Our first game of the year with Chain of Command gave the British arms a new victory over the evil German troops despite the mastery management of their commanders, Oberts Casas and Vitaller.
The actions was based on the Scenario-3 "Attack-Defense", each side leading a full infantry platoon with the British receiving 10 support points and the Germans half that level. The British chose a Bren carrier section (two vehicles armed with LMGs under the command of a junior leader), an artillery observer and a medic. The Germans chose a HMG team and an adjutant (a second senior leader useful to help deploying troops on the table in absence of the main platoon commander)
The scenario victory conditions were simple: to eject the opposing forces from the table due to their physical destruction or due to reduction of the force morale level to zero, while maintaining at least a 3 level on one's own forces.
The gaming table is illustrated in the following photo (view from south to north), with the Germans entering north and the British from the southern edge.
As usual, the game started with the patrol phase in which recon/scout detachments of both sides struggle to control the no man's land area, creating the base to deploy the main forces during the game. In today's game most of the patrol phase efforts aimed to control the central part of the table disrupting the (up to then) quiet life of the Norman farmers living in the area.
At the end of the patrol phase, the Germans seemed to have emerged victorious, fully controlling the three main stone buildings and forcing the British to set their jump-off points in a line under cover of the bocage hedges.
But in a master stroke of the British commanding officers, the German advantage was neutralized already in the first activation phase: two infantry sections and the FOO were immediately deployed, calling the mortar battery and placing an accurate barrage of fire and smoke in the main German area of deployment
With this move the British achieved to objectives: disabled one of the jump-off points and put a barrier of fire to protect the advance in the open of the two infantry sections. The shocked German players could only react by placing an infantry section behind the second house (also affected by the mortar barrier) but unable to draw a line on the British.
Hence we saw the British moving forward unchecked up to the limit of the mortar barrier waiting for the right moment to lift the fire and take control of the house and the enemy jump-off point in the yard (that would cause a first morale force test on the Germans)
The Germans in the meantime occupied the second house (partially affected by the mortar fire), a second section behind the house and the remaining infantry and the HMG team in the house located in their right flank. The British fended off the threat deploying the Bren-gun carrier section on the road leading to that house persuading the Germans from attempting to infiltrate their lines through that flank.
The Germans sent the tank hunter team to deal with the Brens; but were caught by the fire of the LMGs and lacking a senior leader nearby to remove the shock, remained pinned for the rest of the game and failed to hit any of the vehicles.
Up to that moment we saw not a lot of action, However events were soon to accelerate with the lifting of the mortar barrier: The British sent a first section to occupy the house and placed the Brent team in the window overlooking the German line.
A second section moved forward and took control of the German jump-off point there, getting some protection from the enemy fire by taking cover behind a stone garden wall. The British Chain of Command dice ended the turn and the jump-off point was captured, forcing the Germans to roll for morale and causing the loss of two morale levels.
The Germans had no option except to launch a counterattack: after a short (and quite ineffective) exchange of small arms and LMG fire, the two sections initiated a charge attacking the Bren team and the rifle teams in two different melees. The former was wiped out (including the junior leader attached) but not without causing significant harm to the Germans and wounding the leader. German force morale dipped to level 4
The latter however rejected the attack (defending behind a stone wall), breaking the unit and killing the senior leader... end of the game. German morale was on the verge of collapse and there were not enough forces on the table to cause a similar effect to the British.
EXCELLENT game of both sides. But I must say that the first British activation, calling the artillery, was masterful, unbalancing the Germans and stealing the initiative for almost the whole game. Another critical moment of the game was the German counterattack; here I must say that the dice roll were not favourable to the Germans, but they erer betting the whole game on that move and it did not work...
The gods of fortune were behind the British in this case, but even if the Germans would have won the melee (and although difficult to predict) the erosion suffered by the infantry sections would have played against them and I doubt that they could have had enough combat power to achieve a clear win.
Next week we'll hopefully have another game and I expect to set it up in Spain 1936, testing the CoC España rules for the first time.