Last Thursday Daren and I repaired to Mike’s house for an ambitious evening of Chain of Command. It was planned to try and get through 3 games based on Market Garden (well Mike admitted more like on ‘A Bridge Too Far’). When I arrived I was greeted with the sight of 3 tables laid out and ready for action. The first was a simple road that passed through a low wooded ridge replicating the Irish Guards advance, the second was for the US river assault at Nijmagen and the third was depicting the Para’s stand at the north end of Arnhem Bridge.and Grabner’s assault.
I was tasked with blocking XXX Corp’s advance, the idea being that if I was forced to withdraw then Alexander (Mike’s son and my opponent) and I would move onto the Nijmegen table to fight the river assault whilst the Arnhem fight went on between Daren (as Frost) and Mike (as the Germans) – Daren would be arriving later. To defend my position I had a platoon of 2 PAK 40’s and a platoon of infantry to which I added a couple of Panzerschreck teams and a 81mm mortar FOO. Alexander was coming at me with a Sherman troop and a platoon of Motor infantry in halftracks with a pre-game barrage, another 2 sections of infantry and an extra 2 inch mortar (I think?) in support.
Pretty soon the fight got going with me putting one PAK 40 out straight away and getting shots off knocking out a Sherman with my first salvo. Unfortunately the pre-game barrage was preventing me deploying anything else and Alex countered by putting fire on the gun from his other tanks, which began whittling the crew down and putting shock on, whilst advancing the remaining 75mm Shermans. He also got his 2 inch mortars going and started smoking my AT gun preventing any fire, although it did have the advantage of saving my crew from any more incoming. I did mange to final deploy the other gun but it’s first shot missed and it was immediately smoked by the British mortars, luckily this hadn’t happened to my FOO who was also on table now and he duly got calling up a barrage. Unfortunately for Alexander he rolled a triple 6 and so ended the turn which meant that it was going to be easier to deploy my lads – we had said that if he rolled 4 sixes at any point he would get ‘Purple Smoke’ as a random event which would be a barrage on my two guns.
With the lifting of the smoke it enabled Alexander to get a couple of rounds (due to some nifty double 6 rolling) of fire onto one of my guns whilst the other was screened by smoke finally causing the crew to leg it after suffering severe casualties. I then decided that it was time to get the ‘shrecks out and duly deployed one to take the two lead Sherman’s under fire. At the same time my mortars had started to fall and although they were short they still managed to hit the Sherman’s causing one to suffer shock as did the first ‘shreck round. Alexander then played a CoC dice to end the turn and my barrage which did allow the surviving PAK40 another shot which failed again. The ‘schreck team didn’t last too long after that and got hosed by the Sherman’s and some dismounted infantry.
The PAK 40 did managed to put one of the Sherman’s guns out of action and a hit from a rifle squad’s Panzerfaust did likewise to the other working Sherman but Alexander switched to firing the MG’s from both and they started to take out men from one of my sections whilst the other and the remaining AT gun was covered with smoke. My FOO was having trouble calling up the mortars from this point onwards (but did manage to avoid losing the battery for good) which allowed Alex the chance to debus the rest of his infantry to try and move them forwards to winkle out my infantry. My second Panzerschreck team deployed and managed to get a double 6 to hit on a Sherman so I was confident that it’d brew it up nicely, however I only rolled one hit in all my attack dice whilst Alex rolled a few in defence so the shot must’ve gone through the weak point and out the other side without causing any damage!
I did manage to knock out the 2 mobile MG posts that the Shermans now were with a shot from the PAK 40 before the next fell to the ‘schreck team. Vengeance was swift however as the Tommy infantry did for my brave Panzer hunters and so I was down to one team left whilst the damn 2 inchers were still smoking my AT gun. Alexander was reticent to move the Firefly up as it was the only armour he had left but did so gradually as his infantry needed some closer fire support. Unfortunately for him in one of the many breaks in the smoke (we were both chalking up CoC dice quite regularly so turns were being ended by me to get a AT shot away) the lads manning the PAK40 finally realised that their job was to actually hit the enemy tanks and they managed to brew up the Firefly, not long after I managed to get a barrage on top of the infantry which caused quite a bit of shock and casualties as it managed to happen in one of the few periods that Alexander didn’t have a CoC dice to hand. I thought that he would retire from the field at this point but decided to keep going – I think influenced by shouts from the other end of the room of ‘can XXX Corp please get a bloody move on!’. Unfortunately just as he was rallying his lads for an assault on my much reduced section to his front another barrage landed on him, this was really effective and the losses and shock it caused managed to break the morale of his infantry platoon.
It was a very tough fight, Alexander (who was a pleasure to play against by the way, a thoroughly nice young man) skilfully used his activations to always ensure that he was on overwatch with something and his use of the 2 inch mortars to effectively close down one half of my line was really well done it kept the number of shots that my PAK 40 could do down to a minimum. Unfortunately for him I lucked out with my mortars by not losing the battery for the game plus the first turn finished quite quickly so he lost the benefit of the pre-game barrage early plus the extra tank Panzerschreck teams I had were very handy, if I didn’t have them I’d have been in trouble I think. Actually I reckon if he had brought some medium mortars too I wouldn’t have stood a chance. So I managed to stop XXX Corp but did that matter to Johnny Frost and his chaps?
To be honest, no it didn’t. Mike ground down Daren’s plucky lads in a series of viscous hand to hands and by the ungentlemanly use of great big tanks. Daren did manage to brew up and disable a couple of the vehicles on the bridge but he was facing quite overwhelming odds – a recon platoon, a couple of Panthers and a PanzerGrenadier platoon and he had a platoon and some supports, mainly PIATs I think, so much like the real thing then. Unfortunately we were too busy with our fight to find out exactly what happened but it was all over quite quickly as the brutal losses that close combat causes did for Daren’s morale. I did manage to get some pics though.
These games showed that you can easily adopt CoC to scenario’s that are not bog standard ones – there were no patrol phases in either games as we were going with ‘historical’ deployment but I was allowed to deploy 12 inches instead of 6 in my game. One thing Daren did mention to me was that he thought after firing on overwatch you should be able to go back onto overwatch immediately when you are in a fight such as he was, particularly if the troops are Elites. I must say that I agree with him as you’d be assigned an arc to cover and you’d concentrate on that and firing once shouldn’t stop you doing the same again until ordered to do something else, so something to think about for any similar games in the future. Apart from that small thing it was a fun evenings gaming and many thanks to Mike and Alexander for putting it on – it is definitely something to think about doing at the club on a big game Saturday soon….