Monday, 11 November 2013

Stopping the Red Horde. A Chain of Command AAR

Friday night was CoC time at the club!. We moved east and played a game loosely inspired in the defensive battles fought by the Germans in 1943-1944. So I shamelessly borrowed a map and the general situation for this battle from John de Terre Neuve's blog "Wargaming in 28mm"

The Red Army attacking force comprised a full infantry platoon with three squads, a SMG assault squad, and three T34/85 tanks plus a FOO as support units. The Germans opposed an infantry platoon supported by a HMG, a Sdkfz 234/3 (armed with a 7.5cm gun for close support) and two SPGs (Marder III). Both sides were rated “average”.  

Gaming table viewed from the north
The scenario was the attack/defence from the Chain of Command book.  The objective was a tough one for the attacker, who must conquer an enemy jump-off point located at 6’ from the defender’s tactical edge.

The patrol phase saw the Germans bringing forward their defensive lines and occupying a bridgehead at the other side of the river (impassable terrain except through the bridge). This advanced deployment forced the Russian players to place their own jump-off points in a very narrow line, limiting their tactical initiative for the rest of the game.
The game itself started with the Russian deploying the SMG squad next to the field with crops and a regular infantry squad in the wood located in the north; the Germans deployed the HMG team in its right flank and an infantry squad in the house close to the tactical edge.

A vicious exchange of long-range fire followed, that concluded with the German HMG team broken but the Soviet SMG squad basically pinned and unable to do anything useful except responding to the German LMG but quite ineffectively (note to myself: exchanging fire at long distance with a German LMG is a very baaad idea).

The Soviet brought a second squad into the table, emerging from the jump off point in the woods, and the FOO next to the SMG quad location. At the same time, the Germans broke their infantry squad into two fire teams (the LMG and the rifles) and moved the latter into the light woods ahead, covered by fire of the LMG, threatening the remnants of the SMG Soviet squad.  However the FOO called a heavy mortar battery and luckily arrived just on top the German infantry rifle team, giving some breathing space to the submachine gunners, that nonetheless continued suffering from the LMG fire. 

German infantry under mortar fire

However, end of turn and also end of the barrage. The new turn started with the Soviets advancing across the grain field towards the German jump-off point in front. The Germans took little time to fend the threat, bringning two infantry squads in consecutive activations that caught the Russians basically in the open, with the expected results: one squad wiped out and the second caught in a very vulnerable position.

The other relevant event of the game was the arrival of the first T 34 in the road to the west, a move followed by one the German Marders emerging just at the other side of the table. The T 34 tried to support the beleaguered infantry with its gun while resisting as best as possible the fire from the SPG (who failed to hit and penetrate the Soviet tank iron skin at least three times!) 

Marder III crew in need of new glasses!
This was followed by a few more activations until the Soviet command decided that there were not enough forces available to achieve the victory conditions, therefore deciding to retreat and may be fought on another day.

After Action Report
This was a truly odd game as I think the Read Army players were not totally concentrated in it, at least this was my perception from the opening moves during the patrol phase. The Germans made a very good use of the assets, that were also very timely deployed. The battle was decided in the northern area of the map around the Gemran jump-off point: the LMGs are to be feared and specially if they catch your forces in the open

I will consider replaying the scenario but with some modifications to the OOB. Although the tanbk forces were not tested, I think that the Red Army forces should be strengthend or the Germans  reduced. The attack/defence scenarios are really hard for the attacker, and in the context of our game (with only one  crossing point channelling the attacker) it is even harder.


  1. Lovely maps and report. I do agree with you in increasing Soviet power - or leave them as they are and reduce the Germans. The attacker will have to move, so he will want more power as he is going to take casualties crossing ground. As it stands the scenario feels more balanced for a meeting engagement.

  2. I very much like your maps! Most attack/defense games i've played with other rules give the attacker a 2:1 or even 3:1 superiority in numbers for them to have an even chance of success. T34/85's leading the attack with infantry following would have helped greatly. Infantry alone attacking undamaged, dug in defenders was suicide....Just my opinion.

  3. Very nice and useful maps. I think the Russian player needs almost a 3:1 advantage. This ruleset is really dangerous for attacking forces!

  4. Great looking game. Was the scenario from a skirmish campaign book?

    1. No, only the map which I took from John's blog as mentioned at the begining of the post

  5. Fine report, Benito. And the maps are wonderful. And, above all, that looks to have been a good, learning game for all sides.

    The more we've been playing Chain of Command, the more the players have been noticing that the German platoon LMGs are indeed deadly weapons in the right situation. They certainly excel in defence and can be very difficult to break down - something which is very much the situation in Late War games. Playing the game is very much a learning curve - just as the historical participants did, we found ourselves discovering (and re-discovering) the same tactics which worked on the battlefield to counter the German formations. But it's still a very tough fight!

  6. Is there a quick reference sheet for CoC?

    1. In the files section of the TooFatLardies Yahoo Group

    2. That's what I was afraid of Anibal. I've not been able to access the files section of any yahoo group since they "upgraded" Yahoo groups several months ago.

      Thank you for the confirmation.


  7. Working backwards through the AARs so late to the game. For the record in one of my first games, I charged an MG34 with the hope of getting into hand to hand with the beast. The results were not pretty.

    That said, I have to agree with Anonymous, tanks were invented to beat up dug in MGs. Exploitation came later. Too easily we gamers get caught up in tank duels and forget they carried HE for a reason. ;)

    Great report

    1. Pat, thanks for tidbit on the original purpose of tanks. Not sure I'd ever thought of it like that.

      I'm playing an IABSM scenario using BKCII rules and I'm using my 8 tanks to do just that: blasting the crap out of dug in SS in trenches and in buildings.