Command Decision: Test of Battle (TM) (CDTOB) is a tactical level miniatures war game of WW II combat. It emphasizes the two most important aspects of combat at this level -- rapidly changing tactical situations and combined arms operations -- and it allows tactical battles to play out in real time or faster.
This is the fourth edition of the rules, and represents a major step forward in streamlined mechanics and ease of play. It is not, however, just a simplified version of the rules. It is a much more historically faithful treatment of World War II combat.
For veteran players the first question will be, what has changed in this edition? Almost everything has changed, to one degree or another; but here are the most important changes to the core system:
Each Game Turn represents 30 minutes real time.
Spotting is deterministic, at different ranges, instead of die-roll driven.
Most models are on the table. Limited intelligence is taken care of by having extra "phantom" models on the table (which disappear when spotted), as well as holding off one or two "command reserve" stands that can be added during play. No need for deployment maps or hidden counters, and no need for a referee.
Movement is sequential instead of simultaneous. (Fire, however, remains simultaneous.)
Hit effects are determined by target troop quality and a die roll, and are either no effect, forced back, or eliminated. This replaces the attritional method (with different colored markers showing progressive levels of casualties) used before.
The artillery rules are more faithful to actual artillery tactics used during the war, particularly with respect to the fire of individual batteries, national differences in controlling and massing fires, and use of harassment & interdiction (H&I) missions.
HE suppression adds additional tactical depth to the game, and also models the effectiveness of artillery in ways other than just casualty production.
Fog-of-War cards add detail to the game -- as well as variability -- without a lot of extra rules overhead.
The format of the data charts has been changed so that as many modifiers to rate of fire and hit number as possible have been incorporated directly into the chart data. For example, you no longer have to remember to apply a +1 modifier to the hit number of heavy machine guns -- that's now built into the data listing for the HMG itself.
There are many seemingly small changes that have a profound affect on game tactics. One example is Suppression. Any stand attacked by High Explosive (HE) fire -- whether it actually suffers losses or not -- is suppressed. The main effect of suppression is a negative die roll modifier when the suppressed stand tries to attack on its own. This provides tactical game value for supporting HE fire, and makes real world tactics much more understandable in game terms. When infantry assaulted a strongly defended position, the position was "prepped" by direct fire HE, when it was available, either from an infantry gun battery, tanks, or even direct firing field artillery -- not necessarily to eliminate the defenders before the assaulting infantry got there (although that would be nice), but to reduce the effectiveness of the defenders' fires, so the infantry had a better chance of getting onto the objective. All of this makes sense in the game, and becomes a standard part of game tactics.
The rules are divided into two parts: Basic and Advanced rules. The Basic rules contain the core structure of the Command Decision: Test of Battle(TM) mechanics and most scenarios can be played with those rules alone. The Advanced rules cover a variety of factors not necessary for many battles, but which can add considerably to the variety and complexity of the game - things like weather, air power, amphibious landings, and supply.
The game includes data charts for the major belligerents, as well as organizational charts for the most common units in the war. A dozen new historical battle scenarios cover both the east and west front. Supplements concentrating on specific theaters of the war, and specific periods, will include more detailed organizational and weapon information s well as additional battle scenarios. Supplements for the WWI and Modern eras are planned as well.