Heyhey, I got to play a game again!
After Frank Shandy (not his real name, but close :p ) was so good to introduce virago and me to Sharp Practice a few weeks ago and a general agreement of the Lard being to everyone's taste we had a game of Chain of Command again!
It was me vs. Frank (his first game of Chain of Command), the setting was our regular mid-1941 Northern African theatre. He got to command virago's German Panzer Grenadiers platoon under the notorious Oberleutnant Lechner whereas I, as usual, commandeered my stalwart British rifle platoon under Second Leutenant Fitzpatrick. Virago, much to his credit, umpired, poured drinks, provided tiny Germans, snacks, terrain and the table. Speaking of the terrain: We were a bit short on terrain as the hills were all out doing duty on other tables that night, so it was ruled that the bushes as usual block LOS and between the bushes troops can see but get light cover. Same goes for palm trees. Houses and walls count as hard cover.
We chose to play scenario#1 from the CoC rulebook: Patrol. Two patrolling platoons meet by accident and have to shoo the opponent away. Only little support, get the opponent's Force Morale down to 3 or less and you win. I ended up with a whopping six support levels, the Germans got two.
Patrol Phase and Setup
Here's an overview of the table setup as well as a quick rundown of the forces:
In the patrol phase I did my dearest to get as close and if possible into the built up area. Setting up position in these buildings was my first and foremost objective, because it's a rather tedious and potentially self-destructive task trying to get infantry out of hard cover. If the Germans would get into the built up area I would try to use superior numbers to drive them out again, hence the additional infantry section as support. I also brought a second 2" mortar team because those are just brilliant. I rolled for Force Morale and ended up with 10 as a starting score.
My opponent, having read his combat manuals, viewed the built up areas as a deathtrap and instead chose to rely on mobility and keeping options for flanking maneuvers open and do that encirclement-destruction thing. Or so I assume. The German support, limited as always due to high platoon rating, was the usual: a staff officer to keep a close look on Oblt. Lechner's and a medical orderly to keep NCOs and officers out of harm's way. The German starting Force Morale was 8.
The Early Game
I started by setting up the two 2" mortar teams as well as my platoon sergeant in a nice, cosy and first an foremost safe place and started lobbing smoke rounds at the German Jump-Off points.
The Germans deployed two full squads of Panzergrenadiers at roughly a 90° angle. Of each squad one team set up overwatch positions to use the other team as maneuver element. Once those guys got to a good position they'd do the overwatch and the other team would follow suit. Again, textbook stuff. My comparatively primitive plan was to hug the buildings, keep the boys' heads down and the Germans from firing at them via means of smoke rounds. These Panzer Grenadiers can pour out horrible amounts of fire.
Once the smoke finally landed in the right spot I deployed a section of infantry in the biggest building (thanks to the close jump-off point I got there), in part because I was anxious that the Germany might take any building if I didn't deploy troops there.
There was a short exchange of fire between them and one of the Panzergrenadier teams, but not much happened.
Or so we thought.
Due to a random event fire broke out in one of the houses! Many a theory were formulated that evening about the enormous smoke cloud emerging (and lasting until the end of the game no less!), amongst them comparisons to the Springfield Tire Fire. Given how the smoke was there to stay and blocked LOS completely, this changed the whole tactical situation, and not necessarily to my disadvantage I have to add.
In the mean time the German plan unfolded further. Oblt.Lechner himself grabbed a team of six Panzergrenadiers to take them around my right flank, using smoke and vegetation as cover, to silence my mortars and put some pressure on. At the opposing side of the built up area another team of Panzergrenadiers advanced to the walls of the compound. I reacted by deploying another infantry section and by moving them into the only other usable house left (two being completely covered in smoke (or burning), the leftmost being mere ruins and completely open in the direction of the enemy.
The Germans also deployed their third full squad of Panzergrenadiers (you can see them in the background).
Curious things happened. True to his nature, Oberleutnant Lechner doesn't only lead from the front, he is
the front. This team of Panzergrenadiers he took with him seem to have been especially chosen to be his Stoßtrupp because they ran like crazy. Before I suspected it they charged through the smoke, hurling bullets, spades and insults at my mortar teams and platoon sergeant who fought back bravely, but were killed after a quick and bloody struggle.
What's worse is that Lechner and his team also took out my Jump-off Point. Not that it was vital to my plans, but this can have bad effects on Force Morale. Just like losing two support teams and a platoon Sergeant.
Luckily I had held the Australians in reserve who I deployed immediately (after Lechner and his group had hunkered down behind thick vegetation to take a breather). Only few of them actually got a shot at the enemy, but hurling grenades over the wall and the shrubbery did the job nicely too. In addition to this the section on the large building repositioned a little to open fire at Lechner's team, without effect. Seeing as how well the grenade lobbing worked for the Australians the NCO ordered his lads to throw one down as well. The rifleman fumbled though and the grenade fell to his feet, which is very bad in a confined space with hard walls. Luckily the result wasn't quite as horrible as it could have been. The German group outside was reduced to three Grenadiers and Lechner himself got injured. They broke and retired swiftly towards a table edge. If at all, it would take quite a while before they would be factor in the game again.
Here's an overview:
You can see the currently unsable Jump-Off point got greyed out. By the end of the turn it would become unusable for good if I wouldn't retake it and lead to a loss of Force Morale. Of course the Oberleutnant getting wounded and a team breaking hurt German Force Morale as well.
In the mean time the third German section moved directly towards the built up area.
I expected nasty close combat erupting over the compound and pulled back then Australians to set up overwatch in the narrow alleys between the buildings. They even caught one German team trying to slip by at one point.
I deployed my third infantry section in the yard of the large building as a reserve in case nasty close combat should break out. My second section meanwhile duelled with the forward Panzergrenadiers team. As both sat in hard cover effects were bearable for both sides. However, the German squad's NCO got killed due to a string of bad rolls, reducing German Force Morale quite a bit.
At this point things didn't look too good for the German platoon. Some defensive fire had eaten away at their teams, shock points had built up slowly and the effective loss of a senior leader and one NCO made it hard to regroup for a big attack. As another German NCO got killed we called it a night.
In the end the German Force Morale was 3, British Force Morale was 7.
Had the Germans pushed on they could have caused quite some damage, but eventually probably would have gotten overwhelmed by numbers and by the patchy state of their... well, Chain of Command
, meaning they would have lacked the required activations. Of course it was Frank's first game, but he got into it pretty quickly as he's very familiar with the mechanics the TooFatLardies games make use of. Each one of them is different in some details, but the general mechanics are similar.
We all agreed that Chain of Command is a really, really good set of rules and the table setup and smoke was admired. Good game, thanks to everyone involved.
I hope that you enjoyed this little game summary and found it interesting! Comments, questions and such are welcome as always!