Wednesday 12 February 2014

Chain of Command: A Diary # 6

This is the sixth (and unexpected) entry of my Chain of Command Diary series, after several months of happy play with what are now my top wargaming rules.

Topic today: make it bigger... or how to handle four pairs of hands on the table
The launch of our Afrika CoC project brought some discussion among the participants of how to use CoC when at least six eager wargamers are involved. Considering that on average we expect there will be 4 or 5 active in a game, the implication was obvious: either we look another set of rules (no way!!) or we adapt the system to accommodate more tan the standard two players.
Someone in the TFL Yahoo Group brought my attention to page 102 of the rules manual, a section called “Bigging it up”, where Richard Clarke provides some guidelines to play larger games. Unfortunately these are general recommendations, and after playing a first test game, we concluded that we had to work in detail some of the key mechanisms.
On the other hand, a good discussion broke in the same forum and has ended up with a set of recommendations that I’d like to share in this post for the benefit of other players.

 1. Aspects to consider when organizing the forces
If playing two platoons per side, this fairly simple as each force will be organized as per the scenario instructions; in other words, an infantry platoon base force plus the corresponding support assets

2. Aspects to consider in the patrol phase
Again fairly simple in the above case (2 infantry platoons per side): each force has its allotment of patrol markers and jump-off points aligned with the scenario instructions. Movement is taken in alternative turns
However this might be different if one side play with (for example) one infantry platoon and a tank troop instead of two infantry platoon forces. As vehicles emerge from the table edge on the own players’ tactical side and patrol makers/jumpoff points are of no use, a potential solution would be to boost the side with tanks by 50% (up to 6 patrol makers) and maintain the same number of jump-off points.
The idea is to avoid the risk of one player being cornered in the patrol phase (most likely if facing 8 patrol markers versus your own 4) while retaining thestandard  number of jump-off points for an infantry platoon force (3 or 4); note that having many jump-off points is not equal to having a net advantage as you may have problems to defend them from an enemy capture attempt of too extended.

3. Other game aspects
Command dice: allocate standard number as per quality of force (4 to 6 dice) to each platoon. We designated one player as “force commander” and all 5 and 6 results effects (gaining Chain of Command points and potential double activation/turn ending) were accounted on his roll; 5 and 6s from the other player were not considered.
Force morale: each player rolls for his own morale force level and reductions are accounted on its own force events (units wiped out, leaders wounded/killed). When one player’s force morale falls to zero, the other side wins.

Now, this is not written in stone and all these options are open to discussion so please leave your comments and observations.
Finally and on a similar matter (large forces games), but with a different angle, I strongly recommend reading this recent post in Chris Stoesen blog. Lots of food for thought there that I haven’t yet fully assimilated; but this is likely to have an influence in our Afrika CoC games.


  1. Good thoughts. The campaign aspect of Chain opens up some oportunities. What about keeping the games smaller but have the players each running a different platoon in part of a larger campaign. Have the map campaign but feature multiple approaches (one for each platoon). They rules play quickly enough that you might be able to get several games in during a night.

    1. Difficult soluion when you have several eager souls around looking to play, play and play. It's like stealing crack from a drogadict :-)

  2. Interesting points Benito, thank you! I will definitely incorporate #3 in this weekend's game.

  3. I think the last point on the force morale should be changed to where the other player has the option to either fall back or continue the fight as there have been examples of units salvaging situations after allies flee.

    Just my two cents,


    1. True. But some type of condition must be considered to declare a winner in a game. As the ruees system works, zero force morale is much used in the scnerios at the end of Chain of Command

    2. Maybe the force morale should be combined then? This will allow a two platoon side to function a little more realistically as losing a couple teams and a big man would probably not make the supporting platoon to break. Say both units have a FM of 10, making the overall force morale a 20. Just a thought that I'm sure has already been thought of.

  4. Interesting stuff!

    The flexibility of most infantry companies/platoons does leave it open ended as to the number of players. A platoon can even be split into two using the Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant if you have a lot of players. The third platoon is usually a reserve, so can be commanded by the 'Force Commander', who can also command the shared support assets attached... no need for him to be totally idle. ;-)

    I've been thinking about this myself, but you guys are way ahead of me. Keep up the good work! :-)

    1. Thanks, we will be interested in reading your ideas

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