CC is a set of rules for table-top miniatures combat using funny cartoon animals. The rules are stand alone (you can use any figures you want really) but are made to go along with the publisher’s Critter Commando miniatures line. This game does for minis war-gaming what TOON does for RPGers.
The scale of the game is 25mm. You need dice (d6s and d10s), minis, a measuring tape/ruler, paper and something to write with in order to play the game. The publisher recommends terrain, key chain electronic noise makers (pocket terminators sold in novelty stores), and a good viewing of some old fashioned cartoons prior to playing in order to make the game more enjoyable.
Every model in the game has six characteristics. Strength (STR) represents strength and stats are given that will help you even figure out how much a mini can lift---very RPGish. Accuracy (ACC) is a measure of how well your mini fights in close combat and/or pulls triggers for ranged combat. Mind covers how brainy your guy/gal is. Holes is like the number of wounds a model can take in other games but since these guys are cartoons….you kind of get the picture. Move tells how fast your models is and Cost tells you the game worth of a mini; so if we agree on a 100 point game, you could field 20 five point minis or 5 twenty point minis (or other combinations that add up to but don’t exceed 100 points).
Weaponry from pie launchers to bazooka bubble guns (see how funny) and everything in between including special equipment like rocket packs is listed in a table. Minis come without any weapons or other stuff and you use your army points to arm/equip your troops.
Minis are grouped together in bunches of 4 - 10 that comprise squads. Squads have a leader (he automatically adds +1 to his MIND score) to help them in their battles. Squads can also have a limited number of special/ heavy weapons like flamethrowers.
Once you’ve got your armies assembled, you and your opponent set up on a table and get ready to face off. There are five phases to a turn---and all action except for movement is done simultaneously.
The first phase is Movement---each player rolls a die to determine who moves first with the loser having to move his troops before the winner. Movement is affected by terrain, the animal type (some have bonuses to certain types of movement), any special equipment like skateboards and the mini’s MOVE stat. Squads must maintain a minimum coherency (usually 6” maximum between members) as well or face problems until this coherency has been restored.
The second phase is announcing targets---you have to say which target(s) you are going for with your models. The third phase is shooting (everyone shoots at the same time and casualties are removed before the fourth phase. Models have a facing and can only shoot in a certain limited frontal arc---this means you have to aim properly when you end your movement phase or you won‘t have the bad guys in your sights.
Assuming you have line of sight to your target, you roll a d10 and apply any modifiers for target size, cover, concealment and the usual modifiers that apply to minis combat games. If, after modifiers, you roll your mini’s ACC score or lower---you’ve scored a hit. Next check to see if cover, armor or other factors have degraded your weapons damage. Any damage that gets through comes off the target’s HOLES value. Drop that value to zero or less and that mini is out of the game and is immediately removed from play.
The fourth phase is close combat called the Poundin’ Phase. It is very similar to the ranged phase except it’s closer. Defending units can shoot as a last ditch defense at the charging unit(s). Units that rout are forced back and may be pursued by the victors of that assault for another round of pummeling. Like shooting, this is a simultaneous phase (everyone in close combat fights at the same time and casualties are removed before the last phase).
The fifth and final phase is the morale or “Scaredy Cat” check. There are a number of times when these checks come into play including loss of unit commander or loss of a sufficient number of troops. Troops who are required to take this check roll a d10 and check their MIND stat. If they roll equal or lower to MIND, then they’re okay. If not, they rout and run away until they are later either rallied (by MIND checks in later turns) or until they leave the game area.
In addition to the rules above, the rulebook provides stats for several dozen animal types including bonuses that fit with species abilities (rabbits can get certain movement bonuses). Rules are also included for including vehicles, mercenaries, and special characters in the mix. Episodes (known as scenarios in most war games) are also included in case players need a little nudge in how to play something other than line up and kill each other.
The first and last parts of the book are dedicated to the fluff of the game---a futuristic anime-like sci-fi setting where anthropomorphic animals are at war. The first few pages are a very well done black and white comic strip depicting good guy characters joining together to fight the evil Ratzi Empire. The back of the book expands on this idea, giving brief summaries of the governments involved with this interstellar conflict.
I liked the art both on the cover of the colorful cover and the b&w first few pages as it set the tone for the game. I’m not overly drawn into the setting but it serves its purpose for giving players a background in which to play. Since the publisher wisely (IMO) decided to put this stuff at the beginning/end in distinct separate sections it’s easy enough to include or ignore, as the players like.
Overall, Critter Commandos is a pretty decent war game. Dropping some of the more exotic stuff like cream pie throwing, it could easily be adapted to other settings with modern to futuristic weapon systems. The production is good with OUTSTANDING art and the price is probably on par with similar small press offerings at $10 (even cheaper if you get the thing as a PDF download).
The real seller behind the game is the minis line. Crunch Frog has a very nicely done line of sharks, dogs, rabbits, raccoons, frogs, turtles, penguins, ducks, gorillas, rats and others that maintain that serious/not serious edge of cartoon combat. Frankly, it‘s very hard to add a lot of nuance to minis games as they all tend to produce the same results (move, shoot, hand to hand and some sort of morale system).
The rules do a very good job of providing a framework to use your toys with but the minis make it that much better. Combine the minis with the rules and you have a recipe for a fun minis game with miniatures just made for zapping one another.
Crunchy Frog's Website: http://www.teamfrog.com/