RogerBW's Blog

Chain of Command: The Battle of Grange Farm 18 May 2014

Yesterday I played my third game of Chain of Command, and while I was still beaten I did a bit better than last time. Still fun. Be warned, this is a very image-heavy post; each image links to the original high-resolution version. cc-by-sa applies to all images.

As before, the background was A Very British Civil War in the late 1930s.

Grange Farm

Grange Farm is somewhere in the Fen Country; the British Union of Fascists decided they wanted it, and the Anglican League (me, this time) were defending. This is Scenario 3, Attack & Defend.

We kept our support choices secret from each other, but I upgraded my entire platoon from experienced militia to regular quality (which meant I had slightly fewer men, but better guns and some special abilities), and picked a sniper, which meant I needed a jump-off point within 12" of a good spot.

AL patrol start

I obviously wanted to get inside the farm area in order to mount an effective defence, so started my patrol markers pushed forward as far as I could (defender starts up to 18" from table edge).

BUF patrol start

However, the BUF gained a maximum six patrol moves before I could respond, and pushed forward most aggressively. This very definitely contributed to my eventual loss.

Locked down

We started locking down straight away; I managed to edge my middle patrol marker here into the farmyard, but that was about the best I could manage.

Jump-off points

The two behind the courtyard were the best I could do for forward jump-off points. This did mean troops could deploy into the rear buildings, but those two on the right don't connect with each other internally, and nor do they have useful windows facing towards the enemy's line of advance. I should probably have used them less than I did. My third jump-off point is in the woods to the left, which turned out to be quite handy later. Meanwhile the BUF decided not to start through the orchard on the right, which would have made their point fairly vulnerable to attack, and instead started from the fields across the road.

My sniper went into the top floor of the farmhouse.

First deployment

My first section came on and moved out of the barn. Another error on my part; because of the way the movement rules work, they couldn't get out of the barn and into the cover of the main building without spending a turn out in the open.

Second deployment

Which meant that the first BUF section could pop up on the hill and attack them in the open, denying them the cover of the farm walls.

Shock

They held up reasonably well under fire at first.

Casualties

But then dice happened, and the rifle team was severely depleted.

Second BUF

The BUF brought up a second section to the hilltop. All my instincts say that being out in the open like this should be sudden death.

First sniper fire

But all my sniper (in the top of that left-hand building) was able to manage was a bit of shock.

Inside the farmhouse

The depleted first section managed to get inside the farmhouse.

Second section deploys

My second section moved into the stables, then forward into an outbuilding.

First section sets up

The first section set up in the front windows of the farmhouse, Bren gun in one, remaining riflemen in the other.

More fire

They did a bit more good firing back at the BUF on the hilltop.

Secret weapon

The BUF brought on their Secret Weapon: a Tank, Light, Mk VI from Vickers-Armstrongs.

BUF descends

The depleted BUF started moving down the hill, while my second section lined up behind the farm wall to rake them as they came down.

Damage

We did some major damage to that first section, but the second was doing rather better.

More damage

Eventually, the first section was wiped out except for its leader.

More damage

The second section started taking fire too, in spite of their tactical movement. At this point I thought things were going quite well, even though my second try at sniper fire hadn't had any effect. (As it turned out, the sniper didn't fire again for the rest of the game.)

Continued downhill

The second BUF section continued to move downhill.

Reinforcement

They were reinforced by a Vickers (EDIT: Lewis) team, an important move for the BUF.

Casualties

The next exchange of fire didn't go as well for the Anglicans, and second section was looking distinctly ragged.

Advance

The BUF reinforced section was able to make an effective leapfrogging advance into the cover of the hedge.

Cover

After further exchanges of fire we were in equivalent cover, but they were outnumbering my two forward sections quite substantially. A BUF attempt to charge into close combat wasn't terribly effective, as the first section to move was feeling a bit unenthusiastic.

Second section gone

However, they managed to keep firing, and wiped out my second section.

Pushing forward

They pushed forward across the road.

Tank forward

Meanwhile, the BUF tank moved out of the village and towards a flanking position.

Third section

My third section deployed, possibly rather later than they should have. In order to stay vaguely mobile and to try to get up to a useful position, they didn't get much benefit from cover.

