I got my first game of Chain of Command in ages at the club last Monday and it was good to have a change from all the FFT action I’ve been having. I was taking on Ian’s American infantry with some German Infantry so a nice even game was in the offing, which was needed for Ian as his last outing was against a JagdTiger and Elite PanzerGrenadiers and I don’t think he enjoyed it much! I also got to put a couple of my new buildings on the table too which was nice.
We decided on doing a scenario that isn’t in the rulebook but that Des and I concocted which works well as a club game. It is your classic ‘meeting engagement’ with both sides tasked to secure a road junction or cause the other side to fail morale. To generate Support Points we both rolled 2d6 and we discarded the lowest die out of the four, then added up the pips from the remaining 3 and that was what we had to play with. We ended up with 13 points and I went for a Pz IV, an Adjutant & a MMG; Ian went for another rifle squad, a HMG, a sniper and another bazooka team.
All in all the game was good fun, not much happened in the way of manoeuvre but it was an good old-fashioned toe-to-toe firefight which is a great way to spend an evening sometimes! The patrol phase ended well for both sides really with us both having JOP’s near to the buildings and with good potential to launch attacks. I had the greater morale with 10 versus Ian’s 9 so got to roll for activation first which was great as I got lucky rolling a double 6 for the first set of activations and brought on the tank and one squad, I then did it again so pushed the squad forward to the nearest house and deployed another (we then agreed that 3 times of double 6’s would be it!). The last of my activations just saw me push the infantry forwards to take up position along the hedges to cover the flank and start to clamber in the back windows of the house to cover the road whilst I deployed the Senior leader to back them up.
Ian’s response to these deployments was to get as many of his dudes on the table as he could as quickly as he could and he started to push forward past the house on my right with a squad to threaten my JOP that was deployed in the field by the two trees. He also lined the wall over the road from the house that I had occupied with a second squad and a third arrived over on the left to protect the JOP there from attack from my left hand section. I waited until the squad advancing by the house on the right got close enough and I brought the MMG on and let rip. 10 dice and what did I get, absolutely nothing, I rolled 6 ones!!! I should have taken this as a sign and bugged out then and there.
Luckily for me the Pz IV waded in with its MG too and their aim was better and the Junior Leader copped it whilst I added more shock and took out a couple more of the squad. Ian countered by bringing on his M2 and got to work chewing up my MMG team, taking one out and shocking the bejeezuz out of the rest. This was a fight which I lost and before I could activate them again the M2 broke the gun team. I had deployed my last rifle section in the same place and they finished off the advancing Ami squad, breaking the rifle team and caused the BAR team to duck behind the house for cover.
Meanwhile in the centre my section in the house had started a firefight with the Yanks across the road which they started to slowly win – the HE fire from the PZ IV helping somewhat – but Ian was managing to successfully rally off shock to keep his guys in the fight albeit with mounting losses. I briefly moved my left hand section forward to threaten Ian’s right hand JOP but quickly retired them as I didn’t fancy taking on the Browning that was stationed there too.
This beast of a gun then decided the game as it started to fire on my section that had taken the SF MG42’s place and had been engaging Ian’s lads near the building on the right. For some stupid reason I didn’t lob a smoke grenade to prevent the incoming HMG fire by masking my position there and pretty soon both my Gun and rifle teams were broken and on their toes. Before I could get my Senior leader across to them though Ian had built up a CoC dice and used it to end the turn. With me losing the HMG team and a squad routing off the table on top of the breaks I had suffered my morale had dropped to 5 and I conceded.
So, like I said no finesse really but cracking fun all the same, thanks to Ian for the game and it was good to see his lovely figures on the table and it was a pleasure to cross swords with him and to have a game of these excellent rules again.
