Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Hells Bells Part II

Command dice #1 activates the sniper in the bell tower.

Hells Bells Part II

German Phase

German Command Dice rolls another 5, two x 1's, three x 2's

Second 5 of the Game means the  Germans are up to 2 Chain of Command Point

Command Dice scores of 1 and 2 are added to get 3 which activates Fallschirmjager 1st squad. Again the order is "At the Double" three dice score 14.

1st squad enters the cemetery

Moving towards the church at full sprint....

Overview of the squad nearing the church...

Shot scores a 6 (needed a 4-6) Damage roll is a 5...and thats a kill...d10 is rolled to see is the NCO hit (1 is a hit) scores a 6 so the leader is safe)
Man Down! It's first blood to the Germans...
Next activation with a 1 is the MG42 again in the church tower...

The MG42 has spotted some movement below beyond the hedgerow

...the MG team thrusts the gun further forward in an attempt to create a suitable angle...before letting loose with a devastating burst of firepower...

Rumor has it that Rommel's in the area but its just the wildlife fleeing the sound of gunshots

MG42's firepower is 10 and since they have chosen the fire order there will be a full quota total of 10 dice. The Airborne are Elite, at close range so 5 and 6's to hit. So thats 6 hits with the 10 dice.

The Paratroopers are in Hard Cover but the MG42's firepower lowers the Hit Effect to Light Cover but since they have gone Tactical they are considered to be making themselves more difficult to hit so for the purposes of the Hit Effect Table they are actually considered to be in Hard Cover. So only 6's cause kills while only 5's cause Shock. So that's one of each. I use a d10 to find out if the leader is hit...on a 1 he's dead...but it rolls a 6...he's safe
The small blood spot denotes the 1 Point of Shock
 "Man Down" ...

The same dice roll 2 killed and 3 Shock...being in such close proximity to the German MG the US 2nd squad need to take some decisive action or they'll be facing a real massacre. (The truth is the German rolling was not as spectacular as it looks here I played this wrong at the time using twice the amount of hit dice hence the amount of damage)

US Phase 

US Command Dice: 1xD5, 2x D3, 1x D2, 1xD1 (House Rule: I have the Elite US using only 5 due to the Germans superior leadership in this scenario) The D5 increases the Command Dice total.
US CoC Dice increased to  3

D3 Activates the US NCO who spends 1 Command Point to activate the 1st squad's rifle team. He orders them into the farmhouse double fast. They roll an 11 which means all but one of the rifle team makes it into the building.

NCO  uses his next Command Point to activate the MG Team. Moving on a single die they roll a 6 which is move than enough to move them down the lane towards a hedge that has a clear view of the church.
The MG Team put some fire on the bell tower.

Hits need 6's to hit...they luckily get 3

The three hits score a kill and 1 Point of Shock
Some excellent shooting coupled with some good fortune knocks out one the Germans (and also causes 1 Shock)

Next D3 is applied to 2nd squads NCO who orders his MG team to move into a shooting position.

A 6 is rolled for movement which again is well over whats needed...The MG1919 is set up in the hedge preparing to give some fire on the top window of the church steeple

US are at close range so need 5 or 6's to hit the German MG42....but only one hit
The MG Team are close to being pinned with 2 Shock 

German 2nd Phase (Last Phase of 1st Turn)

3 D6's mean the end of the Turn after this German Phase with the Germans also having the first phase of the next round.
MG42 lets rip again hoping to hold the US advance long enough for reinforcements to come to their help. Any firing will be negatively effected by their 2 Shock.

The MG42 only rolls 8 dice due to the Shock. They get 3 hits which in turn causes another death and 2 more shock.

Leader has a narrow escape with his casualty roll

Another dead GI and the squad is is beginning to fall apart....
The squad has now received more Shock Points than half their number...

But the result of the squad sustaining high casualties and the accumulating psychological effect of enduring constant fire (Shock)  is the entire squad is pinned down in the ditch!

To Be Continued....

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


 I've been asked by several viewers that I might explain how a few of the terrain effects were achieved and I do plan on posting some terrain making tips. One of the effects most asked about is the river. 

The river is very simply created using a mix of different colour sand: blue, green and brown. BTW it's important that the terrain mat you use is well sealed if your placing lots of sand on it especially if it's vulnerable to shedding or been damaged in some way. I made my own mat using sands and various materials and then painted and then sealed it a lot afterwards.

The key to the river looking effective is having the ability to elevate the area around so the river itself is based on a sunken bed. I use the foam tile method beneath my cloth with batting sandwiched in between forming the elevations. The river is made using a more subtle amount of batting around the surrounding area so it is slightly raised. Where you plan on placing your river is obviously kept free from batting. The cloth is placed on top and pins are used to give definition to the river. This is where the foam tiles come in very handy. The pins penetrate the cloth and batting and are held firm when thy stick into the foam tiles.

If like me you use sand for roads and various effects on the table I find a dust buster is a great help in picking up the different sands and storing them for future use.

Anyway I hope my description is somewhat understandable but as I said I will post a visual tutorial later.

