Viljoen of Arabia – A New Campaign for Christmas
With the Christmas Special released we now have the opportunity to play a few games over the festive period which will show off our forthcoming campaign system for Chain of Command. We’ll be playing the first game today and providing a series of updates here to show how the game progresses.
Our campaign will be “straight out of the box” and not applied to any specific historical situation which is the other key option that the campaign system will allow. Our first game is a Patrol action somewhere in Libya (which is NOT Arabia) with a whole raft of new characters coming out to play. On the British side the platoon is commanded by 21 year old Orange Free Stater Willem Viljoen, a real bantam of a fighter whose father served against Lettow Vorbeck in the Great War and he now follows in hist footsteps. Our wild colonial subaltern is assisted by 26 years old Kentish farm hand Victor Churchill and a slow but powerful giant of a man. No.1 Section is lead by Corporal Seth Ramsbottom from the Yorkshire Dales, No.2 Section by a veteran of the Great War, Fred Robertson from Durham. Robertson won the MM at Passchendaele with the DLI. Now fifty years old he is still with the colours but issues of discipline have meant that he has never risen to his former rank of CSM. Finally another colonial, Ed Harris leads No.3 section. A sheep farmer from Christchurch Ed sailed to England when war was declared to defend the mother country. These are the men of the 2nd Battalion the Borsetshires.
On the German side Leutnant Erwald von Kleist is the scion of an old Prussian Junker line. He is an erect six-footer who bears the dueling scars of his student days. Now 27 years old he served through Poland and France. His Feldwebel is Stefan Wolf, a former Communist Dock worker from Konigsberg in East Prussia. He is of a similar age to von Kleist, being 28, but their backgrounds could not be more different. The first squad is led by Obergefreiter Otto Mueller, the son of a Berlin factory workers and at 21 he joined the army straight from the Hitler Youth. Gottfried Liebermann leads the second section. Also from Berlin he is 26 years old and formerly played the trumpet in a cabaret act. Dieter Reinhardt is a 28 year old East Prussian farmers son. Slow to anger, he is a man of great strength.
Today’s actions will see our two platoons meeting each other whilst patrolling in the desert. They have rolled a 3 for support, so both sides can select support from List 2. The Germans have elected to take a 50mm mortar from List. The British are rated one force level weaker than the Germans so can select from List 3. They elect to take a Daimler scout Car on the basis that it is Richard’s favourite new toy…
The PATROL PHASE
We rolled for entry points as shown in the scenario notes in the rules. The British rolled 3 and entered mid-table, the Germans 6 and entered at the table end. This Phase now began with the British attempting to make the most of their central position by trying to hem the Germans into a corner. The German player responded by moving around a flank which resulted in a turning of the axis of the engagement from what had looked like a game being fought across the table to one being fought down it. Here’s how the patrol phase developed:
Once we had placed the Jump-Off Points the table looked like this:
As we can see, the British have marginally got the better of the Patrol Phase with some decent cover in the two parallel wadis. The Germans are left using the cover from the undulations in the ground. However, neither side has really suffered too badly at this stage, although the German jump-off point on the left is possibly hanging in the breeze a bit too much. They’d have been better off having that closer in by the old disused well. As the British player I am looking for an opportunity here to nick a bit of low-hanging fruit.
Phase One. This was the opportunity I was looking for! My Command Dice roll of 64432 allows me to bring on the Daimler and I drive hell for leather to the German Jump-off point. I roll ten on three dice, double that for a wheeled vehicle and 20″ gets me there to close down the Jump-off point. In Phase One that is all I want to do, so pass play to my opponent. I love it when a plan comes together!
Phase 2. The Germans roll 44332. They deploy two squads and the Feldwebel, one of which attempted to drive off the Daimler with MG fire, but fails. Their plan is to try to form a strong base of fire which can take on anything the British deploy to face it.
Phase 3. The British player rolls 66511. The next phase will be his, but he can’t do much in this phase. Combining the two 1’s he deploys a section to face the Germans in the centre, fired but misses.
Phase 4. The British roll again with 65543. The Daimler fires its Bren and misses. The platoon sergeant deploys and fires Section 1 leaving one German dead and a couple of points of shock spread over the two squads.
Phase 5. The Germans roll 63321. They deploy their AT rifle which fires at the Daimler but the round bounces off. LMG team 1 fires to try to drive off the Scout Car but fails. Squad two and the rile team from squad one, moving forward tactically to try to establish a firing line.
Phase 6. The British player rolls 65431. The Daimler fires and kills one man on squad 1’s LMG team (missing the AT rifle which was his preferred target). The platoon sergeant gets section 1 to fire (only two riflemen can see to shoot), but the Germans are moving tactically and just suffer one point of shock. The 2″ mortar deploys and fires one of its precious H.E. rounds, adding a further point of Shock.
Phase 7. The Germans roll 65532. Squad 1 MG fies on the Daimler again, wasting its bullets again, squad two unleashes its firepower and two me fall dead in the Bren team along with one rifleman. The British also take two points of Shock.