After the fiasco of the attack by Unterfeldwebel Hohman’s Zwitte Zug it was the turn of Erste Zug to have another crack at pushing on to Mouen and to get the assault on the Britishers underway properly. Feldwebel Haringer was under pressure from the old man to succeed this time as the delay in cracking this first position might mean that the whole offensive would falter. After the first attack the Zug was down 3 men so each Gruppe now had 7 men each instead of 8 which hopefully wouldn’t be too much of a problem. To help out Haringer had a MG42 on a tripod and another PzIV (my support points were down to 12 now), intelligence suggested that the enemy were not as well supported as before too which boded well, if true of course. Unfortunately even though our morale had improved (9 instead of the 8 last time) the Tommies were buoyant after their recent successes (they rolled 11 and were +1 from men’s and CO’s opinion!).
The initial patrolling went much the same as the last two encounters and the first actions were similar too. The Brits deployed a section in the orchard to the left of the road and Erste Gruppe entered the fray along the road near the wheatfield and started to move over to prevent the British advancing too close. The plan now was to hold on the left with that Gruppe and the two remaining ones and the panzer to go for the breakthrough across the field to the right of the road. This was only to be done once the Tommies had showed their hand and if it was safe to do so, there would be no suicidal charges forwards this time, lessons had been learnt.
The fight developed well from the off with initiative being held onto at every chance (I rolled a lot of double 6’s which helped a lot – although the number of double 4’s rolled were more!). Once again there was a hot action along the hedge row by the left-hand house but this time it was handled a whole lot better. Surviving nearly being caught out crossing the road to get into position one of Erste Gruppe’s MG42 teams replied with a searing volley and then threw out a smoke grenade to cover the gap between the house and hedgerow allowing time to get onto overwatch. The other team then engaged the rifle team from the enemy section in the orchard which had worked its way round the house to execute the, by now, standard British manoeuvre in this part of the battlefield. This fire stopped the rifle team in its tracks and caused them to go to ground, not pinned but badly shaken up.
Meanwhile 2. Gruppe had deployed in the middle of the central hedgeline with the mission of identifying Tommy positions and taking them under fire. This they did with great effect. First of all causing a PIAT team to break after causing a casualty and then getting the better of a duel with the pesky 2″ mortar, although they did suffer one casualty from a well fired HE round the deadly return fire again caused the Tommies to break after suffering a casualty (they scored 10 hits on their first roll and consistently rolled well thereafter). The PzIV made an appearance as well and began a slow advance to take up a position next to Unteroffizier Janes’ boys to help out with their mission.
The enemy had now deployed another section into the orchard and 2 more PIAT teams in response to their losses. However, by careful use of ground the ‘heavy’ MG42 and it’s crew appeared next to 1.Gruppe and unleashed a volley at the riflemen in the orchard which caused them to be pinned and they subsequently broke after another volley (I played 2 CoC dice, one to move a JoP point and another to spring an ambush). The Britishers tried to counter the loss of this team by deploying the Bren team from the newly arrived section but this too failed in after the heavy MG dispatched them with another deadly barrage of bullets (I managed to get another double 6 and enabled me to get the shots away before they did).
Over in the centre one of newly arrived PIAT teams bravely took a long range shot at the PZIV once it reached the position by 2.Gruppe and even though it scored a hit which temporarily dazed the gunner the deadeye shots of the accompanying PanzerGrenadiers again did their work well and caused them to go to ground pinned. 2. Gruppe then turned their fire against the surviving Rifle team in the orchard and put some casualties on them whilst shaking them up quite badly. 3.Gruppe now deployed to add their weight to the battle and to start preparing the way for making the dash for the objective along with the Panzer now that the enemy anti-tank threat was being nullified.
The Britishers were suffering quite badly from casualties (their morale was now at 6) and after an attempt by both their reserve rifle and Bren teams to ambush the relocated heavy MG42 only resulted in a couple of casualties it looked as if it just wasn’t going to be their day. Shortly after the broken rifle and mortar teams routed off the table (I played a CoC die to end the turn) they decided that they had held up our advance long enough and withdrew before suffering any more – even though my PzIV had got stuck again on the hedges (a double 6 as well!). At last the way is open for the KampfGruppe to advance on Mouen and achieved with only 3 casualties, which turned out to be only superficial wounds, whilst the defenders had suffered a whopping 11 casualties and 4 men routed.
