Wednesday 28 October 2020

Battle of River Cottage

I have a few days off work this week and decided that I would try to get a couple of solo games in to occupy myself. Back in January the wife and I had been discussing various trips, including some long weekends, to coincide with games shows or exhibitions we wanted to visit. Needless to say, these fell to COVID one by one, leaving just this week as the last possibility for a trip away. Sadly the closer we have got to the week, the more unlikely has seemed a break, and in the end, we decided it just wasn't worth booking anything. Our area has recently entered the High Tier of Covid restrictions and the places we wanted to visit are in the Very High unnecessary travel seemed a little foolhardy. The half-term holiday has therefore turned into Groundhog Day again, and we are trying to keep ourselves busy at home. At least I have my little metal men to keep me occupied! 

The Setup

My first game is for Chain of Command and as is my way I created the setting first before looking at scenarios to play. The layout of the table took me a couple of days of tinkering to get it looking how I wanted it and ironically it turned out that I spent more time designing the layout and setting up than it took to play the actual game! (To get more from it I'm going to re-use the layout for a game of What a Tanker). The scene opens on a Normandy farm nestled against the banks of a small stream. Chalet de Riviere was only recently abandoned by its owner Monsieur Hugh as the front got nearer. The recent bombing of the road just outside his property was the final straw so he gathered his family together and they fled in their ageing Citroën. 

With the scene set, I had to pick a Scenario from the rulebook. I picked Scenario 3 'Attack and Defend' so it was clear that someone was going to find themselves in the farmhouse and associated buildings. I rolled a dice to decide if it would be the Americans or Germans, and as in the previous game (here) the Germans found themselves on the defensive. Both sides rolled well and started the game with a Force Morale of 11. Should one or both sides drop below three the game will end. 

The next step was to decide on what support the platoons would have. I rolled 5 for the Americans so I picked the M5 Light Tank which I recently painted. This would give them access to another MG and of course some HE to use against the buildings. The Scenario says that the defenders have half the support of the attackers (rounded down) but because the german platoon has a force rating one below the Americans I can add one point of support giving them 3 points to spend. After a bit of thought, I decided to take another Senior Leader (an experienced NCO) to give the Germans some additional flexibility. I used their last support point on a Medical orderly because I had a feeling they were going to need it.

US Rifle Platoon with an M5 Light Tank as Support

German Infantry Platoon with an additional Senior NCO and a Medical Orderly

The Scenario states that the Germans can place their Patrol Markers up to 18" onto the table edge but because my table is small I made this 12" instead. Then the Americans place their markers on their table edge and roll to see how many patrol moves they can make before the Germans respond. I rolled two moves. As in my previous game, I reduced the patrolling movement to 6" rather than 12" because of the table size but even that brought the Americans within 12" of the enemy, locking them down. The jump-off markers are then placed away from the enemy, in cover, so for the Germans basically inside the buildings, and in the Large Wood on one flank and in the Bocage on the other flank. The Americans were able to set up jump off markers in the small wood and in various fields on their side. All fairly predictable given the constraints of my small table. 

The Action

The Americans go first as they are the aggressor in this scenario. As before I'll list the Command Dice rolled at each stage so you can see how I chose to use them.

Turn One

(A) 66441- Well the Americans keep the Phase but as I don't want to bring on my Bazooka Team or a Senior Leader yet I decide to hold any actions and go straight to rolling the command dice again.
(A) 64421 - Again I had no desire to bring on a Senior leader just yet but I combine the two and one to allow me to bring on a Junior Leader. The M5 Light Tank comes on at the end of Green Lane, but without any clear targets, I decide not to fire the main gun. 

(G) 65321 - The Germans gain one Chain of Command Point and decide to start deploying Squads to defend the Farm. I imagine the site - on the main road and with easy access to the phone lines - would make a good forward command point and is, therefore, worth defending. Squad One deploy to the upper floor of the Farmhouse which not only gives them good all-round visibility from an elevated position but also gives them an advantage if they need to defend in hand to hand fighting. The Second Squad deploy to the upper floor of the Granary, again giving them an elevated position with good forward visibility. Now I decide to take a chance and deploy the Panzershrek Team out in the yard. From here it has line-of-sight on the tank and it is worth the risk of exposure if they can take that out quickly. The range is effective and the target is partially obscured by intervening terrain so I need to roll 8 on 2d6 to hit the target. I roll a nine! Now I roll Thirteen hit dice knowing full well the M5 only has thin armour (he gets to roll just 4 armour dice for a save). Out of 13 dice, only one hit and the M5 saves two...the shot skids off the tanks frontal armour! 

