This is a quick battle report from a Wednesday night club game of Chain of Command. I threw a German Armoured Recce platoon against Dan’s British Paras in a Delay scenario.

I’ve not done all the extra maps and fancy stuff I normally do for a campaign game, and  didn’t take as many photos as I should have, but I hope it comes across as an interesting report anyway!

The Ground

Dan chose to defend the end of the table with some woods, and had a building with stone walls near it. A dirt road runs the length of the table, with medium hedges bordering some of it. Off a branch of that road is a two storey farmhouse, but the cover runs out towards the German end of the table.

aerial view

Sorry about the shonky photo. Much of the action took place at the white farm house and the woods at the top, which I’ve mostly cut off!

Forces

As the attacker I rolled an 8 for support. The Panzer recce boys are rated +2 to the Paras +9, so that gave me 15 points of support. I opted for a StuG III G, a recce team in a SdKfz 250, a second senior leader, a medic and a schwimmwagen (never know, could be handy).

Dan was still learning the rules so I’d told him we’d be using vehicles this time and warned him to get extra anti-tank, so he used his four points to get a 6-pounder.

Deployment

Dan rolled slightly less badly for force morale (Brits 9 vs German 8) and moved first, focussing on getting his patrol markers up to the half-timbered building with the stone walls. My main focus was getting into the area of the other house, as the other side of the board was very open. I had vehicles that could rapidly move up that flank, so needed to get the JoPs for my infantry into cover.

German JoPs in red, British in Blue. The Objective is down the far end of the woods.

German JoPs in red, British in Blue. The Objective is down the far end of the woods.

Dan’s three patrol markers moved up quicker than my four, I threw one up the middle quickly to block his centre and only just managed to get another beyond the farm house before he deliberately locked his third marker and ended the patrolling. His third JoP (my objective) went on the far side of the woods.

The Game

A squad of Germans snuck into the farmhouse and took up overwatch positions, while another squad moved out from behind the farmhouse and crossed the road to the hedge opposite. The Paras had deployed their weapon section forward, and both Bren guns opened up, hitting two Germans straight away. MG42s replied from the upper windows of the farmhouse and the hedgeline, but the stone wall the British troops were behind kept them well protected as the bullets flew over a couple of phases.

Seeing a juicy target the Germans called up their StuG assault gun and it rumbled up the road, peppering the British with fire from the coax. The German driver hit the brakes and the 75mm main gun blasted into life, but the stone wall still kept all but some shock off the Bren teams.

The fire from the Bren guns wasn’t heavy, but it was accurate, and coupled with some sniper fire the Germans were definitely taking the worst of the firefight. The German Platoon CO took charge personally and began to rally the men, before organising the guns in the farmhouse to lay covering fire. Taking advantage of a double six the men in the hedge jumped over and ran across the open ground into the edge of the woods. On the way the British spent a CoC dice to interrupt and the Bren guns took a shot at them in the open, but failed to have much effect.

The first section was into the woods and out of sight of the British, but had taken a beating and were down to five men. They’d done their job though, as they moved a little deeper into the trees and the Germans spent their first CoC dice to move the JoP from the farmhouse up into the treeline and deploy a fresh squad into the woods.

 

The StuG kept firing at the Bren guns but still only inflicted shock, which the British SL had no trouble managing. The British hadn’t even bothered to deploy their 6pdr, as the infantry attack was representing a bigger threat than the armour.

Now that the Germans had got men into the woods there was a bit of a lull in fighting as the recce troops pushed through the trees tactically. At any moment British troops could pop up in the trees as they had a JoP close. Instead a section deployed in the hedge across the road a watched the treeline.

To win the Germans had to advance onto the British JoP in the treeline opposite them and still be there when the turn ended, so the British opted to wait and let the Germans come to the edge of the wood where short-range SMG, Bren and rifle fire could make life unpleasant for them.

Unfortunately for the British the Germans had a full CoC dice, so in an attempt to snatch a quick win the small 5-man German squad dashed onto the objective and was just about to play the CoC dice and end the game when the British player announced an interruption! A full rifle squad poured their fire into the small German section, and managed to score two kills and a whopping six shock! That left three men to carry six shock…they broke and victory was snatched away from the Germans! In the firing the German JL was wounded and with the section breaking German force morale took its first tumble from 8 down to five.

Sensing their moment the British brought on their last section on top of the objective, firing at the remnants of the broken Germans, killing them all and further chopping down force morale. That section then swept on into the woods and opened fire on the fresh German squad still in there, killing the German platoon CO and wounding the JL. With that the German force morale hit rock bottom and the Panzer recce unit routed.

Here’s a quick replay of the game:

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German morale had gone from 8 down to 0 in only a few phases due to:

  1. Junior leader wounded
  2. Section breaks
  3. Junior leader killed
  4. Section wiped out
  5. Senior leader killed
  6. Junior leader wounded

The first four were from the failed attempt to grab the objective, which ultimately came down to the single phase of firing from one British section. I rolled abysmally for the damage from those hits, if I’d taken only one less shock the section would have been pinned instead of routed and I would have won the game. A real see-saw result, very much a case of the British snatching a solid victory from the jaws of defeat.

Debrief

Once more the elite status of the Paras helped them dodge a lot of bullets. Not a single para was hurt during the game, and they had their SL in the right place throughout the game to absorb all the shock. In contrast the Germans lost 12 men, most of which was in the unlucky lead squad which got wiped out. Attacking always forces you to expose yourself, but I can’t help feeling like the dice didn’t favour me, as even the HE from about half a dozen StuG shots failed to wound anybody. Maybe next time.

Lessons learned:

  1. If you’re going to play a risky but potentially game-winning JoP-grab move, don’t use a really depleted squad to do it. That was stupid, when I had a stronger squad that I could have moved up in only a couple of phases.
  2. Five command dice don’t really allow you to control much more than one vehicle and two sections at a time. I never got my SdKfz 250 onto the board, and I struggled to activate my StuG as much as I would have liked.