Feldwebel Haringer was pleased with his lads, they had fought well utilising their strengths – the devastating firepower of twin MG42’s – and had not stupidly exposed themselves to enemy fire whilst taking every advantage to hold on to any initiative gained. They would be ready for further action without any more casualties and OberLeutnant Albrecht’s opinion of him had improved (back up to 0) even though the lads were still smarting from the losses in the first fight (stayed at -1) another fight like this should see their opinion of him get back to normal.
I took on board the lessons of the last 2 games this time out and was determined to try and reduce Des’ force before attempting any rash moves – I was aided by the amount of double 6’s rolled but the amount of 4’s, which are usually useless if German and no SL on the table, evened that up I reckon. I seem to have hardly taken any photo’s of the game but here are the ones I did take:
After his first game the other week, Paul was keen to get another game in so we arranged a game for last Monday. This was going to be a first for me as I haven’t faced an American force before so it would be a learning experience for both of us. We set the table up and diced for a scenario from the rulebook resulting in ‘attack on an objective’. We the flipped for who would be attacking and Paul ‘won’. He managed to roll up a whopping 10 points of support and I was quite worried but as he was using an Armoured Infantry platoon I managed to swag an extra 5 points of support due to the difference in Force Rating so we ended up with 10 a piece which was nice for me but not for him! I opted for a HMG MG42, an 81mm FOO and the obligatory Adjutant and Paul went for a Half Track, another HMG team and a Sniper I think which was a surprise as I was expecting a Sherman. (I did initially want to go for a HMG and a PAK38 but had forgotten my AT gunners! So I took the FOO instead). Morale wise I got an 8, which seems to be par for the course lately and it’s beginning to be a tad annoying, and Paul would be starting on a 9. Apologies for the lack of photo’s but as it was a training game I was busy helping Paul out so missed some bits of the action
The patrol phase went well for Paul I think, he used his 3 free goes to advance his 3 markers quickly down the table and we ended up twisting round so that he was coming on more from the long edge of the table with one at the table edge, and the other 2 quite close to the road. Mine were nicely grouped together, one behind the house, one in the copse (which was the objective) and one next to the copse along the hedge facing the house. Paul’s JOP’s being on the table edge in front of the hose, in the middle of the ‘wheat’ field and one by the road. Paul kicked off and started by deploying his Sniper by the road covering the house and one section advancing through the field. I replied with a double 6 so tried to get a section into the house, but came up short and ended up at the back waiting to go in. Paul then countered this move by deploying his MMG section across the road and put one team on overwatch, this completely stymied me taking possession of the house as I didn’t fancy taking 10 dice of doom once I hit the windows on the other side followed by 20 the next time the MG’s were activated, oh yeah there was the sniper too. Well played Paul.
The Amis then brought on their second squad and started to move them off towards my right flank whilst I deployed my FOO to try and call in a risky ‘danger close’ mission to target the MG’s, Sniper and first Yankee section that were lining the hedges opposite the house. I also deployed a second section along the hedge facing the house to prevent any attempts by Paul’s rifle section there advancing too close to the objective, and my 2 JOP’s. I did take some ineffectual sniper fire during this period (before realising that I was actually out of LOS!) and not much else happened. My FOO did manage to call in the mortars but he could only call it in at one point due to his own rubbish LOS and his calculations were out of whack too bringing in the spotting round short and very near to some of his comrades! I decided that it was too risky and needed to relocate the FOO before trying again so binned the barrage for now. Paul’s first section was moving along the hedges lining the road but I managed to have a good go at them with the MG42 from the section covering objective, wounding their JL , Paul couldn’t put any effective fire back so covered the gap with a smoke grenade, which admittedly helped me too as it covered my open flank.
