Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Battle Report - 10-Feb-2014 - Chain of Command

And yes, full marks to the lot of you who guessed from the teaser on Monday night: yes, t'was Brécourt Manor.

We're testing this out for a club D-Day all day on June 8th[1], where we aim to run a set of scenarios using IABSM3, Chain of Command, BKC, Battlegroup: Overlord, Bolt Action and possibly Flames of War: this was the Chain of Command scenario designed by Gary.

As the US, I got a slightly over-strength force of two sections of Paras, a 60mm mortar and a sniper team. Gary's Germans were crew for the 4 105s, two tripod MG42s and two sections with bipod MG34s. Here's an annotated version of Monday's teaser image, showing the initial setup.

US jump off points were under Lipton's tree, in the corner of the field to the left of that, and on the road about level with Gun 2.

The scenario and setup still needs a bit of tweaking: we played, and I think, having looked at pictures since, this may have been incorrect, that most of the hedges were bocage, meaning that for MMG 1 and 2 to be any use at all they had to be outside the hedge/trench layout. The scattered copse to the north (left side of the map, bottom of the picture) of MMG 1 is more a block to vision than fire, I think.

Which leads to the next interesting question of where to start the scenario?

Gary (and I think rightly) decided to skip the patrol phase, as with the Germans in fixed defensive positions it seemed a bit pointless. It does remove the initial scouting done by Winters in real life, and assumes that MMG 1's presence is known to the Americans.

Be aware that as of Monday I hadn't (deliberately) read up on the Brécourt Manor assault. I deployed a section, and Lipton's sniper team in Lipton's tree, mooched up to the hedge and offloaded half a dozen grenades in two phases at the machine gun bunker while Lipton tried to pick off MMG 1's crew. Of course, what I should have done was what Winters did, and concentrated everything on that MMG to take it down: as it was, I lined that section's MG up on  MMG 2, and send the second section to deal with it as well…

Splitting the (already beefier than Winters had) force? Dumb move.

I got away with it. Even though Winters AND the Junior leader in charge of the first section got wounded taking out MMG 1, the LMG got wiped out by long-range fire from MMG 2 and the first section was down to 3 men, I managed to take on and take out MMG2 by taking advantage of two phases in a row and a Chain of Command dice, and then cross the field to the trench line and take out Gun 4's crew and close assault and wipe out a rifle team. (First time ever I've used the Covering Fire rule, too!) Somewhere about there the Germans ran out of force morale...

Matters arising: (Note, no criticism of Gary's scenario design intended - we have to start somewhere!)

Stealth: CoC really doesn't have rules for this. Depending on when we think the game should start, I think that either:
a) Winters should have jump off points that basically allow him to deploy at the point where the Germans notice him, and thus the US to deploy and fire
b) there should be rules for spotting :D

Victory conditions: I won because the Germans force morale hit 0, by, effectively, wiping out four teams and attached leaders. Not 100% sure this felt right - wasn't helped by a bad initial Force Morale roll for Germans.

Forces: I pulled this off with two platoons (and Spiers' section which never turned up), rather than Winters' 12 men. Choice of forces needs some thought.

Anyway. There you have it. HUGE thanks to Gary for a great scenario, and we're both open to any comments/thoughts before our next test.

[1] Readers interested in dropping in for a game will probably be very welcome. Drop me a line :D


  1. I've been meaning to try this as well with CoC. Why not use the patrol phase?

    Also, if you figure Spears' reinforcements are just the second squad it makes more sense than using a full platoon and then adding Spears' section.

    1. I think the reasoning behind not using the patrol phase was that the Germans won't get any benefit from it, since they're all already deployed in positions they'd be dumb to leave.

      I'm interested in thoughts though, as to how many patrol markers and where to start from. I guess US from the bottom left corner by Lipton's tree, and the Germans… hrm. At the command post between guns 2/3? It doesn't make for much of a patrol game.

    2. We could also shift the table a little up and right, so that there's more space to the left/below Lipton's tree in the photo, which may make a pregame/patrol phase more interesting.

    3. The game did play well and was enjoyable. Still not sure how to make the patrol phase work.
      To he force morale basically collapsed after the loss of the two peripheral MMGs, where as on the original victory points, (1 per gun held/destroyed, 1/2 for command post) no result was yet achieved.

    4. I think this is one of the good things about CoC: Force Morale collapse cuts the game short when it's pretty clear who's going to win, and you don't have to play out those last tedious turns. Table time is precious!

    5. That's true however in this case the Germans had a full platoon as well as the crews for the three remaining guns and the US were down to about 9 guys.

    6. What we didn't really get to was the trench clearing from gun to gun which was the point of the scenario. Spears squad was to be released after two guns and the command post were taken. We discussed at the end how to avoid the collapse of defenders morale with just the loss of the peripheral Mmgs. Spotting was the other area so when the initial scout team were creeping up on the mmg1 we through a dice needing 6 by the mmg to spot them on the other side of the hedge. This seemed to work. However as I said a good game and test of the scenario. Plenty of time to get it right before June.

  2. Although I agree that that the patrol pahse is not useful for the Gwermans as they have their jumpoff points fixed, it matters in terms of fixing the limits where the US paras would be able to deploy


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