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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Coffee or Calvados, a Chain of Command AAR

Hugh and I played our first game of Chain of Command.  There's been a very positive buzz about these WW II skirmish rules and I was anxious to see what makes them shine.  Hugh provided everything from figures to terrain. The buildings are by Crescent Root Studio.  Comparable to 4Ground buildings, some come with 4 pins inside, allowing a quick breakdown and assembly for when space is an issue.  
Hugh sketched out the back sotry for our patrol scenario to recon a Calvados brandy factory in Normandy. It was a wonderful bit of color as I got to learn about Chain of Command AND a famous French apple brandy. I must remember to take the time to frame up a game with a story as it makes for a deeper gaming experience, win or lose!  For our next match, perhaps the first player to occupy the factory rolls see if his men imbibe and rolls for results, something like Dux Britanniarum's Bibamus table.  

This scenario saw a German infantry platoon going up against a British Airborne platoon. CoC has national characteristics for each force, grounded in their military doctrine. For example, "Maschinengewehr" rewards the German players with more D6 when attaching a squad leader to LMGs.

British Airborne are tough, with 6 command dice versus 5 for the Germans.  They're also rated as elite and aggressive.  Being new, we bungled the German support list and poor Hugh got only a medic and panzerchek team to even out the disparity between our forces.  On the other hand, it was realistic that the Germans found themselves over-matched at the start of the Normandy campaign.

These pictures are not the best but I want to show what the figure requirements are and how the squads are composed.  Hugh put leaders in larger bases to make them distinguishable on the tabletop.  Basically, you're looking at 3 squads per side with some support.  

The first bit of genius in Chain of Command is the Patrol Phase, which is a wonderful game within the game. Each side has 3-4 Patrol Markers which are moved one by one, 12" onto the table. Each marker must remain within 12" of a friendly marker. Once your marker comes within 12" of an enemy marker, both are locked. Players continue moving their markers until all are locked.  Behind the locked Patrol Markers, players place their Jump Off Points, which are where troops deploy to the battlefield. Going first, I was able to lock up Jump Off Points behind the Calvados factory.  This was a huge as it left the Germans on their back foot with Jump Off Points in a farm field, a road and an orchard.  Not ideal.  

With no troops on the table to start, I threw 6 command dice.  Command dice are used to bring forces onto the table and then later, active them for movement.  How and when you commit your forces onto the table is critical. My rolling was crazy good and I rolled up back to back phases repeatedly. I put one squad on my left flank in the orchard with a Bren covering a German Jump Off Point.  I got my 2nd squad into the main building and my 3rd squad went out on the right flank in a warehouse.  



Above, I split a section off from one squad to flank and fire on the Germans taking cover against a wall. Concentrating fire from two squads on one German squad I was able to pin them. I send in an assault that took them right off the table.  
Hugh brought his last squad to where his other squad had just perished. I was eager to occupy one of his Jump Off Points in order to degrade the German force morale.  Here, I miscalculated badly in deciding to assault the fresh Germans. Their MG 42 ripped me up and I lost my entire squad in the debacle. Lesson learned, you can't charge in like a maniac even if you're elite.  You must first knock the enemy down with fire, pin them if you can and then go in for the kill.  
My failed assault did weaken the German squad and they eventually broke from our steady fire. Hugh sent his last squad against my squad in the orchard.  Assaulting fresh troops backed by 2 Brens and some stens, the results were catastrophic for the Germans.  Their force morale dropped to zero and the game went to the British.
Two very big thumbs for Chain of Command.  It's a great set of rules, one of the best skirmish rules I've ever played.  CoC is going to get heavy rotation this year and I can't wait to run the Calvados scenario again. One game and we're both mulling over other armies and theaters of war.  That means we're hooked, I think!

32 comments:

  1. Great report Monty, though I did chuckle as soon as I read charging an MG42 as I already had the image in my mind of the result ;)

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    1. Thanks Andrew! I think my one beer had gone completely to my head at that point.