Paul then decided to advance his MG’s by the road as they didn’t have a target and so one team dutifully legged it to the next hedgeline whilst his mates wisely stayed put on overwatch to keep my back-door lurkers where they were. Unfortunately the advancing gun team were met a with volley from my section facing the front of the house who put some shock on them and caused a casualty. Paul’s squad that had been moving on the right were now nearing the hedge opposite the copse so it was time to feed in my last section.
In the next phase saw the action really hot up. My section that had just fired retreated from the hedge to allow my HMG to deploy there, whose fire wasn’t as good as I hoped and the Ami gun was still in place which meant a brutally short range HMG duel was on the cards! I also deployed my final section to take on Paul’s flanking squad, these boys were at it from the off causing casualties and shock straight away which stopped the advance cold. The HMG duel got under way and surprisingly we both survived one round of firing before my lads triumphed wiping out the whole team, the Yank section over on the right also had their NCO killed – Paul did have good luck on the Bad things happen table though and only lost 2 from his morale.
The yanks then deployed their halftrack but didn’t move it again which was a slight relief to me, although I was confident my Panzerschreck and ‘fausts would have easily dealt with it, and moved the last HMG team forwards across the road to engage my HMG again. At the same time their initial section was tear arsing along the hedge to come to the aid of their mates who were learning the lesson of not taking a MG42 on across a road – being slowly whittled down and pinned to boot. Paul was desperately running a SL over to take this squad in hand as their lack of JL was a real problem – I think I managed to pin them just before he was going to pull them back. I then moved my lads from behind the house along the side of the building hoping to grenade the advanced HMG team to help out my gun team in their fight (I should have gone the other way round though to take them in the flank in a charge – dummkopf!)
The HMG firefight was surprisingly ineffective, both of our teams suffering casualties and shock with my chaps eventually becoming pinned, my newly deployed SL started rallying shock off like billy-o though and soon had them rallied sufficiently. The American pinned squad soon broke due to relentless close range fire and I played my CoC dice to end the turn which routed them off the table, the loss of morale this caused (down to 3 dice) caused Paul to wisely call it a day. I think this was wise as my HMG was now unpinned and a good burst of fire from it on his gun might have seen that off too leaving my gun free to take on his surviving squad, add in the fact that I’d only suffered a few casualties from my gun team to boot so had 3 full strength sections made Paul’s decision a good one.
It was a good game and even though it didn’t go too well for Paul he said he still enjoyed it and learned some things (MG42’s at short range hurt being the main point here I think!). We had a good discussion about the game afterwards, I said I would have brought some armour as his half track and other HMG team didn’t get into play and the sniper was useless in the close terrain. He could have sat off with the Sherman and HE’d my lads, firing his infantry onto the objective and with the 2 HMG’s already in the platoon the extra one was a bit unnecessary I think. Having said that, I would have used the half track and the rifle team in it to get round the back of my position, granted it might have come a ‘cropper from a Panzerfaust or ‘schreck but it would have forced me to worry about it splitting my force in the end it was just wasted points. Taking on this American platoon was unusual, their lack of squad MG is a bit strange (and puts you at a strict disadvantage if trying to take on German’s) and only having the two manoeuvre squads was a hindrance too I think. I can see it being good on the defensive with the 2 HMG’s but I’d personally prefer a Rifle platoon for an attack myself as that 3rd squad gives you more flexibility. Hopefully we can get another game in soon, and good to see another person digging these excellent rules.
I was asked by Steve, a new chap at the club, to have a go at a Chain of Command game after he had watched mine and Des’ game the other week. Another member at the club, Paul, was also keen to have a go so I agreed to umpire a game between the two of them. We used Steve’s lovely 28mm kit and I just knocked up a couple of forces from what he had, which resulted in Paul having a basic German Heer platoon with a Sdffz 250 and 4 man scout team and Steve taking a British Rifle platoon (using his Para figures) with a Vickers Gun in support. I decided on a quick scenario, basically a patrol type scenario of find the enemy and engage/highest morale at the end wins, and we got to it.
