Thursday, 4 December 2014

Barrages - A Mixed Month......

So, it's been a busy few weeks.

I had a great trip down to Rivermead, Reading for Warfare with Bob, Paul & my son Connor. Purchases were obviously made including the start of my Empress Miniatures Nationalist force for the club CoC Espana project, casualties (shock markers) for my 15mm Russians and Americans from Peter Pig, a 28mm Minairons Chevrolet Truck and some lovely terrain for Spain. All of which will feature in upcoming blogs.

Jon's Churchills move off their start line in support if the attack.
Then I travelled the short distance up to Studley to meet up with an old gaming mate I'd not seen in a long while Jon Sword (ex of Britannia Miniatures). He's now back in circulation for wargaming after real life had intervened and has pulled his beautiful collection of 20mm WW2 out of storage, setting up a fantastic bespoke gaming room at his new home. Invited via Facebook I went up for an enjoyable game of Jon's own WW2 rules "Hit the Dirt". I played the Germans defending in a scenario based on Hill 112 with Jon as the attacking British. The rules are set at "company plus" level (somewhat of a change from what I'm used to) and use varying dice depending on troop quality. As I said, I really enjoyed it, with my nebelwerfer battery in the end taking too much toll on the advancing infantry and blunting the assault. Not missing an opportunity to #Spreadthelard, we've arranged to game again next week when I'll be introducing Jon & another old buddy Spike to their first experience of Chain of Command. I look forward to seeing what they make of the rules and running a game with some top quality kit.

A Panzer IVH lies in wait.

Immobilised, This tank crew bailed and went "into the bag".
Next up came another game of CoC, this time on a Wyvern Wargamers club night. I had decided to run a BigCoC scenario based on the battle near Rauray, Normandy at the end of June '44. Maximum Bob and Phil would take the role of the attacking British troops, an infantry platoon (Phil) & a Sherman platoon (Bob) supported by an extra Firefly, FOO + 3" mortar battery and a pre-game barrage. Up against them would be Ian and Matt with two weakened platoons of SS panzergrenadiers supported by a Panther representing part of Kampfgruppe Wiedinger.
The Germans would be defending this key crossroads against an attack from the top of the picture.
 All began well, with both sides orchestrating their strategies, rolling up Force Morale and playing out a cagey Patrol Phase ending with the Germans with the option to deploy in strong advanced positions.
Phil's infantry deployed from a flanking Jump-Off Point in the cornfield on the right.
While Bob's armour advanced up the road, with the 75mm armed pushing on to assault while both Fireflies covered their advance.
Meanwhile the Germans played their trump card at the first opportunity placing the Panther on overwatch on the first three rolled. 
While the Panther moved through the shattered village
infantry deployed into the left most ruins to counter the flanking British.
Drawing to a halt, the Panther awaited the opposing amour's appearance.
It was at this point things began to unravel for the defenders. A missed shot from the Panther, followed swiftly by successive lucky strikes by both Fireflies which first immobilised and then killed the gunner in the turret of the Big Cat.

It got worse. With neither side particularly racking up many CoC dice, the British (Bob mostly) began a sequence of rolling multiple sixes, maintaining the phase to push on and close from all directions with combined arms. But the killer punch was......

Seizing their opportunity, the British called down fire from the supporting battery of mortars.
 Having decided to "fire for effect" and only deviating by 3", the full weight of the mortars landed on the centre of the village. Pinning the panzergrenadiers in the ruins and already-suffering Panther also denying the Germans deploying from all but one of their Jump-Off points. The double sixes continued, with an inordinate amount of kills and shock being registered on the defending force, while they could only look on incredulous at their poor luck.

Eventually the Germans, concluding that any further resistance was futile on this occasion, called time on proceedings and the evening ended a little prematurely.

Definitely a case of Friction deciding matters. (Grimace) I blame Bob. 

Finally, not put off by the slightly disastrous events of the club night, Bob and I were back in the saddle with Bob hosting another different look at the game mechanics with a play-test of the modern version of the rules.

