Hind Commander a set of rules from Assault Publishing, a company from Poland and Marcin Gerlowicz, creator of Sturmovik Commander, and describes itself as a ‘Modern helicopter warfare tabletop game’ – something that is probably best described as a ‘niche genre’.
I was initially somewhat daunted by this book. When you first flick through the rules, the impression you get is of white pages filled with small font text (with the odd colour photograph) and pages and pages of tables: it looked very complex and technical.
On closer inspection, of the 100 pages, only 36 are actually rules. Of the remaining 64, 8 deal with defining the opposing forces for the game, 6 cover some optional rules and initial ‘learning’ scenarios (more of which later) but the vast majority are taken up with the aforementioned tables – these tables give the stats for all the units in the game, whether they be helicopters, aircraft, vehicles or infantry and all their respective weapons systems.
Further reading revealed all. When the game says ‘Modern helicopter warfare tabletop game’ that is exactly what it means. This is not a set of modern warfare rules which has more concentration on helicopter warfare – in fact, do not think about this game as a set of modern warfare rules at all. Rather, think about it a combat helicopter flight simulator which has been converted into a tabletop game.
Whilst ground forces are required, they exist only to fulfil only a limited number of purposes: to provide ground targets for helicopters and aircraft, to provide anti-aircraft fire, and to provide friendly assets for helicopters to transport.
This game is all about helicopters. Whether operating in a transport capacity, as an observation platform for air strikes or artillery bombardment, or as an weapons platform in its own right. The rules comprehensively cover all these aspects of the game. In addition, at the end of the book are seven training scenarios, which take you progressively through all the phases of the game – from movement and gunnery, through the process of line of sight and locking-on targets to the use of support assets (aircraft and artillery), infantry and ground based combat. These scenarios are much like computer game training missions, and should be treated in much the same way.
Given their speciality, the rules are somewhat complex. Movement include the use of written orders (much like many air combat rules) and combat requires the cross referencing of several tables and modifiers (including stats for individual weapons) , so learning the game, despite the training scenarios, takes a while.
The game itself is kept fresh by the use of Mission Cards. Each player takes one at the start of the game, and each contains an objective and a level of acceptable losses. Achieving these missions awards victory points, with the highest number winning the game. As you don’t know what mission your opponent is trying to achieve, this keeps things ‘interesting’, shall we say.
The rulebook comes with 2 quick reference sheets, 9 double-sided counter sheets, 2 sheets of of strategy cards and one sheet of mission cards.
In addition, Assault Publishing, working in conjunction with Oddzial Osmy, have produced several miniature packs of battle groups in 1/600 scale for use with the game, along with a couple of support packs which provide aircraft and artillery. These work out much cheaper than buying individual packs to make up your forces, so are well worth looking at.
Overall, Hind Commander is a game which covers a particular aspect of modern-day combat very well. Whilst the rules are very detailed, they are also clearly presented and explained, and should get much easier once players have a few games under their belt. Not a typical wargame, but well worth a look if you are interested in the period/genre.
Disclosure: A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher