Friday, 14 February 2014

Some thoughts on the patrol game in Chain of Command

While bouncing ideas past Gary for our Brécourt Manor scenario, I got to thinking about the patrol phase in CoC.

I may well do some deeper thinking and playing of trial games for a piece in the TFL Summer Special, but here's a couple of things that did occur to me. For now, I'm just thinking about the 'deploy from a single point' version of the patrol phase.

First off - the 3 vs 4 patrol markers question. 3 patrol markers limits you to a frontage of at most 24", where as 4 gets you a max of 36", but you move the whole thing slower. The problem with those max widths, though, is that if you have markers in a line that wide you can only move the end ones..

Movement indicated by red arrow.

Note that you can't move the middle ones because they are already at the maximum distance apart. It turns out that the optimum setup for a rapidly advancing frontage is more like this (parts of a series of equilateral triangles)....

Movement again indicated by red arrow. 
The other interesting question is, if you get bonus patrol phases before your opponent, how far can you get? Assuming you move in a straight line...
  • 1 bonus moves? 12"
  • 2 bonus moves? still only 12" (2 @ 12" from start, rest at start)
  • 3 bonus moves? 24" (1 @ 24", 1 @ 12" away, 1 or 2 @ start)
  • 4 bonus moves? 24" (1 @ 24", 2 @ 12" away, 0 or 1 @ start)
  • 5 bonus moves? still only 24" (2 @ 24", 1 @ 12")
  • 6 bonus moves? finally you can get to 36".


  1. There is a way to bring the line forward as a line. Suppose the patrols, 12" apart, are labelled from the left, A, B, C, D. Move A as in the diagram, 12" along the side of an equilateral triangle base AB, to A', then move B at the same angle to B', C at the same angle to C' and finally D, again at the same angle to D'. Now you have a line roughly 10.4" ahead of where it was, but which has shuffled 6" to the right.

    At this point you move the patrols in reverse order, D' through A' to D" to A" respectively. The line will then be directly forward of the original, some 21" ahead.

    An alternative, if you have a quick method of calculating Pythagoras, is to keep the patrols at rather less than 12" apart laterally if you want simply to move straight ahead.

    If they maintain lateral intervals of a whisksr less than 8.5", and advance no farther than that distance per turn, then the maximum separation, measured along the hypotenuse will be not greater than 12". This reduces the 3 patrol sweep from 24" to 17" (the 4 from 36" to 25+").

    On balance I'd probably prefer the zig-zag sweep earlier described, by adapting to maintaining at all times the maximum intervals.

    1. I was thinking you second diagram suggests another method - kind of like a leap frog. The patrol begins in a zig-zag formation the ones thrown forward at a 30-degree lateral angle from the line of the rear ones. The rear ones move forward, the whole advancing like a sidewinder snake. You could do as a zig-zag line, or one with the centre and the flanks moving forward in turn.

      The maximum width covered would be reduced: roughly 21" for 3 patrols; a little over 31" for 4.

  2. Mike, you have anticipated a similar blog post that I had in mind for sometime and even sketched for one of Chain of Command Diary series. After many games since summer, I concluded that the most flexible ways to deploy the patrol markers were either in a diamond shaped formation or lietrally in a pile in one point at the edge of the table. From very early I realised that having them in line meant difficulties to move around, unless the distance between them was reduced from 12" to something around 6" and 8"

  3. I'm sure there's subtlety in the lockdown phase as well: putting two markers close to each other, for example, can pin your opponent into a very narrow lane, where there may not be any cover for some way back.


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