(A) 55432 - The Americans start this phase with two extra Chain of Command Points. They then deploy Squad One into the small woods (marked Les Copes on my earlier map). Unlike the last game, I made sure these deployed more than 4" from the front of the wood so they wouldn't be targeted by any Germans in the Farmhouse. I also deployed the Platoon Sergent with them to give them the flexibility I think they will need for their location. I then deploy Squad Two in the long field between South Lane and the Stream. They are just able to reach the tree line behind what turns out to be a bush covered bank (possibly the remnants of earlier bocage) which will give them some hardcover. 

(G) 66551 - The Germans retain the next Phase and gain two Chain of Command points. This just leaves the Panzershrek team to have another pop at the M5...This time they miss the tank entirely! 
(G) 63222 - It's clear the Americans in the small wood plan on taking up a firing position against the Farm so the German Player (that'll be me of course) decided to try to outflank their position by deploying the third Infantry Squad behind the bocage on the edge of the Upper Wheatfield. It's a strong position in hardcover and in combination with the fire from the farmhouse - both penetrating up to 4" into the wood - means the Americans can't 'hide' in this bit of terrain. They open fire immediately and while no Americans are killed they do take 4 points of shock. Meanwhile, the Squad in the Granary open fire on the infantry in the long field and despite the hardcover manage to inflict one kill on the newly arrived squad. 

(A) 65322 - The Americans gain another Chain of Command Point and sense an opportunity... Squad one was going to move to the front of the wood and take up a position along the wall that separates it from the small pasture (now home to dead cows). However with the Germans on their flank, its clear this plan would be virtual suicide. Instead, they keep the bulk of the woods like a shield between themselves and the farmhouse, and move to the western side of the wood, overlooking the Upper Wheatfield. Moving means that when they open fire it is at half effect this turn, but they still manage to inflict some shock and a kill on the Germans. Then the Americans deploy their last remaining infantry squad to support the position. The BAR team deploys against the wall overlooking the field and opens fire, inflicting another shock and a kill (the Obergefreiter manages to avoid injury...I haven't forgotten to check for leader casualties this time!). I realise that now the German Squad is facing two American Squads and is in an unequal firefight...not the first time I have managed to outwit myself in a solo game!! 

Just when it looked like this was already developing into a significant phase in the game (possibly a decisive one) the American 2nd Squad in the long field opens up on the Granary. These citizen-soldiers must have really been paying attention in their training back in the States because they are deadly accurate. They inflict two kills on the German defenders and one is a hit on the Obergefreiter. I roll on the wound chart and, you guessed it, I roll a one... killed outright! I consult the 'bad things happen' table and the Germans lose their first force moral point. Worse still this squad is now leaderless.

(G) 65541 - Two more Chain of Command points are small comfort after that last phase. I bring on the Senior NCO (one of my support options) and deploy him to the Granary to take command of the Squad in there. I decide not to take any chances and also deploy the Medical Orderly in here. 

(A) 55311 - The American Commander (also me!) is anxious to deal with the German infantry over by the Upper Wheatfield but also wants to use the tank this turn. I could combine the double ones into a two and activate a whole squad but instead, I decided to activate the BAR teams from each squad. The BAR gets to re-roll 1's which may give them an edge when shooting against an enemy in hardcover like bocage. I make the right choice as the re-roll option turns two misses into hits and after rolling for effect the overall result of these teams firing are two kills and point of shock on the German 3rd Squad. 

Then the Junior Leader in charge of the M5 light tank acts. He is getting more than a little rattled by seeing incoming rockets from the Panzerschreck. His tank's armour is no match for a shaped charge designed to breach much tougher vehicles and so far they have been lucky not to be destroyed. The prospect of losing his men, or being burned alive if the tank explodes, galvanizes him to action. He decides not to move forward but instead orders the bow gunner and the main gunner to target that Panzershreck team before they are themselves destroyed. A hail of bullets and a HE shot from the main gun kill one infantryman in the German team and seriously rattle the remaining guy with two shock inflicted.  This unsurprisingly Breaks the team. The remaining man remembers his training and keeps hold of his rocket launcher but quickly flees to the other side of the Farmhouse and relative safety. 

