Home Forums WWII Thoughts on Chain of Command – 13 years late

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  • #199613
    Avatar photoThuseld
    Participant

    I played a pick up game of Chain of Command last night. We played a campaign game 2 weeks ago that I just happened to attend and join in with. Below are my thoughts.

    Chain of Command write up.

    I am unfamiliar with these rules. I have seen about them and have heard good things, but because it looked like they were marketed at 28mm I didn’t really bother. I neither want to collect that scale nor play in it and was unsure that if I ever found a club whether they would go for 20mm. As it stands they play a bit of every scale in loads of different rules. I might have to invest in some more rulesets…something I never thought I would do.

    I don’t know what to think of these rules. I need to read them first. I think the scale is just below what I want. Two games and no vehicles so far, but even when we were chosing our support the options were only an Sdkfz 250 with MG team level of vehicle. No tanks. The US player brought no vehicles whatsoever. I would rather have a few tanks and an AT gun. Hence why I like Battlegroup so much.

    There is this initial movement phase where you move these tokens around the table, they must remain within 12′ of eachother and as soon as they go within 12′ of an enemy token they get locked in place. Then once all are locked down, you triangulate where the jump off points will be. Then and only then do you start bringing units on the table, but that all depends on the command dice rolls. You roll 5 and each number means something else. It is a fascinating mechanic and one I struggle to comprehend how the guys at Two Fat Lardies even came up with it.

    I think I like the rules. It makes for an interesting battle. But we do spend a lot of time checking with the rules. The QRS was like 4 pages long! FRONT AND BACK! I will probably end up buying the rules and having a peruse.

     

    The way the jump off points ended up we had one behind this bocage and intended to deploy and run up to the barn. Unfortunately the US had a jump off point behind the barn and got there first. We made a decision to not deploy anything there until the US squad was in the barn, then we would land a flamethrower team in the field and blast the barn. They would have no cover and we had 12 attack dice. We knew he would be exposed but thought it would be interesting. As it happened the rolls were dreadful and we had 4/12 dice hit. The US then succeeded the 4 saving rolls. No casualties, no shock.

    Luckily we also deployed a squad who had 21 attack dice. They messed the US team up, and the flamethrower team had another two attempts. We managed to wipe out the fire team in the building and kill the junior officer. In the whole game that was the only unit that got wiped out. There were no other US casualties. They had a lot of shock on this flank though. Our squad stayed behind the bocage just pouring fire into the barn and the rest of the team who were behind that low wall next to it.

     

    On the other flank, we deployed a full squad in the hope that they could rush up and take the US jump off point to help break their morale. We advanced under a lot of cover, dodging mortar shots. The game ended with the squad here, pretty much unable to move. They were firing into the building behind the high walls just at the top left of the photo. The US player deployed their final squad right in the middle to cover that area. We debated jumping out into the open and taking out the jump off point but decided against it. We had a squad in the middle also who we tried to run up the road to hit the rear of that large US squad in this picture, but the rolls were dreadful.

    We lost a couple of men from this squad. Our senior leader on the long rectangle base was rounded but came back into action.

    The game ended when we ran out of time. Our morale had dropped from 8 to 5. The US had dropped from 9 to 6. They were better off there. But in terms of position on the table, we had two full squads who were about to start flanking around the barn to get behind the remaining US forces. We called it a marginal German victory. The US team said that if it were a campaign game they would have started withdrawing a little while ago.

     

    #199615
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    I admire your perseverance but my scepticism rating is high as well.
    I’m unsure how such factoring and adjustments contribute, at all, to satisfactory games.
    I used to play a lot of WW2 line em up and shoot type games, but grew weary of such. This format seems almost fantasy like and less engaging in the epoch at all, as you note.