Phase 8. The British roll the critical 55443. The Corporal rallies Shock and transfers one rifleman onto the Bren tea,. The Platoon Sergeat gets them to fire and focusses on the German riflemen in the open, but they inflict just one shock. Critically the British now end the turn, removing the German jump-off point. German force morale falls to 6. A grave blow.
At the end of turn one the Germans are in an interesting position. They have established a good base of fire and they are winning the firefight. However their morale has been shaken by the British armoured car turning their flank and reducing the ground they hold. Talking to the German player he is already considering pulling off, but he can do so and claim a losing draw if he can get the British body count up. If he can take out the Daimler the tables could be turned. So we now face an interesting Turn Two.
Phase 1. The Germans roll 65542. The Feldwebel gets the AT rifle to fire. The round bounces off but spalling shocks the crew and they reverse back with shock. The LMG team from squad 1 moves forward tactically while squad two fires, killing two riflemen and putting shock on the Bren team in the wadi.
Phase 2. The British player rolls 63321. The 2″ mortar fires HE against the German riflemen in the open and kills two (remarkable!). I thin sens the Germans wavering slightly so deploy sections 2 and 3 who concentrate their fire on the riflemen in the open. We kill them all,, but German force morale does not falter. Maybe I misjudged the moment to unleash my firepower..?
Phase 3. German roll of 53222. Nick adds 2+2 to activate his Feldwebel. He rallies shock and fires the AT rifle at the disappearing Daimler. A disappearing target is a tough roll, but a 6 and a 5 does the job. Another round bounces off the Scout Car but the crew are shocked even further and continue reversing into the shelter of a dune. The Feldwebel then uses his last initiative to fire squad 1 whilst the Obergefreiter fires squad 2’s machine gun team. Two more riflemen are killed but the British force morale holds up on a roll of a 1.
The German player could now deploy his third squad, but still has other plans. He passes play to the British player.
Phase 4. The British roll 55221. sections 2 and 3 fire against the exposed LMG team but only cause 2 shock. The final round of HE is fired by the 2″ mortar and a freak shot kills Feldwebel Stefan Wolf stone dead (the odds of that happening are 108:1!). German force morale falls to 5. This is the last point at which the Germans will get all their command dice. Any further fall will leave them in trouble.
Phase 5. The Germans roll 32111. The MG team from squad 2 and the rifle team from squad 1 fire up the wadi, killing one man on the Bren. The Gefreiter moves the LMG team from squad one and they fire as they move (at half effect). They roll well and put two shock on the Bren which pins it. The AAT rifle tries a low chance shot at the hull down daimler but misses.
Phase 6. The Platoon Sergeant rallies the Bren team in the wadi. Lieutenant Viljoen comes forward to order sections 2 and 3 to fire against the Germans in the wadi (with little effect). Finally the 2″ mortar puts down smoke with a view to allowing an advance in subsequent phases.
Phase 7. The Germans roll 64442. It’s not a good hand. The Germans now have no senior leaders deployed onto the table. The Leutnant is still off-table with his third squad and the 50mm mortar. His plan was to over-run the British No.1 section and to push forward his Jump-off point to the centre of the table with a Chain of Command dice. Once there he wanted to deploy his reserve forward and then bring all of his firepower to bear on the British.
Nice plan. But this roll meant that he would not be achieving much toward that goal in this phase, and that would mean another phase of British fire. Thus far the Germans had lost two men from squad 1 and five men from squad 2, plus the Feldwebel. The British had lost the same number, eight men from section No.1, but their force morale was still at 9 whereas the Germans were much more shaky at 5. At this point the German player decided to cut his losses and abandon No-Mans-Land to the British. It wasn’t worth throwing his men away on a patrol.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
After our first game we have a British outright victory. The first thing that does is give the British player 3 points and the German loser 0 points. At the moment these leaders are finding their feet so we just keep a tally of this, but at present the scores mean nothing.
Most important is to look at casualties as that will impact on the next game. Now, we know that both sides lost 8 men. But we also know that the British won and their force morale was 4 points better. This will allow them to police the battlefield and clear up any wounded, some friends, some foe. The British consequently reduce their losses by 4 men as that is their margin of morale victory. So, with losses of this level the British will get one man back in time for the next game, one man will be away receiving treatment until the following game, whereas two men are removed from the campaign, either dead or receiving long-term medical care.
The German losses were eight men and that remains the case as they left their wounded on the battlefield. So they lose four men dead, two will return for the next battle, whereas two will return for the battle after that. So, as we can see, for the next game the Germans are down by six men, the British by three men.
Now we check to see what impact this victory had on the C.O. The British C.O. was moderately impressed, the German C.O. was rather displeased. So their ratings will increase and decrease accordingly. At this stage neither are at the point where they will interfere with the next game.
Finally we check to see what the men thought. Overall the British are generally unmoved by their Lieutenant’s performance. The German troops are upset by their losses, especially their platoon Feldwebel.
And that’s that. We’ll be back tomorrow with the second game in the campaign. Hope to see you then.