Chain of Command. A Day of Action
Right chaps, we will be updating this thread throughout the day as we work our way through the Phases and Turns. Feel free to add comments and ask questions.
We began the Patrol Phase yesterday with a roll to see our Force Morale and, with this particular scenario, who went first. Rich won that and as a result he gets the first Phase of play in the game itself. As it happens both sides threw 6 for their morale so begin the game brimming with confidence with matching Force Moral levels of 11.
Phase 1. German. The Command Dice are 44431. Not a great combination for me as the Hun. I have only my Platoon commander who can be activates on a 4 and I want him back commanding his O Group off table for now. So only a 3 and 1 to be used. Mindful of my plan to find good dominating positions for my armour I bring on the Puma and, being a wheeled vehicle I get to move that immediately. It advances to the T junction. No 6’s rolled means that the next Phase is British.
Phase 2. British. My Command Dice are 64331. The single 6 means that Rich will get the next Phase. I am keen to push on my armour with infantry ahead of them to protect them from the damned bosche bazooka men. I deploy one section to the T junction just beyond the village and bring on Sherman 1 on the road in the village itself. As it is a tank it just deploys, it doesn’t move in this Phase.
Phase 3. German. Command Dice 66544. Ah, two 6’s means I get the next Phase, the 5 means I add one to my Chain of Command total. But otherwise it is a poxy roll. I am not bringing my platoon commander on for the reasons I have already mentioned. So, I just roll again for my next Phase.
Phase 4. German. Command Dice 54432. That’s better but still too many damned 4’s. My Chain of Command Dice total increased to 2. With the 3 I move my Puma up to the junction by the church and open fire on the British further down the road with my turret MG. Its ineffective but that should be enough to make Skinner think twice about moving them. With the 2 I deploy a squad of infantry into the church. The British infantry are close enough to know they are in there, but the British tank is unaware of their presence.
Phase 5. British. Command Dice 54443. Looks like this 4 thing is catching! I move my Sherman up through the village to support the infantry. I could bring on my Sherman Troop Leader, my Platoon Sergeant or my Lieutenant (I have better command assets available due to a larger force and the fact that all of my officers are not dead in Russia’s cold ground) , but I am wary of showing my hand too early. I am keen for the Germans to commit themselves before I do any more.
Phase 6. German. Command Dice 66411. Two 6’s means the next Phase is mine. I could bring on my Panzerschreck on a 1 but I am keen to keep that up my sleeve for an ambush when my Chain of Command Dice allows. I decide just to roll again.
Phase 7. German. Command Dice. 65321. My Chain of Command total increases to 3. I turn the Puma to present its frontal armour and put it on overwatch. If the British Sherman advances up the road I will get the first shot. My infantry in the church assume a Tactical stance, i.e. taking the bets cover possible. I am confident that the solid Normandy stone makes this a great place to be. I have one panzerfaust with the squad and the church is large enough for me to fire that from without toasting the firer.
Phase 8. British. 66311. I get the next Phase. I bring on my Sherman Troop commander and the 2” mortar which deploys in a small garden in the village.
Phase 9. British 65443. My Troop commander advances his tank rapidly and also activates Sherman 1 to get it to advance cautiously forward. I am concerned about his overwatch. To be honest I am not sure how much of a punch the Pak 38 gun in the Puma has, but I suspect it will be enough to hurt the Sherman. At this stage I am keen to get my tanks on and able to act in concert rather than throwing them away in penny packets, but the close terrain is not helping me.
Phase 10. German. Command Dice 53222. My Chain of Command total increases by 1. I bring on my StuG III. The three 2’s mean that I could activate my infantry squad in the church and deploy the other two squads to the jump-off points. But in doing so I would give the British a huge advantage in knowing exactly where I am, as opposed to simply knowing where I was when their patrols bumped into me before the battle was joined. With the small amount of armour I have I am sure I will be reliant on my infantry panzerfausts to take some of the tank killing duties on, so keeping them hidden and ready for an ambush when the enemy get too close is a better plan. I do nothing else.
