Thursday, 1 March 2018

20mm Big CoC at the WHC Gavrus: Part 1

 I've been badgering Mark Freeth about CoC for about a year now, first of all to do it in 20mm, then of course its turned into 28mm. Meanwhile, The group of lads from Huntingdon who do an annual game to remember their sadly missed old friend Carlo were coming to Basingstoke.
Now I knew they had played CoC, and I also recall Carlo being partial to the game, so I thought it ideal to use them as guinea pigs for trying out Big CoC! They were more than happy to go along with it, so a format was put together. As the 28mm stuff is still being painted (nearly done though!) this weekend would have to be in 20mm
I thought that for 8 players, a Big CoC campaign of 4 games over the weekend from Friday night through to Sunday afternoon would work fine. I allowed for an extra scenario just in case things went a bit quick.
What to do?
An obvious choice was Normandy, I had all the kit required, and of course, Mark has his amazing collection of Mick Sewell buildings which were aching for a run out.
I only needed a reinforced company for both British and Germans, plus various AFV options, all of which we had.
 The scenario was to be the action at Gavrus on 29/30th June 1944, when the 2nd battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders came under ferocious attack by the 10th SS 'Frundsberg' division.
The battle is reasonably well documented, particularly in Iain Dalglish's book "Operation Epsom: Over the Battlefield" which includes some fantastic aerial photographs of the area taken just days after the battle, these would substitute perfectly for maps.
I came up with 4/5 scenarios with games running into each other to replicate the fighting:
The first was a bit of a "what if" with infantry companies from each side recce-ing the village of Bougy about a mile South of Gavrus, the Germans supported by an armoured infantry platoon in half-tracks and the jocks by their carrier platoon. Both sides did recce Bougy, but I doubt they did it in such strength or necessarily at the same time, but I thought it would give a good introduction for the players, and set the tone for the weekend.
This was to be a fairly standard Patrol scenario as per the CoC rules, with each side receiving an additional 8 points of support to be drawn from a fairly limited selection
                                                           Main road at Gavrus

                                                          The British briefing:      
                                                   Scenario 1:  BOUGY- BRITISH
This depicts the action between The 2nd Argylls and the 10th SS Frundsberg Division early in the morning of 29th June 1944, around the village of Bougy. This is a patrol action as per the main CoC rules. National characteristics as per the main rules.
7 Patrol Markers will be placed along the respective baselines, resulting in 6 Jump off Points. Vehicles will enter via the Gavrus road.
The adjutant may either: Act as an off table senior leader for 1 platoon. OR for the entire company, in which case he will just add +1 to their deployment rolls
Casualties from scenario 1 will carry over to scenario 2.
British Infantry: 3 platoons, C Company 2nd Argylls, Regular, 5 command dice
 Each as follows:
Lieutenant: Senior Leader armed with a pistol. 
Platoon Sargent: Senior Leader armed with SMG
PIAT Team: 2 men
2” Mortar Team: 2 men.
Sections 1 to 3:
Corporal: Junior Leader armed with SMG 
Bren Team: Bren LMG 3 crew
Rifle Team: 6 riflemen
List 1:  Medic, Adjutant(max 1),,
List 2:  PIAT Team: 2 men, 2” Mortar Team: 2 men.
List 3:  Sniper Team, Universal carrier Bren Team with Junior Leader.

