As part of developing the campaign rules for Chain of Command, we are currently ensconced in our own campaign set in July of 1944 and with British forces pushing south towards the Orne River. Sharp-eyed readers with a penchant for prose may already have immersed themselves in the deranged wanderings of the fevered mind that is La Roundwood, here:
Game 1: http://sidneyroundwood.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/chain-of-command-campaign-game-1-patrol.html
Game 2: http://sidneyroundwood.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/chain-of-command-campaign-game-2-probe.html
Game 3: http://sidneyroundwood.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/chain-of-command-campaign-game-3-attack.html
Three games in is a key point in the campaign. This is the moment where we discover what the platoon commanders think of their performance, where we test their outlook for the first time. As such this is an opportune moment to reflect before we play our next game this evening. But first let me introduce you to the gentlemen and players on both sides.
Our British force played by Sidney is lead by Lieutenant Sandy St Clair, a youthful 26 year old who went to a minor public school in the lowlands of Scotland and did “something in the city” before the joining up. At 5’4″ he has more of the look of an intellectual than a man of action, but looks can be deceptive.
His Platoon Sergeant, Donald McKie, 22, was an apprentice mechanic with the Glasgow City Corporation. He stands 5’7″ and is an average sort of cove. Corporal Malcolm Stone, 31, is a writer from Sheffield who in truth has had little work published and spent most of his pre-war life in menial jobs. He is 5’10” with the looks of a matinee idol, but sadly not the bank balance.
Corporal Joe Capstan, 26, worked in a factory in Plymouth before being conscripted. He is a six footer and a fine soccer player, a fact which gets him much credit at HQ. Finally Corporal Tom Davies, 23, is a colonial from somewhere in East Africa where he drifted somewhat. He tall, well built chap and a good leader of men.
Facing Sidney is Panda’s Germans. They are led by Unterfeldwebel Jurgen Kellerman, 36 years old. A former gamekeeper from East Prussia with a penchant for sausages rather than politics. Obergefreiter Ulrich Lehrmann, 30 years old, leads the first squad. A former communist dock worker from Hamburg he keeps quiet about politics nowadays. He is tall and thin, gangly in fact, he has been waiting to fill-out for years now, but never seems to. Obergefreiter Michael Koenig is 25 years old and from Vienna. His father works in an armaments factory. Michael went straight from school and the Hitler Youth and joined the army. Finally, Obergefreiter Walther Peterson is a 24 years old farm boy from Schleswig Holstein. He is a real bantam, short, but full of fight and aggression.
As one could surmise from Sidney’s reports, we have played three games thus far. In the first action in no-mans-land Sidney was able to lead his force to complete victory, driving off a German patrol and inflicting heavy losses whilst keeping his losses very light. This impressed his C.O., as did the second encounter wit the enemy where he drove in the German outpost positions. However, heavy casualties at that stage saw his men less impressed. In the third game the British pushed on to attack the main German line of resistance. Intriguingly Sidney’s report draws a veil over the result with the innocuous words “The Enemy had gone. It was suddenly over. The ghosts of their feldgrau and camouflaged smocks vanishing in the smoke”. Yes, vanishing they indeed were, as Sandy St Clair was running hell for leather in the opposite direction! “He who writes the blog can claim the victory” I was told. Well, if naughty Sidney thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of his readers, he is not impressing his C.O.! The Colonel’s opinion of Lieutenant St Clair dropped somewhat, as did that of his men who again found themselves cursing the loss of more mates. Nevertheless Sandy is happy with his performance thus far and feels he is doing a good job.
On the German side Kellerman failed to impress either his C.O. or his men with a disastrous first game, but since then he has kept casualties relatively light. Whilst they are not toasting him with their ersatz Pilsner they are not critical of him in the letters he censors. Indeed they seem to be warming to him as time goes on. He can best be described as being quite relaxed about his performance thus far. There are other officers under more pressure than he.
Tonight we play the fourth game in the campaign as Panda’s forces counter-attack in the hope of pushing Sidney’s force back towards their start line. Both sides have plenty to prove and reputations to build.
Just a brief overview of what the campaign system is all about. Firstly, and probably most importantly, this system is being designed as a template for numerous campaigns which we will be publishing or including in the Specials or magazine articles in the hobby press. As such the system is being designed in such a way that you can bolt it on to any historical campaign rather than just being a one-off game. At the core of this is the concept of the ladder campaign, something we’ll tell you more of later, but in essence it is a simple ladder which you can move up or down as you win or lose a game. We want to make each and every game different, but in order to create a simple paper-free campaign (a la Dux Britanniarum) we need a robust structure to support it. And like all robust structures that needs to be simple. More on that at a later date.
The campaign is all about balancing a number of not necessarily mutually complementary objectives. These are the Commanding Officer’s opinion, the men’s opinion and the platoon leaders own outlook on the whole operation. If you get the C.O.’s support that will help with getting the support you need to do the job and reach the final objective. If you carry the men with you by not throwing away their lives needlessly then your life will be easier. The finally you need to keep the platoon leader performing well through all of the stresses of war. It’s a tough ask!
We’ll keep you informed as we progress.
Since Chain of Command was released we have been monitoring the questions being asked and also looking for areas where the rules could be improved, either by clarification or by addition. The net result has been the Chain of Command Errata & FAQ document which we have attempted to make as comprehensive as possible. After