(G) 55421 - Things aren't going well for the Germans but they pick up two more CoC points (giving them one full dice and starting on a second) and ponder their next move. I deploy the Platoons Unterfeldwebel to the Farmhouse to support the Squad in there. He immediately instructs the MG team to open fire on the US infantry in the long field. I needed to use a laser pointer at this stage to check they had line-of-sight between the trees, but they could see the target and opened absolutely zero effect! Meanwhile, the beleaguered Squad Three (on the main road overlooking the Wheatfield) open fire on the Americans in the small wood, but again with little effect.

(A) 44331 - The Americans bring on their Platoon Leuitenant who orders Squad 2 in the long field to continue to fire on the Granary. This inflicts another kill and point of shock on the occupants. Then the Senior NCO, the Sergent with Squad One, orders them to lay down covering fire against the Germans across the field. The Rifle team provide the covering fire, while the BAR team continues to pick away at the enemy piling on another point of shock. Then the Junior Leader in the tank, still feeling relieved at seeing off the Panzershrek, orders his tank forward. Progress down Green Lane is cautious but as they move they put a HE round into the Farmhouse sending dust and plasterwork flying. None of the Germans inside of the building are killed, but that are shocked by the impact. Then the Americans deploy their Bazooka and, for want of a better target, it also fires at the building. However this time the round hits the outside and aside from shaking free some dust it has no effect on the defenders. 

All Squads, Teams and Leaders have now been deployed by both sides. 

(G) 52221 - Another chain of command point. I decide not to use the full CoC dice to end the turn because the Panzershrek team is still Broken. If I can get the shock reduced I can get them back in the game later after ending the turn. For now, Squad Three is sticking to its position behind the Bocage. They open fire at half effect (due to the suppressing effect of covering fire) but they still manage to inflict two kills on the Americans. Squad two in the Granary continue firing on the Americans in the long field, inflicting more shock. Meanwhile Squad One in the farmhouse has few targets to choose from. Only the MG team has something to shoot at and this turn he goes for the Bazooka team, sensing an easy kill. One of the two-man team is killed but the Bazooka will work as well with one man so it's not out of action yet. 

(A) 64311 - The Americans keep up with their existing targets but fail to hit home or inflict any shock this phase. A welcome, but brief, respite for the Germans. 

(G) 65332 - Another Chain of Command point is added to the collection. The Platoon NCO in the Granary opens the door, pokes his head out and shouts encouragement and orders down to the Panzerschrek team in the road. One point of shock is removed and the team is no longer Broken, 'just' Pinned. Meanwhile, his squad continue to fire down on the Americans in the long field killing another infantryman. The 3rd Squad continue to exchange fire with the GI's across the field but are having a hard time dodging covering fire and taking shock. The squad is looking dangerously tattered and probably ought to withdraw. 

(A) 44432 - The Platoon Seargent with Squad One continues to order his men to lay down covering fire while the BAR team tries to take out anyone it can see. However, the real punch is about to be landed as US Squad three managed to get into position the last turn. The whole squad now opens fire on the Germans across the wheatfield, killing the last of the rifle team. This brings the whole squad down to breaking point and they fall back off the table and are lost. Worse still this precipitates severals rolls on the Bad Things Happen table resulting in the loss of 3 Force Morale points. The Germans are now down to just five morale. 

(G) 65554 - Three more CoC points give the Germans two full dice to use. I decide to activate the Senior NCO in the Granary again and he is once again able to remove a point of shock from the Panzerschrek team. They no longer have equal men and markers but will remain pinned until the end of the turn. The NCO then uses another command initiative to activate squad 2 in the Granary and orders them to continue firing on the Americans in the long field, inflicting another kill and another point of shock. Then I  use one of the Chain-of-Command dice to end the turn. The Panzerschrek team can now remove the Pinned marker and I plan to get them back in the fight if I can. 

Turn 2

There is a brief lull in the shooting. The Germans are shocked at the loss of one of their squads but they know how important this location is and are determined to fight on. Ammunition is passed around, words of encouragement are spoken and men on both sides brace themselves for the fighting to resume. This is the situation at the start of Turn two. 

(A) 53321 - The Americans now have a full Chain of Command dice which is a useful asset to have when the battle is going your way. The Tank moves forward again while pumping another HE round into the Farmhouse. Smoke is coming from the broken windows so it must be having a deleterious effect on the men 'sheltering' inside. 

