Every year by Christmas we usually arrange a large full-day game at the club. Following some mail exchanges, it was clear that we would play Chain of Command and the only aspect to decide was the theater: North Africa, Spanish Civil War or Normandy. Considering to availability of both, players and painted armies, the latter was the winner.
As 5 players would be attending, we decided to make a Big Chain of Command game, opposing 1 US regular infantry, 1 US elite paratroop and 1 US Sherman tank troop to 2 German regular infantry and a Panzer IV troop with three tanks. We chose an Attack & Defend scenario from the main book, with the Americans needing to break the beachhead and get into the interior of the Normandy peninsula
|US Infantry Patrol|
I played in the American team, leading the infantry platoon. The support roll gave us 15 points that we spent in a 60mm mortar team, an off-board 81mm support, an extra bazooka team and a Sherman.
The table game (see photo below) represented a typical Normandy landscape, with roads leading to a village defended by the Germans and multiple bocage fields in the surroundings.
|Deployment of Jump-off Points|
Having no engineers chosen as support, I almost threw the towel even before the game started, as now it was up to the infantry alone to try winning the game After some consultation between the Allied players, and despite being unconvinced, we decided to at least give it a try and see what would develop… clearly it was going tio be challenging, to say the least.
We deployed the paratroopers with the extra bazooka and the Sherman on the left side; the tank troop in the center and the infantry with the 60mm mortar team and the off-board artillery on the right.
Most of the action concentrated in the left side of our line and the paratroopers were key to the victory. Two squads deployed in the road in front of their jump-off point and a Sherman was brought in support, halting at the edge of obstacle blocking the entry of the bocage line, with LOS over the houses at the end of the table.
|The left flank|
In the following phases, both sections crossed the bocage line; while one and the Sherman engaged in a fire exchange with the defenders of the house, the other squad run over the edge of the table and charge to the flank of the German unit deployed outside the house, firing from the stone wall. In the subsequent melee, the Germans were wiped out and the jumpoff point captured when the turn was concluded using a Chain of Command dice.
In the meantime, on the right flank, I deployed two infantry squads and the 60mm mortar, getting the support of two Shermans from the tank platoon. I sent a patrol team to the road followed by the rest of the squad and one of the Shermans.
|The right flank|
When the Sherman partially emerged, the German brought into play one of the Pz IV in its own activation but failing to hit the American AFV (we consider it as hull down, given that was only partially seen). In the following American activation the Sherman turned right and fired… 4 hits and 1 saved, net of three… the Pz IV exploded!
It was now turn for the infantry to act: they run along the edge of the road until placing themselves next to the enemy’s jumpoff point in the road crossing. In the following activation, the squad leader ordered to launch smoke hand grenades at the other side of the hedge and one of the teams to cross the bocage line, falling just over the jump-off point. With another Chain of Command dice, I finished the turn and captured it.
The Force Moral of the German infantry platoon attacked by the paratroopers was already at low levels. The destruction of the Pz IV and afterwards the loss of the j/o point put it to zero, leaving the table and causing the remaining enemy forces to take another Force Moral test. It was at this time that the German commander consider the game lost and surrender.
The paratroopers were the key to victory thanks to its daring action and independently of some (very) lucky die rolls: for example, they survived a flamethrower attack that fialed to make a single casualty, and destroyed the team in the subsequent retaliating attack...
The game took around 4 hours to be completed, significantly less than what we anticipated. Tru, it was played by 5 seasoned and experienced Chain of Command players, and therefore we did not need to make frequent stops and search clarifications in the rules.
It's also been the first Big CoC game played straight as stated in the rules (the Spanish Civil War campaign was inspired in the Big CoC manual but with in-house adpatations) and was highly enjoyed by both sides.
Two after-action considerations:
1/ To remember that engineers are useful in this type of scenarios; should we have chosen an engineer team as supportm, we may have removed one of the obstacles and allow the tanks to close support the paratroopers in the attack to the village.
2/ Bocage: woould there be a way to allow tanks to cross the hedges? There are no specific rules to supply hedgerows cutting devices to tanks, one to think about and incorporate in future games.