Thursday, 16 June 2016

Chain of Command - Club Game

View up the table, British this end, Germans at far end

Courtesy of Paul and Jim I had another chance to play Chain of Command at the club on Friday night. Jim set the game up, 28mm Brits vs Germans around Market Garden, with me playing the Brits and Paul the Germans.

Paul was meant to be defending a pill box and road junction, with me attacking. We only did one move of the hidden markers - not sure that was right - so there was a distance between us at the start. Luckily Paul pushed forward rather than wait for me so the gap was rapidly closed. My Vickers managed to inflict some nice damage on his infantry on my left flank. In the centre I sent a section up along the hedgerow but the came under grenade attack from the Germans in the scrub behind the wall.

Tommy's advance along the hedgrow

Since it was only an evening game I decided on a death or glory up my left flank where I'd already weakened him, but took casualties crossing the open ground when he played turn end to remove all the smoke I'd put out as cover. My second section then charged through into the wood and his MG34 team, but came off by far the worst. With only one active section left (and the Vickers) it was time to call game over.

So on the second play through I think most of my comments from the play test stand. A dedicated set of command dice and a better organised playsheet would make life a lot easier, and the combat mechanics still seemed pretty sound (although the bucket of dice approach throws up odd results too often for my liking).

The biggest issue though is the scenario settings. The scenarios are meant to be for evenly matched forces, but for real if you had the choice the attacker wouldn't take the combat. We were taught that if a section meets an MG nest its probably a platoon attack. Likewise if a platoon meets another platoon then that platoon forms the firebase whilst the company's other platoons for the assault force (although I understand current doctrine is for a straight-up-the-middle approach rather than left-flanking, bags of smoke). In most of these scenarios the "attacker" really needs double the force to make it an even fight, if they had triple the force then it would (should) be too easy.

I think there is also an issue with mechanised wargames that you do pretty soon get paralysed by the damage inflicted by machine guns, so troops (quite realistically) cower down provide hard cover until either kicked into action or indirect fire support can be brought in to clear the way for them - which may not be much of a wargame.

Overall whilst I think I'll play a few more platoon level games (and still want to try the modern version of CoC (Fighting Season) when it comes out, and some similar level SF games (even the rumoured SF CoC) I think that modern games may best be played at a higher level, with Platoon manoeuvre units and less focus on individual soldiers and cover and more on indirect fire missions.

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