Meanwhile, the Platoon Seargent orders Squad One to move from the western side of the small wood to the wall that runs along the north. They can't all make the move but a few of then get far enough to shelter behind the wall looking east. The BAR team also doesn't have enough movement to get into position this phase but next time it will be in a strong position and will enable the whole squad to start laying down fire on either the Granary or the Farmhouse. Behind them, Squad three crosses the wall into the wheatfield with the intention of swinging around and supporting the final assault on the farmhouse...if the fight lasts that long. 

(G) 54221 - Yet another Chain of command point is added to the pile. Both Squad one in the Granary and the MG from the Farmhouse train their fire on the Yanks in the Long Field dealing two more points of shock on them. This Squad is close to breaking and the Germans can sense it. 

(A) 44421 - Combining the two and one give the US player (still me!) a chance to utilise all his main assets. The M5 Light Tank stays in position this time, fires another HE round into the Farmhouse increasing the dust and smoke hovering around the building. The bow Gunner targets the windows with his Hull MG. Meanwhile, Squad two, while looking a bit battered still has some fight in it yet. The Platoon's Leuitenant orders them to continue targeting the Granary, dealing another point of shock. Then, over in the small woods, the Platoon Seargent directs Squad One to use the rifle squad to lay down covering fire on the Farmhouse while the BAR team gets into position along the wall. 

(G) 55322 - The Germans get two more Chain of Command points. Looking at options I decide to combine the double 2's to allow them to activate a senior leader. The Senior Leader in question is the NCO in the Granary, who rallies some shock from his squad. Despite coming under covering fire they also manage to inflict two points of shock on the Americans in the long field, finally Pinning them. As this happens the MG in the Farmhouse picks off the Bazooka Team down by the bridge. The remaining riflemen in the Farmhouse, also suppressed by covering fire, still manage to kill one infantryman in the small woods. The German options seem to be dwindling but they still have teeth and are ready to fight on to the bitter end. 

(A) 63321 - Once again the American Player (moi!) combines the two and one to enable activation of all the combatant squads. Starting with the M5  it once again slams a HE round into the farmhouse and opens with the hull MG. This kills one german and inflicts another point of shock on the occupants. Then the Jnr Leader of Squad One in the small woods orders his rifle team to continue covering fire on the farmhouse while the BAR team targets the Granary. This deals another point of shock on the beleaguered occupants. Finally, squad two continues to put down covering fire on the Granary. The Americans are inching towards a position of fire dominance and its just a matter of time before they break the Germans. 

(G) 55331 - The Panzerfaust team has finally moved to a position where it can get a shoot at the American Tank....and he misses again!! This guy needs a job in the Canteen because he's clearly not cut out for combat operations!! Both the Squads in the Granary and the Farmhouse try to fire but both are dodging covering fire and manage to hit nothing this phase. Their morale is flagging and is about to take the final knock. 

(A)  64443 - The American Leuitenat rallies a point of shock off squad two and directs their fire against the Granary. The fire from here has become more and more desultory and he senses the unit inside must have taken significant casualties and is close to breaking. A few dozen yards away Squad one in the woods also targets the Granary. Between them, they manage to inflict another point of shock which finally breaks the unit and kill another German, finishing the rifle team. This is decisive as the unit has now been broken and lost a team so there will be two rolls on the Bad Things Happen table. While the German commander (yep, me) tries to use one of his Chain of Command dice to avoid one Morale check its a bit pointless because the unit flees from the table taking the NCO with it initiating yet another Force Morale test. 

The German Force Morale now has fallen below the threshold for this scenario and the remaining unit in the Farmhouse beat a hasty retreat. 


That was a fun game to play out, especially as I managed to surprise myself... quite a feat when playing a solo game! I'm keener than ever to get this game in the Shed-o-War for the Rejects, although that's likely to be some time away. 

Once again I don't think I made any serious errors with the rules, but I'm open to comments if you think I missed something. The only downside to this game was that I spent more time setting up the terrain than it took to actually play the game... Which leads me to an idea. I'm going to keep the table set up but switch to a game of What-a-Tanker later in the week. They can fight over the same ground with a different set of rules by TooFatLardies, so expect another BatRep probably early next week. 


  1. Why not change all the dimensions and distances to CM, thus enlarging your table by 2 1/2 times? I have done this when forced by circumstance to yes a smaller table. It works well as it is an easy mental exercise to read "CM" rather than"IN" and most measuring tapes have both on them.
    Dick Bryant

    1. Something to think about...mind you I keep telling myself I'm going to got a larger top to go on the table. I'll do it... eventually

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks mate. I'm eager then ever to get this in the shed-o-war.


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