Hey guys, just a little After Action Report of our latest game of Chain of Command (WW2 roughly [reinforced] platoon level skirmish game by Too Fat Lardies, if you never heard of it). In my opinion a fast, tactically sound, historically really well researched game, giving realiably historically credible results and just a grand old time. Really highly recommended. We're playing with 15mm figures on a 6' by 4' table. The game takes place in northern Africa in mid-1941, shortly after the first German formations have landed and started stirring up a whole lot of dust.
So, using the At the Sharp End campaign supplement of Chain of Command we both rolled up our officers, along with their background, age, character, build and where they're from. My platoon leader is 2nd Lieutenant Deaglan Fitzpatrick, an Irishman of average build with an unremarkable biography so far (good school, university, a promising civil service career), aged 22. my platoon Sergeant Callum Graham, Scotsman, aged 20, a barrel of a man, attended a minor public school only, joined the army right away as the only real chance of a career.
All these above things were just quickly rolled up using the tables from the "At the Sharp End" supplement. For additional character traits (and especially motivations, etc.) of course you could consult the - also Too Fat Lardies published - campaign book "Platoon Forward" which I reviewed a few months ago. These two books go together really well because they don't cover exactly the same things. There is some overlap but they both are highly useful if you're playing anything platoon to company level in the 20th century and like campaigns.
I also rolled up characteristics for the single squad leaders.
On to the game in which 2nd Lieutenant Fitzpatrick would meet his nemesis - Herr Leutnant Lechner, from some village in Styria, (formerly) Austria.
So the scenario was scenario one from the rulebook again, The Patrol. Two patrolling infantry platoons taking a peek into no-man's land, meet and try to drive off each other to secure important points of interest and just preventing the enemy from being nosy (= reduce the enemy's force morale to 3 or less or force them to retreat). The setting of course was once again Northern Africa, some time mid-1941, right after Operation Sonnenblume, the landing of Rommel's force in Africa. I completely botched my force morale roll and my opponent rolled a six, resulting in my lads' force morale being 8 and the Germans bringing a force morale of 11 to the party. From that point on it was clear that this was going to be interesting. Historically, the force morale ratings make a lot of sense though.
We both opted for three patrol markers and this is how the Jump-Off points were laid out. (the shot is from somewhere in the middle of the game which is why there are so many figures around):
Support was rolled for, resulting in me getting seven points of support total and the Germans getting two points. I had been pretty impressed with off-board medium mortars so I got a team of forward observers again as well as a Bren Carrier with a crew of three and a junior leader. The Germans, anticipating that somewhere in those whopping seven points might lie an armoured vehicle, brought an anti-tank rifle team.
The Germans started by putting their Grenadier squads on the table, placing a good portion on overwatch to open up at any of my guys who would stick their head out of the sand. So I set up two infantry sections in cover, Platoon Sergeant Graham was set up along with Cpl.Dover's (Ben Dover - get it? HA! HA!) and Cpl. Percy Appleton' sections behind the dunes whilst 2nd Lt.Fitzpatrick had set up base in an old marketplace or something, along with Cpl.Miggins' section, the platoon's 2" mortar and the forward observers.
Leutnant Lechner was standing on top of his command stand on a little hill, along with a junior officer (who was twice his age) and his section. They were lateron joined by the anti tank rifle team.
Some shots were exchanged but nothing much happened. The Germans drew together a bunch of teams for a flanking maneuvre so the British forward observers called in for a mortar barrage immediately which - much to my luck - hit spot on, sending almost the whole platoon to the ground in a huge cloud of sand, dust and shrapnel. The actual damage done was minimal but it kept the enemy down and occupied for a while. Or so thought a certain young Corporal Percy Appleton as him and his section started a mad rush across open field to one of the enemy jump-off points, in the hopes of capturing it, costing the enemy force morale and maybe earning himself a medal very early on in his career.
Unfortunately my opponent used his quickly generated Chain of Command die to end the turn and thus my barrage. Furthermore he deployed his third infantry section right at the jump-off point Cpl.Appleton and his boys were dashing towards, immediately opening fire at my lads and mowing down half the section before they could turn on their heels and dive back into cover. Surely not the best idea I'd ever had.
Appleton's boys right before the mad dash. Only half of them would make it back.
The premature end to the mortar barrage of course was a bad thing, especially looking as to the difficulties involved with requesting further artillery fire. You have to roll for the availability of the off-table battery and on my next phase got the result of "not now, ask again later". So all I could so really was dig in, pop some smoke rounds from my 2" mortar and hope for off-board artillery support. In the mean time the Germans, reorganized and slightly annoyed about that shelling incident, opened fire at the houses my commander, the forward observers and one of the infantry sections had taken position, killing two and lightly wounding Corporal Miggins. To draw some of the attention off them, the Bren Carrier was brought on the field, helping Miggins's men return fire at the German stronghold, and to quite some effect. In fact, the old junior leader got killed, along with approximately five more guys in total, reducing the German force morale to 8. Seeing as how another off-table mortar barrage was just about to get ready and real life time running very short as well the Germans withdrew in order (except for one guy who we still have to dice for).
Leutnant Lechner overlooking the situation
A minor victory for the British, if only because they were the last to go home. In terms of Force Morale both forces had 8 in the end, the Germans having caused two more casualties but lost an NCO as well.
Very eager to find out how the campaign goes on!