Blitzkrieg Commander IV – a Quick Read … not a Review

Blitzkrieg Commander IV Cover

I mentioned that Blitzkrieg Commander IV was being released at Salute last Saturday. Those of us with digital copies however managed to get our hands on it a couple of days sooner than those waiting on physical copies.

It is much better than BKC III was. The army lists have been corrected, at least the ones I had a look at seemed to be better aligned with Historical organization and equipment.

I’m looking forward to some downtime soon so I can read these in detail and maybe organise a little Soviet on Soviet action to test them out.

I believe the hard copies of the rules are mostly in the post to those who ordered BKC III previously, us digital folks already have our copies. World War II micro armour has suddenly just become more interesting, just as I have a mountain of modern Poles and French to paint for Cold War Commander!

Blitzkrieg Commander IV – the replacement for BKC III

Blitzkrieg Commander IV Cover

Back in May 2017 I published a couple of blog posts here in Thomo’s Hole on the furore that surrounded the release of Blitzkrieg Commander III (BKC III) by Pendraken Miniatures. See Blitzkrieg Commander III and Blitzkrieg Commander III – The Final Decision for my thoughts at that time. There were a considerable number of flaws in the rules and the BKC playing community was almost unanimous in its criticism of the rules. This left Pendraken with a commercially difficult decision to make at the time and they decided:

  • to pull PKB III from sale
  • to provide a copy of BKC III.1 when it is produced
  • to attempt to do it all over a three month period

This has, of course, cost Pendraken moneywise but again I can only applaud Pendraken for their commitment to quality. While Pendraken were originally hoping to have a corrected BKC III (called BKC III.1) over about a three month period they have taken the option of taking their time and doing it right, judging by the reviews I have read recently.

It has taken nearly two years to correct BKC III and this correction will be released early in April 2019, at Salute, as Blitzkrieg Commander IV. Blitzkrieg Commander IV contains 44 army lists and 15 scenarios. Pendraken also note that a Quick Reference Sheet, Optional Rules and further material can be found in the Blitzkrieg Commander IV section of the Pendraken Forum.

Given the problems with BKC III I guess there will be some caution from wargamers about this new release, some reluctance to be early adopters of this version. I would also expect that many gamers who would have tried BKC may have, over the last two years, drifted off to other World War II wargaming rules. Recognizing the caution of gamers after the last release, I note that Pendraken have some reviews of the new rules out already from some veteran gamers and some who were rather critical of the previous release. Positive reviews have been provided by Mal Wright and Nik Harwood that I have seen to date.

As for those of us who purchased BKC III, the news is good. Pendraken have noted in their forum in BKC-IV Released at Salute 2019 that:

Replacement Copies

Now our first priority is to get a copy of BKC-IV out to everyone who bought BKC-III when it was released.  How this is done will depend on how you purchased originally:

Bought Online / Not going to Salute 2019
– You will already be in the replacement queue and don’t need to do anything.  Your copy will ship out first, possibly before we leave for Salute but most likely on the Monday/Tuesday after the show.  If you’ve moved house since April 2017, you’ll need to drop us an email with your new address.

Bought Online / Going to Salute 2019
– Please contact us to let us know that you will be attending Salute and we will pull your original order from the replacement queue.  We’ll bring your new copy along to Salute for you.

Bought at Salute / Not going to Salute 2019
– If you bought at Salute but won’t be attending this year, we’ll need you to either send us the cover of your BKC-III book, or a picture of it by email, along with the address that you’d like your replacement sending to.  We apologise for the hassle involved in doing this, but it’s the only way for us to verify that you bought a copy of BKC-III.  If you’re outside the UK, it’s probably easier to send a photo, but contact us if you’re having any problems.

Bought at Salute / Going to Salute 2019
– If you’ll be attending Salute again this year, simply bring your copy of BKC-III along to the show and we’ll swap it for a shiny new copy of BKC-IV!  If you’d like to keep hold of the previous rules for any reason, we’ll need to either remove the cover or mark the inside to show that the copy has been replaced.

Bought on Wargame Vault
– You don’t need to do anything at all, you will receive your new pdf copy of BKC-IV through Wargame Vault automatically.  We don’t have a confirmed date for this just yet, but you should receive your replacement pdf by Monday 8th at the latest.

If there’s any queries on that, please let me know and we’ll get you sorted out.  If you’ve already been in touch or given us your BKC-III cover, then you’re already in the replacement system and don’t need to worry.

So, more power to Leon at Pendraken for doing not just a good thing but also the right thing for hos customers.

I am looking forward to my copy arriving soon.

Blitzkrieg Commander III – The Final Decision

Reading the Pendraken forum on the Blitzkrieg Commander III topic, Pendraken have made a final decision on what will happen with BKC III. The poll run in in the Pendraken forum was clearly in favour a full reprint of BKC III. As I have had a chance to look through the rules, finally, more closely, I can see why this is necessary.

This is commercially a difficult decision for Pendraken as they have decided:

  • to pull PKB III from sale
  • to provide a copy of BKC III.1 when it is produced
  • to attempt to do it all over a three month period

It will of course cost Pendraken moneywise but I can only applaud Pendraken for their commitment to quality. Pendraken notes with regards to their next steps:

 

The immediate job is to get to work on revising BKC-III into the rulebook we were all hoping for. The army lists will be our starting point, reverting those back to BKC-II and then tweaking and editing them where necessary based on previous BKC feedback. Second will be the scenarios which will also largely revert to BKC-II, unless anything comes up from our new team that requires a change/tweak. And then from there we’ll go through the actual rules of the book, page by page, doing one of three things:

  • Leaving as is
  • Clarifying/amending to make it work better/properly
  • Reverting back to BKC-II.s:

Pendraken have build a core of people, experienced playtesters and members of the original feedback team for earlier versions of BKC. Pendraken are also accepting comments from BKC users on the forum on:

  • What is the issue?
  • What would be the fix?
  • What other areas of the rules would this fix impact on?
  • What questions does this issue/fix raise?

Lastly, Pendraken noted on the time they expect to take on this,”We want to get this done as quickly as possible, so we’re setting ourselves a timescale of 2-3 months to fix everything”.

Personally I think that is a very aggressive target. I hope they can meet it but I expect it will drift as they get into trying to fix some of the rules that appear to be broken.

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.