List 4:  6 pdr Anti-tank gun with 5 crew and Junior Leader (max 1)

ELEMENTS, CARRIER PLATOON, 2ND ARGYLLS: , Regular, 5 command dice.
1 x Universal Carrier with driver, 2 man Bren team, and Senior Leader with pistol
Section 1:
1 x Universal Carrier with driver, 2 man Bren team, and Junior Leader with SMG
1 x Universal Carrier with driver, 2 man 2” mortar team, and 1 rifleman
Section 2:
1 x Universal Carrier with driver, 2 man Bren team, and Junior Leader with SMG
1 x Universal Carrier with driver, 2 man PIAT team, and 1 rifleman
Section 3:
1 x Universal Carrier with driver, 2 man Bren team, and Junior Leader with SMG
1 x Universal Carrier with driver, 2 man 2” mortar team, and 1 rifleman, OR 2 man PIAT team, and 1 rifleman
No Support may be allocated to the Carrier Platoon
Total support points.8
Each asset picked must be allocated to a specific platoon for the duration of scenario 1
                                                  Recce half-tracks move up( die-cast vehicles, AB crew)

                                                        The German briefing:

                                                   Scenario 1:  BOUGY -GERMAN
This depicts the action between The 2nd Argylls and The 10th SS Frundsberg Division early in the morning of 29th June 1944, around the village of Bougy.  This is a patrol action as per the main CoC rules. National characteristics as per the main rules.
7 Patrol Markers will be placed along the respective baselines, resulting in 6 Jump off Points.
Vehicles will enter via the western road
The adjutant may either: Act as an off table senior leader for 1 platoon. OR for the entire company, in which case he will just add +1 to their deployment rolls.
Senior Leaders must be allocated to a specific platoon
Casualties from scenario 1 will carry over to scenario 2,
German Infantry: 3 platoons of the 1st Company 22nd Pzrgrenadier Regt, Regular, 5 command dice
 Each as follows:
Obersharfurher: Senior Leader armed with a SMG. 
3 Panzerfaust 30.
Sections 1 to 3:
Scarfurher: Junior Leader armed with SMG 
M42 Team: MG42 LMG 3 crew, 1 Rifleman
M42 Team: MG42 LMG 3 crew, 1 Rifleman
List 1:  Medic, Adjutant (max 1), Panzerfaust 30
List 2: Senior Leader armed with a SMG.  Panzerschreck team with 2 crew
List 3:  Sniper Team, Panzergrenadier team: Junior Leader armed with SMG, 5 riflemen.
List 4:  Mg 42 MMG team and 5 crew
List 5: Sdkfz 250/8 with junior leader, 250/9 with junior leader

3rd Kompanie, 10th SS Panzer  Aufklarungs-Abteilung:  Superior Regular *, 5 command dice
1 x Sdkfz 251/10 + Obersharfurher: Senior Leader armed with a SMG.
 Panzerschreck team with 2 crew
3 x Infantry sections each:
1 x Sdkfz 251/1 Scarfurher: Junior Leader armed with SMG
M42 Team: MG42 LMG 3 crew, 1 Rifleman
M42 Team: MG42 LMG 3 crew, 1 Rifleman
*Superior regulars treat a single 6 on their command dice as a 5. Other rolls are unchanged.
No Support may be allocated to the Recce platoon
Total support points.8
 Each asset picked must be allocated to a specific platoon for the duration of scenario 1

                                             Cautious grenadiers (Elhiem and Adler figures)

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Barbarrossa Chain of Command try out at the WHC

