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Monday, December 14, 2015

First Outing with Vanilla (WWII) Chain of Command

I rarely do things the way other people do. It's the same with wargaming - Chain of Command is getting to be a pretty popular game it seems, and I dove right in, only with the Spanish Civil War variant rather than the WWII setting the game was designed for.

To correct that, Fritz and I painted up some Germans and British respectively, to give the vanilla CoC a try.  Funny thing, this is the first time Fritz and I, after a year of gaming almost every week, have bought, painted, and fielded opposing sides for the same game. Every other time, one of us tends to provide everything. 

Keeping it simple (mostly because I don't have much support painted yet), we opted for a Patrol scenario, with 1 point of support which we both spent on a medical orderly. Otherwise, we were playing a vanilla infantry platoon vs. a vanilla infantry platoon (no Panzergrens... yet).

Patrol phase was pretty even. I hoped to get around him a bit on the right, but he protected his flank well.

My jump off points were on a diagonal line across the table, with one behind the building at the center, the orchard on left, and at the crossroads on the right. My opponent had all three of his close together in the corner behind the small wooded ridges.

We both had a force morale of 8, but I won the roll off and deployed first, cautiously.

Let me introduce you to Charlie, my mortar team leader. He's a good chap, and the main reason I wanted to go with a British force rather than American. I really like the idea of mortars lobbing smoke all over the battle field. Charlie likes the way it looks on the battlefield. He's an aesthete that way I guess. Must have been a hack painter before the war. Happy little smoke here, happy little smoke over there...

Meanwhile the Germans arrive and take the rocky crest, Fritz's leftmost position (my right).

Another section comes on the same activation, on my left.

To counter, I deploy into the burned-down farmhouse.

When his men deploy, they're caught by my men on overwatch, and due to some bad luck, the junior leader is killed outright on the first shot.

Meanwhile Charlie springs into action. Charlie, that's 6" to the right of where I told you to aim, what happened?  "Well sir, I felt that if I put it where you said it would obscure the view of that lovely tree. Someone put a lot of effort into make this terrain and smoke is meant to enhance the experience, not obscure it." 


Fritz pulls his men off the hill, unwilling to leave them exposed to two sections firing at them (and hoping to rally some shock).

The German's third section comes on at the rear.

The men in the farmhouse are taking fire, but holding their ground.

Charlie, now you're 6" in the other direction, what gives? "Well, we have to have balance in any composition, don't we?" Yes, but the enemy can still see us, you dolt! 

On a roll of double sixes, I decide to move up my section on the right, taking two phases to run up to the stone wall.

All right Charlie, right on target! That aught to cut down on the fire into the farmhouse!

The section on the right makes it up to the wall...

While the section in the farmhouse lays down cover fire for them. A lucky shot by the Germans firing through the smoke manages to wound the junior leader commanding them.

I get another double six, except...

Well, a full CoC die has its uses... I move the jump off point up from the crossroads into the wheat fields.

While Charlie drops more happy little smoke.

The platoon's medic rushes up from the rear to tend to the junior leader, who is back in action next turn.

Using the jump off point that I moved up, my final section deploys behind the stone wall on the right. There are now two full sections at close range for the Germans behind the hill. Better yet, this new position catches some of them in the open.

But the return fire is also effective.

Too damned effective!  3 kills, 3 shock on one roll.

In an attempt to isolate the section behind the hill, Charlie artfully places more smoke, totally cutting off their line of sight. Nice work Charlie, that's a beautiful shot, er, I mean, tactic.

Meanwhile my newly placed section has been torn up good. Only a single man with the Bren team, the junior and senior leader are still alive. Well, that's enough for the Bren to lay down covering fire.

Sometimes a game has an easily determined turning point, and this was one of those games. On my turn, I rolled three 6s on my command dice. On the one hand, I'd have a double phase, which I was hoping for, on the other hand, at the end of the current phase, the turn would end, and all of Charlie's beautiful work was going to come to naught as all smoke is removed.

The loss of the smoke was a blow. Things were going nicely according to plan up until then (with the exception of the fresh section being immediately torn up). I had one of the German sections isolated and in the open, cut off from the rest of their platoon by smoke. I was going to assault them (with the double turn), which I hoped dropped their force morale enough to get close to endgame. But with the smoke coming up, things were different.  If I won the assault, the victors would be exposed to fire from the other two German sections.

If I've learned (or thought I'd learned) one thing about Chain of Command, it's that if you get stubborn, you're dead.  I've watched other players hunker down when a plan comes apart, and smirked as my force dissected them. Now I found myself in a similar position. I knew I could take the hill, but also that it was now very risky even to succeed.

It is hard to abandon a beautiful plan, even when it can't win.  Go get 'em boys!


We managed to wipe out the leaderless German section, and break the panzerschreck team that was with them. The Medic, attached to that team now, flees with them when the combat is lost.

This drops Fritz down to a dangerous 3 morale. He's down two command dice, and any more loss of morale and he will be fighting for a draw at best.

Unfortunately, on Fritz's turn the other two sections open fire on the victorious British and break them, so I'm in the same boat.

Things are precarious for both sides. But I have an opportunity I need to take. Both of us have a chain of command die, and I notice that I have numerous opportunities if I can end the turn. It will send the medic off the table (roll for loss of support), and I can easily reach one of his jump off points, taking it by ending the turn would force another roll.  He could lose 2-4 morale points, so an average roll would win me the game. The only problem is that the only team that can reach the jump off point is the solitary Bren gunner with the two leaders attached.  Not exactly a sturdy unit.

Screw it - they only have to get there and the game is over right? No problem.  They rush up.

And that's when Fritz spends his own die to interrupt. The rear section opens fire.

He kills the Bren gunner with no additional shock, miraculously missing both leaders. It destroys the section, but leaves the leaders standing out there, unattached, and in the open. The loss of the section drops my morale to a 2, so I end the turn, forcing two rolls on the Germans (-3 morale), which ends the game in a draw.

A very different experience than CoC: Espana, as it should be. It felt faster for whatever reason, although I'm not sure that's accurate. The small teams require an adjustment, as do the vast improvement in weapons.  We're going to try to bring some armor and other support into it next week and see how that plays.  So far so good though! 


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Nate!

      20mm, although most of my terrain works for 28.

    2. You're really cranking out some quality terrain there!

    3. Thanks man. I love making terrain and pretty tables. Check out my Spain stuff, as that's where I put most of my terrain energy.

  2. That sounded like a fun game, CoC is really taking hold at the moment....

    1. It's a really great game. I'm really digging the rules, and the whole skirmish thing.

  3. Really enjoyed the report. Great to hear that you are enjoying Coc!

    1. Thanks! You keep making the good games, and I'll keep playing them. Hoping to try out IABSM next.