Wednesday 7 October 2020

Battle for Le Renau Farm

Over the weekend I played out another solo game of Chain of Command. I'm getting the hang of the rules now but there are still some things I need to work on. I played the game over a couple of days, and for a few phases of it, I live-streamed the game with Posties Rejects using Zoom. I was able to talk then through the basics of the rules and they could see the table. By the end of the game, my scribbled notes extended to five pages and I'd taken over 60 this BatRep may be a bit longer than my normal output! 

The Setup
It's early July 1944 and the Americans are starting to probe the German defences in their sector. The Germans have been severely depleted by weeks of fighting, and much of their armoured support has been diverted to the British Sector where several large battles have been barely contained. A US Rifle Platoon, supported by a Mortar team and a Sherman M4 are pushing towards a Normandy farm which could be used by the enemy as a strong point. Their mission is to take the farm and hold it. However, the Germans have got their first and have managed to get a whole Platoon into this vital location. They have control of several large buildings and have clear lines of sight, making any attack very difficult. 

The Action
Based on some feedback from my last Battle Report I'll be including a little more information, namely the results of the command dice rolls for each phase. Experienced players may see some tactic or advantage I missed in these, but for now, I'm new to this and I know I still have a lot to learn. Where possible I'll accompany the text with pictures, but there were a few occasions when the excitement of the action meant I forgot to take a photo. You'll just have to use your imagination! 

(A - 6,4,4,3,2) The Americans started the game with the highest Force Morale (11 compared to 9 for the Germans) so they go first. I took advantage of the fact that a US Rifle Platoon has two senior leaders - the Lieutenant and a Platoon Sergent - to deploy a senior leader quickly. He deployed into the small woods, waiting for a Squad to join him later. Then I deployed the 3rd Rifle Squad in the large woods. Lastly, I brought the Sherman on and started moving it down the road. I expect its firepower to be invaluable against the Farmhouse. 

(G - 6,6,5,1,1) Now the Germans bring on both their Panzershrek Teams, I want to make sure they are available when and if a target presents itself and I can already hear the noise of an approaching tank. One team hides behind the farmhouse, within a single move of the farmyard wall. The Other is placed in the 'Buttery' a small lean-to attached to the Barn. Again this is within an easy move to the wall so the team can deploy quickly when needed. The Germans also get the first CoC point and retain the phase with the double 6.

(G - 4,4,3,3,2) These command dice mean the whole platoon is able to deploy into the various buildings of the farm. Squad One, along with its Junior Leader and the Platoons Senior Leader is able to take up positions inside the Farmhouse. This gives them clear lines of sight overlooking the road and the fields to the front of this building. Squad Two take up a reserve position on the upper floor of the Granary at the back of the farmyard. They can offer some supporting fire from here and are close enough to take over if they are needed at the front of the farm. Finally, the Third Squad lines the Yard Wall at the front, with the MG42 positioned up in the Hayloft. This should give it an excellent flanking fire position right across the front of the farm.

(A - 6,6,5,4,2) The Americans will retain the phase and also gain their first CoC point. They then deploy the Third infantry squad (yes, I brought them out in the wrong order just to confuse you!) in the small woods, putting them within the command of the Platoon Sergent who arrived here earlier. I decide not to activate the Senior Leader (or bring on the Platoon leader just yet as I still have troops to deploy. 

(A - 6,5,4,3,1) The American gain another CoC point but crucially, a set of actions that enable them to deploy their final Rifle Squad on their right flank. The hope is they can work their way down the flank towards the Farmyard while being protected by their comrades. With these guys deployed the Platoon Lieutenant comes on and deploys to the Large woods to support Squad One that arrived here earlier. The final command dice is used to order the 60mm Mortar team to open fire on the Farmyard between the Farmhouse and the Hayloft. 

(G - 6,6,5,1,1) The Germans gain another CoC point and will retain the phase. After a brief consideration, I decided to add the two 1's together make a 2, so I can activate a Squad. Squad One in the Farmhouse target the US 3rd Squad on the edge of the large woods. The US Troops were taking cover behind a hedge around the woods but the Germans elevated position reduces the cover by one level, from 'Light' to 'in the open'. At first, it looks like their aim is off, but they manage to translate the measly two hits (out of 14 dice) on target into two kills. 