    Having buddies who jump from set to set seeking the ‘nirvana’ of perfection, just produces in my mind a trail of destructive memories and frustrations over time. Rather a ‘reliable’ basis to tweak and adjust than jump into the psychology of every ‘new’ revelation that appears is a more sustainable approach imo.
    ~d

    #199617
    Avatar photoGeneral Slade
    Participant

    Hi Thuseld,

    I enjoyed reading your report.  I have played a lot of Chain of Command over the past couple of years and find that, particularly when played as part of one of the Lardies’ ‘Pint-Sized’ campaigns, the rules can produce some very tense, exciting games.  However, I do find aspects of the rules frustrating.  The activation system can be both fun and infuriating in equal measure.  On the plus side, the uncertainty means you can always blame the dice when you lose (and magnanimously admit that Lady Luck was on your side when you win) but on the negative side it does make it virtually impossible to do such basic things as getting your MG team to lay down fire while your rifle team advances.  In CoC you basically have to keep the two teams together, either both moving or both firing, or you are going to find yourself in a mess.

    The way casualties are distributed also seems strange to me.  Basically, you direct your fire at individual enemy teams, but if any other enemy units are within four inches of your target and in the same kind of cover then you have to spread casualties equally between all of these teams.  This may make sense with small arms fire but unless I have totally misunderstood the rules this also applies to on-table HE fire.  This means that it is to the defender’s advantage to bunch their troops close together so they can spread any casualties among as many different teams as possible.

    Finally, there is the infamous off-table mortar barrage.  Unlike on-table HE, off-table HE affects everything within a target area (generally an 18″ square).  If your opponent succeeds in landing such a barrage on one of your units then you might as well pack up your toys and go home.  There is precisely nothing you can do while your troops get steadily whittled down and, such is the way that morale works, when you lose a complete section, along with its officers, then you have pretty much lost the game.

    All that said, I’m still looking forward to my next game of Chain of Command (and hoping the dice will be on my side).

     

     

    #199619
    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    Thanks for the write up, Thuseld.  There are things about CoC that look really cool, and some things, like above, that don’t feel right to me.  The scouting phase is brilliant, and I like that it’s basically a mini game to gain position to deploy, which is a much better way to do it than just line up on a table edge and go IMO.  It feels like how an attack might develop by probing and finding areas to slink through before having to fully commit to the fight, and sometimes you get caught out.  I might indeed steal that for some homespun stuff.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #199620
    Avatar photoThuseld
    Participant

    Thanks for the write up, Thuseld. There are things about CoC that look really cool, and some things, like above, that don’t feel right to me. The scouting phase is brilliant, and I like that it’s basically a mini game to gain position to deploy, which is a much better way to do it than just line up on a table edge and go IMO. It feels like how an attack might develop by probing and finding areas to slink through before having to fully commit to the fight, and sometimes you get caught out. I might indeed steal that for some homespun stuff.

    I am half writing a set of sci fi rules. So far it is a Frankenstein’s Monster of Horizon Wars, Battlegroup, a bunch of NWG games, my own ideas. I guess stealing one more thing wouldn’t hurt.

    #199671
    Avatar photoRod Robertson
    Participant

    Thuseld:

    Good report on the CoC rules and your game. Thank you for making the effort and taking the time to share your first impressions of the rule system and game.

    I really like the Chain of Command rules as a game system. It is not a great simulation of what commanding real WWII platoon-sized, small-unit combat might have been like, but it produces an ersatz, exciting and sometimes frustrating game through which one can push around painted lead on a table and have a good and often fast game with like-minded mates.

    If you want to expand the size and number of support units on your table, then you have several options. Your first choice might be to find the Too Fat Lardies game supplement “Big Chain of Command” which used to be offered free in PDF format IIRC. Or if you wish to stick with Too Fat Lardies you might look into “I Ain’t Been Shot Mum” which is a company-sized game rather than a platoon-sized one. Supports are more numerous in this system. I have played and run company-sized (plus) CoC games which were a blast for all who played.

