As winter finally settled in this weekend, with a nasty, windy, rainy and cold Sunday, what better way to spend the day than playing Chain of Command under the shelter of the club. Two novelties in the game this time: we played the “flank attack” scenario of the book and we also used the army lists to build our forces.
The flank attack scenario simulates a major break-through of an attacking force, now approaching a critical defensive area of the enemy who ignores where the direction of the main thrust will come.
We agreed on a scenario representing a German local counterattack on a British infantry force in Normandy. The support forces die roll gave 8 points to the Germans and 4 to the British, according to the scenario instructions (defenders get 50% of the attacker’s support force). For those not familiar with Chain of Command, this means adding 8 points of support from the lists to a base force (usually an infantry platoon: HQ with senior leader + AT team; three squads each with a 3-men LMG team and a 6-men rifle team plus a junior leader).
I played the Germans and the first critical decision was to choose among the support assets. Looking at the lists, the 8 points would allow me to "buy" an AFV unit (Panzer IV or similar) or I could split the points "buying" some additional infantry support (an infantry squad would cost 4 support points or a reinforced grenadier squad 5 points, for example) plus other minor units (a flamethrower team, a tank-killer tema, etc).
Considering that the British support level 4 will not allow them to buy any armour, I discarded all AT assets and decided to acquire another regular infantry unit and a FOO directing an off-table 8cm mortar battery, at the cost of 4 support points each.
|British squad advancing under fire cover|
With the forces already chosen it was time to plan the attack. The British were to deploy in village, benefitting from cover. What I needed was to get as close as possible with my forces while minimising the attrition of my own forces by the long range fire of the British. Finally I decided to attack from the south (offering better cover) to my troops, but attempting a diversionary attack with one squad from the west of the table.
In the flank attack scenarios, the attacker has two groups of patrol markers, that move from two different sides of the table. And here it is where I make my first mistake: in order t attract the attention of the British player, I focused initially on the patrol markers entering from the west of the table, being so successful that after a very few moves all the enemy’s patrol makers were fixed, therefore ending the patrol phase... and well before I could hardly move my patrol markers in the south edge hardly just a few inches forward.
I think this was a major blunder on my side, as now my units will have to cover a significant distance on the table, potentially alerting the British player from where the main attack was coming and giving him time to redeploy his own units.
|Aerial view of the battlefield from the north-west|
In any case I decided to follow my plan and began deploying a first infantry squad in the west area, provoking a reaction of the British player as expected, who started bringing forces on the table to face the threat. I also deployed my FOO early in that same area, that offered a better view of the British deployment zone.
The mortars took some time to be contacted and unfortunately the British took advantage of the situation and brought their own artillery on my troops, neglecting the LOS to my FOO in addition to causing a few casualties and shocks on my infantry. At that moment I decided to use my first Chain of Command dice to end the turn and to force the lifting of the British mortars barrage.
While the British and my German units in the west were engaged, I quietly brought the first troops in the south, an infantry squad that moved at double speed towards the objective unmolested. In fact an enemy jump-off point was captured by the swift advance of the squad, to the shock of the British player, who lost 1 force moral point as a result.
Scenting the threat, the British started moving troops to the south while more artillery fire was brought again on the Germans in the west zone, losing first the junior leader and later breaking due to accumulation of shock.
Now the attention was shifted to my forces in the south, which took positions in an orchard and began exchanging long range fire with the enemy. A second German infantry squad was also deployed and moved towards the north to reinforce the line. At the same time my FOO finally got in contact with the mortar battery and could land a barrage on the main position of the British line.
However it did not last long, as the British player used his own command dice to finish the turn, lifting the barrage. In the meantime my unit in the orchard was already accumulating some amount of shock from a PIAT team at some distance and unable to progress any further forward.
The situation was not looking good at all for the Germans: the British were nicely entrenched in the buildings and well protected from my fire, having suffered only light casualties so far. I brought into play my Panzar Schrecker team to attack the main house in the British line, but was quickly put out of action. At that moment I had lost one infantry squad and the PzSch team while the artillery was being ineffective; my force morale level had already fallen to 4 due to some bad rolls when my units broke.
The British has already guessed where the main attack was coming and I did not have enough forces to spare in another flank attack. It was clear that the attack was stalling so I decided to pull back and save my forces to fight another day. A clear victory to the British and congratulation to Lt Lozano for his brave defense of the village!