(G - 5,4,3,2,2) Gaining another CoC point the Germans take advantage of retaining the phase to continue targeting the US 3rd Squad. The Germans in the Farmhouse open fire again, this time killing three infantrymen and causing one point of shock. Thankfully the section corporal avoids injury but this squad is looking a bit ragged already. Then the German MG42 up in the Hayloft also target this team, causing another casualty and another point of shock and injuring the Corporal. He suffers a -1 command initiative for the rest of the Turn...something I forgot immediately! In future I need to use some coloured tokens to show when a leader is wounded, just to remind me. Finally, the Squad in the Granary decide to join in the firefight. Only the MG42 can see the Americans but at long range they are less effective, dealing no damage. 

Before the onslaught. Hiding behind a flimsy hedge isn't a good idea.  

(A- 6,6,5,4,1) The American retain the phase and gain another CoC Point. The Lieutenant removes a point of shock from the remains of Squad Three in the Large woods. Unfortunately, my notes are terrible at this point and I honestly can't read my own handwriting so don't know what he did next! The 60mm Mortar Team attack the Germans in the FarmYard killing one infantryman. 

(A- 4,4,3,3,2) A much more useful command role gives the Americans a chance to hit back at the Germans. The Sherman moves fast down the road and fires its 76mm sending a HE round into the farmhouse. The gun only has 5 firepower but it reduces cover by one layer, making ant hits much more effective. True to form the impact kills one infantryman and deals another point of shock to the squad holding the Farmhouse.   

Then the Platoon Sergent orders Squad Two - in the small woods - to move up to the wall overlooking the fields. They can add their fire to that being directed at the Farmhouse and hopefully start making a difference. They fire but only add a point of shock to the Germans inside. Now the Lieutenant uses a command initiative to remove a point of shock from Squad Three in the Large woods. Then he orders them to move out of the woods and take cover behind the field wall. Hardcover is better than no cover! They move diagonally to put a small copse of trees in the field between them and the Germans in the yard, reducing their exposure to incoming fire. Finally, Squad One moved out of the woods and crosses another farm wall. They see a possible route down the German flank where they will be less exposed to incoming fire. 

(G-6,5,5,4,2) Another two CoC points for the Germans, but that is as far as the good fortune extends this phase. Squad One in the Farmhouse fire on the ragged remains of the US Third Squad behind the wall, but with no effect. Then The Germans in the Yard turn their guns on the US Squad One moving down the flank, again with no effect at all. 

(A-6,5,4,3,3) The Americans get another CoC Point giving them a full COC dice to play with. Then the Sherman moves again and opens fire on the Farmhouse again. More dust and brick ricochet around the inside of the building causing anther point of shock on the troops inside. The Squad 2 in the small woods opens fire again on the Farmhouse putting more pressure on the beleaguered defenders. 
(G-6,5,5,2,1) Another two CoC points for the Germans. The Farmhouse defenders now target the US Squad Two in the small woods causing two casualties. Then the Panzershrek team finally gets a chance to tackle the Sherman. With a clear line of sight, and at the effective range they send a  rocket hurtling towards the armoured vehicle. The frontal armour prevails and the round ricochets into the air, but the crew are rattled by the close call. 

(A-6,5,3,3,3) The Americans gain another CoC point and are left with a very useful set of threes enabling them to activate three junior leaders. Squad 2 lays down some covering fire on the Farmhouse, reducing the effectiveness of the Germans fire from inside. Squad three fires on the Farmhouse but with just an infantryman and the BAR team they had no time I need to reverse that formula and use them to lay down covering fire (lesson learned!). Then the Sherman moves forward a few inches and fires another HE into the Farmhouse resulting in two more kills and two shock. The German leader is wounded and cannot use one of his command initiatives until the next turn. 

(G-5,4,2,1,1) Another COC point for the Germans; they are racking these up! Then I activate the Panzerschrek Team to fire on the Sherman. This time the Rocket causes 4 hits versus two saves (13hit dice vs 5 Armour dice) so with a net 2 hit the Sherman is n trouble. I roll on the damage chart and find that the Bow Gunner has been killed and his weapon put out of action!

Then for good measure, I bring the SECOND Panzerfaust Team into play. I roll for movement and he reaches the farm wall then opens fire. There is a penalty for firing having moved, and another because this time the Sherman is partially obscured. All of this is for nought though because I roll a double one on the aim roll!

The last action this phase sees the Senior Leader in the Farmhouse remove one point of shock from the Squad in there and continue to fire on the American Squad Three by the wall (in from=nt of the Large Woods). One more kill finishes off the final rifleman in the Rifle Team leaving the BAR alone. The Leader passes the casualty check but I still have to roll on the Bad Things Happen table resulting in the Americans losing 1 point of Morale.  