Phase 11. British. 66642. The three 6’s mean that this is the last phase in this turn and that I will get the first phase in the next turn. This is good because all tactical and overwatch markers are removed on the turn end. It represents a break in the action. That is great because Rich’s Puma is no longer going to get the drop on me if I head up the road. I do nothing in this Phase.
Phase 1. British. 64431. Sherman 1 advances and fires at the Puma. The shot hits the turret but achieves only partial penetration, wounding the commander and shocking the crew. The Sherman Troop Commander in Sherman 2 crossed the hedge to join the infantry on the junction. From here he will get a shot at the Puma in his next activation. I am getting the firepower superiority that I want. That Puma is toast next time!
I bring on my Firefly in the village and, aware that the Germans in the church have at least one panzerfaust I use my 2” mortar to put down smoke to blind them. The round misses and annoyingly lands on the road, blocking my tanks’ line of sight to the Puma.
With a Leader wounded the Germans dice for their Force Morale which drops to 10. It’s a start. At this point I am feeling confident. The Puma being masked by smoke was an unfortunate result, but it will allow me to move my armour up to form a base of fire. My plan now is to do just that and advance with my infantry, blasting out anything which pops up to threaten them.
Phase 2. German. Command Dice 43111. The Puma is recovering from the commander being wounded and is inactive. I move my StuG forward. That’s all for me this time. The Puma has had a lucky escape, but I must admit to being somewhat awed by the amount of British armour. If I lose the StuG I am in big trouble.
Phase 3. British. 43321. The bloody 2” mortar fires smoke again and simply adds to the screen on the road (take that man’s name Sergeant!). Sherman 1 turns right down the lane in an attempt to make space for the other tanks to move up. A couple of decent Phases and I should have a wall of steel facing the Jerry. My Troop commander puts his own tank on overwatch covering up the road, and the Firefly moves up from the village and Sherman 3 arrives in the village.
I am feeling confident and want to put pressure on the Germans at this stage. I deploy Number 2 section into the outskirts of the village. The Bren team is on overwatch in one of the gardens covering the graveyard where I know the Jerries were bumped into by our patrols (the Jump-off point situated there tells me this has been identified as a dangerous area). The rifle team I am advancing tactically through the field. What I want to do is give the Germans too many points of threat for them to be able to react to them all.
Phase 4. German. Command Dice 55542. This is one of those interesting rolls. Points on your Chain of Command tally are normally something you bank for use subsequently rather than get to use immediately. However this roll gives me a Chain of Command total of 6, so that’s a Chain of Command dice I can use. And I do. One option with a Chain of Command dice is to launch an ambush from any position within 12” of a friendly jump-off point which is not within 4” of the enemy infantry. My Panzershreck team immediately deploys into the field and puts a round into Sherman One’s flank armour.
It doesn’t have a prayer. What is more it explodes as the ammunition cooks off, this in turn kills one man in the British section by the road junction and causing a significant amount of Shock on the whole section. As the Phase ends the ambush team slip away ready to be deployed again. This has, of course, reduced my Chain of Command total back to zero, but it was well worth it. How I laughed!
British Force Morale drops to 9.
Phase 5. British. 65421. That has rather upset my initial plan, but I feel that I can still carry on. I move my Troop Commander’s Sherman off to the right.
I want the Firefly on the road and Sherman 3 to take the left flank. I am going to push things along and run the rifle team from Number 2 section across the field. My Bren team is still on overwatch. My hope is that I can get the rifle team up and shut down the German jump-off point in the churchyard. If I can do that then my schwerpunkt will be on that left hand side, I still have Number 3 section available to go that way if the route is opened.
Phase 6. German. Command Dice. 43211. Oooh, Nice. Possibly one of the best rolls one could get in a tough situation. I can really activate just about anything I want with those. I can see the tears on Nicks chubby little cheeks already!
I deploy my second Squad of infantry into the church yard and show the Tommies why running across fields is a poor idea. Three men die in a hail of lead. The Bren team which was on overwatch fires back killing one of my MG team.
I roll my STuG up and fire on the Firefly but MISS. Oh dear.
Now Nick’s tears are tears of joy as he eyes up his massive 17 pounder. Oh, no, that’s his packed lunch! My Shreck team deploys into the church yard. It’s a sitter. Almost impossible to miss. And they miss.
