Chain of Command: Going Solo Pt.2

After a go at solo Chain of Command I still had the table all set up and decided to just have another solo game.

At first I wanted to draw rules from Platoon Forward, a supplement for co-op and solo play for Troops, Weapons a Tactics, TFL’s slightly older platoon-level wargames rules.

This supplement holds a lot of great ideas for this kind of stuff, which I studied intently, but couldn’t quite find a way to implement PF into CoC. Since then I got the TFL 2014 Christmas Special in which the author of PF lists ways to use his work with CoC. At some point I’ll manage to use it!

Not this time though. In the end I decided it was easier just to use the CoC rules again. And nearly the same table too!

The Scenario

chain of command skirmish

For this game I moved the terrain around a little bit. Bascially I ‘tidied up’ the central compound, and added some cover around it.

I also changed the situation insofar as that this time I would play length ways rather than using the long sides of the table to deploy.

This time I chose Attack on an Objective (scenario 6 from the Chain of Command rulebook); possibly my favourite. The Germans would be the attackers, while the Russian platoon has to defend an ad-hoc field HQ position.

The Patrol Phase

The patrol phase led to the Germans getting relatively far onto the table, with relatively equal battle lines.

chain of command skirmish

As you can see, the Germans got a slightly advanced Jump-Off Point (JOP) on their left, while the Russians placed one of their JOPs to their left cheekily far ahead, right behind the barn. As per the scenario, the Russians got a fourth JOP right on the game’s objective (indicated by boxes full of canned peaches, barrels of beverages, a fancy car, and a delightfully plump chicken roasting over a fire. All things worth fighing for!

Force Morale on the Russian side is 10, on the German side it’s 9.

The Forces

Being the attacker, the Germans (Heer platoon) got a full 4 points of support, which they invested in an MG42 on a tripod with a crew of 5.

chain of command skirmish

The Russians (rifle platoon) got 5 support points to spend and decided to get an MMG as well (the iconic Maxim gun)…

chain of command skirmish

….and a pre-Game bombardment.

chain of command skirmish
(from: http://wio.ru/galgrnd/mortar.htm)

This is one first times I use MMGs. Support list 4 offers so many fun toys to play with that the MMG is often overlooked in favour of bigger guns.

The Game

The Germans start the game by deploying a 2-man scouts team. The plan is to force the enemy to deploy or having their JOPs gnawed up by a 2-man team.

chain of command skirmish
Enter Konni and Ludwig.

The two swiftly advance down the German left flank, rushing from cover to cover.

Soon they get within spitting distance to the objective, denying the rightmost (Russian view) JOP.

chain of command skirmish
Note the DENIED-Drop on the JOP.

The problem is that I didn’t plan any further. Instantly a Russian squad is all over them.

chain of command skirmish

…and send our two heroes a-packing.

chain of command skirmish
chain of command skirmish

Well, not my most glorious hour. This costs the Germans two(!) force morale. There should be a better way to use those chaps. 😀 Possibly in situations in which enemy JOPs aren’t as close to each other.

Since the Russians (me) deployed a squad the German commander (me) reveales the position of their MMG team. It’s not that I hadn’t tried to do so before. That pre-game bombardment was rather annoying during the first phases of the game. Luckily the Germans threw three sixes at point rather early on.

Taking this for an indicator of the flank at which the attack will occur and since there’s a rather nice firing lane down the dirt road the Rusians deploy the Maxim right at the objective.

chain of command skirmish

An overview:

chain of command skirmish

Around and objective in the top left you can see the Maxim gun team (no LOS yet), and the Russian squad A (in afirefight between the German MMG). Somewhere in between the shock markers you can see the routing scouts team.

In this situation already the MMG works really well as the Russians are within the MMG’s close range band, but for the Russian small arms, the MMG team is only in effective range.

With the Maxim on the left flank the Germans deploy their first infantry squad 1 on the right and send them straight toward the barn, putting pressure on the Russians’ left, where they had a needlessly forward JOP.

chain of command skirmish

They advance very fast, taking not only the leftmost Russian JOP, but also denying a second one. This is getting a bit scary, so the Russians, despite an underwhelming command roll decide to start a desperate charge against the invaders. The reasoning is as follows – the Germans have lost a fair amount of force morale already. The way they’re standing the LMG won’t count into the close combat. Even if the Germans do more damage than the Russians they don’t have as many resources on the whole and can’t afford to lose as much. So after a grenade-toss, one-on-one squad close combat ensues.

chain of command skirmish
Uraaaaah!

Well, the Germans DO roll better. The NCOs on both sides get wounded, and the Russians are thrown back out of the compound. However, the German NCO loses a Command Initiative, which considerably slows that squad down, and they accumulate a lot of shock. On top of that the LMG team almost gets wiped out and for the rest of the game the remaining LMG gunner struggles with keeping his stuff together.

This event starts a general trend of NCOs getting wounded or killed throughout the rest of the game.

Here’s an overview of these phases of the game:

chain of command skirmish
(dotted line indicates recoil)

The Soviet squad B took a battering in their close combat adventure and retreat. Swiftly the Germans deploy another squad (2) to the compound around the barn, deploy their LMG and fire at the recoiling Russians.

