Alfarez Juan Pena was not an idealist. He'd never been particularly religious, never felt strongly about politics, other than an instinctive love of order and discipline that drew him to Franco's coalition without any sense of real decision. He'd been a mere enlisted soldado when the war began, but his bravery in the fight for Extremadura had seen him promoted, wounded and then promoted again. His wounds had kept him out of the fight for almost a year, but six weeks ago he'd received his first command, a platoon guarding the supposedly quiet rear sector of Aragon. Now, he rallied his men, men who knew him to be essentially one of them (+1 relations to the men at start), and spread them out among the streets and buildings of the city. As the Lincoln Battalion prepared to take their assault into the streets, Juan Pena prepared some surprises for them...
For the Lincolns, the section of town directly under the church was a necessary objective. From there, the Nationalists could resupply the church. If they could take it, the church would be surrounded, and could be assaulted from the other side. They are nearly at their final goal...
Scenario: This is a custom scenario for Chain of Command. I call it "City Fight" for now. To reflect the relatively close quarters combat of this type of action, we'll be using a 4x4 board instead of the usual 4x6. The hill with the church on it is just there for flavor, but is considered off limits to both sides. While my shortage of buildings makes it impossible to model it, historically snipers and machine gunners in the church and tower were unable to contribute to the fight in the streets as the buildings were so close that the roofs blocked line of sight almost completely. The objective is to drive the opponent from the field.
For the patrol phase, three markers are used on each side, and both begin stacked on the player's edge. The player with the higher force morale, or the defender in the case of a tie, moves first. At the end of the patrol phase, each player places two Jump-Off points instead of the usual 3. However, this campaign includes a wild card for the Nationalists which may only be used once, and only on this board:
To The Tunnels: Many of the basements in Quinto were linked and essentially formed tunnels under the streets. The Lincolns historically were surprised to occasionally find the Nationalists suddenly behind them. The Nationalist player may place a 3rd JoP on table 4 (this table). The location for this JoP is kept secret (written down, etc) until it is used to deploy troops. Once troops deploy from it it is revealed and may be captured or moved as normal.
The patrol markers go down.
Nationalist JoPs (the unhidden ones anyway):
Both within buildings.
The Lincolns put one on the edge of the hill, giving a good vantage over the rear of the buildings.
The other was just behind the building overlooking the main square.
Notice the truck at the center of the square. During the historical battle, a Nationalist water truck sat abandoned in the old town square, until a brave commissar named Dave Doran, from Buffalo, NY, rushed up and snatched it, driving it back to the Republican lines, where it later reappeared as stew. To reflect this, if the Republicans can capture and drive this to their table edge, they will gain a morale point and the Nationalists will roll as if for the loss of a junior leader. The Nationalists may also capture it, but can't drive it off the board because there's really no where to go with it. They may also try to destroy it, but if they do, they roll as if for the loss of a senior leader, as it's tough asking your men to destroy their own water supply. Especially during an Aragon August.
Both sides start with a morale of 10, but the Republicans are the first to come on, deploying a MMG team to overlook the square. Their officer places them on overwatch.
The Lincolns have gotten their hands on a single mortar tube. They're not really known for their proficiency with it, but they can probably figure out how to use it after a few attempts. One of them is heard to comment that it's just like sticking a potato onto the end of a steam pipe.
Despite their movement, the square remains eerily quiet. Juan Pena isn't rushing things.
Finally, perhaps lulled by the silence, Lt. Antov gives the order to take the water truck. the single full strength team breaks off from the rest of the section and runs forward across the square, covered by the MG.
The lead man swings himself into the cab and starts the engine.
At the sound of the engine starting, Pena signals his men. Directly across the square from their opposite number, a machine gun squad opens up on the men clustered around the truck.
The truck peels out, but it's an old clunker and peeling out turns out to be lurching uncertainly down the street a few yards.
The rest of the men are left to fend for themselves, with predictable results.
The moment upon them, Pena orders his first section to open fire from the second JoP, trying to wipe out the team in the square. While the building is good cover, the angle is poor. The men have to lean out the windows to fire on the fleeing Americans.