Just spent a thoroughly enjoyable day with Mark at the WHC. We wanted to continue exploring Chain of Command, after originally thinking that when Mark puts on a weekend there it would be in 20mm. Many advantages to this,Mark has a vast 20mm collection and a huge array of beautiful bespoke buildings..but, 20mm is very small. Less of an issue maybe when you are fielding 30 or 40+ AFVs and several hundred infantry, but even for BiG Chain of Command you are only looking at having perhaps half a dozen tanks and a hundred infantry a side. It needs to be impressive in order to attract players, and the 28mm stuff is pretty awesome....Well, we thought about this, and talked long and hard...thought some more...ummed and ahhed...and have decided to go with 28mm.
 Trouble is of course that we don't have that much stuff.
 That will change very soon!
I've got enough Germans and Soviets for a decent 1 on 1 but for a multi-player weekend with up to 12 players, with 2 x 3 a side campaign games going on simultaneously we are going to need a lot more...a lot more.
Not an issue of course, any day now a MASSIVE box of kit is expected to land on Mark's doormat! 
Meanwhile, the game;we just wanted an excuse for a duff-up really, get a look at terrain, have a think about size, time, space etc. Big Coc is going to be different but we can still learn quite a bit just from 1 on 1 games.
So we wanted to see how my 28mm kit looked on Mark's table (well, a little bit of Mark's table), and the answer we thought was pretty good!
When it comes to doing a full weekend the plan is to run 2 games of Big CoC side by side, each on a 12' x 6' table, but for today we were just using a mere 6'x 6'
Above is the view of the battlefield from the Soviet side. The bombed out sewing machine factory complex  dominates the surrounding countryside of fields. We were playing a pick up 1941 attack/defend scenario with a 4 section German infantry platoon on the attack, supported by a Panzer 38T, an MG34 MMG, and the Germans benefited from a preliminary artillery bombardment which severely hampered the deployment of the Soviets, who were defending with a big 4 section rifle platoon, supported by a 45mm ATG. Force morales were equal on a 9. There followed a tense patrol phase
 The view from the southern edge, the farm and woodland was a priority for the Germans during the patrol phase, the fields were deemed to be light cover for infantry in them if observed from the flat, but no cover from troops at higher elevations in the factory or on the rises in the NW and NE corners of the table. The fences were light cover but didn't block LOS (unless you looked through 3 of them). Mark ended with JOP tucked behind the wall in the very top of the picture, one behind the little house next to the wood, and another in the farmyard. I managed to constrict him so was fairly pleased
 a view from the German side, good approaches and JOP positions, but difficult open countryside to negotiate in order to get into the factory area
  another view from the Soviet side, 2 of my JOP's are visible 1 bottom left in the bombed out roof and another in the field next to the road and the factory. A third was just out of shot on the left in amongst the fields, but with a somewhat obscured view of the road running back to the German side
Above is the 3rd Soviet JOP with my first deployment, a section hunkering down in the wheat behind the fence line.
The second Soviet deployment, a section tucked in with views over the fields. Why I put it there, I've no idea....should have deployed into the factory, not the field. I think my original intention was to push forwards into the trees, but I never even got started. A heavy crossfire from the front and an MMG in the farm whittled them down, eventually I pulled them into the factory but they were still exposed and took terrible fire.
By having a good look at Mark's 20mm buildings,there are plenty that are perfectly good for 28mm games. Personally I've always found that a lot of 28mm WWII buildings look enormous when they get on the table, but these factory buildings are a really good size even for 28mm, as are the 20mm farm buildings in the picture below.
This MG 34 put down a heavy fire onto the section on the Soviet right
Joined by a German section in a deep ditch over-looking the fields, the 2 together put down a crossfire on the hapless Soviet section.
A 38T moves up. Ahead of it is the German section in the ditch which is on the other side of the wall.
Way off in the distance, the 38T is spotted! A 45mm ATG deploys in the southern field alongside the first rifle section plus the platoon mortar. It opened up, missed and continued pumping shells at the tank. On the 3rd attempt it immobilised it, but the tank kept firing. Finally the 45mm fired and rolled a double 6 to hit! Weak spot! resulting in a KO. The tank didn't explode but it was silenced permanently.
The other section is being whittled down by fire from the ditch and the MMG
eventually it gets the message and retires into the adjacent building.....where it should have been in the first place!
German section moves up through the wood to engage the section in the southern field.
Behind the section, is the JOP and the platoon mortar giving occasional supporting fire
The 38T burns in the road after its exchange with the ATG
Having reached the edge of the woods the German section trades fire with the Russians, and starts  to come off worst. Another section is sent out to reinforce..eventually this gives the Germans  the upper hand.
The section in the ditch continues to lay down fire on the section the factory, which ended the game with a single LMG gunner and its corporal!
Casualties mount in the wood, but the Germans hold firm
A third Russian section is deployed out on the right and attempts to flank right, but it is too late...
In the field the mortar and the ATG have been shot down, and the section has lost a few men..I think its time to scuttle back into the factory, by this time my FM was down to 3, and was going to get worse - the Germans were still on 5 or 6. I threw in the towel.
A fun game, even though it degenerated into a firefight which the Soviets lost. They gave a lot back, but the Germans were more flexible, took the lumps on their core sections rather than having a lot of support teams completely wiped out which hurt the Soviet FM.
The big problem was that my plan was utter rubbish. I just shouldn't have done what I did. I had a fabulous defensive position, high buildings overlooking open fields! So what do I do? try and push out of them....(FFS!) Idiocy!
My reasoning (poor as it was) was influenced by falling into the CoC "psychological tank trap". I became obsessed by the idea of getting the ATG out where it could cover the road any German armour would need to approach from. Subsequently I had to commit to protect it, more and more kit gets sucked in....etc.
There was absolutely no need fro me to do this! I Should have just hunkered down in the factory. Not bought much on at all, rattled through the phases (which would speed up the turn end and finish the barrage), and I could have got some CoC die. Meanwhile the Germans would have to come on and eventually get caught in the open in the fields. But no....Really stupid play on my part. Meanwhile Mark cheerfully shot me to bits! (but he did it very nicely, and, most important of all, we had a great time! 

