My mate John Warren came around my place today for a game of Chain of Command. I based the scenario from one of the WW2 campaigns out of the 'Too Fat Lardies' Summer Special with a few alterations to suit this game.
I gave John the option of which side he would like to play and even though the defending British were heavily outnumbered with about half the support points of the attacking German, he opted to play British, like the true patriot he is.
EARLY WW2 GAME.
DEFENDING BOULOGNE 1940
A fighting withdrawal and the evacuation of Dunkirk.
SCENARIO FOUR: A DELAYING ACTION.
You have just arrived in Boulogne and marched
out to the edge of the town to take up defensive
positions there. It's been a long, hard day getting
everything into position and digging in.
Unfortunately you have neither wire nor mines to
strengthen your position, but your men are in
good spirits and ready to face the Boche.
Your orders are to hold Boulogne, but you have
insufficient men to really defend such a large
area. What is more, a lack of motor transport
means that if you are pushed back from your
current positions you will have to abandon your
anti-tank guns. You have been told that a British
Armoured force will be joining you tomorrow
from Calais where it is currently disembarking
and that a Rifle Corps battalion will strengthen
your defences. When they arrive this should be a
rather fairer fight!
Your force is as follows:
Command Dice: 5
Lieutenant, Senior Leader, with pistol
Sergeant, Senior Leader, with rifle
2” MORTAR TEAM
2” mortar with two crew
BOYS AT RIFLE TEAM
Boys AT rifle with two crew
Sections one to three.
th3SECTIONS ONE TO THREE
Corporal, Junior Leader, with rifle
LMG TEAM RIFLE TEAM
Bren gun with three
BRITISH SUPPORT LIST
Entrenchments for one Squad
Boys AT rifle Team, 2 men THREE
2 pounder Anti-Tank gun with five crew and
Vickers MMG on tripod mount, 5 crew
The British used a number of French civilian
vehicles in Boulogne. One of these may be
pressed into service to carry one Team.
You have to spend one activation each turn to get the car started, rolling a 6, then 5,6 and so on.
Most of the roadblocks used around Boulogne
itself were improvised, being either piled up
furniture or disabled vehicles. These may be
cleared by any German Panzer pushing against
them and moving through them at the rate of
1D6 per turn during which time the AFV may not
fire or undertake any other actions. Infantry may
cross a roadblock by treating it as a major
Mark VI and a Matilda Mk11 can arrive on turn 2
Mk VI has to arrive first.
You have crossed all of France in the past ten
days! It seems that the enemy are unable to
stand before our Panzers and now you are racing
towards the Channel Ports to crush the arrogant
English who are falling back to the coast. If they
escape behind the "wooden walls" of the Royal
Navy they will always remain as a threat to peace
in Europe. You cannot allow them to escape.
Before you lies Boulogne. If you can capture the
port you will deny your enemy the escape route
he will so badly need. However, Luftwaffe
reconnaissance planes report that the enemy are
landing troops even now. If you delay for even
an hour the enemy will get stronger and the
reality is that your panzers are weak through
losses caused simply by break downs. You must
push on with all speed to seize the port and trap
Your force is as follows:
Command Dice: 5
PANZER PLATOON HEADQUARTERS
Lieutenant, Senior Leader, with pistol
Feldwebel, Senior Leader, with SMGTRUPP
GERMAN PANZER SUPPORT LIST
Le.GrW36 5cm mortar Team, 3 men
Squads one to Four
Junior Leader, with rifle
LMG TEAM three crew
RIFLE TEAM six riflemen
Panzerbusche 38/39 Team, 2 men
Flamethrower team of three men
MG 34 on tripod mount, 5 crew
PaK36 36mm ATG with 5 crew and junior leader
Panzer I with Junior Leader
Panzer III with Junior Leader
Pz.IV A with Junior Leader
Pz. 38(t) with Junior Leader
I have upped the support points quite considerably with the attacking Germans on double the amount. This gives plenty of options for the players but with only 5 x command dice each, it still limits how much you can control in a phase and loss of morale will still be the deciding factor.
