Combat Leader™ is a tactical game of combined arms warfare using two map scales, 50 m and 15m per hex, and 5-10 minutes and 2-3 minutes per turn respectively. It places the player in the role of regimental/brigade or battalion commander with the ability to exercise company or platoon levels of command. Units in the game represent individual tanks and guns, and squads or smaller teams of infantry. Its first part Cross of Iron will put you to the fierce and unforgiving fighting of the Russian Front. Jump in the boots of Axis or Allied commanders and order german, russian, hungarian, polish, finish or italian troops. Features include: Enhanced unit characteristics: experience, training, élan, morale. fatigue, morale state, and suppression. Units have four primary characteristics that remain constant during a battle: experience, training, élan, and morale. They also have three secondary characteristics that change as a battle is fought: fatigue, morale state, and suppression. Each are linked in that the primary characteristics control the way in which secondary characteristics change. Experience and training mitigate fatigue, élan opposes accumulation of suppression, and morale counters swings in morale state. Formations in two types: command formations and maneuver formations. A command formation is a formation gives orders for its subordinate maneuver formations to attain. A maneuver formation is the “group of units” that behaves as a single entity for purposes of command and control. Command formations provide leaders and headquarters that are used to assign orders to maneuver formations. Maneuver formations have five characteristics: initiative, disruption, integrity, exhaustion and organization state. Leaders with enhanced characteristics: command, control, inspiration, motivation and initiative. Combat Leaders, as the name of the game implies are the key to successful game play. While every unit has a “leader” the maneuver formation leaders are the ones that are the position to most affect game play. They have a wide variety of characteristics. Leadership characteristics are the most important. When units suffer from the effects of secondary characteristics, leadership actions can “get them back into the fight”. Command determines the command points a leader gets, unit leaders do not get commands, but this rating carries with them as they get promoted. Control is the characteristic that is checked when attempting to lower formation disruption. Inspiration is checked to change morale state. Motivation is checked to change suppression Initiative is used to allow actions that would otherwise be prohibited; the penalty is the risk of increased disruption form “the left hand no knowing what the right hand is doing”. Doing too much “ad hoc” by initiative without planning and your formation can become disorganized. Leaders also have “core skills” and wide variety of “special abilities”. Core skills include Infantry combat, tank combat, AT gunnery, artillery combat, combined arms combat, and air-ground controller. Special abilities include characteristics that give special bonuses in certain situations like “Tank Hunter” conveying special close assault advantages against tanks, “Scrounger” giving a chance to receive “bonus” ammo, etc.
The game plays in turns each of which has three phases: command phase, action phase and formation status phase. The command phase is when players who have opted to use “command and control” make their command and control point allocations for the turn. They can be accumulated in headquarters units, spent on command actions, or allocated for control actions during the action phase. Players not using command and control assign orders in the command phase as they see fit. The action phase can be played two ways, in classic “move all your formations, then I move mine” – IGO-HUGO mode, or in “alternating formation” mode where all the maneuver formations get “picked from a virtual cup” that is weighted by initiative to determine the order in which they can activate. In the formation status phase each formation’s formation state is updated. A formation can be coordinated, disorganizes, or dispersed. Coordinated maneuver formations function normally, disorganized formation suffer negative leadership modifiers and command point penalties, and disperse formation’s units are removed from the map and only return upon a successful “regrouping”.