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Roman Update

           The Roman count has now reached 4 cohorts, and this batch are ready to go off to their new home

                                                         Cohort number 4- Foundry figures -

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Not mine, but nice

 These rather fabulous Warlord Dacians have appeared on my painting table. First off, I didn't paint them. They are the work of those clever folk from Reinforcements By Post run by that nice man Neil Kenneally in Bangladesh. They did all the excellent paintwork and they have just come to me in order to be based up so they match the Romans. Enjoy; lovely painting, my usual crappy photos don't even begin to do them justice.

 Fairly mad poses from these, I based them with a mixture of 2 and 3 figures to a 40mm x 40mm base. Some figures were difficult to get 3 on a base, 4 was absolutely impossible. Nonetheless, I think they work just fine as they are.
                Sheilds are transfers from Warlord/littleBig man Studios- they make so much difference.
 Done a great job on the flesh, just as well, there are a lot of bare chested fellows on show, and their little tartan trousers are terrific- Rupert The Bear would happily wear them!
 I think these are basically just the Gallic Warriors set with some different heads plus some of the Dacian nobles set. No Falxmen in this lot.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Something a little different....The first of the Romans

One on-going project I have at the moment (and one which is going to go on for quite a long time!), is painting up a lot of Warlord Early Imperial Romans. Not for me, I might add, but fun nonetheless. Here are the first 2 cohorts- eventually I'll have a couple of Legions worth + all the Auxilia to do. So, quite a bit.
I'm not doing this alone, thank God, but as part of a team of painters in order to accomplish this massive task.

I've always wanted to do an Early Imperial army, but have never actually got round to it, one of those situations common to just about every wargamer, we all have "those projects" I guess, so having the opportunity to paint one for someone else will hopefully get it out of my system.
Early Imperials have always been the "classic" Romans for me, Square Scutem, Lorica Segmentata, I suspect my like of them goes back to a bunch of Timpo figures I had when I was a youngster.
The Warlord figures have been around for while, go together fairly easily, choices of sword-arm or pilum, a few different head choices. The ones in the pictures are a mixture of the basic set and the set sold as "veterans" - these give you a few extra choices - different heads and helmets, and battered shields. All the veterans have the additional magnia sword- arm armour a few legionaires adopted for the Dacian wars. Fortunately these are indeed for the Dacian campaigns so they will fit right in.
                       There are a few extra metal command figures mixed in- manufacturer unknown.
Anyway, I'm enjoying doing these, which is probably just as well, seeing as there are a few to paint! It makes for a good diversion from the WWII projects which I'm also doing for myself.
        So thats a few Romans, Next up, I'll be showing some rather lovely Dacian tribesmen to oppose them