They are, however, successful, killing not only the team, but their sergeant. The man was a replacement, new to his position, and in the end, his name is utterly forgotten after the war.
The Republicans' morale drops from a 10 to a an 8.
Machine guns from both sides now rake the square, as both sides try to eliminate the other. No one is venturing into that square until the opposing machine gun is dealt with.
Meanwhile the water truck nears the exit...
Machine gun fire strafes the men hanging out the windows and claims one of them who falls into the street.
...and the water truck reaches the Republican lines to great cheers. Republican morale raises to a 9, while the Nationalists' drops to the same.
More machine gun fire claims Nationalist soldiers leaning out of the windows to shoot at the MG team. The risky move also results in the death of the sergeant who ordered it, further dropping morale.
But the move pays off as the fire from the rifles and MMG kills almost the entire enemy MMG team. Only the junior leader remains, manning the gun himself, despite being pinned by enemy fire.
Meanwhile what remains of the section which took the water truck moves cautiously, staying out of line of sight of the enemy.
Pena ignores this small team for the moment, concentrating on the MMG. Soon, the officer manning it is cut down, and the team is eliminated. Effectively losing the town square, the Republican morale plummets to 6.
Lt. Antov reveals himself behind the square, and tries to position his mortar team to drop hell on the enemy if they ever make a move from the buildings.
And that's when Pena makes his move. Emerging from tunnels into a large building, the second rifle section catches Antov off guard. At this point, but he and his commissar are in the sights of the enemy rifles.
All hell breaks lose. Antov reveals an ambush (with a CoC die) of the LMG team still off table, killing some of Pena's men and causing some shock. But it's not enough to stop them.
Pena himself is on the scene to direct the fire.
Catching Lt. Antov unattached to any unit, one of Pena's teams tries to eliminate him. His flag-bearer goes down, but the hearty Bulgarian-American somehow emerges unscathed.
The mortar team is less lucky, being reduced to one man and a commissar attached.
Desperate to respond, Antov signals the rest of this men. The full strength section quickly emerges from the ruins to counter the enemy.
With a full section facing them, including an LMG, Pena orders his men to pull back (interrupting with a CoC die) out of sight, avoiding the worst of the fire.
While Pena and his men keep Antov busy on the other side of the square, Pena's right hand man, Section Sergeant Javier Rios, a grizzled old veteran of the Rif War, takes command of the other section and orders them out of the house. The three survivors of the section which took the water truck have moved into the building opposite them, hoping to set up their LMG in one of the windows. Rios moves to take care of them before they can get into position.
Meanwhile, seeing Pena withdrawing, Antov redeploys his men into the windows of the building. He's more concerned with Sergeant Rios's movements now than Pena's.
Sergeant Rios quickly and efficiently seizes the house, wiping out the small LMG team in close bloody combat. His men take few casualties, and the Republican morale drops to 5.
They move quickly, and thanks to a double phase, are able to contest the JoP on the hill.
With Antov's attention now fully on Rios's men, Juan Pena orders his men back into position.
With Antov's men all watching Rios, Pena is able to catch many of them out in the open. They die like flies. [I got very lucky with three or four phases in a row, allowing me to redeploy those men and then shoot at the flat-footed Americans.]
Spending a CoC die, my opponent moves the JoP from the hill into the ruins, preventing its capture.
Meanwhile, Antov's men are dying around him, with the Nationalist both in front of them and behind. Teams are wiped out and another Junior leader is killed. The Republican morale falls and falls, and command dice are lost in rapid succession.
Meanwhile, the team Rios sent after the JoP on the hill decides to make a run for the other JoP, and quickly contests it, all while carefully remaining out of sight of the enemy.
At the same time, Rios moves the rest of his section through the now deserted town square to catch up with them.
The first team, on Rios's orders, moves towards the second JoP while Rios moves towards the first. A beautiful idea - if I can get both JoPs covered, I can end the turn with a CoC die and probably drop the enemy's morale to 0 in one fell swoop. It's also a bit ambitious - I wanted to capture Lt. Antov himself by preventing his withdrawal, all for that glory.