That was a Phase with so much potential but it ends in disaster. I can only pray that Fatty rolls some big bad dice.
Phase 7. British. 66443. The next phase is mine, which is a great result. I fire at the StuG with my Firefly and hit. It glances off the low sloped armour but the German driver is Shocked so they can’t move to get away. Sherman 2, my Troop Commander, moves into the lane on my right.
Phase 8. British. 53331. Not a bad roll. The Firelfy fires but misses the StuG. Sherman 3 moves up rapidly to support the infantry and is at the entrance to the field. The infantry stuck in the open are in a desperate situation. There is almost no good option open. I consider going tactical and just trying to make the most of what folds in the ground there are, but in the end I hurl a couple of grenades towards the churchyard wall. They fall short.
Phase 9. German. Command Dice 66533. The StuG misses again. However, my second squad in the graveyard rout the British infantry in the field with some well placed fire. The good news is that I get the next Phase.
Phase 10. German. Command Dice 55321. Doing what they should have done a couple of Phases ago the Shreck team take out the Firefly (whose lack of hull MG saved them from an ignominious fate).
It explodes and shocks Sherman 3 who was just attempting to get past it into the field. No actual damage but the crew are badly rattled. On the road the Puma commander has been rallying his crew. In the graveyard the MG42 team fires on the British Bren team to no effect while the rifle team move up to support the Panzerschreck. Their Panzerfaust is looking like a good Ace to play in a short while.
The British Force Morale has now dropped to 6.
Phase 11. British. 53222. Sherman 3 reverses away and rallies its Shock. Sherman 2, the Troops commander struggles to cross the hedgerow whilst section 3 is sent forward, deploying into the field from where I plan for Sherman 2 to support its advance. I feel like I am playing some high risk strategies here, but with my force morale tumbling I need to do some damage to the Germans.
Phase 12. German. Command Dice. 65331. The Puma engages Sherman 2. It fails to penetrate but the Sherman driver is sufficiently shocked to reverse back behind the hedge. In the churchyard my MG42 pins down the Bren team on the outskirts of the village. With British morale falling as it has been I am looking to push forward and keep the momentum. I push forward my rifle team from my second Squad into the field on my right. I also withdraw my Panzerschreck team towards a jump-off point as they are out of ammunition and need to resupply.
Phase 13. British. 65442. Sherman 2 misses the Puma. My Number 3 section in the field advance tactically. I deploy my Platoon Sergeant to the junction where he rallies Number 1 section. I am very worried about the Germans infiltrating into the village and denting my force morale further.
Phase 14. German. Command Dice 55442. The MG in the church fires and kills one man on the Bren team which then routs. The British left flank is wide open apart from the 2” mortar team in the garden. I rush forward my rifle team and then end the turn by using a Chain of Command dice. This is key as the British on their left (in the village) now rout from the table taking their NCO with them.
They were already broken by had not been rallied sufficiently to get them back into some (albeit poor) order. The British Force Morale now drops to 5 which is the last point at which they have 5 Command Dice.
Phase 1. British. 65422. My Troop Commander gets his eye in and hits the Puma. The round fails to penetrate but it shocks the commander. On my left my Platoon Sergeant leads forward the Bren team to the signpost at the junction while the rifle team are ordered to move to the village with their Corporal Sherman 3 moves up cautiously to support them.
Phase 2. German. Command Dice 44433. Number Two squad fires its panzerfaust while the rest of the rifles run for the village. The round hits the turret but fails to penetrate, although it damages the gun sighting optics. A bad roll for me. The Puma commander tries to recover from his shock.
Phase 3. British. 55421. My Troop Commander knocks out the Puma, although it doesn’t explode the crew can be seen bailing out. At the junction the Platoon Sergeant shoots down the panzerfaust man in the field. Across the road British Number 3 section rushes forwards to shut down the German jump-off point on the road. My hope now is that I can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on this flank.
Phase 4. German. 54311. The rifle team from my second squad move into the outskirts of the village and capture the British jump-off marker there. The MG team in the churchyard fire at the Bren team at the junction killing one man and adding some serious shock. In the church the German Corporal controls his MG fire and wounds the British corporal in their Number 3 section and kills two of his men. However British force morale holds up, fortunately for them and much to my annoyance.
