Sunday 16 March 2014

Attack at Dawn - A Chain of Command Battle Report

Can't hardly believe the most excellent wargaming weekend I had, playing two different Chain of Command games on Friday (that will continue next week) and the again today Sunday. Today's game was quite small scenario taken from the Skirmish Campaign's book "Normandy '44 Monty's Epson" and was played in less than 2 hours.
The scenario takes place at the end of June '44, and involves a strong Scottish armour and infantry mix of the 15th British Division advancing into the German line outposts; this is  defended by a light panzergrenadier force (2 LMG teams) of the 15th Hitlerjugend Division supported by two Pz IVs and a Hanomag with an additional LMG team (entering the game after the sixth activation phase).

We divided both the British and the German forces into two separated platoons (infantry and tanks respectively) in order to accommodate 2 players per side. The Germans were Elite but average experience activating with 6 command dice.

An interesting special rule was the introduction of fog in the battlefield which restricted  the line of sight to a mere 18 inches. Fog may lift randomly after each activation phase. This favoured the British advance (made under cover); but in order to balance the scenario, we allowed the Germans to deploy hidden and the Pz IVs were assumed to be also deployed in advance at 92 from any German jumpoff point (instead of entering through the tactical edge, as indicated in the rules)

For this game we used the Scenario 6 "Attack on an objective" provisions of the Chain of Command book. The victory conditions were for the British to capture the orchard in the centre of the table (see map below) or leave the table through the German tactical edge (south) with a force of at least 10 infantry soldiers.

In the the patrol phase, the British pushed forward with all of its patrol markers on the right flank looking to get as close as possible to the scenario objective (the orchard) while the German established a more extended line looking to outflank the British

Jump-off points initial deployment

Under the cover of the dense the British forces started to flock into the battlefield and initiate a cautious advance towards the German lines. At the other side, the Germans deployed their two LMG teams in overwatch to seize any opportunity to fire onto the enemy due to either the British closing in or the fog lifting.

The British detached a Bren scout carrier and an infantry squad to its left. The Germans were probably still waking up as they failed to see the threat on their jump-off point, reacting too late and being lost after three activations at the end of a turn. A morale die roll brought the total force morale down 2 points to 8.

In the main battle area, the first British troops emerged from the fog (a Breen carrier) in front of the German position at the orchard; LMGs rattled aiming to force a morale test to the intrepid British unit who wisely decided to pull back once the German position was identified. 

Now it was the turn for the heavy tanks and a Sherman emerged but before it could make a first shot, the fog suddenly lifted, exposing its flank to a well camouflaged German Pz IV. A fire duel followed in which the British took the worst part, disabling the main gun and accumulating some shock. The LMG in the meantime directed a hail of lead on the infantry units behind, pinning the first squad.

 Despite the overwhelming odds, the German position seemed holding... until a second tank (this time a Churchill) emerged from the edge of the battlefield and put two well-aimed shots on the Pz IV, whose crew decided that it was probably better to disengage now and fight another day.

The German infantry received now the full attention of the Sherman’s MGs and the Churchill gun being suffering three kills in a few activation phases; with the risk of being wiped out the German junior leader ordered also to disengage and pull back inside the orchard to get out of the enemy line of sight.

A new Pz IV now emerged at the extreme left of the German position and a second gun fire duel took place which unfortunately for them, saw the Germans receiving the worst part. A few phases later the Churchill could finally put the Panzer KO. 

In addition, the British squad and the Bren carrier that captured the German jump-off point early in the game moved unmolested though the German right flank and took some cover in the woods there.

The Germans were now in dire straits and the tactical situation was clearly beyond any hope of recovery: the orchard about to be lost and a British infantry section lurking in the rear. The German commander surrender and conceded defeat. 

After action comments 
A really challenging (albeit fun) scenario for the German player, facing a very strong attacking force with just three LMG squads (one riding a Hanomag) and a couple of Pz IVs. This was in fact a historical encounter and illustrates well that there's nothing close to a balanced battle, in the best tradition of the TooFatLardies games, so I don't complain!.

The Germans are elite, start in prepared positions and the Pz IV well camouflaged, somewhat rebalancing the lack of numbers; also note the table is fairly flat and lack any decent cover features. 

On the other hand, the fog is a good asset favoring the British as they can get really close to the German positions without harm; this morning it took almost ten activations phases to lift. I wonder what would have been this game if the fog disappeared earlier in the battle.

And finally my self-critic in the game this morning and an illustration of the importance to conduct a good patrol phase. I failed completely to guess the intentions of the British player until it was too late. Instead of trying of outflank him, I should have better moved my patrol markers to force him place his jump-off points at the far table edge, not in the side as he finally did


  1. A great report with lovely clear maps and photos, thanks!

  2. Greate AAR !

    Best regards Michael

  3. Always enjoy your battle reports with great pictures and maps. I have been caught napping and had JOP snatched from me also and now try to keep them well back.

  4. Excellent AAR! It's a testimony to the TFL rules that they give an historically accurate result.

  5. ...or that the German commander (guess who was...) was utterly inept!

  6. Great AAR; very nice game table and figures!!!

  7. Another great AAR. Intresting to see how it developed and again it stresses the major importance of the patrol phase.