Blitzkrieg Commander III

Like many, I waited and looked forward to the arrival of Blitzkrieg Commander III. I have enjoyed playing versions I and II over many years, although I will admit, I’ve not played enough games as there was always something else to play, something new and shiny. I also played a bit of Cold War Commander and Future War Commander. I liked the rule system and the way the games flowed, permitting a narrative to develop.

I purchased BKCIII online through Wargame Vault as my preferred method of dealing with printed matter these days is electronically.  The hard copy version is available from Pendraken Miniatures, the new owners of the rules.

A furore appears to have erupted over these rules. While there may have been a few errors through the rules, normal enough in published wargame rules, the major part of the furore appears to be around the Army Lists included in the rules, so much so that Pendraken Miniatures on their forum are holding a poll to see how folks want them corrected.

Pendraken noted that as far as errors went, the

obvious starting point is the army lists and at the moment I don’t have an answer to that question. The author spent hundreds of hours on the stats to put together the new army lists. When we received them we checked the basics, do the correct nations have the right kit, do the obvious vehicles/guns appear in the right areas, etc. We checked a bunch of units with their BKC-II equivalents and then put together some matching battlegroups using both old/new lists to see how much they differed points wise. Nothing glaring jumped out during that process. Other people went through them and brought back a few queries which were then discussed further and we made some edits. Clearly we didn’t do enough though.

Being an old wargamer (sigh and getting older), I am still amazed at the way gamers get heated over lists. I come from a period of wargaming where if you didn’t like the list, you changed it based on your own research. This begs the question, are wargamers as a group doing less research these days than we did in the past?

To be fair, I can remember the heated debates that erupted in the 1980s and 1990s with the various WRG army lists but if I wasn’t happy with a list, I changed it. If I could justify the change, my opponents generally accepted it.

Pendraken went on to further note that an

annoying number of errors that have managed to get through the extensive checking process, some a result of the last minute tweaks, others a lag over from the merging of BKC-II and the first BKC-III draft. Some simply mistakes.

Again, way back in the 1980s we were used to rules being published and then errata sheets being issued. If I recall correctly even BKCI had one or two errata sheets issued.

Not every change in the rules is an error however. I guess some of the complaints are because folks just don’t like some rule changes. If you don’t like them, then change them!

Pendraken in a refreshingly honest way finally noted that

the end result of all of this is that we’ve not done a good enough job and BKC-III is not up to the standard that everyone wanted it to be.

They go on to point out the cost of the project so far, which is quite significant. Pendraken are calling for opinions on how to “fix” the rules/lists via an online poll and the two favoured options from folks so far are New PDF Lists and Complete Reprint. Personally I am comfortable with PDF lists (and errata sheet where needed) as I am used to this type of solution from the past.  I would suggest to Pendraken that as they correct their errors, they can release a new PDF version of the rules to allow those of us with digital copies to have the updates in the rules. Printed copies have the advantage here as the updates can be written in the rules themselves. That will also become the source document for the time they decide to reprint.

My biggest complaint however is that to vote you have to be logged on to the forum so must enrol. I am also a little unhappy that those voting for one solution or other may not have purchased the rules and therefore have no real experience of the problems.

Oh, and one last comment – so far I don’t really have a problem with the lists. In fact, I purchased a Belgian Army the other night from Scotia Grendel Productions, based on the BKCIII lists.

Update on 7 May 2017: OK, so I have had a chance to start to read the rules and the lists. Actually I started with the lsts, with the Belgian list in particular and the 47mm ATG the Belgians had 750 of is missing. A few more days reading this week then I might stay with BKCII until the fixes start appearing.

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3 thoughts on “Blitzkrieg Commander III

  1. william f butler 5 May 2017 / 11:26 pm

    Having started with the original version of the rules and progressed through the second, I expected the third edition to provide of a few items and some minor additions. The person who re-wrote them made a lot of unnecessary changes. Such as combining forward air controllers and forward artillery observers into one forward observer. Now armies that didn’t have forward air controllers have them.

    The army lists are vital to the game as they provide the vehicle data needed to play it. Vehicles are missing that were in the second edition army lists.

    There are contradictory rules that make using recon units almost impossible. Formation and tactical doctrine are gone, there are no force ratios in the scenarios, field defenses are free?!?!?!

    While there are some new items that appear to be good, the overall rules are not. Those who have played the previous edition and have tried to play the new version have given up and gone back to the second edition.

    l feel sorry for Leon at Pendraken as he entrusted someone who he felt was an experienced rule author to update the second edition. Instead that person seems to have betrayed that trust and made a lot of changes that should never have been made. At this point the author has been noted by others on the forum as logging into the Pendraken forums, but avoiding answering any rules questions that have been raised

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  2. Thomo the Lost 7 May 2017 / 11:35 pm

    OK, I started reading and just noticed the first omission. The 47 mm Model 1931 anti-tank gun developed and built for the Belgians has gone missing, It is not on the Belgian list even though 750 were produced and deployed. It also never made to the Hungarian and German lists where these guns ended up after Belgium was overrun.

    It was certainly present in the BKCII Belgian lists.

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  3. Montythecat 9 May 2017 / 5:03 am

    The lists are certainly deeply deeply flawed. The are a huge number of missing units, added units in the wrong time frames, units with the wrong stats and truly very odd limit levels. It is possible that every list in the book has been affected in more than one way. Some of these are so obvious as to call the author’s knowledge into serious doubt. Others are almost laughable in their peculiarity and absurdity.

    As for the rules themselves several very clever parts of bkc2 have been amended, often for the worse. Several rules are contradictory or very poorly explained. Several rules make no sense at all. Others reveal a complete lack of knowledge regarding WW2 tactics and doctrine. Several features are missing entirely. Some rules make some weapons useless, though artillery effectiveness have been roughly tripled from bkc2. The general impression is that the rules are an effort to introduce change for changes sake. Pendraken have been let down and it is a testament to the quality of the product that pendraken have pulled it from sale.

    Whilst I accept the view that all rules contain some errors – this isn’t a set a rules, it’s a book of errors. They truly are that strange. I’ve games for close on 40 years and this is the worst, the strangest and the most error riddles set of rules I have ever beheld. The notion of “if you don’t like them, change them” I also accept, but the book cost me £20. It’s a bit rich to pay £20 for a set of unfinished bad rules for me to complete.

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