Combat Command

Combat Command was one of the first titles released by SPI in their line of Strategy & Tactics magazine games. The game was intended as a Western Front follow up to the popular PanzerBlitz. The Designer's Notes of CC noted that

PanzerBlitz (published by Avalon Hill) proved to be a very popular game. It was complex, but most people were enthusiastic about its apparent realism and authenticity. In point of fact, PanzerBlitz was not all that realistic or authentic. The game did have its good points. That it moved at all was a credit to its play-mechanics. What was lacking was an awareness, and implementation, of some of the more critical aspects of small unit operations. Chief among these aspects is the "confusion factor", which becomes nearly decisive at the platoon level. Other aspects left untreated in PanzerBlitz were the near simultaneity of action and reaction at that scale, as well as a more realistic handling of combined arms coordination.1

Dunnigan conceded in his notes that not all the problems with PanzerBlitz, including others he did not mention, were rectified with Combat Command, but that he felt a change in scale (to include company-sized units) and movement mechanics changed the basic game into a simpler, easier one. He also concluded in his notes that work continued on even better game mechanics and systems as research continued into the best way to portray combat at the platoon level.

Combat Command was one of the earliest tactical board wargames in the history of the genre:

Almost all of (the numerous new tactical game systems of the early 1970s) were designed by Dunnigan and SPI. They included Grunt (1971), which depicted the ongoing war in Vietnam on the platoon level; (and) Combat Command (1972), which was supposed to be the Western Front sequel to PanzerBlitz, but failed to generate much excitement (change of scale hurting it most)...2

By 1973, Dunnigan was declaring the PanzerBlitz/Combat Command (and Red Star/White Star, which followed it and took platoon-level armoured warfare games into the contemporary era) series of games obsolete. Avalon Hill, on the other hand, felt the PanzerBlitz rules were worth working with, and developed Panzer Leader for release in 1974.

A thumbnail review in issue 7 of Moves described the game as follows:

...a tactical game based on American-German conflict in France in 1944. The game system used is taken from AH's PanzerBlitz...There are, however, some significant changes. The scale is changed, so that now one hex equals 750 meters instead of 250. Now both sides can maintain units in the same hex, a device which can result in forgetting where your troops are if you are careless. The other important new devices are the addition of the retreat to the possible results of combat, the new ability to combine platoons into companies, and the addition of a zone of control rule which prevents units from moving across the front of an enemy with impunity. Several procedures are happily simplified with Combat Command and the board is much more realistic than the PanzerBlitz board. The six scenarios furnished with the game will probably cause great rage and frustration. It may be possible for the offensive to win in one of the scenarios, but I am not sure yet. I am fairly sure that the rest are hopeless, if interesting. It would be well to proceed to the realm of inventing your own situations as rapidly as possible.3



No. 2 Apr 1972 ► "Bibliography: The American Army in Europe 1944-45" (Historical)
No. 7 Feb 1973

► "A Guide to Conflict Simulation Games and Periodicals" by George Phillies and Martin Campion (Review)

No. 8 Apr/May 1973 ► "Armor/Infantry: Another Factor in Tactical Simulations" by Jerrold Thomas (Variant)
No. 9 Jun/Jul 1973 ► Errata: Combat Command

Strategy & Tactics

No. 30 Jan 1972 ►"The Organization of the U.S. Army Europe, 1944-1945" by Guy Ferraiolo (Historical)

Fire & Movement

No. 65 Opr-May 1990 ►"World War II Anthology: Chapter 4: The Western Front" by Jeff Petraska (Review)


No. 55   ►"Panzerblitz & Combat Command: Incompatible Brothers" by Paul Mills (Review)

Spartan Simulation Gaming Journal

No. 3   ►"Combat Command Review" by Norman Beveridge Jr. (Review)


No. 2  

► "Normandy: Omaha Beach 6 June 1944: A New Scenario for Combat Command" by Rich Meehan (Scenario)

No. 3   ► "Tactical Air Support" by John Garrett (Variant)


  1. Designer's Notes. Dunnigan's reference to "confusion factor" would later by codified in the hobby press for well and for good as "fog of war.

  2. MacGowan, Rodger B. "20 Years Later and 10 Years After Squad Leader" (F&M Special Report: History of Tactical Games.) Fire & Movement Magazine Number 53 (May-Jun 1987)

  3. "List of War Games", Moves, Issue Nr. 7


Combat Command

Developer: James F. Dunnigan (Game Design); Redmond A. Simonsen, John Young, Robert Champer (Rules Construction and Testing)
Publisher: SPI
Date of Release: 1972
Scale: Platoon/Company level
Players: 2
Campaign Type: None
Components: ► unmounted 28" x 22" map
► concertina folded rule sheet
► 200 1/2" counters
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