Command HQ
Rules of Play




The commander strides into the darkened room, the glowing wall map and computer CRT providing most of the ambient light.  "What's the situation?" he barks out.

"Two enemy mechanized armies are closing on Paris," the adjutant states.  "Two infantry armies are following up.  Our troops in the area have taken heavy losses from ground-based air strikes."

"What's the status of the convoy?"

On its way.  We've lost one transport to enemy submarine activity, but the rest slipped through.  Under standard evasive procedures, it should arrive in seven days."

The commander contemplates the situation; the armies and ships like miniature glow worms as they crawl across the map of the world, deciding the fate of continents.

"I want air strikes here, and here," he says, pointing.  "Bring up a tank army here and open a gap in the enemy flank with a combined paratroop assault.  Our destroyer fleet has to pull out of the Mediterranean and comb the Atlantic.  Belay evasive action - I want the convoy full steam ahead for Europe.  Now, what's the situation with our Pacific fleet?"

You are that commander, directing the armed forces of entire nations, deploying ground, sea, and air troops to bring about the accomplishment of your plans and the ultimate defeat of your enemy.  In any war, in any era, on any side, the decisions that shape the course of history are made in the Command HQ.


About Command HQ

Command HQ was originally released in 1990, and is the first and original two-player real-time strategy wargame.  To those unfamiliar with the game, consider it like playing Speed Chess on a Risk board.

Like chess, you have a small handful of unit types at your disposal, each one with slightly different properties which can quickly be described within a few minutes.   However, the strategy behind the movement of those units can take a lifetime to master.  The object is simple, capture the opponents King (chess) or Capital (Command HQ).

Like Risk, you play on a map of the world, with certain resources spread all around which you must capture and hold in order to gain more forces.  The more of the world you own, the larger the army that you can muster.

Like Speed Chess, it's basically a strategy game, but it also requires you to be quick to react to the ever changing strategy of your opponent.  Sometimes it's possible to turn a losing position into a winning one by focusing all your energy on your single, game-winning objective, and an apparently losing player can still win if they can manage to checkmate or Cap Kill the opponent.

In one way, Command HQ also resembles the old 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' game.  There is no such thing as a perfect strategy.  The best strategy to use is highly dependent on what your opponent is trying to do, and if you can predict his actions, you will be better prepared for his offensive.  However, if he predicts you are preparing for that particular offensive, he will probably find success by attacking elsewhere.  If you think the opponent knows what you're up to, it's time to get up to something else.

Unlike any game prior to it or since, Command HQ offers a unique mixture of quick, arcade-style action on top of a complex strategy game requiring forethought and insight.  The player with the fastest reflexes does not always win, nor does the player with the most intricate strategic plans.  A delicate balance is required, and the ability to 'think on your feet'.

Most two-player games of Command HQ (at least at the competitive level, at speed 5) take about 30-45 minutes to complete, although there have been 5 minute quick kills and over 2 hour marathons, those are both rather rare.  But in most if not all cases, you can begin and complete a game in a single sitting, and you may have enough time left over in the evening to play second or third game.

If you have never played Command HQ before, then you are certainly in for a treat.  Once you start playing against human opponents, don't be surprised if it becomes your favorite game of all time.  It clearly is a computer game classic, that continues to be played by a strong and loyal following.  It is to those loyal Command HQ fans who continue to play the game and have kept interest in it alive all these years that this game is now dedicated.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the original release of Command HQ, in January of 2010 Safe Harbor Games ( http2:// ) has made the game freely available to be played over the internet. Thanks to that website, It is now easier than ever to find human opponents to play this classic game anytime.




How To Start




There are three ways to learn to play Command HQ.

Tutorial Method: If you like step-by-step guidance while learning a game, click on the Tutorials and follow the instructions.  The tutorial, although long, introduces you to all the salient points of the game.

Note: We recommend the tutorial method unless you are already familiar with the games of strategy combat on a grand scale, such as Command & Conquer, Red Alert, or Dark Reign, all of which are newer games based on the original Command HQ play style.  Many other turn based products based on "the art of war" may not prepare you for the number of points available in Command HQ.

Study Method: You can study the game controls and operating instructions of the game, as detailed in the Game Controls section.  If you're still confused, try things out with the Tutorial.

Try and See Method:  You can just dive in and try things out, referring to this manual as necessary.  You can learn a lot just by looking at The Command HQ Control Summary chart at the end of this document, and goofing around with the program.

Warning: This method, usually the most popular, can lead to confusion and frustration because Command HQ is a real-time simulation; while you're learning how to play the game, things will be happening all around you!






Before you can begin Command HQ play, you must first install the software


Safe Harbor Games

Command HQ can now be installed easily and played for free by going to the Safe Harbor Games website at: .


The first time you go to Safe Harbor Games on a new computer, you will have to download the Safe Harbor Games software. You can do that from the home page by clicking on ‘Download’ (if you have Windows XP or earlier) or ‘Download Vista’ (if you have Vista, Windows 7 or later) and then select ‘Run’ (not save) to run the Safe Harbor Games install procedure. Once the Safe Harbor Games software is downloaded and installed, you have all the software you need to go into any of the game lobbies that Safe Harbor Games provides, including Command HQ..