Friday, 15 December 2017

Reasons why this Chain of Command malarky must be pretty good

If you are reading this then you might have noticed that I have started to re-invigorate this erstwhile dormant blog, one of the main reasons for this has been my (rather late) discovery of these rules. A set of rules that has managed to achieve that after a seven year lay off is in itself no mean feat given my natural indolence.
Last night is a good micro example of why for me Chain of Command is a great set of rules and lives up to its recent accolade from WI of "Best game of 2017"; for me, that is literally so.
We had a game planned at the CLWS, just a vague pick up game of "medium" CoC, 2 German infantry platoons versus 1 BEF and 1 French infantry Platoon. Nothing special, but even as a simple game it was extremely tense, tough on both sides, and with neither  really having any great advantage until the very end.
We plumped for a Delaying Action scenario, with the Allies deploying in a small village protected by a small wooded rise to the south of it, with an open flank to the west and the eastern side protected by walls and hedges
The view from the southern German approach
The forces were a slightly weird mix, 1 full strength early war German outfit, plus 1 German platoon with only 3 sections rather than 4. This meant the Germans were giving away a total of +3 support points.
The Allies had a full strength BEF platoon, on a minus 5 support points, plus a weakened (2 section) French platoon at minus 3 points. The net result was a massive 11 support point adjustment for the Allies.
Then the fun begins: Will, for the Germans rolls a 3 (three....) for the German side. So the net result was indeed 3 support points for the German and 12 for the defending Allies....ewwwww.
It actually turned out, in my opinion, to make for a really good game. What on earth could we take with our puny 3 points? We were sure to be up against armour of some sort...A flamethrower? decent choice but we'd be attacking so it would be tricky to use in an ambush ATR plus perhaps a satchel charge? ...In the end we opted for 3 satchel charges, in order to spread some sort of AT ability around.
The only problem with 2 on 2 games of CoC is that they inevitably turn into 2 x 1 on 1 games, and this was no exception, doesn't really matter, and still worked out ok for us. However, it does mean that my knowledge of what went on on my right flank is a bit sketchy as I had my hands full to my front trying to winkle out the BEF from a collection of buildings. To be honest, I found it sort of added to the experience and emphasised how this truly is a platoon commanders game. Yes, bits of news and sounds of fighting filtered through to me, but generally I was concerned with doing my own job and not worrying too much about someone elses.
The plan was fairly simple, I was to fix the defenders by approaching and occupying the wooded rise while Will with the 3 section platoon swung right and went for the nearest (French) JOP which was tantalisingly close to our right flank.

Early deployment: 1st section gets into defilade south of the village
And so it begun, this was going to be quite tough. The buildings facing south (me) had a decent field of fire, and the defenders in the upper storeys would be able to pop away from hard cover as soon as I crested the little rise, so I wasn't in too much of a hurry, I thought I'd get a couple of sections on, go tactical and advance up the rise, which is indeed what I did....meanwhile from my right I could hear a lot of firing (and quite a lot of swearing) from Will. I don't think things were going to well over there.