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  2. I am happy you liked the ruleset, but wow just two supports for the Germans against the paratroopers, very tough for Hugh!

    John

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    1. John, your AARs and write-ups on CoC were a siren song to me. Thanks for that!

      The Patrol Scenario said roll on support table 1 or 2 but we missed the rest. On top of it, Hugh was under the weather. Hot dice, unbalanced forces, opponent sick...I'm not too proud to take a win any way I can get it. ;-)

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  3. Nice intro to CoC via a great BatRep and terrific photos. I have been considering CoC for my WWII lower level actions for 28mm too. I appreciate your recommendation. We may have to spring for a copy of the rules.

    Thank you!

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    1. This series of videos convinced me to fork over the cash for the rules--maybe you are aware, but if not:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiT70m6CJO8

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    2. A year ago, I could not have told you who or what TooFatLardies was. Their Dux Britanniarium rules (with the introduction of both cards and a bit of RPG) is a fabulous set of Skirmish rules for the Age of Arthur. In CoC, Richard has hit gold again. They're not quite like anything else I've played and that is maybe my highest praise.

      Both sets of rules shake up the IGOUGO routine, big time.

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  4. Great looking set up and scenario, Monty. I've read positive comments about the rules on other blogs as well. I haven't tried them out, but plan to stick with Bolt Action for the moment as I can only remember so many different rules :)! Best, Dean

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    1. Agree 100%. We have so many choices that they can be distracting! I hope your big game goes well!

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  5. A great report with beautiful pics, love the buildings!

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    1. Thanks Phil and your La Marne report was fabulous, as always!

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    2. Many thanks...Btw, Calvados for me please!

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  6. I like the building and I like that style of tree. It must be exciting to find a new set of rules to play with that are so good. Have a Happy Easter!

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    1. Thanks Anne! Yes, its a great day when a set of rules lives up 100% to the buzz. You have a great Easter as well. So nice to be done with winter.

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  7. Entertaining AAR and nice photos. Assaulting an MG42 isn't really a good idea regardless of the ruleset it seems.

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    1. I really don't know what I was thinking. It was a Captain Stransky moment. ;-)

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  8. I have some troops in the works for it. Have played one game with my nearly finished Germans. It is a good rules set.

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    1. Great minds think alike! I can't wait to try it again, and pull in all the bits I forgot to use like covering fire, smoke, and more.

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  9. Exellent AAR Monty !!!

    Best regards Michael

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  10. Great report, I'm getting a lot of enjoyment out of Chain of Command myself at the moment.

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    1. Thanks Paul, I do think the Spanish Civil War is a fascinating front for CoC. And I see we both have played Maurice as well!

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  11. Great report Monty, with some very nice pictures of lovely terrain and miniatures.

    I'm glad you like the rules – I've only played them once, but like them a lot too. Your report, and seeing the Lardies demo game at Salute, sure has got me itching for another tryout!

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    1. I love DB, and Richard has another gem in CoC. Next game, we're going to introduce vehicles. The Brits will find it much more difficult to roll up their opponent when hes backed by a StuG. ;-)

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  12. Nice report! Sounds like you had a fun game!

    I like the Crescent Roots buildings. Too bad that they would bleed me dry in import tax and duty to Germany! :-(

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    1. Burkhard! International options is great in theory. When you pay international shipping and VAT, well....

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    2. Well maybe they manage to hammer out that Europe - US free trade zone that they have been going on about for ages before Putin has annexed his way all through Europe. ;-)

      The worst thing is,I actually had to pay duty in the past where it actually cost them more to calculate the duty and process the package than what they got from me.

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  13. I really enjoyed your AAR Monty and the game looked fun!

    Christopher

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  14. Very nice report with some great pictures. I really enjoy CoC as well, great set of rules. Makes you think twice if you will charge or not :-)

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    1. Thanks Mike. I adore your Finns and Winter War might be our next jump in CoC. So much gaming, so little time!

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  15. Thx, be sure to check out Brigade games for the Finns as well. They have a few excellent minis to add to your force...

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