Sunday, 13 October 2013

To the Bitter End 1945 - A Chain of Command AAR

After a very busy long month, last night I finally organized a new game with Chain of Command. This time we abandoned the already familiar bocage country where most of our previous encounters took place and moved forward to February/March 1945. 

The scenario aimed to simulate the desperate fights of an overwhelmed German army now close to breaking, scrapping the bottom of the barrel in terms of looking for manpower, and defending the motherland from the steamroller Allied armies. We chose to use the Scenario 6: attack on a position to organize our game.

In the table, to the north the outskirts of a German town (holding an important crossroads) defended by the two weak infantry sections supported by a HMG and plenty of AT material. To the south, two roads converging into the town and the landscape spotted with low hedges and light woods, probably the preferred place for strolling and Sunday walks before the war for the inhabitants of what is now a wrecked town.

Battlefield view from the German side

The attacking US forces included a combined US armoured sections (3 Shermans) and a fully equipped infantry platoon with three sections and a bazooka team.     

Both sides were average and after rolling the force moral dice, both also were rated 10 level moral.
In the patrol phase the Americans decided to use the road to enter the table instead of deploying more extended along the edge of the table. This was to the advantage of the Germans, who moved forward its patrol makers and almost cornered the US jump-off points in a space equivalent to a quarter of the table.

Placing the jump-off points

The “pro” for the Germans was that they limited the options to deploy of the Americans; the “con” was that they overextended their line of deployment and had no enough forces to cover the whole perimeter, risking a potential loss of some of the jump-off points.

Once the patrol phase was over, the game itself started. The initial moves of the US side were to launch scouting teams, aiming to get close enough to the German jump-off points as to provoke a reaction. The Germans bite the bait and deployed their two infantry sections in short time, quickly dealing with  one of the scouters (and a  first lose of moral level for the US) while pinning  the other behind some trees.
US (cautious) scouters
 A succession of inconvenient die rolls put the Americans in jeopardy, seeing their jump-off points being threatened by one German squad without opposition.  Finally a tank could arrive on the table and move to counteract the threat

Sherman ruining the landscape...

 ... but when in sight of the Germans, they used the CoC dice to deploy a Pak 40 ambushing the American armour... a direct hit ... and after some dice rolling, no smoke was seeing coming out of the vehicle... to the concern and surprise of the German crew (*)

... and angry German farmers responding
At this stage the battle broke in two different fronts. On the right flank of the US line (where the AFV vs Pak engagement was taking place), the FOO emerged and in two activations accurately placed a 80mm mortar barrage over the Pak and a German LMG fire team, pinning the first and wiping out the second, maintaining the fire over the rest of the game.    

In the left flank, a US squad finally emerged and made fire at point-blank over the Germans; the German phase was interrupted by a CoC dice and suffered a second consecutive fire before retributing by putting a hail of lead from the 2 LMGs and the rifles of the German squad (18 firing dice in total) into the Americans.

GIs firing on (perfectly camouflaged!) Germans across the road
As expected the Americans broke with heavy losses and significant shock but not before making some dent of the Germans, including the killing of the junior leader. A second US squad took the firing line abandoned by their friends and after a few phases of fire exchange, the Germans broke and no possibility to recover shocks lacking effective leadership.

After almost 4 hours of game, the balance was clearly in favour of the Allied forces with one infantry squad intact, another one in good shape, a third one battered but being recovered by the Senior leader and two Shermans fully operative. At the other side of the hill, the Germans had a Pak clearly pinned for the rest of the game, an HMG team and only ½ infantry squad operative. Both sides had reduced the force morale level to 5 but the odds were clearly against the Germans.

Last nest of resistance: the view from the HMG emplacement
Key takeaways

US side: in my view not a good start, they allowed the Germans to corner them in a small portion of the table. They were also slow in deploying their forces despite being in offensive mood and preferred to launch the scouters before committing their main attacking force, putting pressure on the Germans to make an early deployment.  

In the end, the gambit played but not before their jump-off points suffering high risks of being captured. The late arrival (but arrival nonetheless!)  of the infantry squads, and the timely relieving of the firing lines in the left flank were critical in the development of the game.

German side: excellent execution of the patrol phase cornering the Americans. Feeling they were likely outnumbered, the players decided to use “aggressive defence” instead of more traditional “hold the line” and almost paid off. The loss of the junior leader in a critical stage of the game and the early commitment of the senior leader in the other flank finally brought the odds against them.

But I must say that this aggressive defence made  a very lively game all over!!
(*) Our way to play is to dice the saving armour and fire effect rolls in secret, so the opponent has not a clue of the impact caused by the fire; obviously if the AFV caughts fire, explodes, or the crew bails out in panic, it is clearly stated and marked.  In the case of the game on Friday, the engine was affected and the vehicle immobilized, but the crew was only lightly shocked so they could respond to the fire in the following phases.  The Pak 40 continued firing but with limited additional damage (unknown to the AT's crew) and both sides engaged in a firing exchange for the rest of the game 


  1. Great AAR, I have found this to be a great set of rules.


  2. I love the way you describe doing vehicle damage. Great looking table too. Thanks.

  3. Very nice game table and AAR. Interesting options used for both sides.

  4. Great AAR! I too like your AFV fire mod. I'll have to give that a try.

  5. I'm pretty sure you can't Ambush with AT guns. Pg 23 second paragraph.

  6. Fantastic AAR mate, and some great looking terrain and toys as well.

  7. great set up good looking terrain