Thanks again guys and happy modelling


Why is Chain of Command such a good game?

I was asked to explain why Chain of Command in my opinion is one of the best WW2 games out there. Especially in skirmish level. Well sometimes personal preference is a difficult thing to articulate but if I was to try and sum it up quickly I would say that in the game I found myself constantly needing to make decisions that felt urgent and critical. It's been my criticism on several games I've played that they can turn into miserable stalemates (and that might be very realistic to be fair but not wholly enjoyable for the most part)

The game itself with the initial Patrol Phase immerses you straight into decision making and then the actual battle or the combatants are all in a very immediate proximity to each other….so it feels dramatic and urgent. No slow moving measuring across the battlefield and its suppertime by the time a shot is fired.

I do like the simple order options available….I play another game recently and found myself regretting that going tactical wasn't available to me. Or the the NCO's or leaders couldn't more directly influence proceedings with spending a few Command Points to get things moving. I enjoy the fact that there is a certain random feeling to what you can do…the command dice don't so much restrict your planning but perhaps how quickly that plan is realized and that again feels right to me.

I remember hating that movement distance would be tied to a random die roll and if your thinking in a linear type way of how time and the game are being played out then it isn't very satisfying. But if the game is understood in a nonlinear way then a certain randomness can kill the gamey sense of whats going on. Example at one time in the game the US player knew I couldn't react as my troops had just deployed and I had no Command dice to react to his movement. He presumed that he could move into the house easily and if distance measurements were fixed he could have done that. But he rolled badly and so the Germans would have an opportunity to react. Not to be understood as the US just crawling along like a tortoise but rather the Germans were fairly lucky to react and fire in time.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Chain of Command AAR: Hells Bells...There's a Bad Schnell in the Tower

For my last game I decided to try out the excellent Chain of Command system by TFL http://toofatlardies.co.uk/. It's just about the most enjoyable and historically satisfying WW2 games I've ever played.  I'll avoid saying historically "accurate" but what I mean is they "feel" right and the effects they produce seem more than plausible to me.

View from south of the farm
The battle here itself is fictional and set somewhere in Normandy. It's a straight forward Attack vs Defence scenario with an Elite German Fallshirmjager platoon occupying a church and a farmhouse overlooking a strategically important main road. A US Airborne platoon with certain supporting elements are attempting to clear them out. Both the church and the farmhouse are US objectives. 

Force Morale

In CoC each force has a particular Morale Rating. Various negative impacts on the force during the game such as loss of units, or in this scenario loss of objectives reduces their rating. When their Force Morale Rating begins to get to a critical level the force may begin to experience different negative effects. 

To me this gives a great edge to the battle. In this scenario I've taken the liberty of importing an additional random element this morale mechanism. The idea is adopted from another great WW2 system Battlegroup. This additional mechanism is a random morale counter is selected each time a force takes an objective; the value on the token will reduce the force's morale rating accordingly. The difference this makes is that since the counters have random values and each counter is secretly recorded the opposing player does not know how badly his enemy's morale has fallen. I have found this adds greatly to a multi player game. 
Be warned the fighting in this AAR will get dirty...and there will be pigs

At the start of the game a Force Morale Rating is randomly created for each participating force. A random dice roll is made with appropriate modifiers applied to various levels of forces. 
There are several factors that contribute to the forces overall Force Morale the most obvious being the quality and experience of the units and the actual size of their force. 

House Rule For This Game: In this game each time an objective changes hands the beaten side receives a morale or random morale counter which in effect works against their overall Force Morale. I want to emphasize that this is a House Rule just used in this particular scenario.

Command Dice

The amount of Command Dice at the disposal of a force determines the amount of orders that can be given to various elements of the force. Therefore a larger amount of Command Dice a force has increases their potential ability to get things done and the greater control the commander has over his force.

US rolling their Command Dice. Just 1x6 means the next phase will be German (2x6's would mean the US would retain the initiative) The 1x5 means a the US receive 1 Chain Command Point. The other numbers allow various units to deploy or activate. 

For the uninitiated one of CoC's most innovative elements is the initial patrol phase. As in real warfare ground intelligence plays a vital part in CoC. The patrol phase represents that cat and mouse gathering of information on the ground. Scouting the enemy, gathering terrain information; essentially mapping out the battlefield.