After a very cautiously (and well) played patrol phase the JOP’s were nice and evenly positioned with neither player having a really great advantage over the other which was nice and both rolled up 8 for morale. After a bold opening move by Paul of deploying his armour first Steve countered by bringing on the Vickers to try and drive it off. It failed to do that but it did temporarily stop the halftrack but then drew the attention of a couple of squads and the MG from the halftrack in retribution which caused it to ‘relocate’ rearwards after a couple of phases of fire. Pretty soon all of the sections were deployed and the chaps began to grasp the activation rules quickly. The game did end up as a series of firefights, actually quite common in ‘first goes’, in which Paul gained the upper hand and caused Steve’s morale to drop lower than his by the end of the game. If the guy’s had a bit more t6ime and were more familiar with the rules there would have been a bit more maneuverer I think, Paul did try and get his half track into the game more by the end but was wary of PIAT action so wasn’t too gung-ho with it.
The important thing was that they both enjoyed the rules and had a good time, I’m giving Paul a game next week and Steve is also keen to have another go soon too. Here’s the few photo’s I took, I’m gutted I didn’t take any more as Steve’s kit is really nice but I was busy with the umpiring.
After the failure of Erste Zug to breach the British lines an hour before it was now the turn of Unterfeldwebel Hohman’s lads to try. This time they would be assisted by a Tiger 1 that Oberleutnant Albrecht had managed to rustle up from somewhere, he had also secured the services of a sniper to help as well.
Unfortunately the road through the Tommy’s position was blocked by the knocked out PzIV from the previous attempt so that meant that the Tiger would have to go either through the orchards or across the hedges, both options that the big tank’s commander was unsure about, the first through worry about anti-tank ambushes and the second due to fear of getting stuck. Hohman therefore decided to use the Tiger as a mobile pillbox being able to use its large gun to help take out any pockets of resistance to aid his lads get forward – it might also scare the crap out of the British just by its presence!
Further patrolling between the two actions had resulted in a new covered approach becoming available quite far forwards on the right flank. It did end in the open but might just be useful for initiating a rush to the objective if possible, or to draw out the Tommy forces for the big cat to deal with. The morale of the platoon was not too great however, with the defeat of the first attempt obviously playing on the minds of the men and the lack of food being brought up due to the damned JaBo interdiction playing a part too. The British on the other hand would probably be raring to go as intelligence seems to indicate afresh force waiting for them. (I rolled 8, and Des got 11!)
The action started with the British pushing a section down the right flank around the house in the orchards which was countered by Obergefreiter Heidemann’s 2.Gruppe, unfortunately only one of the MG42 teams was in a position to engage them but they did so with some effect, causing a casualty and worrying the advancing men somewhat. The Brits then deployed their pesky mini mortar near the knocked out PzIV which looked quite silly after the Tiger lurched into view along the road. Heidemann pushed his second MG42 team towards the house hoping to get them in a position to take the advancing British section under a flanking fire. The firefight being carried out by the other team against the flanking section was going ok so there was nothing to worry about here for the moment.
The next phase in the fight was an important one as Hohman thought he could take advantage of a brief lull in the action (I rolled a double 6) to order Obergefreiter Noack’s 3. Gruppe forward through the advanced JOP on the right with orders to push aggressively ahead to the furthest hedgeline in an attempt to break a team through. This order didn’t go down too well as it was very risky and some argument happened before the young man from Hamburg reluctantly called his men forward and they ran for the hedge as fast as possible, reaching it but slightly disorganised by doing so (rolled 3 movement dice and suffered shock for doing so).