About to crest the riseA few British had indeed deployed into the buildings to my front as I readied to "go over the top", off we went. I was indeed met by a hail of rifle and Bren fire, plus (horror) a Vickers gun opened up from one of the rear buildings on my right hand section. I took the odd casualty, and bit of shock, nothing too terrible, but I kept rolling 1's for my movement. I was going nowhere fast, taking a steady dribble of hits, and, by staying tactical, not putting any fire back on the enemy (Dave). Not good.
I dropped a couple of totally ineffective mortar rounds on the Vickers, came out of tactical with 1 section and traded fire with the section in the house but this simply wasn't working.
Most of the British fire was on my right hand section, the left hand one was safe from the murderous Vickers by virtue of a building blocking his LOS. What to do?
Sod it.
Pull back, rally up. Do it properly.
Meanwhile on the right things were not going well. 1 German section had been almost eliminated and some French armour had showed up. Questions such as "How do these satchel charges work?" were being asked. I hadn't inflicted any damage at all on the British and had 3 men dead for my trouble,Oh, and my mortar rolled a double 1....out of ammo. So I pulled back down the little rise.
Meanwhile, a Bren carrier had appeared on my left flank, and was trundling up the road to come and cause trouble.
A couple of rather indecisive phases passed, I ended up deploying all of my force now behind the riseand had racked up 3 CoC dice...there were some 40 odd German infantry milling about there, Jerry and  Dave were rightly bemoaning the fact they hadn't taken a mortar in their support!
All the while the Bren carrier advanced, I'd pulled 2 of my sections to the left of the rise, which would allow them to get over it out of sight of the Vickers which would be blocked by the occupied house in front of them, but, the Bren carrier would also spot them. A third section moved tactically to the left to distract the carrier.
Then suddenly I had a brainwave..Smoke! doh! why hadn't I used this?
My senior leader expertly lobbed a smoke grenade to cover my left flank and the 2 sections on the rise tactically moved over, steeling themselves from the fire about to come their way from the occupied house to their front.

                         About to go over a second time. Bren carrier threatens.Where's that smoke genade?
Over I went. British turn.He opened up at close range with a Bren and a couple of rifles, and....I got away with it...He only managed to hit 1 rifleman and inflict a couple of points of shock.
Then my turn: A double 6 plus a 4 and a couple of 3's..perfect! I returned the British fire with some 25 fire dice, got 17 hits, killed 3 or 4 British and inflicted a similar amount of shock, he was wobbly but not quite pinned, I also continued moving my left flank section up to distract the carrier. With my second turn from the double six I fired again...hitting the BEF section with another 25 dice...too much for him- the entire section was wiped out including the corporal. Much better.
A loud bang and and a shout went up from my right flank. The lone surviving rifleman from Will's section had got forward, flanked the Souma and detonated his satchel charge! Things were looking up. I despatched my 4th section round to reinforce the right now that Will was making headway.
Then the British turn, he rolled 3 sixes so the turn smoke evaporated....Gulp...The bren carrier and a section in the rear house started peppering my left hand section, The Bren carrier continued forward firing.. I took a couple of hits and several shock, I needed to get forward. In my phase the sergeant readied another smoke grenade and promptly rolled double 1! dropping it at his feet and enveloping himself in smoke. Nothing for it, The platoon sergeant ordered forward a rifleman with my only satchel charge, he ran to the Bren carrier, planted the charge and retired to safety. It was even the right figure to do it, he had a gold close assault badge on his little plastic arm! The charge went off and did absolutely nothing, didn't even scratch the carrier.
I pushed forward with the left hand section despite taking fire from the carrier, I didn't really know what to do to be honest, but at that point the  game was won on the right, the last French section broke, the German force  morale was hanging on by a thread (Will was down to FM 1!)but in the ensuing tests I used a CoC dice or 2 and survived and the British morale gave way. I ended on FM 7

It was a thoroughly enjoyable game, so thanks to Will, Dave and Jerry for a good evening. I don't think I've managed to convey much of the tension that was in this game. The lack of support options for the Germans meant they had to do it the hard way. I don't think it would have been as much fun if the Germans had brought along a Stug or 2. I took 12 casualties but if this had been a campaign my losses wouldn't have been too bad after adjustment.
Thinking about it, if we had been playing a game of say, Spearhead, or Command Decision, this entire game would have been about 3 or 4 die rolls between 4 stands.....
So, it looks like I'm sold on Chain of Command.
(Apologies for the lack of photos for this game, but I was having too much fun to remember to take many)

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Warlord Blitzkrieg infantry

                                             Warlord Pioneers romping through the bunny fur