Before it loses the Rifle Team it was already whittled down to a handful of men.

(A-5,5,4,3,3) With two more COC points, the Americans have a full CoC dice to play with. This phase the Sherman continues to put HE rounds into the Farmhouse (resulting in another kill and a point of shock). I had planned on getting the tanks Bow MG to open up this turn...but the gunner's war is over now and that option has passed. The Platoon Sergent in the Small Woods orders Squad Two to open fire. The BAR Team lays down covering fire on the farmhouse (a 4" frontage covers the building), while the Rifle Team tries to take out the Panzershreck Team. They only manage to kill one of the two-man team. This Panzerschreck team has fired its three rockets and was retreating to resupply anyway so the impact on the German side is minimal at this point. Finally, I order the BAR team from Squad Three to fire on the Farm causing one point of shock. Afterwards, I realised I ought to have used that command dice to move Squad One (working down the flank at the back of the table) but hindsight is a wonderful thing (as is concentration!). 

(G-6,6,3,3,1) The Germans retain the phase and start by activating the second Panzershreck Team. The rocket streaks off towards the Sherman and scores a clean hit (Net 2 hits) causing 2 shock and killing the driver! The Tank is still going, but only just. Next, the Squad in the Farmyard are beginning to appreciate the risk they are in from the US troops moving down their flank. The MG in the Hayloft is unable to see the Americans but the rest of the Squad open fire killing one man and dealing 2 points of shock. The MG takes potshot at the Americans on the other flank (in the small woods) but has no effect. Lastly, I decide its time the Squad in the Granary move forward to relive the farmhouse. They move at the double and get most of the way across the yard. 

(G-6,4,4,3,2) The Senior Leader (Unterfedwebel) in the Farmhouse rallies a point of shock from Squad One and order the men to fire once again on the US 3rd Squad, but they have no effect. 
(A) Before the Germans can continue the Americans use one of their command dice to interrupt the phase, ordering the Sherman to fire on the Farmhouse again. The HE round kills two more infantrymen (the leader avoids injury) and deals another shock breaking the Squad. They have to flee 1d6+6" which takes them downstairs and to the back door but no further. The Germans roll on the Bad Things Happen table and lose another point of morale. 
Shaken by this turn of events the German squad in the yard continues its race to relive the farmhouse. They push through the broken unit in the building and take up their positions just in time. They were fortunate that the 1st Squad wasn't able to exit the building because they would have been interpenetrated by the fleeing troops and would have picked up the excess shock of their fleeing comrades. Lastly, the 3rd Squad in the Farmyard continues to fire on the US troops working around their flank but once again with zero impact. The only success comes from the MG42 in the Hayloft who continues to target the US troops in the small woods, killing two men and inflicting another point of shock. 

(A-6,5,2,2,1) Once again the Americans gain another CoC point (we like these!). The Mortar fires again in the Germans in the exposed Farmyard, inflicting another point of shock. Squad Three lay down some covering fire to limit the effectiveness of the fire coming from the Farmhouse. Then Squad one, which has been inching towards the German flank moves around the wall and rushes the defenders of the Farmyard. Their move brings them comfortably within 4" of the enemy and the two sides clash in the first Melee of the game. I don't allow the MG42 team in the hayloft to join in on the German side because they were at least a 4" move from being able to join in so I decide they are excluded.* The resulting melee sees the Germans rolling 13 dice and the Americans 15 dice but the latter wins the fight. The Germans lose 5 men - wiping out the Rifle Squad and ending with another -1 to the German Morale. The Leader miraculously escapes injury but runs away as fast as he can. 

* I may have made a mistake here so I'd appreciate any feedback more experienced players can give me. I decided that the MG team in the Hayloft were over a 4" move from joining the rifle team and therefore couldn't support the Melee...however I had (up to this point) been sharing shock between the two teams because they were within 4" LoS of each other. Correct me if you think I did this wrong, I had to make a judgement call on the spot and now, in the cold light of day, I'm second-guessing my decision. 

(G-5,5,5,1,2) Just when he Germans could do with some good command dice they roll three fives and gain 3 CoC points. They order the remaining Panzershreck team to fire on the Sherman again, and once again the rocket skids off the frontal armour.  The MG42 in the Hayloft tries to fire down on the newly victorious Americans below but only deals 1 point of shock, despite having open sights...clearly, he's rattled by the loss of his whole unit! 

