The Mosque at Al Jazirya – Chain of Command Game Five
I’ve been working on the Chain of Command campaign supplement today, only vaguely diverted by the arrival of some new toys from Perry Miniatures (lovely stuff) and the usual end of year accounts nonsense. One of the great bits of finalising a project is that there is always an excuse to have a quick game, ostensibly t test some bit of the rules or other, but really just to have a jolly time with one’s toys.
In my mind the fifth game in the current campaign was already won. The Jerries’ morale was at rock bottom, mine was sky high. My Colonel was looking after me with plenty of support being mad available, whereas the Hun were languishing under a dark cloud. What could go wrong? Especially as this was to be the flank attack scenario which was one I had played with some aplomb during the playtest of the main rules. I LOVE the patrol phase of the game and this is one of the most interesting configurations.
I set the table up with my new mosque in the German quarter of the table, as per the scenario instructions, along with the small spring which provides water for thirsty travellers and, for the moment, the damnable Boche! The I rolled for force morale. As predicted, mine was sky-high on 12. The Germans was the pits on 8. What was more, I could have support from list 11, Jerry only from list 4. Time, I felt, for an evil laugh.
I selected three carriers and my Daimler scout car (my Mark VIb tank arrived today, but I need to paint it first). The Hun selected a sniper and some entrenchments for one team. The we were off into the patrol phase. In keeping with the way things were going, I rolled for the maximum four “free moves” and set about cooking my German goose with some nimble footed out-manoeuvring. “What a smart arse” I hear you cry. And you’d be right.
Being Mr Clever-clogs I rushed one of my groups of patrol markers round to outflank the Germans. They reacted by blocking my passage and locking down all of their patrol markers, leaving me in a less than ideal position on my right, and barely in town on my left! The Germans, however, had rather neatly seized the central defensive position and pushed out some jump-off points to screen my left.
This wasn’t a great start, but unperturbed I was determined to bounce these Germans out of their position.
In the first phase I deployed the entire carrier platoon, dropped some smoke down and then deployed a section of infantry.
The Germans responded with some alacrity. Firstly they deployed a crowd of chaps on top of the mosque, one of whom promptly blew up a carrier with an AT rifle (a fluke shot) and then rifle squad put fire down on my section before they put a second section off towards my left, threatening my jump-off points in that area, and then a third squad on the roof of the small guesthouse which served for pilgrims.
Remarkably the Germans had pretty much deployed their whole team on turn one.
I responded with a double 6. I deployed a second rifle section and pushed forward my first section with Lieutenant Viljoen at their head.
In my next phase I fired both Bren teams and they charged forward with the two rifle teams.
It was, of course, madness. You don’t charge an MG34 frontally and I lost four men dead with both Viljoen and Corporal Sewell being lightly wounded. Obergefreiter Mueller was knocked out, but his men kept fighting, whereas mine broke and ran back in disorder.
My force morale was plummeting at this point whereas the Germans were taking heart from their success. In the next phase they shocked one of my carriers and pushed their third squad out to shut down one of my jump-off points. Fortunately they had almost no Chain of Command points at this stage.
On my right I concentrated my firepower and, with Mueller down and out, I broke the morale of the Germans in the guesthouse and they routed back.
I also deployed the Daimler off on the left and they began engaging the Germans there.
Now I needed to get some order back into my attack. The Germans were using their sniper to rattle the crew of the Daimler. I deployed Harris and his section and they began moving round towards the rear of the mosque.
By now my force morale was such that I was reduced to three command dice as against the German four, so getting my men to make progress was hard work, but the reliable Harris pushed on.
Despite my reduced command ability it was still going to be possible, I hoped, to break the German morale. However, at that point the German sniper broke the morale of the Daimler crew who reversed off the table and the Germans ended the turn with a Chain of Command dice, thereby removing one of my jump-off points and bringing my morale down to zero.
It was a humiliating disaster. But not exactly unpredictable. All the odds were in my favour, I had simply rushed my fences and come a cropper.
What is worth mentioning is that before this game began both the Germans and British had elected to take their one lot of reinforcements for the campaign. What I wasn’t aware of was that the Germans had rolled rather well and were much restored from where they were. Having fought them out of their positions thus far I was convinced that with a rush and a good application of force I could bounce them out of this one. How wrong was!
The Germans did particularly well in this game only losing one man dead, whereas I lost four dead and three to significant injuries. This has rather changed the face of the campaign. More later on how we all stand with the CO, the men and our heroes’ self-perception.