Friday, 20 September 2013

First Game of Chain of Command – AAR and some thoughts

We had our first game of Chain of Command on Sunday. Dalauppror commanded a platoon of US Armoured Rifles while I took my German Panzergrenadiers. As it was a test-game and we were a bit short on space, we played it using 15 mm models on a small table (approximately 90x60 cm) using cm instead of inches. The models were multi-based, which isn't optimal as you need to be able to remove individual casualties, as well as split off teams from sections any way you might need. But with some common sense it worked without any problems.

We decided beforehand to play the Patrol scenario and to simplify things we ruled that both would get a 2 on the roll for support, which meant that the US force would get 2 points of support, while the Germans would get 5 points. I thought long and hard about what to choose, but in the end decided on an off-table 81 mm mortar battery with a Forward Observer, as I thought it would help me to pin down those large US squads, and an Adjutant to help me deploy my troops on the table (senior leaders being in short supply for the Germans). Dalauppror choose two jeeps as rides for one of his squads.

We got so caught up in the game that we didn't take too many pictures, but between us we managed to cover most of the action. So thanks to Dalauppror for most of the photos below!

Here is the table before the game started:

The battlefield from the American side.

We started off the Patrol Phase, trying to figure out the best tactics to use. I think we both quickly realized that most of the time you'd be better off advancing slowly to get a more flexible movement – if you advance too fast with one or two patrol markers, you'll be more limited in your choice of movement paths – before rushing ahead to lock down your opponent's markers.

Patrol markers and Jump-off Points.

Above is the table at the end of the Patrol Phase. As you can see we have started to place our Jump-off Points: the US have pretty much consolidated them in the centre of the board, in or around the village, while the Germans' are a bit more spread out with only one in the village itself, one just outside the village, and one a long way off to the left. I thought it would be a good place to deploy a flanking force, or maybe to stop the US troops from flanking me.

The action started with the US deploying a rifle squad in the building in the middle of the town. The Germans deployed one of their squads in cover of the hedges just outside the village and opened fire on the soldiers in the building, killing one man and applying some shock.

German Panzergrenadiers putting up a hard fight.

The US squad returned the fire, and also managed to kill one man and apply some shock. They continued by deploying a mortar team on the outskirts of the village, and using the rifle squad as spotters, targeted the Germans, who took another couple of points of shock.

Over the next couple of phases the Germans were content to sit back and continue to fire on the US soldiers in the building, slowly picking them off. After a while, it became apparent that the US rifles weren't going to win the shooting match with the two MG42s. And so while a new rifle squad was deployed in the village and sent out to try and outflank the Germans, the first squad retreated from the building and instead the .50 cals MMGs were brought into place.

US Mortar team, a badly beaten rife team and a fresh squad
sent on a flanking maneuver.

Now the Germans sent in their second team, a Forward Observer in the building on their right. He immediately put the call in for a barrage – the German mortars (off table) adjusted their sights to their new target ...

And they were going to be needed as the US MMGs began their work of taking out the German team. But still, the Panzergrenadiers held their ground.

In their next phase, the German FO called down a barrage on the amassed US troops in the village. As my troops weren't in the immediate area, I decided to call a full barrage from the start – and rolled a direct hit! That really hurt the US troops, as all of the units in the village were pinned, and the crews for the MMGs were severely decimated.

Meanwhile, the US flanking force advanced cautiously out of the village along the bocage. At the same time, US reinforcements arrived by the road in the two jeeps.

US Reinforcements arrive.

Despite being being hard pressed, the US MMGs managed to wound the German squad leader, putting him out of action for the rest of the Turn. Coupled with some more shock from the US mortars, the German squad was now in danger of being pinned and later broken.

So when it was my turn, another barrage was called down (I got lucky on the "availability" roll), and the FO moved the aiming point a bit to also cover the US mortar team, with the result of them being pinned. This would at least give me some time to try and rally the nearly broken squad.

The US jeeps turned off the road and continued on their way to try and flank the German squad outside the village.

The lurking German FO who called down some heavy mortar fire
on the US forces in the village.

The German answer was to deploy another squad in the same building as the FO, waiting for a chance to attack the jeeps. Yet another mortar barrage (and another lucky "availability roll") and things were beginning to look bleak indeed for the US troops in the village.

The US squad on a flanking mission continued the advance, but the Germans had a surprise in store for them – they deployed from their Jump Off Point and immediately opened fire on the squad. However, despite catching the enemy in the open the German fire proved ineffective and the result was limited to one US soldier down and a single point of Shock.

And there we called it a night. While the US platoon was shaken and slightly pressed at the moment, none of the forces had taken any hits on their Morale, and the game could have gone either way. For example, we both held a CoC dice each. In the next phase the US could have ended the turn and removed the pinned status from most of their troops, which would have given them time to consolidate their forces in the village, and pour some serious fire onto the Germans. Also, the two US flanking forces were going to cause some serious problems for the Germans.

On the other hand, with my CoC dice I could have kept the mortar barrage going through the next turn, which would once again pin most of the US centre, and give me time to concentrate on the threats of the flanking forces.