The Brits reacted to this bold action by deploying their last two sections, one in the farm building at the back of their position and one along the road and around the knocked out PzIV. The combined fire of both of these sections wounded the unfortunate Noack, which luckily did not affect morale, and caused both casualties and shock to his men who became pinned. Now that the Britishers had shown their hand Hohman ordered up Unteroffizier Munzenberg and his 1.Gruppe’s fire combined with that from the Tiger soon caused the section around the knocked out tank to break but sadly not before they and the section in the farm got off more shots on poor Noack’s men causing them to break first which saw morale plummet quite badly (dropped 2 to 6). Revenge was also meted out by 1.Gruppe on the 2″ mortar that was plonking HE rounds down on the poor lads stuck in the open field as they tended to their wounded Obergefreiter, causing the Britishers to break after one of the team was hit. Things did not seem too bad at this moment even with the defeat of 3.Gruppe with Tommies fleeing and the Tiger getting ready to start pumping 88 shells into the farm.
Events over on the left in the orchard would decide the battle though. The sniper had deployed in the building and after causing a bit of panic in the section on the road before they ran only managed to get off an inaccurate shot at the British Lieutenant who was desperately trying to rally his men at the far edge of the orchards so his contribution was minimal in what unfolded next. The outflanking British section was still boldly moving forwards, even though they had suffered casualties, and caught the advanced MG42 team of 2.Gruppe still inexplicably outside of the house. Although their comrades behind the hedge tried their best to help by laying down fire as they advanced (I played a CoC die to interrupt) it seemed as if their gun jammed as the fire wasn’t as effective as it should have been leaving the Tommies to lay down a withering fusilade which wiped out the men fannying about by the house. This caused morale to plummet even further (now down to 4) and things started to look really bad.
Then 3.Gruppe decided that it was best to get out of the fight altogether as the wounded Noack couldn’t keep them together enough to stay, in his wounded state he couldn’t rally them at all. It was about this time that the British mortar team routed too, although the previously broken section had been rallied (Des played a CoC dice to end the turn) The rout of 3.Gruppe coupled with the defeat of 2.Gruppe on the left, the survivors were pinned and about to be assaulted,plus the now dire state of morale (now at 2) Hohman decided that it was time to withdraw and called the men back.
This was quite a costly fight for Zweite Zug. Both 2. and 3. Gruppes lost 6 men each meaning that they will both lose 3 permanently but will get 3 men back the next time they are in action. Unterfeldwebel Hohman didn’t cover himself in glory and his ‘Happy’ outlook might change once he learns what his men’s and Oberleutnant Albrecht’s new opinions of him are (we will be rolling for these next week as we didn’t have ATSE with us!).
Again, a couple of stupid mistakes on my part cost me the battle here. On the left I should have just moved the section there laterally along the hedge to get both MG42’s into action against Des’ section, the one team was doing ok but as witnessed by what happened to his section on the road, two of the buggers and a good die roll can really ruin your day. As it was I left one team hanging and maybe should have used my interrupt to move them out of the way, a bad roll whilst firing didn’t help at all.
As for the charge by 3.Gruppe, if I had just sent a couple of men forwards from the section and put the rest on overwatch at the JOP I could have forced Des to deploy at least a section, as he’d have to stop them sneaking across to the table edge, and then I could have taken them under fire from the rest of the section. If I could have added the fire from the last section and/or the Tiger they’d have stood no chance as happened with the section I took out on the road.
Lesson learnt from this battle: if rolling crap morale at the start of the game NO STUPID GUNG HO MOVES. Utilise the advantages in firepower you have with 2 MG42’s per section and try to force your opponent to deploy to take him under fire, whittle him down and then go for the run to the edge of the table.
Two weeks ago saw Des and I kick off our long awaited Chain of Command campaign. We are doing the Scottish Corridor Pint-Size job from TFL and hope to play at least once a month at the club. I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one I took part in (about this time last year) against Mike was great fun even with me getting absolutely mullered in it!