US Airborne Battle Force

1 Elite Platoon with 3 Squads
Command Dice 5 (this would normally be 6 for Elite but in this game they will have 1 less than the Germans, this is to represent the superior leadership of the Germans in this battle)
Platoon Force Rate: Elite +8 
Platoon Senior Leader: Lieutenant Molloy 4 Command Initiatives 

US 101st are an Elite Unit...CoC also defines them as Aggressive Troops meaning they're fairly handy in a a close quarter fight 

The US Support:

  • Forward HQ 
  • Elite Platoon Both Squads have a BAR each as well as their compliment of 3 man .30cal MMG's 
  • Sherman Tank Platoon 3x M4 Shermans 
  • FO  Team with off-table Medium 81mm Mortar

German Fallshirmjager 

1 Platoon with 3 Squads
Command Dice: 6
Platoon Force Rate: Elite +10 
 Each squad is well supplied with panzerfausts with each one having at least two at their disposal. The platoon is also complimented by a two man panzerchreck team. 
  • Elite Fallshirmjager Platoon   Armed with 8 panzerfausts  Only 1 Squad Immediately Available.  
  • 1 MG42 Team mounted on tripods   
  • Sniper 
  • Panzerschreck 2 man Team  
  • 2 StuG G  
  • 2 Medium 80mm Mortars  3 Man Loader Team 

Red Circles represent German Drop Off Points. Red Triangles are German Held Game Objectives. Blue Circles are US Drop Off Points. Top is west and the south edge is on the left. 

Location of Jump Off Marks
US Jump Off Point 2 (in the centre of photo against hedge)
US Jump Off Point 3 

US Jump Off Point 4

German Jump Off Point 1

German Jump Off Marker 2

German Jump Off 3

German Jump Off Point 4 

The main road which runs from east to west splits the battlefield in two. 

The Germans already hold two vital buildings that dominate the battlefield:the church and a large farmhouse (which we will call the first farmhouse) which is located on the southern side of the main road. 

 A second large farmhouse (with the well at the rear) is located on the north side of the road. 

Just south of the narrow river, but north of the road this is the second large farm house. The 1st squad use a 2 to deploy 6 inches and in cover from US Jump Off 4

Opening Turn 1st Phase

Opening Turn and since the US are the attackers they have the initiative. A score of 2 allows 1st squad to deploy within 6 inches of the Jump Off Marker. Hoping to occupy the farmhouse next phase they decide to deploy at Jump Off Marker 4. 

Earlier scouting of the building produced confirmation of its lack of any enemy presence. Its elderly French inhabitants displayed a very unfavourable opinion of their German neighbours while using some universally understood communications to a couple of stunned young airborne!  

The 2nd squad can be seen here at Jump Off Point 1; They actually intend to deploy on  the opposite/eastern side of the hedgerow . They don't wish to attract any undue attention by skipping down the pathway to the church.

Now that the Screaming Eagles 2nd squad are deployed they will be on the move soon but their movement is going to be cautious and deliberate as they advance towards the church where they expect heavy opposition ...that's where the screaming is expected

Under the watchful eye of a scarecrow the 2nd Squad have now deployed 6 inches from their Jump Point and to avoid any fire from the church they decide to deploy east of the trees in the crop field.

Since the unit deployed using a 3 dice their NCO can now give activate his squad with an order (but they can't move) 

The sergeant orders the squad to go "tactical" which means they consciously make an effort to make the best use of the nearby terrain.

The End Of Phase One

German Phase One

Next up is the Command Dice Roll: It scores 1x6, 1x5, 3x1 1x3 
No. 3 dice deploys German squad 1 from its HQ. We decided the Germans would b restricted to 2 units of troops in the church so the German commander is obviously concerned about the level of defence it has.

Confident that they are far from enemy contact the Germans move on the double down the road....

"....don't you love of smell of rotting cattle in the morning" ....
After several comments and complaints  that I seem to be fixated with mutilated cows I want to make it clear that I have kept the level of dead cows in this game to an absolute minimum. 

I have felt it necessary to include one or two for historical accuracy only...

Suggesting otherwise is....

Udderly ridiculus...

The number 1 dice deploys 2x medium mortar teams on Jump Off Point 1.

The no.1 dice deploys the MG42 in the bell tower. It cannot take an action this phase though

Now its time for the last German Command dice 1 to be used. This is used to deploy sniper Herr Schnell!
The sniper deploys in the bell tower.

Sniper Schnell In The Tower
With no action allowed for the sniper it is the end of another phase for the Germans.

End of German Phase 1

US Phase 2

Another roll for the Americans: 1xd3, 1xd4, 1x d6, 2xd5, not what the commander was hoping for, as he now needs to chose which squad to activate...but at least his Command Points are accumulating nicely

The Commander decides to use the no.3 dice to activate 1st squad at the second farmhouse:

The sergeant barks to his men to get their asses to the house ...he has decided against using the cover of the eastern wall of the garden and has instead directed his men to take the more direct route through the open garden...
The US commander is now aware there's an MG42 and a sniper in the nearby church steeple but he thinks he can make it to the second farmhouse before they can react. The order is At The Double which means throwing caution to the wind the basically legging it as fast as possible. The unit rolls 3d6...

but as they enter the back garden to his utter horror he sees a French Tricolour being hoisted out the top window,

The 3d6's for movement are rolled with a 5, 2, and a 4 rolled. A total of 11...but they need to negotiate a chest high wall...so they lose their highest dice, the 5. So they only move 6 inches in total, not enough to make it to the house. 

"Who the hell called me a pussy?"

What's tall, grey, spends all day looking into its neighbours garden, likes to hide in the background of photos and has a k98 sticking out its window...that's right a church

To Be Continued...