A most enjoyable evening at Monty HQ last night as an old friend came round for a game of CoC. Dave (a different one!) asked me if I would run a starter game of CoC for him and I was, of course, delighted. It also gave me a chance to set up the basics of the demo game and see what yet had to be done.
Anyway, the game!! It was set in Russia in Dec 1942. An overview of the table:
From the German side:
and from the Soviet side:
The scenario was that, off the German table edge, there was a village of absolutely no tactical significance whatsoever! However, even Ukrainian hovels are better than being in the open in winter so the Soviets are determined to capture the village for reasons of personal comfort! The Germans had an infantry platoon and the Soviets a rifle platoon and an MMG. Both sides started with a Force Morale of 9.
This shows the end of the patrol phase with the Patrol markers in place (you may notice I didn’t have any Soviet ones ready! Doh – I make them for others and forget to do my own – much ragging resulted!!) Both sides were pretty happy – the Germans had one JOP in the small wood to their left front, one in a crater on the reverse slope of the high ground on their right and one in the centre at the rear table edge (please don’t ask me to annotate photos – I have enough trouble taking them!!). The Soviets had the destroyed supply cart by the road, a crater centrally on the reverse slope and a final one in some scrub on their extreme left.
We went through a couple of turns VERY quickly (my dice throwing – lots of 6s!!). But we then got into the meat of it and had a good run of phases. This isn’t going to be a blow by blow account with all the dice throws, I didn’t have time to log all that and play, but it will cover the main points and provide a commentary.
The Soviets kicked things off with the deployment of a squad on their left and the MMG in the centre, moving the latter forward to try and gain the cover of a shell crater. The Germans responded by deploying Gefreiter Oberkamp’s section on high ground to their left centre and giving the MMG a good pasting! The MMG continued to try to get to cover but the Germans burnt a CoC dice to interupt and give them some more of the good news. End result – one broken MMG team. Here we see the Soviet squad in the foreground advancing from the JOP (the tree stump by the scrub) and the MMG team in the centre (right at the top of the trees).
And here is Gefreiter Oberkamp and his men:
Meanwhile, over on the Soviet right, the squad probed forward into the scub and Gefreiter Schulz and his men deployed to give them a warm welcome! Over time the Germans continued to pile on the hurt and the Soviet squad leader was burning all his command initiatives just to try and keep shock down against an ever dwindling number of men. A losing battle as they too finally broke. Here they are taking fire and with shock mounting:
The whole table showing the 2 German sections, the Soviet squad in the scrub, the MMG team in the centre and a third squad over on the Soviet right – the start of the buildup of their assault force.
The Soviets were really feeling this now and deployed their senior leader to try to address the situation. They also brought on their remaining troops, forming a ‘mass’ of 3 squads on their right whilst the senior leader headed off to sort out the left flank. He rallied the MMG team (although we agreed it was now too fragile with just 2 men to be a reall asset) and also rallied the broken section by the Soviet JOP in the scrub. Here is the Soviet ‘masse de decision’.
And now for glory!! Gefreiter Schultz saw his moment – the Soviets were committed to their right and the left was vulnerable. He ordered his men up and down the slope at the double! They took the shock on the way with Schultz only able to rally the odd point and it took them 3 phases to get there, but they JUST made it into close combat range. The Soviets burnt a CoC dice to interrupt and fire as they closed and did some damage, but not enough and the Germans closed. The Soviets, although rallied from broken, were still pinned and it was a one sided fight with all 4 Soviets, including their junior leader, falling. Cue 2 Force Morale tests. But that was not all, Gefreiter Schultz and one of his men fell in the combat as well (but there is an Iron Cross 1st Class on its way!) but their victory allowed them to move forward and occupy the ground held (formerly!) by the Soviets – and this was a JOP! The German player then used his CoC dice to end the turn and force a 3rd Force Morale test on the Soviets. It did not go well and their morale plummeted to zero and off they went! A clear German victory, much to the relief of Schultz’s men, who had shock equal to men on both teams and no junior leader to rally them.
The end of the charge! The Soviets at the back with the pinned marker are the dead from the close combat!
You can just see the Soviet senior leader to the left by the trees with the remnants of the MMG team.
So, conclusions? First off, this was a learning game and so there was lots of debate as we went through. We agreed Dave’s plan to draw out German sections on both sides of the table was sound – he needed to spread them out. The problem was that the punishment he took robbed him of the initiative. He was throwing LOTS of 4s and with only one team (the MMG) and that gone early, ones were only useful to combine with other dice. It was a real challenge getting the Soviets to do much on any one phase and that activity became focused on rallying broken units. We agreed his MMG team was wasted – he was trying to get into a good position but we reckoned in retrospect that it would have been better kept back. It also forced him to commit his senior leader to rally it, and thus deprived his main body of leadership and activation. The squad on the left also presented a problem. Once under fire the junior leader was fixed removing shock. Looking back, I think his priority should have been to get out of the killing zone, probably by a hasty withdrawal, and then take time to rally shock without the Germans piling more on. We also discussed the use of scouts to push forward with the main body of the section held back – this would create a threat forcing German deployment but without too much exposure.
We also discussed the problem of the German section on their left, which had got onto some high ground with excellent fields of fire – how to cross the open steppe? We did some maths! Dave could easily have got 2 squads and the MMG onto the crest of the ridge on his side and the Germans could have thrown their last section in too. Fire dice would have been about equal, but the Soviets would have had the numbers to take the losses with a 3rd squad available (and possibly also able to get into the firing line). What could the Germans do then? The odds would have been against them and they would have had to withdraw, probably back to the enclosure. That would have exposed a JOP, so a CoC dice would have had to have been used to move that. And then would it have just been the same again – Soviet firepower forcing the Germans back?
And what of the preparations for Carronade – our first show of the year! All seems good – I need to do the Soviet Patrol Markers (!), make some new shell craters (I’m not happy with the way these look – too ‘prominent’) and I need some wintery shock markers. As for the Mat – hmmmm. Some of the scatter seems to have formed a ‘skin’ on the top rather than sticking to the gunk. I think this is just excess flock that didn’t come off on shaking and I need to brush it off to see what it looks like underneath, but it seems there may be some more work needed on this mat before Carronade and on winter mats in general before offering them for sale.
But, overall, a great game, lots of fun and challenges and we are already talking about meeting again for round 2.
Monty the Desert Rat