As is evident from the title of the campaign it is centred around the fighting in the ‘Scottish Corridor’ during Operation Epsom during the fighting in Normandy after D-Day, in particular the attempt by the Germans to cut off the British forces at the tip of the salient by counter attacking the sides of the salient. This is a nice change as it is a chance for the Germans to be on the offensive for a change.
I have been assigned the following mission:
Your objective is to attack in a pincer to sever the narrow corridor which the British have pushed southwards and across the Odon. Our forces will be attacking from both the East and West with the objective of meeting and trapping the enemy lead elements in a kessel which can then be contained and destroyed.
To carry this out I have two Kampfgruppen with slightly different support options (which contain some nice big cat type tanks!) but both being built around a pair of PanzerGrenadier platoons so I have the option of swapping them in and out for each battle, which will help with casualty replacement as those slightly wounded come back after one battle. The campaign will start at 10:00, due to my complete failure in Operation Martlet, and so will last a maximum of 11 rounds ending at 20:00 if I do not secure all 6 tables before that time.
My first mission involved Kampfgruppe Frey which is attacking from the East of the salient and is tasked with probing the defences of the 15th Scottish Division at Bas de Mouen. All I had to do to secure the win I needed to advance was to move one of my teams off the Brits table edge, I had a nice advantage in support to help me do so as well – 16 points to 6 – so confidence was high to say the least. I didn’t do too well in the morale roll though with Des ending with 11 and myself 9 but I still thought my support advantage would easily outweigh that slight setback.
The patrol phase went ok for me even though I only managed to roll up 2 free moves, Des was very aggressive making sure that I didn’t get too far down the table, pushing forwards through the orchards on the left quite far but being pegged back himself on the more open right hand side of the table. This was ideal for me as my plan was to just try and blitz down that side with a tank if he didn’t decide on a 6pdr from the list whilst trying to keep my infantry in as good a shape as I could by trying to just use them to pin his infantry whilst keeping losses as low as possible.
In fact I decided to go with 2 PzIV’s to enable me to carry out this nice and simple plan, hoping that if one didn’t make it then the other surely would and my only other pick was a Senior leader to help with any shock that might occur. Things started nice and simple. Des going first and deploying a section in the orchards over on the left. In my first go I placed a section on overwatch covering the fields on the right, even though I wasn’t planning on moving any infantry across the fields I wanted to guard my JOP’s here. Des countered this by putting a sniper in the barn covering the open fields on the right, which was a bit of a relief for me as it meant he definitely wouldn’t have a 6pdr or Sherman in support so I might be able to go with my Panzer charge plan after all.
Des started to develop an attack down the left with another section joining the first and his pesky 2inch mortar getting on the table to start peppering my lads guarding the right. In fact the 3 rounds of HE fired by the mortar did more damage than all the shots at them from the sniper who missed with all bar one shots and didn’t notch up a single kill all game, earning the nickname ‘blind Pugh’ and causing much hilarity for me. I managed to get both my PzIV’s on, one at each road, with one moving up to support the lads on the right and one moving along to help the section I had deployed to stop Des’ advance on the left. I was having a one of those weird nights with the dice as I kept rolling a lot of 4,5, and 6’s which didn’t leave me with much in the way of activations but meant I was building up CoC dice points like billy-o (a campaign rule is that as my chaps are classed as superior troops they add any single 6’s to the CoC die score) and getting a few extra throws. Unfortunately for me my use of the many CoC dice I was building wasn’t the greatest, indeed it was downright awful and would have grave consequences later.
Anyway, I managed to shred one of Des’ sections that was working its way towards the road junction, taking out one team and then the other after it had relocated to the house with the aid of the PzIV’s HE fire finishing off the work of the 2 MG42’s from Unteroffizier Buchloch’s defending 1.Gruppe. Des was worrying me with his other flanking section so I moved the nearest JOP away from danger using a CoC dice and he then withdrew the section back into the orchard. At this point I was feeling confident, I had seen off his threat to my exposed JOP, caused him to lose a section (even though he hadn’t lost too much morale from it) and had not caused much damage on my chaps, although an ambush on my left hand section with a Vickers gun at the edge of the orchard had resulted in wounds to my Junior Leader, which I rolled badly for on the Bad Things Happen chart – being my first mistake in the game, I should have burned a CoC dice to prevent taking the roll.