Tank further forward

The tank moved in.

BUF casualties

Further fire from inside the farmhouse started to wear the BUF down a bit, but they went to overwatch to keep an eye out for the sniper in case he should reappear. (This would have been a good time for him to do so, with both the BUF senior leaders on the table.)

Flanking fire

The tank opened up with machine guns, doing some damage to my third section.

Boys team

However, with the option of activating the sniper or bringing on my Boys AT rifle team, I went for the latter. They set up in the woods, and took their first shot…

Dead tank

…hitting, and destroying the tank with a single attack!

Onto the road

However, BUF forces were able to move onto the road, getting out of sight of the farmhouse windows.

First section

What was left of first section took further fire from the Vickers (EDIT: Lewis) team across the road.

Third section

Meanwhile third section were taking hits from the main enemy force.

First charge

As the sun started to set, the BUF made a close assault.

Result

They were beaten back, though with heavy casualties on both sides.

First section out

First section, without much in the way of targets, left the farmhouse (but not into the mêlée in the farmyard).

Regrouping

The BUF regrouped by the wall, while Third Section realised that it was now down to the overall force leader, one section leader, and one rifleman.

Second charge

The BUF made another charge. My only hope at this point was that Fascist morale would collapse faster than my own.

Casualties

The rifleman was killed, but the close combat wasn't as one-sided as expected.

Regrouping again

In the end, the second assault was also repelled.

Under fire

First section came under fire.

EndingEnding

With force morale non-existent, and the Third Section leader wounded and unable to move, surrender seemed appropriate.

Further thoughts on the game:

  • I could have done much more with the patrol phase than I did, though the big BUF move definitely didn't help with that.
  • Snipers are likely to be very "swingy"; if I'd rolled more single-team activations, I could have taken a lot more shots at leaders. Unlike other single-team units, snipers can't be activated by leaders, so it's pure dice luck whether they get to do anything.
  • The Boys team performed vastly beyond expectations, but didn't really have anything to do after their one shot even if I'd rolled to activate them again. (The BUF's Boys team never even entered the field, since the Anglicans didn't have a tank for them to shoot at.) I will have to be careful in future not to expect them to do that well again. Since they were out in the woods, they probably even managed to get away when the rest of the Anglican survivors were captured.
  • Third section came in too late; Second had already been wiped out by the time they were on the board. Definitely should have brought them on earlier; I was trying to hold something back for a possible ambush, but that wasn't going to happen.
  • The dice were most strange. At one point I'd had seven phases to the enemy's three, not that it helped very much in the end. I think I ultimately got up to five points towards a Chain of Command die, and at one point had ended a turn purely by die rolling, while the BUF got about two.
  • As a naturally cautious player, I'm probably too hesitant to put troops in the open; as long as they can do something useful when they get there, they can survive for a bit. (Vide the two BUF sections that started on the top of the hill.)
  • These light tanks are closer to mobile machine-gun nests than anything else.
  • I was very surprised at just how well the third section survived multiple close assaults, even after they'd lost their Bren gun.

Our host (who kindly let us play with his toys, and refereed) has also written up this battle.


  1. Posted by John Dallman at 08:46am on 18 May 2014

    The extra BUF machine-gun team had a Lewis, not a Vickers (that would have been a 10d weapon). The BUF were quite aggressive with bringing troops on, and it paid off, even though their first couple of attempts to use Lewis guns failed due to jams.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 08:51am on 18 May 2014

    Corrected gun names, thanks.

    Holding the final section back had worked well for me before but I think that it was one of my bigger errors this time. I'm very glad that there isn't a single right set of tactics for all battles in this game.

  3. Posted by Tim Duckworth at 01:36pm on 18 May 2014

    Cheers Roger. Glad you enjoyed it. I will put up a blog-post with some thoughts of my own, when I have had a chance. T

  4. Posted by John Dallman at 10:10pm on 19 May 2014

    Checking the rules, a Boys hit on the side of a tank of that strength will be as effective as yours was one time in 216.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 10:47pm on 19 May 2014

    I make it 1/1728: 3 dice each needing 4-6 for a hit, vs 3 dice each needing 1-4 not to get a save.

    Promotion for those chaps, who clearly knew exactly where to shoot and should be allowed to train others.

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