    The best WWII game system for small-unit actions which I have ever found was Easy-Eight’s “Battleground WWII” from about 25-30 years ago. Lots of small modifications were needed but the rules’ superstructure was sound and produced very satisfying games IMHO. The more modern “Battleground” rules are very good too, but despite the similarity in names they are in no way related or similar game systems.

    If you want to play a game about the movie, based on the comic strip of a small-unit battle, then Osprey/Warlord’s  “Bolt Action” is the game system for you. Little manoeuvre and lots of manic shooting or close assaulting is how these games tend to go. Sometimes I have even had interesting games with these rules, though not often if I am being honest.

    But since I read that you are writing your own Sci-Fi wargame rules, why not do the same for WWII? Combat is combat and command and control is just CnC whether you’re using bolt action rifles and SMGs or Gauss-rifles and plasma-pulse rifles. Okay, drone-like  mortar bombs or orbital mass-drivers may be a wee bit different from PIATs and Soviet Front Breakthrough Artillery creeping-barrages but big booms are just big booms to those fighting and dying in the battles. If you’re lucky, they’ll scare the poop out of you and make you question your life choices and the absurd human condition which dropped you into battle just before you run like a coward, fight like a hero or if unlucky, die a gory death from the boom. The mechanics are the same despite the scale and intensity of the destruction and carnage in many ways. Then you can finesse the important differences.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    #199761
    Avatar photo6mmwargaming
    Participant

    Yeah we found this to be a nightmare in some situations where over half your forces could be pinned in a barrage and you are helpless to do anything. Even if you manage to end the turn your opponent can just start a new barrage. We found it completely broke the game and we reduced it down to a 12″ area. I asked on the TFL group about this and the response was that it should be bigger and no one seemed to think it was an issue.

    Finally, there is the infamous off-table mortar barrage. Unlike on-table HE, off-table HE affects everything within a target area (generally an 18″ square). If your opponent succeeds in landing such a barrage on one of your units then you might as well pack up your toys and go home. There is precisely nothing you can do while your troops get steadily whittled down and, such is the way that morale works, when you lose a complete section, along with its officers, then you have pretty much lost the game.

    My 6mm Wargaming site https://6mm.wargaming.info

    #199783
    Avatar photomadman
    Participant

    I think artillery barrages and skirmish do not go together. Yes, it might appear, but as said above makes for a bad game. Either it only happens for a single turn, then is directed elsewhere, or not an option at all.

    I like the platoon with a few support units. I understand if one side is taking armour they guys I played with let the other player know so they could take anti-armour units to keep a good play balance.

    WRT spreading casualties out my take would be a leader would order different squads to cover units with more casualties to spread the load as it were. That would be my take on that mechanism.

    I also like the “sometimes you can do everything” and sometimes not aspect of the activation rules. Gets away from the old school I do everything then what is left on your side can act, like so many crappy games do now (think FoW and W40K).

    #200187
    Avatar photoPieter Roos
    Participant

    I have the rules, working on forces in 20mm to play. It is definitely worth reading some of TFL’s AARs or the blog “Tactical Painter” to see how play differs from most games.

    The spread of damage issue actually seems a better simulation – as a gamer you want to concentrate on one squad to eliminate them but in the real world there are just a bunch of enemy behind the wall/hedge/fence that you need to suppress. You have no idea where one unit ends and another begins. Sure, you might want to concentrate on the MG, but probably it has the best cover…

    #200190
    Avatar photoGeneral Slade
    Participant

    The spread of damage issue actually seems a better simulation – as a gamer you want to concentrate on one squad to eliminate them but in the real world there are just a bunch of enemy behind the wall/hedge/fence that you need to suppress. You have no idea where one unit ends and another begins. Sure, you might want to concentrate on the MG, but probably it has the best cover…

    I don’t have a problem with the spread of damage from small arms fire.  As you suggest it prevents players from being able to concentrate fire on individual units in order to eliminate them one by one.  Where I have a problem is with on-table HE, which uses the same mechanic, so troops that are clustered together have an advantage over those who are spread out. This doesn’t make much sense to me.

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