Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Chain of Command: A Diary # 4

Welcome to my fourth entry of the Chain of Command Diary, a series of occasional posts about the incoming II WW skirmish rules sets by TooFatLardies. But first an important announcement as Big Rich officially disclosed
*** 21st of August ***

as the expected release date for Chain of Command. So prepare to lighten your wallets and refill your Pay-Pal accounts before paying your summer holiday expenses!

Topic of today: Armour! ...or how Richard Clarke tamed the Big Cats to avoid dominating the gaming table

Those of you already familiar with the previous instalments of this series  will know by now that Chain of Command is basically an infantry driven game. But who could not be attracted by the lure of the Panthers, the Tigers (...or the Crocrodiles!) ; and to be brutally frank, a II WW game is not a real II WW game if we don't have our toys to play, right?

But this leads to a second and a third considerations, which are how (1) to integrate armour smoothly in an infantry game and (2) to avoid tanks becoming  the king of the battlefield, unbalancing the game and ruining our gaming experience. I hope to explain and clarify how TFL has solved these difficult design aspects, creating a simple, elegant and realistic mechanism to deal with the armour side of the games.
First consideration: role of armour. Armour are guest stars,  present in the table not to win the battle on its own but to support the poor bloody infantry achieving their objectives. Being an skirmish oriented game, each model represents one vehicle, be either a tank, halftrack, light recon,  jeep or similar.

Don't expect to deploy a full armoured brigade, but just a few vehicles adapted to the tasks of your mission: an armoured infanrty platoon (with four Hanomags or M3s) or 2-3 tanks per side can fit in this picture. Of course you can go for more if you like, but who want to play a game looking to be won by one side from the beginning? ...Not me for sure...

Second consideration: how armour activation works.  All vehicles must enter from the table edge, no from a jump off point like infantry. An AFV has four key posts: the commander, the driver, the gunner and the hull MG gunner. Tanks are activated on the commander roll (a "3" or a "4" depending upon it is a junior or a senior leader) and he decides which actions will be undertaken depending on his level (= command initiatives, from II to IV) and objectives.

With each command initiative, he can order  one of the crew members to perform his role. For example, if he wants to move and fire, he will order the driver and the gunner (or the hull MG gunner) spending two iniatives. However note that there's a trade off between moving and the efficiency of the weaponry (the more you move, the higher the restrictions on firing).

Third consideration: how armour fires. Given the game scale all shooting is considered at close range. AFVs roll to hit with a single D6 throw adjusted for positive and negative factors: Then roll again for penetration; and those familiar with IABSM will inmediately reckon the suystem: 5,6 for successful penetration if firing front, 4-6 if firing flank.

Each tank model has an armour value that reflects the number of D6 saving throws that it can roll (saved on 5,6); and the net difference between sucessful penetration hits and these saving rolls sets the effect on the vehicle: from "no effect", to crew shocked or dead, to the vehicle exploding. The rules also enable options for extra heavy armour or some special features (like the tendency to explode by some Shermans of the early models, for example).
Where the feck is my infanrty??

Note that armour can fire either guns or MGs (or both if stationary) , with guns having an HE factor for infanrty.

Four consideration: how to defend from armour.  My experience in testing the rules is that armour is very vulnerable in the type of combat environment used for Chain of Command. Infantry units has a plethora of anti-tank weapons of significant effect at short distance; furthermore a well planned ambush option enabled by the Chain of Command bonus means that an isolated vehicle will be an easy prey for a resolute tank hunter team. As in the real combat environment, infantry and armour depends one on each other and must operate in a coordinated way of you want your force to survive the game.

And finally do not forget that tanks and anti-tunk guns are included in the game arsenal lists and, more usual than not, they will show up in your enemy's OOBs when playing.

Summarising, CoC has smoothly embedded the use of armour in a predominantly infantry game. The armour mechanisms are complex-free but not abstract, and will allow for a balanced game in which armour on one side never dominates the battlefiled. Furthermore, armour can be very vulnerable if not properly handled, all in all resulting in a very realistic approach to the battle conditions of the period in this type of skirmish environment.





  1. Good explanations. I can't wait till this is released.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. I always enjoy skirmish games more than a full blown battle so this sound just up my alley.

  3. The armour rules look great. Are additional rules such as one or two man turrets, slow vehicles, mechanical unreliable vehicles, Schürzen, etc included?

    1. There are some special features included but others are left for the advanced rules (not part of the tests and therefore unknown to me) and probably for future supplements or scenarios (like for example the 2 turret aspect you aksed)

  4. Great post, lovely pictures, like the muzzle flash and the burning tank:)

    Looking forward to the release, more and are such a teaser;)

    Looking forward to your next blog post about CoC !

    best regards Michael

    1. Those are not photoshop effects but some colured textiles!

  5. Interesting and useful entry. Looking forward to see the complete rulebook.