If you do not yet have an account at Safe Harbor Games, you can create one for free. Then you can log onto the site.


Once you have downloaded the software and logged in, select the Command HQ game from the home page, and enter a lobby. The first time you do that, all of the Command HQ software will be automatically downloaded and installed.


Once you are in the lobby, you are ready to play a game. Just sit at a table (click on one of the open chairs), and if you want to play another human, have them sit in the opposite seat, and you both press ‘Start’ to start the game. If you want to review a film or play against one of the computer opponents or do any other option, then you can sit at a table alone to start the game.


Safe Harbor Games is a completely free website. There is no charge to join or play. If you like the website and wish to support it, premium memberships are available for a nominal cost.




Safe Harbor Games: Command HQ can now be played for free at Safe Harbor Games (see above). Safe Harbor Games supports any Windows computer running the Windows Operating System starting at Win98 and later. However, to run Command HQ at that site requires a bit more powerful computer. Slower computers running Win98 machines probably do not have enough CPU power to run the DOSBox emulation used at the site. While machines with 3GHz or faster processors should have no problems, slower machines with 2GHz or slower processors may play slow and have frequent disconnects and room boots when playing 2-player games. Therefore, a 3GHz or faster processor is recommended, running Windows XP or later.

The following applies only to old computer systems built before 2000 that are still running older operating systems and connecting through modems or serial ports instead of through the internet. Newer systems should play Command HQ through Safe Harbor Games website (see above)..

Computer: Command HQ can be played on just about any DOS, Windows (including Win95,  Win98, and NT), and OS/2 (including Warp) system.  This is a DOS game, designed to work within the 640K memory limitations of a standard DOS environment.  It also requires very little hard disk space, having been originally designed to work from floppy disks only.  Windows machines (prior to Windows XP) and OS/2 can run the game as a standard DOS full-screen application, without much additional configuration required.

Just about any PC-compatible computer built after 1990 (and many built before then) would certainly have the computing power needed to be able to run Command HQ.  However, Windows XP and later operating systems do not allow you to play in 2-player mode directly. (DOSBox emulation should be used.) It will even run on a machine with an old Intel 8086 or 286 processor running DOS! Using a hard disk is optional (the game can run directly from floppy disk), but is recommended.  Less than 2 Megabytes of hard disk space is required to install.

Other hardware environments, such as Apple Macintosh, Unix, Amiga, Commodore, etc., are not supported with Version 2.

Controls:  The game can be run entirely from the keyboard, or with a joystick or a mouse.  A mouse greatly increases ease and speed of play, and is therefore highly recommended.

Display: The game requires a color monitor, capable of supporting the EGA or VGA graphic resolution of 320x200 in 16 colors, which includes just about everything except very, very, very old (original) PC and Tandy systems, or monochrome displays (such as an old laptop LCD screen without color).

Operating System:  You must have Microsoft-DOS or IBM-DOS, version 2.1 or higher.  (That's right, DOS 2.1!  That's how old this game is!)    It works great under both company's subsequent operating systems, Windows (including Win95, Win98) and OS/2 (Version 2.0 or higher, including Warp). To run under Windows XP or later, or to play over the internet, go to Safe Harbor Games.



The following applies only to old computer systems built before 2000 and running older operating systems and connecting through modems or serial ports. This does not apply to newer systems should be run through the Safe Harbor Games website (see above).

This game is best when run from a hard disk, but it also can be run directly from a floppy drive as well.   To install the original game, run the INSTALL program.

To Run the Version 1 Install Program: Place the original Version 1 disk in your A drive, and type 'A:' and press Enter, then type 'INSTALL' and press Enter again.  (In Win95 or OS/2 environments, you can click on the 'INSTALL' icon on the A drive's folder.)  Then follow the prompts.  For most users, the correct answers will be to select 'VGA Graphics' and 'PC Sounds'.  Then select 'Y'es to copy files, and select '3 -Floppy Disk and Hard Drive' to copy the game to your hard drive.  Finally, give the directory name on your hard disk where you want the files to go.  (The default is C:\HQ.)

If you have an old machine with a processor speed of 33MHz or slower and have an AdLib or SoundBlaster sound card, you may be able to get slightly improved sound by selecting the 'AdLib' sound driver.  For some reason, this driver does not work on newer, faster machines.  (There appears to be a bug in the AdLib sound driver effecting these faster machines, but I don't have the source code for the sound drivers, so I am unable to fix the problem.)

To Apply the Version 2 Update: Once Version 1 is installed on your hard disk, install the Version 2 upgrade that you received from The Command HQ Player's Club.  Then type:
  A:\INSTALL2  A:  C:\HQ
Where 'A:' is the diskette drive, and C:\HQ is the location where Version 1 is now installed.  If you later get another Version 2 update, follow this same procedure to apply the newest update.

