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...