Not to worry though as I thought all I had to do was either: try and take out his PIAT which was now on the table, or go for it by driving both tanks up the table gambling on him not knocking them both out with his 3 shots before I managed to scoot past, then off the edge and victory would be mine. To help in this I deployed my last team to try and get them into the house to the right of the junction to try and get some fire on the PIAT team whilst also advancing the right hand PzIV to draw the PIAT’s fire.
Then I had one of those ideas that completely ruins your day. I know, thinks I, what if I advance the victorious section on the left to take his now exposed JOP in the orchard and he might lose heart and bug out? Possibly the worst idea I’ve had since buying those tartan trousers from Next in 1985 – but at least I was young and it was the 80’s then, I’ve no real excuse for this one. So my lads dutifully leapt the wall and in true CoC style they did so with a paltry 3 on the movement dice so were in a great position for Des to flank them by advancing with his section that had just fallen back over on the left. To make matters worse he deployed the Vickers again which I had somehow completely forgotten about result – utter carnage, both teams were chopped to bits and broke as they also suffered awful amounts of shock. To compound this terrible tactical error, I then forgot to utilise my plethora of CoC dice to either interrupt Des’ moves by firing at the Vickers or moving out of LOS of the section, then to add insult to injury again forgot to use one to not roll for morale which when I did was awful and saw my morale plummet to 5. What an utter tit.
This forced me into a desperate move, my right hand tank had survived the PIAT banging away at it but had suffered a bit of damage and shock and the infantry couldn’t get into the house to fire at the PIAT due to the stupid dice I was rolling and I couldn’t get them activated. But the PIAT was out of ammo now, all I had to do was charge the tank on the road off the table or the one in the field could also make it as well and the battle would be over. However Des managed to re-supply his PIAT team but I thought I had to risk it, he had used a CoC dice to end the turn and my broken section had routed off, again I forgot to spend a dice to prevent rolling for morale and I was down to 4 so shit or bust time now. I went with the panzer on the road first rolling 3 dice and nearly managing to get past the PIAT team, almost but not quite, I was so close the Tommy on the PIAT could have chucked the bomb! Again I could have interrupted and shot the git with my bow MG but didn’t and the result was inevitable, the Panzer brewed up but at least the PIAT team suffered from the explosion. My morale was now down to 1 so all now depended on the last tank making off the board, I rolled 3 dice needing to get high to make it over a hedge and past the barn to ensure I’d not be a sitting duck for the PIAT team. I did throw big: 15, but that was gained by rolling a triple 5 which meant I was immobilised on the hedge!
That was it for me, I decided to call the game and we got to sorting out the post battle admin. I had only suffered 6 casualties, all from the same section, which meant that 3 were KIA, 2 would be back after the next battle and 1 was returned immediately, so all in all not too bad, a total loss from Erste Zug of only 3 men. Unfortunately my CO’s and Men’s opinions had both fallen to -1, but Feldwebel Haringer’s (Erste Zug’s commander) outlook had changed from ‘Cheerful’ to ‘Relaxed’ so things could have been worse.
I have learnt a couple of valuable lessons though – use my CoC dice properly. I really don’t know what happened, I must have had some sort of mental block as I had reminded Des about interrupting and morale rolls earlier on in the evening. Utter arse. Also, never, ever leave a nice defensive position when you know they have horrible big machine guns that can hurt you, not to mention an untouched infantry section, that was just me being stupid. Never mind, still a cracking game and Des has decided not to counter attack and so I have to try again tonight, this time it is the turn of Zweite Zug and maybe some heavier support….