If you no longer have the original Command HQ diskettes, you can still obtain all the necessary software to run the latest Version 2 code by going to Safe Harbor Games (see above), then copying all of the files in the CHQ folder in your Safe Harbor Games installation folder to your older system.



The following applies only to older system, not those connecting through Safe Harbor Games. There is no need INSTALL when running through Safe Harbor Games.

The INSTALL program sets up automatic loading options for your game, including sound drivers, graphics systems, joystick, and mouse.  The SETUP program has been provided to permit you to change these options.  For most users, however you should select 'VGA Graphics' and 'PC Sound'.

If you have a hard disk, run the SETUP program by going to the HQ directory on your hard disk and typing "SETUP", followed by Enter.




Bypassing The

Initial Splash Screen

Once Version 2 of the game is installed, you can change the installation parameters to have the game play in 'Colorblind Mode', if you wish.  This mode has been found useful to some players that cannot easily distinguish yellow and green on a computer display, due to colorblindness.

In this mode, white is substituted for yellow to distinguish city recharge time.  That is, if a city is not currently ready to build, but will be ready to build in 20 rounds or less, it is outlined with a white box instead of a yellow one.  Some colorblind players have complained that they can not easily tell the difference between the computer's shade of green and yellow, so this option makes the distinction clearer in the one key area where it makes a strategic difference.

To place the game in 'Colorblind' mode, edit the 'HQ.BAT' file after installing the program, using any text editor (such as the Window's Notepad), and add the parameter "/CO" to the end of the one line of text stored in that file.  If the game is invoked with the /CO option, it will play in 'Colorblind Mode'.

If you are running under an old DOS system, with the Colorblind Option turned on, the contents of the HQ.BAT file should read:

            HQ2  /GE   /AI  /CO

Note: Changing installation options using the INSTALL program will remove the colorblind option parameter, requiring you to repeat this procedure again.

If you are running the game through Safe Harbor Games, the HQ.BAT file can be found in the CHQ folder inside of your Safe Harbor Games install directory. To turn on the Color Blind Option, the file should read:

        HQ2 /GE /AI /CO %PARMS%

If you wish to bypass the initial splash screen and go straight into the game itself, change the “HQ2” in the HQ.BAT file described above and change it to be “CHQ”, as in:

      CHQ /GE /AI %PARMS%






Safe Harbor Games

This entire section on ‘Loading’ does not apply if you are running under Safe Harbor Games. Command HQ is installed automatically when you enter a Command HQ lobby at Safe Harbor Games and it is loaded by sitting at a table and pressing the ‘Start’ button in the lobby.



If you are still one of the few people who would prefer to play directly off of a diskette instead of copying the files to your hard disk, you can still do that with Command HQ by using the original install program to copy the software to another one, and applying the 'Version 2' upgrade by specifying "B:" as the destination drive.  Then, to play the game, follow these steps:

(1) Boot your machine using DOS (version 2.1 or higher).

(2) Insert your game disk:  When the ">" command prompt appears, insert the Command HQ upgrade diskette you created into the A: drive.

(3) Load the Program: Type "A:" and press Enter.  Then type "HQ" and press Enter again.  The game will begin loading.


from a

If you are a the kind of person who feels comfortable starting programs from the DOS prompt, then start Command HQ by following these steps.

(1) Boot your machine:   Turn on your machine and wait until you get the C:> prompt.

(2) Load the Program:  Go to the HQ directory (typically, by typing "CD \HQ").  Then type 'HQ' and press Enter.  The Game will load.



If you are using Windows, create an icon on your desktop (or in your Games folder, wherever you want it) and set its properties to refer to the file HQ.BAT, which you will find in the C:\HQ subdirectory (or whatever subdirectory you installed it in).

You can then click on that icon in order to start the game.



To create a new icon for Command HQ, drag a new Program Template to your desktop or games folder.  The path and filename to be associated with this icon is "C:\HQ\HQ.BAT" with a working directory of "C:\HQ". 

If you have OS/2 Warp Version 3 or higher, that should be enough.  If you have Version 2.1 or 2.0, then you might also need to change a few of your DOS settings in order for it to work correctly in two-player mode over a serial card or modem.  Change the settings: COM_HOLD to ON, DOS_FILES to 50, HW_COM to ON (if you don't have this setting, you need the COMGA.ZIP patch from IBM), IDLE_SECONDS to 60 and IDLE_SENSITIVITY to 100.

You can now click on that icon, and start a war!



Registered users can play two-player games over the internet using Kali software (see

To install Command HQ under Kali, from the Kali screen, click on 'Games' and then 'Configure Menu'.  From this menu, select an available Game page and type 'HQ.BAT' for the program name, and be sure to enter the directory name where you installed the game on your hard disk.

To play the game, you and your opponent should select a Kali server and meet there.   Once you are both in, then simply select the game icon on the bottom of the screen, and choose the 'Network/LAN (IPX)' option from the Connect menu.

Next Chapter: Tutorials