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Chain of Command – What’s for Desert?

Thanks to everyone who responded here and elsewhere to our Live game of Chain of Command last week. I have only just got back from a gathering of Scottish Lardies in Edinburgh so am only now seeing just how much interest there was. Two big questions emerged from the feedback, one easy to answer, the other less simple. So let’s handle them in that order.
Firstly, the ground scale for Chain of Command is 12″ = 40 yards. That is 1:120. So, a 15mm figures represents a man 6′ tall. Which means that of all the figure scales out there 15mm is absolutely spot on for matching figures to ground. I like to use 28mm simply because I have enjoyed painting up some of the really nice ranges of figures and vehicles out there. I also find 28mm gives a visually splendid game, and which of us cannot be attracted by the alluring sight of beautifully modelled terrain and figures. I know I can’t.
This leads me nicely to the second question or, in some cases, observation about the requirement for terrain with Chain of Command. I’d like to scotch now the suggestion that Chain of Command needs heavy terrain in order to work. It does not. Chain of Command has been written with close attention to tactical detail and to period training manuals from around the world which, whilst suggestion some form of terrain was probably going to be present, did provide a standard blueprint for successful infantry tactics whatever the terrain.
The key to a successful platoon size infantry attack was not the firepower of its component sections, it was not the speed of its attack, nor the destructive power of its attached light mortar, rather it was the ability of the platoon to use a combination of fire and movement tactics to advance to a point where it could launch a successful attack on the enemy position with the bayonet and grenade. This would be greatly aided if the terrain over which the attack was to be made provided ample cover for the attacker, but this was not a prerequisite for a successful attack. It was perfectly possible to use the same tactics in much less accommodating terrain, such as the desert or open steppe or heathland.
To test how effectively the rules allow us to achieve this we are going to take on a real challenge of the British Army’s tactical manuals of WWII. I don’t have any desert terrain here on Lard Island yet, and my 8th Army figures have only just been ordered, so I thought we’d go for an area of flat countryside somewhere in northern Europe, maybe Holland or the German plain. I must point out that this will not be a very pretty game, and that when I begin playing my North Africa games I would really never envisage having any table quite as boring as this. However, for the sake of the exercise we will run with the following terrain on a 6′ by 4′ table.
As can be seen a flat road runs down the table. This is not raised, there are no ditches either side of it. The only terrain features of note are a number of patches of ground in dark earthy colour which represent shell holes or minor undulations which provide light cover. So more about reducing visibility than actually physically protecting any troops therein.
Normal odds for attack are 3:1, however in order to really make this a tough test the British platoon is going to be facing a complete German platoon with the exception of the panzerschreck team; so that’s three full German squads and a platoon commander. To aid them the British will have one vickers MMG team and a standard British platoon of three ten man sections and one 2″ mortar. We’re going to leave the PIAT team “Left out of Battle” as no tanks are about. So, it will be a pretty tough challenge for the British.
We’ll see tomorrow how they live up to my expectations!


8 thoughts on “Chain of Command – What’s for Desert?”

  1. I agree with Michael, this looks quite interesting.
    I’m also of the opinion that you need a table with lots of obstacles. Besides, if the rules state that jumping points must be place in cover, how will you handle that? I’m curious to know

    1. In cover or the table edge. So lots of table edge possibilities. Remember, troops moving tactically are taking every advantage of cover, reflecting the fact that the ground is not a billiard table and some advantage may be found by those who seek it out.

  2. I’m very interested to see how this plays out. I’m currently reading the British Army training manual of 1944 in preparation for CoC and I’m certainly hoping that CoC will allow the faithful application of the tactics and techniques it advocates. This should be an interesting test.

  3. I’m glad you give that kind of terrain some exposure. My own terrain collection is pretty useless for most theatres – other than North Africa that is. If CoC can handle this as well, I’m greatly relieved.
    Cheers, SG

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