I now end Turn 3 with a Chain of Command dice. That removes the British jump-off point I have captured and represents a real loss of their original position. I haven’t just rushed in and grabbed it, I have secured the area. This demands a Force Morale test but the British play a Chain of Command dice to avoid taking this test. Very wise, but the pressure I am putting on them is keeping them on the back foot. I keep thinking the buggers will break a any moment, but they are hanging on like grim death. There is always the risk that taking chances like this will leave me over extended.
Phase 1. British. 54311. My Troop Commander crosses the hedge and moves up to support Number 3 section. They go Tactical. After my risky throwing of grenades earlier I decide that hugging a ditch and waiting for the tanks to come up is a better option. The Bren team at the junction shoots down a crew member from the MG42 in the churchyard leaving just one man there. My 2” mortar slips away from the village.
Phase 2. German. Command Dice 53222. I send the StuG towards the Puma. I am very keen to prop up this flank. The Germans in the church fire and despite the British Number 3 section being tactical they kill the corporal and two men. I immediately follow that up by deploying my third squad into an assault on the depleted British section. They kill one of my men but I wipe them out totally thanks to their poor dice rolling rather than any great stuff from me. British Force Morale plummets to 3 meaning they now only have three Command Dice. If they come back from here it’ll be a bigger story than Lazarus!
Phase 3. British. 653. I now have just three Command Dice. Sherman 3 advances and wipes out the German MG team in the churchyard. If nothing else these nasty Nazis won’t be troubling us again! German Force Morale Drops to 7.
Phase 4. German. Command Dice 54432. My StuG pushes the remains of the Puma aside. Desperate to finish off the British I send my third squad down the road to assault the Bren team at the junction. The British fight bravely with their platoon sergeant’s Sten adding to their firepower and their stickability. I lose four men and my squad leader is wounded but the British are wiped out. The loss of their platoon sergeant and the Bren team is enough. British morale drops to zero and they withdraw from the table.
That’s Endex It’s schnapps all round for the Germans and a week of peeling spuds for the British. Let us now dwell on the game over a few pints and then come back to you with a full debrief somewhat later.
Nick’s Post Battle Thoughts.
To fail to plan is to plan to fail. To be fair I found the close terrain a problem for my tanks. Were I to do it all again I’d have put my platoon sergeant with the 2” mortar and put down a decent smoke screen to form up behind and then focussed my energies on my left where I could have overwhelmed the StuG and then the German infantry with firepower. This was my first game with more than one tank under my control. The rules really do highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the different models. The Firefly is a real sledgehammer when it comes to killing tanks, but the lack of hull MG leaves it very weak against things like Shreck teams. On the other hand the Sherman 75 is a beast against infantry, but against armour it is a nightmare. I never got into a position where I could just stand and whallop the enemy with my MGs and HE rounds. The German infantry are really tough nuts due to their AT capability. You really do need to work your infantry and tanks in a mutually supporting fashion. The two tanks I lost were both taken out by the Shreck and the panzerfaust drove off my third Sherman for long enough to swing the game in the German favour. In desperation I took too many risks with my infantry and I paid the price. Great fun though. One really feels the importance of keeping your force motivated.
Rich’s Post Battle Thoughts
I must admit that the very sight of a whole Troop of Shermans was a frightening experience. You find yourself in a situation where you have troops ready to deploy, but to do so leaves them exposed to potentially withering fire. In a game like this the only tack to take is the approach learnt on the Eastern Front and hit the low hanging fruit hard in the hope that the whole attack then becomes non-viable. In this case the low hanging fruit were the enemy infantry. I was very confident at the outset that my armour could deal with the British, but at the end of the day it was the panzerschreck team that really did the job. From a technical rule writing point of view that was very rewarding. The rules allowed the Panzerschreck to behave in an historically plausible manner, despite the need to abstract this via the Chain on Command Dice. Indeed I would suggest it worked BECAUSE of the Chain of Command dice.
We hope that everyone enjoyed this rather interesting diversion. I shall await feedback to see how we did. If people liked it and enjoyed it then as a preview of a game it could be fun to do again. Please do leave your feedback.