We had been playing for about three hours. There was some flipping back-and-forth in the rulebook, as is expected during the first game. The offical QRS, while not perfect (it's a WIP I think), was a great help though. 

All in all, a great game and a very entertaining session! During your phase, there are lots of decisions to make, and it feels like all of them matter, which leads to a very tense game. There was a lot to digest after our first session, and it's certainly a game that rewards the use of good (period) tactics. Which I personally find very interesting but it means I need to read up on some WW2 combat!

Some random thoughts:
We used the official Patrol markers but they are too big for our taste. As you measure from the centre of the marker and no LOS is applied, it means they could be any size. Using smaller markers will make them easier to place and they won't wobble or slide around on terrain features.

While being more "tightly" written than previous rules from TooFatLardies, there are still areas that could be more clearly explained and/or expanded. There is an FAQ/Errata posted but I think some stuff should have been in the rulebook, eg how to handle splitting off and re-joining teams/squads in more detail.

My overall tactics were rather successful, I think: keep my forces off the table for as long a possible, sit back and let the twin MG42s do their work (and my, those are nasty). Only deploy when necessary to avoid being flanked or overrun. Though, perhaps I should have kept my JoPs a little tighter together.

So, as I said, a lot to digest. Fun stuff indeed!

We both liked the game a lot, and will definitely play more in the future but using 28 mm miniatures. We will use Dalauppror's LW Germans and US Airborne, while I try to decide what I want to paint up: I have an unpainted Soviet platoon from Black Tree Design (bought in of their very nice 50% off sales) but after this game I'm seriously considering doing some LW Germans myself – they certainly are and interesting challenge to play.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

German Panzergrenadiers for Chain of Command

Dalauppror and I have been talking about trying out Chain of Command, the new WW2 platoon level game from Too Fat Lardies. Suddenly an opportunity presented itself on this Sunday (today!), and so we schedueled in a test-game. On Monday night, after coming home from another game in our A Very Moderate Swedish Conflict campaign, I rummaged through my old 15 mm WW2 stuff and dug up my Late War Germans. These were used for playing Crossfire and I Ain't Been Shot Mum! around four or five years ago, and haven't been used since. The paint jobs are not the best to be honest, and the basing is a mixed bag, but they will have to do.

After checking the German list in Chain of Command, I had a good idea of what I needed to do to bring my force up to the required strength: a whole 5 new miniatures were in required in total – a senior leader, a Panzerschreck team and two regular riflemen (although the miniatures are armed with panzerfausts). I also had to rebase about 10 miniatures, eg pairing off some of the LMG teams that weren't on separate bases and doing some singel based miniatures for casualty removal.

So after some frantic painting and (re-)basing this is my new(ish) Panzergrenadier platoon with support:

The miniatures are from Battlefront. However, the senior leader and the panzerschreck team are from Peter Pig, as well as most of the support.

The old bases got a quick facelift with some tufts. Hopefully this also took the edge off the garish static grass used ...

I had some support options painted up from earlier as you can see below. Some tripod mounted MG42s and a 81 mm mortar team, as well as a forward observer and a PAK 40.

Tripod mounted MG42s (PP).
Foward Observer (BF).
Platoon commander in front of the PAK 40 (PP).
81 mm mortar and Panzerschreck team (all PP).
It was certainly interesting to go back to painting 15 mm after having painted 28 mm exclusively for the last 2 years or so. For one thing, I think my eyesight is getting worse – I don't remember them being this small ... Still, they're certainly quicker to paint than the larger scale! If the test game goes well, we'll probably go the 28 mm route though.

However, all this 15 mm painting has unfortunately meant that I've not had the time to work on the miniatures for Röda nävar. Consequently, they've been pushed back a couple of weeks. I'm still determined to get them finished though.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Röda nävar WIP

My next project will be a couple of small forces for the club's A Very Moderate Swedish Conflict campaign. The first of these is the revolutionary Marxists of Röda nävar  (Red fists). They are a bunch of hardcore communists from Gothenburg – a traditional "red" workers' city in Sweden. In our campaign Gothenburg is therefore of course a strongpoint for the Reds, having captured it after very hard fighting in the streets.

More about the background of Röda nävar when I've finished them. In the meantime, here are some WIP shots.

I've added some simple armbands from grey stuff and on the model to the left (armed with an LMG) I've added an extra ammo pouch, although it's on his back so you can't see it in the shot.

On the miniature to the right I did a head swap. I still have to do some filling in on the neck as you can see.

This miniature will be used as the base for the leader. I will do some semi-heavy converting: he will get a new head, and I will replace both his hands – in the left hand he will get a rifle and in the right hand he will get something interesting, something to inspire the masses ...

Also, I'll probably add stick-bombs/grenades to some of the models, as I had a couple of points left when working out the force list and grenades were pretty cheap.

All miniatures are from Musketeer Miniatures' Interwar range. Overall, they are very nice models, but I think the faces are a bit too similar and would have liked some variation there.

Hopefully I'll finish all the conversions soon, so I can start painting these models up. I will be going away on an "extra" holiday in two weeks time, and I plan to have them finished by then.

Thanks for looking! Have a great week everyone!