While in Trenton this past weekend, Michael and I were able to play two WWII games, of differing figure/model scales and command levels. First up was a playtest of Michael's Battle Captains. These rules reflect what I would consider a kampfgruppe-sized command level. The player is a battle-group/kampfgruppe commander, and the forces are modelled one to one (in this case using 1:285 micro-armour). Michael set up a scenario where the German commander fielded a late-war kampfgruppe, consisting of of a panzer grenadier company, supported by an armoured car section and some other company assets (mortars, MGs). The American commander had a US armoured infantry company of two infantry platoons, a light tank platoon, and some various support bits & bobs (including off-board 155s).
The Americans (me) would start defending the environs of the chateau in the bottom left of the photo above. The Germans would approach from the top right.
From the opposite end of the board, Germans entering from bottom left.
A close-up of Michael's fine work (there are even flowers in the garden!).
The American right flank. A German panzer grenadier platoon begins to de-bus on the right of the frame, separated from the waiting American infantry and armour by various fields and hedgerows.
The game moved quickly and flowed easily. The command decisions are clearly aimed at the kampfgruppe level, perhaps a reinforced company or battalion-sized force. It turned into an American victory but not because of the action on the right flank, pictured above. The American left flank saw the majority of the action, where two German panzer grenadier platoons moved against a single entrenched American platoon. Artillery and machine gun fire told the tale there. The fields (and woods) were littered with the detritus of German infantry platoons. The reason I've shown only the photos from the right flank (beside the fact that I forgot to take any of the other flank), is that we decided to try and model this part of the fight with Chain of Command, using my 28mm 1940 forces.
This flank saw a late-war German infantry platoon (easily modelled with my 1940 Germans) facing a US infantry platoon and supporting armour platoon. We chose to use my French for the latter and translate as best we could. The US infantry became poilus and the four American light tanks became two FT-17s and two Panhard armoured cars. The Sherman 105mm attached to the American infantry platoon became a Char B1 (with 75mm howitzer). Not quite the same but...
The Chain of Command battlefield. The French (US) would defend from the left side and the Germans (on an attack order) moving in from the right. French Patrol markers in the photo above are red and Germans are blue (my shot of the deployed JoPs did not come out in focus).
The open fields in the Battle Captains game translated into various smaller fields with hedges and walls to hamper movement and lines of sight.
Another new Crescent Root studios acquisition: a very nice little pair of farm buildings. These are from the new series and do not have the interior pins (see my previous post) nor the roof peg inserts.
The German commander plans the attack, under the gaze of various officers and the Gestapo!
The Germans started out with a Force Morale of 8 and the French 7 FM (not a good start!). Luckily though, I had five armoured vehicles to the German zero. Michael did, however, have two anti-tank rifle teams. While not much of threat to the Char B1, they could do some damage to the armoured cars or FT-17s.
The French commander (me) made the initial mistake of deploying a full section of infantry to face the German deployments. This was wholly unnecessary and ultimately fatal. I could have waited until Michael had pushed his sections into close range then deployed to counter him, in the meantime hammering him with fire from my armoured vehicles. Instead, The MG34s of two sections (and two MMGs) were able to hammer away at this single section at the longer range, with little effectual response. At one point, six German machine guns slammed this one French section.
On the French left flank, things were a bit different. I had been able to push one JoP ahead on that flank during the patrol phase, with the thought of perhaps threatening any German advance in that quarter. Unfortunately, the Germans advanced quickly, threatening the JoP itself! I quickly deployed two infantry sections and one MMG to counter this and perhaps overwhelm the isolated German section.
The plan on this flank seemed to be working. The JoP was safe and we were trading casualties at an even rate (and the flanking section had not really gotten into the fray as yet). But false confidence was the theme of the day. The exposed French section on the other flank broke and ran, taking its Junior Leader and platoon sergeant with it. All of a sudden the French Force Morale was at 4! Another leader wounding on the left flank and the game was over. German victory! The lesson learned? Don't deploy unless you really need to (especially with that many MGs facing you).
The French command oversees the deployment of armoured assets. Char B1 in the foreground, Panhard armoured cars and FT-17 farther back.
This was an interesting exercise in marrying the two rule-sets together, albeit with no prior planning. We've since chatted about a deliberately-planned scenario for Battle Captains with Michael's 1940 forces to more accurately model my collection for Chain of Command. It should prove an adventure.