For playability and a longer game, both sides have been given a force morale of eleven.
I could have played this as a 'BIG CoC' game with an increased amount of dice to control the extra support units but I think this would have given the attacking German player too much of an advantage with all those extra support points but this way he had the flexibility of units but had to keep an eye on his morale.
You will have to excuse the blurry photos as they were a bit rushed in trying to get the balance right in taking pictures and not slowing the game down.
We carried out the Patrol phase and deployed our Jump Off Points followed by John then placing his road block and entrenchment on the table.
John had placed the entrenchment in front of the Chateau to take advantage of the open killing ground in front of him and had filled this with his first squad which he placed on 'over watch'.
I had started my deployment by bringing on some armour for my first couple of turns with a Panzer I and Panzer III on the German left flank.
I also had a Jump Off Point a good way up on my left flank and I was able to deploy my first infantry squad out of line of sight of the Brits on 'over watch'.
The Chateau dominated the centre of the table and so John decided to deploy a second squad in its grounds.
In the meantime I had deployed my mortar team, a second infantry squad along the hedgerow facing John's entrenchment and advanced my Panzer III up a little. These had all concentrated their fire on getting rid of the entrenched British squad but due to their hard cover, I was finding this a slow process. This gave John time to build up and get his first full CoC dice, which enabled him to end the first turn and bring on his Mk VI on the road in the beginning of the second turn.
John had positioned his Mk VI to cover his right flank and watch out for any German units that were tempted to pop their heads around the corner of the Chateau grounds.
I pushed my first infantry unit up along my left flank with the Panzer I in support and placed my LMG team in the entrance to the alley way so that they could fire down the flank of the Brits in the entrenchments.
(I am quite pleased with the way the wet muddy flexible track turned out in the 2nd picture above. More of that in future posts.)
The Brits in the trench finally broke, with the junior leader being the sole survivor.
I pushed my first infantry squad on and into the rear gardens of the Chateau but they could not advance any further at this stage as the Brits had a full squad in the upper windows of the building on 'over watch'.
Meanwhile, in the centre, my second squad crossed the hedge line and started advancing across the open ploughed fields, with the Panzer III giving support.
The Panzer III coming forward had the desired effect of the Brits deploying their 2 pounder ATG in the grounds of the church yard on their left flank and having a pop at the PanzerIII across the fields. Luckily for me, the shot went wide.
John also had another squad of British infantry in the church and his bren team opened up on the second German infantry squad that was in the middle of crossing the open field. Again, unlucky shooting for the Brits, with no casualties and I was able to get to the safety of the far stable wall by rolling a double six and getting two turns in a row.
I was able to concentrate my fire on the church with the mortar team and a MMG team that I had brought onto the table and was now lining the hedge. I also brought a third infantry squad on my right flank and advanced them towards the British ATG in the church grounds.
The German right flank, with the support of a senior leader and covering fire from the mortar and MMG were able to wipe out the crew of the ATG, drive out the remaining infantry from in the church and end the turn with a CoC dice to capture a British jump off point.
Meanwhile, in the centre, the second squad had advanced on the wounded British junior leader and captured him. The Panzer I had also changed direction and had moved across from the left flank and was now heading for the centre of the table.
The British squad in the chateau had also taken some casualties and decided to pull back and evacuate the building. This meant leaving their Jump Off Point, which the Germans were able to occupy and then again end the turn with another CoC dice.
The British morale was getting very low by this stage and they were down to just two command dice but they had also given the Germans a bloody nose with their morale now reduced to five.
It is the first time I have played an early war game and it was great fun, with the AFV's not being the all powerful battle winning tanks that you can get in the later part of the war. The Panzer I for example not having any AP capability, with only a couple of MG's and an armour rating of 2.