Tuesday, 3 August 2021

More Chain of Command on the BSC2021 Boards - Picture Heavy!

 Craig, Doug and Gord stopped by on the holiday Monday to try a game of Chain of Command on my BSC2021 game boards.  Thanks to Doug for contributing some photos to this report!

To shake things up, I teamed up with Gord to play as the HG PanzerGrenadiers as the attackers, while Doug and Craig set the Canadians to defend.  The scenario selected was 'Flank Attack'.

To allow for a full 4'x6' table, I purchased another couple more floor tiles.  For these ones, I left the extra treatment to an absolute minimum, just a thin layer of plaster and a couple coats of paint (yellow ochre base, dry brushed with Camel).  Eventually I may add some static grass and other vegetation, but for this game it was enough to cover them with other terrain - the village and some plowed fields.

What's going on here?  It must be market day!

Lots of lovely scatter terrain!

But then gunfire is heard and the civilians run for shelter.

Most of the JOP (Jump Off Points) are small, but here you can see the mule cart in the orchard that represents one of the Canadian JOP.  The two bicycles in front of the church represent another JOP, and there is a German JOP tucked beside the minefield behind the church.  That minefield was placed by the Canadian defenders to limit the space available for the German attack!  The two strips of barbed wire represent another minefield.

These two trucks represent a couple of German JOP.  The PanzerGrenadiers advanced as far as they could in their vehicles, then dismounted to advance the rest of the way on foot!

Barely visible under the bridge, the Germans begin their advance through the heavy brush.

Canadian section deploys in the orchard.

The defenders strike:  the white smoke shows where a ranging shot from the mortar battery has landed.  Right on target!

Knowing that the Canadian mortar battery has their range, the PG hustle away from the danger zone!

Back in the village, the Canadian FOO is joined by an infantry section in the church.  

They are about to engage with a gruppe of panzergrenadiers across the minefields!

The mortar bombardment begins, pinning one of the German gruppe and catching part of the other gruppe.  

Shortly afterwards, the FOO adjusts the barrage to pin the lead gruppe as well.  And so they remained for many, many phases, as the barrage continued and all the panzergrenadiers could do was hunker down and endure it. 

Just outside of the barrage area of effect, the Canadians are ready to pick off any Germans that escape the barrage.

At the other end of the battlefield, the Germans deployed another gruppe and put pressure on the Canadians in the church.

Here you can see Craig pulling more shock markers from the tub. One thing about CoC, you can never have too many shock markers!  As a change from my habit of using livestock, for this game we used the 'helmet on rifle' markers from Warlord Games.

A brisk firefight continues.  The Germans are taking some shock, but have brought their feldwebel into the game to ensure that the troops remaining motivated.  They've laid smoke to block fire from the orchard to the left, and with two MG 42 machineguns are steadily winning the firefight with the Canucks in the church.

The Canadians drop smoke to block the German MG fire.  Elsewhere, the mortar barrage has ended, and the two gruppe there dust themselves off and continue their advance.

It was about here that the game petered out.  The firepower of the German panzergrenadiers was too much for the Canadian defenders.  The mortar barrage was very effective at pinning half the German force for much of the game.  The Germans were not blessed with the command rolls they needed - they accumulated their command points slowly, and when they finally had enough to earn a Chain of Command point to end the turn, the Canadians simply played their CoC die to continue the barrage.

Finally, the Canadians rolled the infamous triple 6 to end the turn, and with it their barrage and smoke.  The Germans under the barrage only held out because they had their leutnant (SL) with them to rally shock.  Their numbers were reduced by the bombardment, but in the end they withstood the barrage.  But while under the barrage, their advance was halted.  A valuable lesson learned about the dangers of bunching up, so that two gruppe were caught in the same barrage.

Some thoughts on CoC:  Panzergrenadiers are deadly.  It's a big challenge to find a way to overcome the firepower they bring with those belt-fed MGs.  The barrage was a good start to trap the PG, but the firefight at the other end of the table was very unbalanced.  I think one of the answers, at least for Commonwealth armies, is to use the 2" mortar to lay smoke and force the PG to relocate:  when they are moving, they aren't shooting.  

We had a few questions about interpreting the rules.  There were a few things that didn't seem natural, so I think we may need to discuss them and decide on house rules for when the rules seem to defy common sense.  Some possible rules modifications to consider:
1. If an infantry LMG team is reduced to just the gunner, the JL should be able to join him and act as loader to keep the full set of fire dice.  (if the rifle team is still around, the JL could assign one or more riflemen to be gunners, but in case of necessity, he should be able to load).
2.  (This if from last week's game, which I may eventually write up!)  Universal carriers are not mini-tanks!  They should be vulnerable to small arms fire.  For starters, infantry should be able to close assault them, treating the crew as if in hard cover.  It may be worth allow infantry to shoot them as well, also considering the crew as hard cover.  
3.  Soldiers in a building should be able to move away from the windows, so that they can not be targetted by soldiers with small arms.  Basically, use a principal that if the troops can shoot out, then they can be shot at.  Otherwise they can hunker down in their hard cover.  

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Dice tower (Updated 21-08-03)

Update 2021-08-03  at bottom of post

Last week's game on the patio saw a few errant dice rolls, where, despite careful rolling into a handy tray, a few dice bounced off the table and nearly disappeared under the fence.

Since I had some sheets of foamboard lying around (thanks, Doug!) I did a quick search online for a dice tower pattern and found this one.  https://www.instructables.com/Making-a-Formboard-Dice-Tower/

After a small amount of cutting and gluing (and a careless bit of finger slicing), I ended up with this.

It's not pretty, but hopefully will help to keep dice from scattering all over the place.  I'll trial it next time I play, and if it performs well, I'll see if I can pretty it up a bit.  The coloured balls are the heads of the drawing pins I used to hold the bits together as the glue sets.  I'll see if the tower holds together after I remove the pins.

Update:  I have had a chance to playtest this tower, and have identified a few deficiencies.

1. Dice can bounce out of the tray.  
Proposed solution:  make the walls of the tray deeper.
2.  Black tower can be misplaced when set on a black table, or next to black figure boxes.
Proposed Solution:  Paint it neon green!  
3.  Capacity:  when rolling 20 or more dice, not all dice will lie flat in the tray.  Some dice will be cocked or will be on top of other dice.
Proposed solution A:  roll fewer dice at a go.  Pshaw!  Phoo, I say!  That is nonsense.  I require a bigger, better solution, not pandering to those urge restraint!
Proposed Solution B:  Bigger!  Better!  Mahwr Powr!  Let the world quiver in fear of the superior dice tower that will emerge from my workshop!  Mwahahaha!  

Sunday, 11 July 2021

BSC2021 - Chain of Command on the new boards - Picture heavy

 My new gaming terrain boards are ready for play, gaming mates and I are vaccinated, and it's finally time for my first game of Chain of Command in over a year!  

The playing space is only 4' x 4', while the TFL literature generally points to a 4' x 6' playing space as being preferred.  But until I find the time and inclination to build two more boards to expand the playing space, we get to play on the smaller playing surface.  We picked the 'Attack and Defend' scenario, as it plays across the width of the table, rather than lengthwise, with the hope that the patrol phase will still more or less work out.

I invited Gord and Craig to join.  Both are veteran Chain of Command players, although neither had managed to play any CoC for over a year due to the pandemic.  Somehow, as we organised our forces, they both ended up on the same side so that I, a novice at CoC, managed to face off against a pair of veterans.  However they are both friendly and offered good advice through the game.

First up in the game was the patrol phase.  For this scenario, the defenders (Gord and Craig as the German PanzerGrenadiers), get to line up 4 patrol markers at a point 18" from their base edge.  This put them at the edge of the ravine - something I hadn't considered when assembling the terrain.

My Canadian patrol markers started on my table edge.  I rolled well and was able to move my markers 5 times before the Germans could react.

My markers moved forward, and the markers on both sides were soon locked down.

As it turned out, with cover available only in the ravine, most of the Jump Off Points were pushed back to the table edges.  I was fortunate, and managed to drop one JOP in the valley, isolated at the left side of the board, and another behind the bridge.

Craig and Gord used their support points to place a minefield on my end of the bridge, restricting both my ability to use the JOP at the end of the bridge, and also limiting the bridge to a narrow file.  

My troops got to take the first action and deployed a section in the valley floor.  I got some lucky dice again, and with a double phase decided to push my section across the valley floor.

Reacting to the Canadian advance, the Germans deployed a squad in entrenchments to slow them down.

Now that there was a German squad on the table, I decided to bring my tank onto the table so I could start dropping some HE on them.  You can also see the smoke that my 2" mortar used to screen the German squad.

On the blurry right hand side of this photo, you can see the second Canadian section advancing onto the bridge, while the Sherman tank continues to shell the defending Germans.

The view from the German trenches, as they open up on the Canadians in the small grove in front of them.

The Canadians take cover from the German machine guns in the grove, but are starting to take some punishment.

The Canadian rifles move to the toe of the slope, out of sight of the German PanzerGrenadiers.

As their enemy on their right moves out of sight, the Germans turn their attention to the Canadians on the bridge.

More smoke, the tan smoke is from a smoke grenade thrown by the Germans, slightly less effective than the white smoke from the 2" mortar.

The Germans turned their attention on the Canadians on the bridge.  The livestock represent shock points:  the Canucks here are on the verge of breaking.

As the sun and shade progress across the table, photos end up a bit dodgy.  To the right, you can see the second German squad up high on the hill.  The Canadian section on the bridge has been broken but the Canadians have brought up another section on the left.

Here in the sun you can see the Germans, as well as the Canadians at the toe of the slope.

You can see the smoke all around the Germans to keep them blind.

But then the turn ended, and all the smoke disappeared, allowing the Germans free shooting against the Canadians.

With their cover gone, the Canadian section on the left was shot up, and the Canadian force morale plummeted.  That ended up being the end of the game.

Post-game analysis.  Patrol phase went about as well as could be hoped.  For game play, I once again fell into my frequent mistake of attacking everywhere rather than concentrating my forces.

I was distracted by the JOP in the valley, which was not the best choice as it is isolated.  I could not move troops out of these woods due to all the open ground around.  Had I focused on the JOP near the bridge, I could have brought my troops across the valley (rather than attack across the open top of the bridge).  Also, once I lured the Germans to deploy on the table I could have kept hammering them with bombardment from the Sherman's 75 mm gun, while the infantry kept out of sight.  If I keep getting hammered in every game, I may eventually learn!