I would be commanding a well supported Russian platoon ordered to assault an enemy village, where known insurgents were believed to have hidden an arms cache in the local mosque.

A few phases in, still only a sniper and FOO had deployed to overlook the impending assault & hoping to keep the locals off the roofs.
Knowing that Bob would opt to keep his defensive options open by not deploying until he had to, I had decided to wait until I rolled the right hand of dice to be able to mount a quick push on one point & if possible capture his left-most Jump-Off Point.

A sound principle. The problem being that by the time I eventually managed to roll a double six, Bob had already accumulated TWO whole CoC dice to my solitary, single roll of a five!

Undaunted, I raced a squad down the table in the relative safety of a BTR60 knowing that I had the next phase.
My APC raced into cover (the look on BoB's face!) & de-bussed a squad with the intention of "kicking in the front door". My plan by this point was to quickly move a Jump-Off Point up to close behind this squad and be in a position to shoot the first squad in. My lack of CoC dice scuppered that idea, so I'd moved a second squad up on foot through the high crops which was in a position to support the lead element.
Threatened by ambush with a RPG, the BTR moved to safety on the flank. Unfortunately by this point the infantry in the high crop had decided to move only 3"!
Bob had been no slouch. Setting up a "welcoming committee" covering any emergence from the alley on overwatch from both sides.
I desperately wanted to call in mortar support now, but knew Bob would end it (& the turn) with a CoC dice while I STILL hadn't managed to get anywhere near having one of my own to continue the barrage. A brief lull in activity while I waited to roll fives, was swiftly followed by an impatient Bob lunching TWO ambushes on my exposed forward squad.
Appearing between the containers, Bob poured lead into my flank. Two dead Russians later I managed a phase of my own and luckily wiped his entire team out in one go!

Although I was tactical, a hail of LMG fire killed one man and wounded my Junior Leader. I would lose him until the end of turn. Curses!
With Bob now out of CoC dice I decide the time was right for those mortars. I desperately needed to cause a distraction as much as anything to allow a regrouping of my failed first probe. As it turned out, firing for effect immediately paid off with the barrage landing directly on target, hitting the Afghans on my left hard.
The mortars rained death on the squad an a half of remaining defenders.
With the luck briefly but definitely turning towards me, I rolled a couple of double sixes. Combined with the ability on 1's to "walk" the barrage up & down Bob's exposed troops causing irreparable damage his Force Morale plummeted. After only one true exchange of actual gunfire the game was up. With only one functional element remaining and his Force Moral teetering on three, Bob's insurgents hit the trail.

Another excellent game! Interesting to see how well (adapted) CoC coped with a forty year jump forward from it's intended period. Looking forward to more Modern CoC for certain. Cheers Bob!


Much has been said on both the TFL Forum & Yahoo Group about the efficacy of mortar barrages. When you stop to consider however that such a HUGE percentage of casualties in modern warfare are attributed to either them or artillery, my opinion is that they're represented very well indeed in CoC.

I readily accept that the use of mortars, if accurate, will produce a game likely to cause ENORMOUS frustration to one player. That could be me, my opponent or someone in a game I'm umpiring. To try to represent 20th-21st century warfare without them would be ridiculous. They cause FRICTION.

If that's not for you fine. Other games are available.


  1. Been on both end of mortars in CoC. Somedays your're the statue, others the pigeon!

  2. Aye, blame Bob.

    I've not seen a game swing so much by one barrage. Really crap luck for Ian and Matt, sadly. Still, it all evens out in the end.

  3. Yep... Bad luck indeed, still not unrealistic I guess.

  4. Phil, you're spot on. As you mentioned on your blog, luck seem to even out more over a campaign. I much prefer a campaign over a "one off" for this & Dux. I like to write a bit of a scenario for single games to give some historical context, but you can't legislate for rotten luck.
    I still wouldn't pass up any chance to play or umpire though. :^D