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 Tier...so 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!
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 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.
(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) 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.
(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.
(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 fire...to 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.
All Squads, Teams and Leaders have now been deployed by both sides.
(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.
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.
(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) 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.
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.