(A-6,5,2,1,1) Another CoC point banked for use later. Squad two in the small woods opens up on the Hayloft and deals out more shock, breaking the MG team. This results in -2 to the german morale and the MG team flees almost to the edge of the table. The Third Squad (well the BAR team that remains) over by the Large Woods lays down covering fire on the Farmhouse. Then the Mortar Team drops a bomb on the fleeing german MG team killing the men outright. The Germans lose 2 more morale and drop down to just 3 meaning their command dice reduce to three. 

(G-4,4,1) The Germans are not out of the fight yet and order the final Panzershreck team to fire their last rocket at the Sherman...flame belches out of the turret as the tank earns its nickname, The Ronson. The poor crew didn't stand a chance and the Americans now loose 2 Morale. 

The Unterfeldwebel orders the newly arrived MG42 from Squad 2 to move to a side window where it has an overlooking position of the Americans that just won the melee in the yard. They deal 2 shock and one kill but the American Corporal survives unscathed. 

(A-6,4,3,2,1) Sensing the time is right to advance the Platoon Sergent joins Squad Two, crossing the wall and exiting the Small woods where they have been until now. They move as quickly as they can because they know they are exposed in the field, however, they are getting covering fire from the BAR team from Squad Three by the Large Woods. As they move they fire at half effect and still manage to inflict 1 shock and another kill on the German defenders of the Farmhouse. Last to go is the lucky Corporal from Squad One. He knows his men are exposed but decides they have little choice but to try to take out the MG that is targeting them. They kill one crewman and deal another point of shock so not an entirely bad plan. 

(G-2,1,1) The MG in the farm continues to fire down on the plucky Corporals squad in the road, killing another man and dealing another point of shock. This squad is now pinned but still some way from breaking. Meanwhile, the Rifle team from the farmhouse target the Americans currently crossing the cornfield. But their fire is being suppressed by covering fire again and they manage no hits on the Americans. 

(A-6,6,5,3,2) The Americans retain the phase and gain another CoC point. Squad 2 moves towards the Farmhouse employing the Marching Fire rule to inflict another kill on the Squad inside. The move takes them the wall of the cornfield and they prepare to attack the next phase. Meanwhile, the BAR team by the large woods decide to stop covering fire but target the troops inside the Farm, killing another German. 

(A-6,5,3,2,1) Another CoC point, but in all likelihood, this means nothing now. The Mortar team tries to inflict more damage on the farmhouse but this is ineffectual. The BAR Team by the Large woods fires again, and again, kills another German, vital for what is about to come... Squad Two cross the wall and are now within 4" of the door to the farm and they rush into close combat. Even defending favourable ground the Germans are outmatched. They lose 8 men to the Americans three. The German rifle team is wiped out and their Unterfeldwebel is killed, the combined results on the Bad things Happen table is another -3 morale reducing them to Zero. The game is over. 

Post Game Analysis

Well, I have to say that was an exciting game to play. It finally felt like some of the tactical nuances of these rules were coming into play for the first time. Now that I have a better grip of the basics I was able to think a bit more about tactics. I still made a few blunders, but each game has been a definite step forwards and I feel like I'm getting closer to a full understanding of the rules. I'm sure I still forgot a few things (and please point them out to me if you see an error I made) but the next game will be better, and the game after that etc. 

I know this is a long (and long-winded) BatRep but I hope it gives a better feel for how the game played out. I'm not sure I'd go into this level of detail every time - it's taken a lot of work to decipher the FIVE PAGES of scribbled notes I made! 


  1. That was a great game! I didn't notice if it came up but, when and if you had the opportunity, did you re-roll 1's for US Riflemen firing? It always makes a fair difference in the games I play the Americans.

    1. Well I'll be jiggered! I totally overlooked that bit in the rules.I did forget the Marching Fire rule for American riflemen at the begining of the game but remembered about half way through...but I still missed that last line of text!

      Well I won't do that next time. Thanks for pointing that out.

    2. In the "heat of Battle" I often forget myself and my opponent has his limits on pointing out my mistakes to me (until AFTER) the game, and I am the same. I hasten to add that is NOT our behavio(u)r during the learning of the rooms. Final comment: In retrospect that lapse has cost me a couple of games and in "Bloody Bucket" cost me the campaign!

  2. Thanks for posting this! Very exciting, and I hope to be able to do something similar myself soon... I still need some more terrain and to finish painting some things first.

    As for the 4" distance, it seems if you are close enough for shock, then you are close enough for combat... but your way was probably more realistic.

    1. Yeh, I'm still not sure...I need to go back to the rulebook and re-read that bit to see if its clearer.


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