty of options available to people.
It is well presented and although for obvious reasons there is no fluff section the authors have added so little bits of quotes here and there to help break up the pages which is a nice touch.
I will mention that as I said at the top this is from a Polish company and so there is a possibility it has either been translated or written by someone who English is not a first language. I can tell you now that this is not a problem and although you may stumble upon one or two mis-phrasings here and there. It does not bring any issue(s) in understanding any of the rules (well on my part anyway and the wife will tell you I am not the brightest).
Not enough guns for me
First I will start with the characteristics for the miniatures you will be using (i.e. Helicopters ;) )
Characteristics – The helicopters all have several stats that will affect how each performs on the battlefield.
- Category – This the sort of helicopter you have transport, recon etc.. there is also hybrids within this as well.
- Tech level – Linked to the age of the helicopter a 60s Huey not as advanced as an Apache etc. (Both of these are linked to how you pick your lists)
- Ceiling – How high a helicopter can fly.
- Type – Light or Heavy are the options and this affects the maneuverability of the helicopter
- Speed – movement
- Sensor effectiveness – How good the sensors are at achieving lock-ons etc.
- Sensor range – surprisingly the range you can lock-on
- Sensor tracking – How many targets you can target..
- ECM – How well the helicopter can disrupt those sensors
- Armour – Generally how robust the machine is (part of the damage roll off)
- Type – Cannons, rockets etc.
- Fire arc – What you expect
- Accuracy – Modifier to the to-hit roll (better Accuracy = easier roll)
- Damage – What you expect
- Ammo – Different ammo effects
- Crew skill – Better crew means even an old helicopter can compete with an advanced one.
So there is a lot of stats going on in the game but I have to say they are all needed to give the sense of something even at the basic level is very advanced engineering. While as we will see the mechanisms are simple enough that you only use certain stats at certain times.
Turn phases – Next up the phases of a typical turn;
Initiative – Pretty standard roll a dice highest wins, unless a draw and the last player who had it gets it again (reroll on 1st turn)
Reserves – Simple roll to see if your reserves come on (this can be effected by doctrines your army uses)
Orders – These will be covered later but basically you note down what roughly the movement of your helicopters will do in the coming turn.
Lock-on – This phase is all about locating hidden enemies (markers become miniatures once discovered) and locking onto a target to fire missiles.
Movement – Guess what..
Weapon – Shooting time
End – Standard closing phase of a turn (has anyone won etc.).
Orders – As mentioned this these are done in the orders phase and in secret only being revealed when the helicopter is activated in the movement phase. The orders consist of 3 things;
- Speed – you can decided to move in one of 3 ways – hover, slow or fast deciding this will then effect (note you can’t go from fast to hover (and visa versa) in one turn).
- Manoeuvrability – This is based on 9 possibilities some of which can not be chosen if you have moved at a fast rate.
- Altitude – You can increase/decrease you altitude by one every turn and only one (keep this in mind if you are dropping troops off).
Dice Mechanism – The whole mechanism used in the game is based on D10 (where the 10/0 is 0) and all the particular rolls you will make are verses rolls, so everything – the locking on rolls, initiative, To hit and damage are based on you and your opponent rolling off adding modifiers and the highest is the winner.
Damage – This is different from the main mechanism it is instead based on a D6 and the number you roll is based on how much you win the roll off with.
Rather than having wounds etc. like in other games you have 6 different locations that can be affected these are; Weapons, Sensors, Controls, Cockpit, Engine and Rotor in general it will take 2 hits to one system to take it out completely (and hence the helicopter) however what is nice if you roll doubles/triples/etc. it only counts as one hit so the Helicopters can be relatively resistant to weapons for a while although at a reduced ability.
What can be nasty is critical damage which is when you as an attacker get a roll of a 9 and the opponent gets a 0. Then it is good-bye helicopter in a spectacular fireball.
Do you hear something
Land & Support Vehicles – This includes everything from tanks and infantry to Aircraft and off-table artillery. They follow similar rules to the Helicopters with some slight differences here and there.
The firefight mechanism is a quick and simple way of showing infantry VS infantry battles during the game.
These sorts of vehicles are very important for the game (they even get their own allowances within the cost of an army). However I would recommend not playing with them until you have the Helicopters down as learning these mechanisms will set you up nicely for everything else.
Scenarios - There are 7 scenarios within the book which are part of ‘Training’ course about the game. These are helpful as they take you through the system in nice chunks. I found them very useful to get to grips with it all.
Doctrines - There are different doctrines with the book and you will use these to generate your lists. I have to say this was the biggest problem with the whole book for me. I like the fact you can have different doctrines and therefore these affect how you build your army list. I however would have liked more information about how to go about doing it rather than just letting me loose without a brief guide. It is probably me being a bit daft I am sure others will find it easy though.
End Phase points – During the end phase you generate Command points (from the doctrine choice) and Intelligence points (another roll off with winner getting the difference).
- Command points – Allow you do such things as change an order or call in off table support.
- Intelligence points – Allow you to reveal hidden miniatures/objectives etc.
This is a nice extra that aids a sense of complete military control but only when you are lucky enough to receive them.
What you get for your money
So what do you get for a very reasonable price even with postage from Poland (but that will be reduced as they get other distributors around the world).
You get a nicely printed book and ALL the counters you will need for the game ever!! It would have been nice to have perforated card but that would have bumped the price up, just need to get the other half to cut them up for me (can’t be trusted).
On top of this you also get 2 fast play sheets now this is a big positive for me as it is sometimes easier not to share ;)
Overall for their first shot at something like this I am very impressed.
Final thoughts on Hind Commander;
Pros – It’s a unique game of Whirlie birds. There is one single dice mechanism that is responsible for everything (except type of damage). Although concentrating on the Helicopters the added support forces add something extra which increases the feel of multi faceted war. Use any miniatures you wish at any scale as long as the bases are the same
Cons – The army list building could have been made clearer. Getting to grips with everything may take time.
Overall – Another game I would recommend people look at, I have certainly enjoyed the look/feel of the game and with a very simple mechanism means you can concentrate on the more complex stuff. Which in a game like this really adds to the whole experience.
Not sure this one counts…….
P.S. I should also mention that Assault publishing are looking like the will really keep the game up-to-date with errata already out and new vehicles rules being released occasionally as well. This means the game should continue to grow. This make me happy :D