My 2015 gaming season opened today with a Big Chain of Command Game in North Africa. The game confronted an Italian infantry platoon (green) and one Italian (M/13) and one German DAK (Pz III and IV) armoured squadrons vs. two Empire’s infantry (regular) and armoured squadron respectively.
The scenario chosen was an Attack & Defend from the Chain of Command main book, winning the game the attacker if forcing the defender out of the table due to casualties or drop in the Force Moral to zero, while maintaining a Force Moral of at least level 3 himself.
The Patrol Phase saw both sides manoeuvring around low ridge in the centre of the table dominating the flat lands around. The British troops had the upper hand during the Patrol Phase and could place its jump-off points behind the top of the ridge
The Axis player decided for a more extended line, controlling an oasis to the south of the ridge, the only place to deploy under some cover.
The first Axis troops arrived on the right flank, an Italian infantry section supported by the Panzers of the German squadron. The British deployed a first infantry section and a 2pdr ATG on the ridge summit, while the tank troop entered through the table edge. First shots were exchanged between one of the Panzers and the 2 pdr at long range.
Considering the distance to the ridge and the need to make a daring dash across terrain tha lacked any cover, in the next phase the second Italian infantry section was launched in the oasis. The two LMG squads were left covering with fire the enemy units on the top of the ridge while the rifle section run aiming to outflank the British.
|Follow the colours!|
This put the Italians at arms-reach of one British jump-off point, but the Allied player invested one Chain of Command dice to move it away. Another British section was deployed and the Italians used their activation to charge given the advantage in terms of manpower...
...but Fortuna today was on the British side: the Italians failed to make a single kill and instead they were routed and the NCO killed hitting hard on its Force Moral roster. On the British phase, they used a Chain of Command dice to conclude the turn, wiping out the routed infantry unit and cutting again the Italians Force Moral level.
The Italians moral were shaky at this stage. The Italian tank platoon now entered the table to reinforce defences and moral. However, a second British 2pdr was brought into action and in two consecutive phases put out of action a couple of the Italian AFVs.
When subsequently a British heavy mortar barrier fell over the troops in the oasis, the Italian morale finally crumbled and reached a level of 1. This basically concluded the game, as the victory conditions stated that at least a level 3 was needed to win the battle.
A very fine British victory who took the initiative from the very first moment and conducted a masterfully defence of the ridge, transforming the place in a deadly Alamo fortress. On our side, in addition to the horrible dice throw in the close combat (a tipping point in the game) I think we failed to choose the appropriate support assets for such a difficult attack: we lacked any class of on- and off-board artillery or an HMG, that would have been very useful to neutralise the AT enemy assets, for example.
A final note: we have tried and finally made our in-house rules for tanks engagements, restricting the unlimited fire range of the Chain of Command book and also applying different penalties for distance, considering also the different performance of the different weapons.
Specially in games involving open terrain like North Africa, this allows for some manoeuvring and a more historical approach to tank units tactics (at least in our view), which the original rules of the book (focused on supporting infantry units) cannot achieve.