Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Battle Report - Chain of Command - Burning Tanks to Keep You Warm


It's cold outside, so warm yourself with this burning Panther, knocked out in "Chain of Command" action...note the pile of shock markers in the top left, marking the last known location of a Russian infantry section...

Winter has returned again to the Canadian prairies.  Winnipeg was hit a few weeks ago with its first snow storm of the season - relatively late in the year by local standards, but the 20cms of snow and winds socked us in nicely and we are now settling in for the long siege that is winter in the city.  Inspired by the snow, I wanted to stage a "Chain of Command" game set in the late-war winter on the Eastern Front.  I broke out the snow mat, and Dallas kindly supplemented this with his great assortment of snow trees. Ready to go!

We played in 15mm, and the scenario was number three from the rule book - "Attack & Defend".  While we did not specify a location or particular battle, a circumstance in the winter of 1944 on the Eastern Front with a group of Germans trying to fight their way back to the lines was not too hard to imagine.  So for this game the Russians would be the defenders while the Germans would be the attackers.

Some recent adds to the collection - IS-2s in roughly-winterized looks

Some of the German forces in the pre-game...
Dallas played the Soviet side.  His forces included an infantry platoon and two beastly IS-2 tanks.  Byron played the Germans, featuring an infantry platoon and a pair of menacing Panthers for backup.

Preparing for the patrol phase - the Russian defensive zone is marked off on the left side of the 6' x 4' table

After the Patrol Phase, the shooting got underway, with the scrap taking shape in the centre of the table.  Dallas managed to move two Russian squads into excellent position against one of the German squads, eventually wiping it out.  Meanwhile, the armoured elements for both sides entered the table and did their best to target some enemy infantry, although they found the "targeting" part to be difficult.

Russian section in position, ready to defend against the fascist vipers!

Even as the German infantry platoon received heavy punishment in the centre, the MG42s managed to dish out a pile of return abuse, and the arrival of another German squad turned the tables somewhat against the Russian infantry. One of the Russian squads broke - only to be cut to pieces by the MGs of one of the German Panthers.

German section takes up a covered position near the road

Looking to get a decisive finish, Dallas moved one of his IS-2s along the flanks and zeroed in on Byron's Panthers.  The move was a success, as Dallas scored a kill and the heavy 122mm shell blew one of the Panthers to pieces.  Meanwhile, Byron was starting to run low on infantry...the morale counters on both sides were slowly ticking downwards...

Russian foot sloggers make a dash toward the woods and new firing position
German infantry in action - this section would soon be wiped out...

Russian infantry squad in action - before MG42s drove them back, and Panthers cut them down

In the centre of the table, the bloody action continued.  Byron got the balance of a remaining squad into action against Dallas' sole remaining squad.   These brave Russians were caught out in the road, with no cover from the rending effects of an MG42...the toll was grim.  Meanwhile, Byron's remaining Panther took revenge on the flanking IS-2, blasting it to pieces with a direct hit from its 75mm gun.

German section takes up a position near a wood-line...

Russian and German infantry sections trade fire, while in the background the German Panthers struggle to target the Russian infantry
No fence will stop an IS-2...but trying to target that infantry in cover is sure tricky!

With the loss of one of the IS-2s, Dallas' morale counter ticked to zero, and the Russians were broken - but only just. It was a close fought game which could have gone either way, and with the unique activation system in "Chain of Command", you can never be sure.  Byron's morale counter was very low - at 2 or 3, if I recall - and the "victory" was a rough one at best, with the loss of one Panther and a significant chunk of the infantry platoon.  Very "Eastern Front", in my view...

Byron's remaining Panther gets revenge, and drives the Soviet morale to the breaking point; the burning tanks will keep everyone warm...

"Chain of Command" is a fantastic set of rules, one of the best out there.  The patrol phase still gives me a headache each time, but overall it offers a subtlety and unique ebb and flow to the action that I find compelling and engaging.   I particularly enjoy playing in 15mm, as the size of the figures and models meshes well with the "look" of the engagement ranges on the table.

This scenario could have been organized in a different fashion with the same models by using "Big Chain of Command" and parsing the armoured vehicles out to be their own platoons.  The tanks would have "done" a lot more, as they would have been able to use their own dice pools to activate. I think that would probably have been a bit too much for two players to keep track of, however, so we kept it at one dice pool per side. I also enjoy how the limitations on the command dice therefore make it a challenge for the players - sure, activate your armour, but maybe that comes at the expense of getting your infantry into a better position?

A big thanks to Dallas and Byron for playing.  Looking at the table still gives me the winter chills - hope we can get some more winter WW2 gaming in while we sit out the f@@%ing polar vortex this season. 

6 comments:

AHunt said...

Great looking game. I wasn't sure at first those were 15mm. Very nice job on the painting. That table does make me feel a bit cold.

David Gordon said...

I really enjoyed the one game of CoC I played with Byron, it's an excellent system. I hope to get some games in again this year!

Dallas said...

Excellent game dude - thanks for hosting and providing the cool toys! Thanks also to Byron for the gentle push to get my car unstuck at the bottom of your drive! I should really get winter tires...

tim said...

Wow! Love the winter terrain and figures! Looks like a great game!

MajorTheRed said...

Great battle report! The models are looking gorgeous, especially for the scale.
I like how CoC represent well the reality of WWII with (in theory) few casualties, limited force for the scale and the patrol phase.

Byron said...

It was an awesome game, thanks again to Greg for hosting and Dalls for playing. CoC is among my favourite game systems, it works brilliantly (once you get by the horrible british layout of the book and lack of clarity) and always leads to awesome and realistic games.