I sauntered over to Cambridge yesterday afternoon through a blizzard that dumped at least 20cm of snow on us...turned a one hour drive into two and quarter hours. Why? You may ask and I would answer that picking up my Old Glory order that Vidal had brought back from Cold Wars was incentive enough. And a chance to play a little hooky from work and game on a weekday afternoon. More on the OG order in another post...for now, a game of Chain of Command.
We pitted my 1940 French against Vidal's newly painted Warlord German infantry (ostensibly later war figs but they subbed in as 1940 fellas). The scenario was the Probe (scenario two from the main rule-book, I believe). As the French commander, I needed to stop Vidal from moving his forces along the length of the game board and off of my baseline (he actually only needed to move one team/section/vehicle off of my baseline to win). Vidal's Germans started with a four bound move in the patrol phase. This hampered my deployment of jump-off points severely. In fact, he was four feet up a six foot table before I could even begin to start considering my options. He had control of the central village and its cover and I thought it would be almost impossible to hold him off. The French squads proved to be tough nuts to crack, however. The LMG team has one LMG and five rifleman, so 13 dice for firing (8 + 5). Compare this to the much-vaunted MG34 team of one gunner and two riflemen for a total of 12 dice (10 + 2). Of course, it's not always a straight fire-fight between LMG teams. The rest of the sections are obviously in play as well. But we had no idea of the strength of the French LMG teams. And the French platoon gets an extra junior leader who can order about any section or team in the platoon (the platoon sergeant). Oh yes, and we can't forget about the rifle-grenade section. This is an amalgamation of the three rifle-grenadiers from the rifle sections and one from the platoon command, commanded by a junior leader. Eight dice that ignore a target's cover makes for a handy little team.
The Germans, of course, have their own advantages. Two senior leaders is a big plus, and is deceptive in its effect. With an second senior leader, you can bring one onto the table early to direct the action and rally shock from your units. Meanwhile, the second senior leader can stay off-board to help with the management of reserves. Having them both on the table almost ensures unit activations and rallying. And the Germans in 1940 have three sections in their basic platoons, versus the French three. This provides a fair amount of tactical flexibility (and an extra MG34!). German junior leaders can also direct the fire of their LMG teams and add their personal leader bonuses to the fire. So those 12 dice mentioned above become 14 when the junior leader is personally directing the fire.
I was able to get Vidal's Force Morale and command dice down to four after some brutally Pyrrhic fighting and he actually was able to get his Pz38(t) off of my board edge, with only two Force Morale points remaining and two command dice. A Pyrrhic victory if there ever was one. We also learned that Panhard armoured cars are not the best anti-armour weapons (at least when coupled with my atrocious die-rolling). We even had some house-clearing when a French section assaulted the main floor of one of the buildings. The assault was successful (and fairly inexpensive in terms of casualties). But then what? There were two more floors above, both occupied by German LMG teams. Did I really need to do that? Well, the game ended before I needed to make that decision.
Thanks to Vidal for another enjoyable game!
A French section advances across an open field in Tactical mode: six-man LMG team on the left, four-man rifle team on the right, and section leader in the middle. Crusader figures from my collection.
A German section occupies the walled yard of a very pretty Miniature Building Authority house. Plastic Warlord figures from Vidal's collection.