The Maxim Gun is hauled to the left, since this is expected to be the new flank to take care of. Unfortunately, the infantry squad who got beaten back by the Germans keep standing in the Maxim’s way, so it never gets to fire, and with the NCO down for this turn they don’t move, even as they’re getting shot at by German Squad 2’s LMG team.

It’s not that bad, but annoying. The Russians are reluctant to deploy the Senior Leader, because they still have a fresh infantry squad in reserve and want those to deploy when they want it.

The infantry squad A in the right’s still firing back at the bellowing German MMG, which at this point has taken some shock and a casualty.

Seeing as how the Russians are really concerned about their left now the Germans deploy their third and last infantry squad 3 (a Konni and a Ludwig short) next to the MMG.

chain of command skirmish

They make ready to attack on the now weaker Russian side. It’s not a safe bet, as the Russians cleverly still keep a full squad in reserve, but pressure has to be kept up now that the pretty worn Russian squad A got behind a wall to take a breather.

So the MMG team and squad 3 bunch up and rush down the road. This triggers Russian squad C to deploy and open fire at them.

chain of command skirmish

It’s not terribly effective, but enough to halt the German advance. Squad 3 take cover behind the large stack of boards, the MMG team leap behind the stone wall around the ploughed field.

An Overview:

chain of command skirmish

From left to right – somehow German squad 1, who had been involved in the close combat early on, are back into relative shape to advance through a wood and behind overgrown garden walls to open nasty crossfire on the Russian position. At the centre the Russian Lieutenant deploys and starts tidying up the place by whipping Russian squad B into shape (well, what’s left). Expecting an attack and since they don’t get any targets on the left anyway, the Maxim gun move back to the right where the German attack takes place at the moment. Russian Squad A, reduced to 6 men, retreats to the side along the board wall. Just as Russian squad C deploys and forces the Germans on the right flank to call off the attack and disperse to either side of the road.

At the other flank the Russian Senior Officer finally deploys and neatens up things. Shock is removed, and the remaining member of Russian squad B and the Maxim Gun are turned into a very dangerous firing line.

chain of command skirmish
But look, in all that fighting someone knocked the spit bird off the cooking contraption. Now it will roast entirely unevenly! War really sucks.

They open fire at diminished German Squad A who just took position behind a wall. Finally the Maxim Gun gets to fire. And it does a good job, sending the German LMG team off the table, killing their NCO, and the remaining riflemen retreat back into the woods. At least the nasty crossfire is thwarted this way.

At this point the Russian and German Force Morales are way down and the Germans get impatient. Still untouched Squad 2 charges across the compound around the Barn and start chucking hand grenades over the wall and onto the Maxim Gun, LMG gunner, and senior leader.

They are so preoccupied with this (ultimately pointless) exercise that they don’t even notice how Russian squad A, who are well-worn, but still full of fight, sneak up on them from behind!

chain of command skirmish

Despite the unfavourable circumstances the Germans roll really well again. There are only two Russian survivors, who flee the scene…

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…and right into the German senior leader! He’s sitting behind a stack of wood, managing the MMG and Squad 3, as the two remaining Russians pop up right behind him. The Leutnant grabs his MP40 and mows the unlucky comrades down.

All of these events beat down Russian Force Morale to 1, vs. the German force morale of 5. In the end there is just one NCO left standing. Which actually seems plausible. Infantry NCO casualties in WW2 were very high.

Debriefing

This game somehow was much more satisfying than the first solo game, I thought. the terrain was more ‘balanced’, as were the support choices.

An overview of the end of the game:

chain of command skirmish

If you take a look at the situation, things aren’t quite as clear-cut as the Force Morale situation might imply. The German MMG team’s integrity is hanging by a thread, and an all-out German attack on the Russian objective could have gone really badly. On the other hand the two close combats didn’t go well for the Russians. The first one early on was a complete 50/50 thing, the second one could have gone disastrous for the Germans as well. But that’s close combat in TFL games for ya. And it makes sense actually.

I (putting my Russian commander’s hat on for a bit) probably shouldn’t have spent to much time duelling infantry with the German MMG. On the other hand that may have led to the Germans advancing on the right side in force. And we almost got’em!

This probably was the most dangerous situation for the Russians:

chain of command skirmish

But they managed to get the squad B LMG and the Maxim take care of the Germans in the left in time before they could do any damage.

To put the German Leutnant’s hat on for a moment (Wait, there’s a skull on it. Are we the baddies?): I’m happy with how the attack went. putting pressure on the left and right flanks when required kept the Maxim running around much more than firing throughout the game. And I really start digging MMGs. They don’t look glamorous, but they throw a lot of firing dice and got that sweet extra 6″ of close range.Oh, that thing with the scouts in the beginning? Yeah, that was stupid. Won’t stop me from trying it again though! But in different situations.

chain of command skirmish
Farewell, Konni and Ludwig. I hear they’re still running.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this battle report! Let me know in the comments!

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