Monday, April 14, 2014

Germans v French: 1940

Another trek to Kingston this past weekend saw Michael, Phil and I hop down to Nexus Games for a swing at Chain of Command. This will be our last game together for a while, I suspect, since Phil is moving to his new posting in Gagetown, New Brunswick later this week. From set up to break down and driving away took less than three and a half hours! The game saw Germans v. French in the French countryside of 1940 (not much choice here, since my collection contains only 1940 French & German). We chose the attack-defend scenario from the CoC main rulebook and threw out some terrain on the table. This game saw the return of my girder bridge; one of my favourite WWII pieces. This bridge is a nice focal point on the table without taking up too much space (I think I made this piece 12 years ago (?) from an 'O' scale train kit).
Michael commanded the Germans and had a standard German infantry platoon of four sections and a 50mm mortar. He chose from his support roll a MG34 MMG and a Sdkfz 221 armoured car (replaced in the scenario with a Sdkfz 231...just because we wanted to use it because it looks cool...oh, and because I have two Sdkfz 222s but no 221).
Phil commanded the French with a standard infantry platoon. He chose, from his more limited support options, a machine gun-armed FT-17 (again, primarily because it looks cool).
Overview of the table. Germans would attack from the right of the picture and French holding the small village to the left (ignore the warped roofing material on that building...must fix that!).

Straight-away, the Germans got the jump on the French. In the opening few phases, Michael stole the subsequent phase four times and ended two turns! In the midst of a random event-generated thunderstorm (reducing visibility to 18"), his lead section made it across the river unhindered and occupied the first village building. It looked as though this would be a quick and easy game for the Germans. Oh, how I love these rules. That assessment was so incorrect as to be laughable in retrospect. The German attempts to reinforce the lead section and consolidate their gain was faced with two French sections (and later a third), a VB launcher team and the FT-17 all throwing whatever they could at the lead German section and any others trying to move across the stream to reinforce.
Quickly, the German advance ground to a halt and quickly dissolved. Even the attempts of the German leaders to push and rally were unsuccessful. In fact, losing two leaders did not help the German command and control. Michael's command dice very quickly were reduced to four, three, then two. It was over at that point but one more French phase dropped the German Force Morale to zero and they skulked away ignominiously.
Interesting events? Besides the torrential downpour in the opening moments of the battle?
The Germans tried an end-run around the village but were met with an unexpected French section deploying from a jump-off point nearby. The German section was caught in the open and had no choice but to immediately charge the French in their hard cover. This was, as expected, a disaster for the German section. Sigh, another point of Force Morale lost.
The French FT-17 crawled up the main street of the village and poured machine gun fire into the German-occupied building at almost point-blank range. This was far more than expected for this odd-looking vehicle.

The French-held village with civilians going about their day.

The first German section approaching what would become the only success of the day for them. The building to their front proved to be a graveyard for most of them.
Although I didn't play in the game, I was inspired enough to immediately order this from Warlord Games:

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