At this point, the entire enemy section has been wiped out. The only Lincolns still on the table are the last man from the mortar team, Lt. Antov himself, and his commissar. To my frank disbelief, Antov, unwilling to be captured, leads these three men in a charge against the small team contesting the JoP. Leading the charge with his pistol, Antov surprises the Nationalists.
In a feat of bravery that is not likely to be repeated, Antov breaks the enemy team, but also loses the mortar man and commissar in the fight. Somehow, against all odds, Antov himself survives the melee.
With the team broken, the Nationalist morale drops to a 6, even as the Republican morale falls to zero, ending the game.
His entire platoon and all support dead, somehow Lt. Antov survives and manages to retreat, alone, back to the Lincoln HQ to report the situation. They're likely to make a hero of him, despite the nasty loss.
Overall, this was a huge win for the Nationalists, and a necessary one if I have any hope of winning the campaign. This game ended "day 2" of the battle of Quinto. The Lincoln objective is to take the church by the end of day 3, and they start that three-turn day still on table 4. Assuming I lose the second battle at table four, all that would be necessary is one Nationalist victory defending table 5, followed by a counter-attack on table 4, and the Nationalist would have successfully delayed the Republican offensive, winning the campaign.
Further, while the Nationalist victory was costly (10 casualties, of whom only 5 are truly dead), it wiped out the Lincoln's first platoon, forcing them to bring up their second, and final platoon to fight the final battles.
As it happens, we played the above game on my birthday, and clearly the dice gods were in on the celebration. Fritz (my opponent) took the day off from work and joined me at my place for the game (good thing, because that's a LOT of terrain to haul to the game store). That means we could immediately move on to the next battle. It was probably the shortest CoC game we've played, so I'm not going to bother making a second post. Here it is:
For this battle, the water truck is removed (as it was captured), and the Nationalist would not get their extra hidden JoP (as the Lincolns would be a bit more cautious in their approach and clear the basements).
The patrol phase favored the Lincolns more this game, and the Nationalist were forced to deploy JoPs in less than ideal places.
One in the same building overlooking the square, but on the other side of the courtyard, limiting my options and stretching my ability to deploy.
The second behind the building it had been inside the previous game. Too far to reach the furthest windows if I deployed there. Not good.
The Republicans did a bit better. Their first was almost in the same place as before.
As was the second, allowing deployment onto the hill.
Having won the previous game, I got to place some barbed wire.
While I once again took a MMG, the Lincolns went a different way. They took two field guns and nothing else. One they deployed overlooking the square, to try and possibly collapse the building containing my JoP.
And the other on the hill, overlooking my own JoP.
The gun on the hill immediately started knocking down walls, opening the way for the JoP.
Deploying my MMG team into the square, I hoped to quickly take out the field gun across the square. It was my intention not to necessarily win this battle, but to perhaps weaken the enemy. I was reluctant to deploy anything but support until I cleared up the enemy's own support.
Both field guns at one point were firing at the MMG team and the building, trying to weaken the structure.
Then the one on the hill switched back to knocking down walls.
Both walls fell, opening a clear path to my JoP.
The Lincolns cautiously deployed their two-man scout team.
On the very next roll, Fritz scored a double-phase, and decided to make a run for the JoP. On the second phase, we discovered that he needed to roll a 12 for movement in order to contest the JoP and prevent my deploying from it. And fortune was on his side, as he did indeed get his 12. The JoP was captured!
As that left only one JoP in a bad position, covered by two field guns, Juan Pena decided to call it a day. The order was given to abandon the town and regroup in the church. A rough morning, sure, but at least the Nationalists took no casualties in their withdrawal, something the men would appreciate.
With this bloodless defeat, the campaign clock moves to noon on day 3 as the Lincolns prepare to assault the church, their final objective. As it happens, this means that the next battle will be the last, decisive battle on which the whole campaign turns. If the Lincolns win, they capture their objective, and force the remaining Nationalists to surrender. If they fail, the Nationalist will counter attack, and win or lose, that will tie up the Lincolns for the rest of day 3. As that delays the overall timetable or the offensive, it would hand the Nationalists the victory.
Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion...