On the 13th of February 6 of us met at the Kirriemuir Wargames Club to playtest the Post War version of Chain of Command, which is being developed with TooFatLardies.
The table was laid out as below:
The left hand photo shows the layout from the British side and the right hand photo from the Soviet side. The line of trees across the Soviet baseline actually lines the edge of a road, so we allowed the Soviets to deploy vehicles anywhere along their table edge. The ground was all good going except the woods and cleared woodland in the middle, which were all Broken Ground. The hedges were all Medium Obstacles. This was taken just before I placed the brewed up T64 – the destruction of which set the battle in motion. The mat is by me, all the trees etc are by The Last Valley and are simply delightful, the roads (watch this space) are from Early War Miniatures and I have finally found the solution, at least for me, in terms of flexible roads – I’m really happy with them.
And we had a full, regular Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon in BMPs against 2 sections of elite British mechanised infantry, although the latter had wisely left their FV 432s back in a safe location!
We didn’t play the Patrol Phase at all – I simply positioned JOPs for both sides – this was because at this stage the Patrol Phase needs no testing as it has not altered from the core rules and because I wanted to press ahead and focus on the game play.
The Soviets went first and deployed a BMP on their left flank, one in the centre and a dismounted team on their right, pushed forward of the tree line and so a little exposed.
The British countered by deploying a full section and opening fire on the dismounts. The latter were hard hit over a couple of phases, losing 50% of their manpower and the Platoon Sergeant with them went down stunned. Shock was mounting and, with their leader down, they could do little but hunker down and try to weather the storm. They took no further substantive part in the game. The Section’s Carl Gustav (Charlie G) had a pop at the BMP, but missed. It was actually quite a hard target – some distance away, not in clear view and a low profile vehicle. Here are the deployed Brits (figures from Elhiem – absolutely stunning! I’ll be writing more here on the figures shortly, but they really are amongst the best I have ever worked on).
So, round one to the British and all going swimmingly well! Enter the BMP in the centre. It began to put down HE on the plucky Brits and wiped out the MG team before starting to pile the shock on the rifle group. This forced the British to withdraw deeper into the woods to escape the fire and bring on the Platoon Sergeant to do a bit of ‘encouraging!’. He also brought the light mortar with him (smoke only at this time) but a first round hit put smoke right in front of the centre BMP and blocked all its useful vision!
Action remained in the centre. The centre BMP dismounted its team with the Platoon Commander and began to push forward. The right hand squad’s BMP also came on behind their dismounts to provide support. Worried about the open ground to their right, the second British section came on and deployed in an L shape – gun group covering forward and the rifle group, with the Charlie G, covering across the road to the right flank. The gun group began piling the shock on the Soviet Platoon Commander’s team, killing a couple and effectively halting their progress. But not without loss, with the Soviet right flank BMP using its HE to good effect, and the British Section Commander had to move a couple of chaps across to keep the gun group in action.
Action now switched to the Soviet left – a sound move. They had forced the British to deploy and then pushed them back. The Soviet left flank BMP now headed flat out for the hedgeline to their front and the British rifle group went on to ‘overwatch’. The BMP halted at the hedge to disgorge its dismounts, who took a position along the hedge, the BMP surviving a close miss from the Charlie G in the process.
But time was marching on and the Soviet commander knew it was now all or nothing. He ordered both the centre and left flank BMPs to advance as fast as possible and try to exit the table before the clock ran down to 0!
The central BMP accelerated down the road, slowing to pass the burning T64 and relying on speed to get past the Charlie G on overwatch and it sooooo nearly worked. First round missed, but the second flew true and the BMP lurched to a halt. Meanwhile, the Soviet left flank BMP also crossed the hedge and began to accelerate towards the table edge. The British Section Commander steadied his gunner’s nerves and BOOM!, the BMP exploded with another direct hit.
These 2 kills and especially the loss of the 2 section commanders in charge of the vehicles left Soviet Force Morale, despite the use of a Chain of Command Dice to avoid one test, crashing and with little time left, the Soviets conceded! Here’s the table at the end, on the left looking from the Soviet right flank (you can see the 2 dismounted teams and the BMP in the foreground). The second shows it from the Soviet left flank and you can clearly see the foremost burning BMP on the road and its colleague just across the hedge.
So, the verdict on what was a playtest first and foremost – a great game! All the players enjoyed themselves, the game went to the wire having swung back and forth and the overall consensus was that the result was credible, that the rules had played out well and that they had been easy to grasp! There were a few issues that need tweaking and clarifying, but it was, overall, an extremely successful outing for the rules and real testimony to the robustness of Richard Clarke’s original work.
Monty the Desert Rat