I plonked down some semi-random terrain, aiming at a vague feel of somewhere in the Low Countries, late in the war.
I then randomised for arrival side (British left, Germans right) and, because I was using the Patrol scenario, starting point (British near third, Germans central third).
The forces were regular infantry platoons (for the British I chose a dismounted motor platoon rather than a leg infantry platoon). This meant that the Germans had a slightly higher value force and the Brits should have had reinforcements. I didn't want to introduce such a complication so I simply rolled two sides' Force Morale values and allocated the higher one to the British.
To be honest I didn't plan to carry this through to a conclusion anyway - I tend to play new rules until the accumulation of rules queries I'm not sure about has reached a critical mass. I'll then abandon the test and go and check through the rules with the advantage of a short play behind me.
So the game starts off with a Patrol Phase. This is effectively a game-within-a-game in which both sides advance a chain of Patrol Markers (I used different coins) across the board to establish where their respective front lines end and no-man's-land begins.
Eventually, these Patrol Markers become locked down by proximity to enemy markers. When all of one or both sides' markers are locked down, we move on to determining each side's Jump Off Points. These are locations around which troops can be deployed onto the table. Their positions are somewhere in the rear of the Parol Markers depending on the terrain. In my flat, open Dutch farm country at least one of the Jump Off Points ended up being moved all the way back to the table edge for want of any intervening terrain.
I marked Jump Off Points with some bases I already had that carried fuel drums, ammo boxes etc.
I suspect the Patrol Phase will prove to have a lot of subtleties of play that I haven't twigged to yet.
The game then began with the British (they had the higher Force Morale - 10 as shown on the two purple dice in the corner of the pic below) rolling five dice to determine what they could do in phase one.
Multiple sixes would have retained the initiative for the British but one is not enough. The two fives start me accumulating points on a Chain of Command die (the big black one). The three allows me to deploy a junior leader (an NCO) with his accompanying section. The two does much the same (but in some circumstances could be less flexible).
One section deploys near the large house.
Whilst the other would eventually make its way to a nice position behind the hedge on the hill.
We then see the Germans' first roll. Again the six is ignored and two fives start a Chain of Command die counting. The one allows the deployment of a single team and I deploy an LMG team behind a hedge. The four activates the German's only senior leader (the platoon commander). I choose to pass on deploying him at this stage. Edit: This proved to be a good idea on further reading of the rules. If you have no Senior Leaders off-table your troops are harder to bring on.
Play then alternates between sides unless one of them rolls more than a single six. After a few phases, the Germans have two squads in the woods advancing towards the British left flank.
The British, meanwhile, have occupied the semi-detached cottages.
As the Germans approach...
Some other random pics as casualties begin to mount...
Interestingly by this stage we were still on the first game turn! Neither side had rolled the three sixes necessary to end a turn so I decided to use the Germans' option to end the turn by spending a Chain of Command dice that had reached six pips.
Actually, in this case ending the turn made no difference. I decided at this point to pack away and review what I'd learned so far:
- Chain of Command seems to have good period feel
- It will play pretty quickly when I get the hang of the rules
- I think the command choices are likely to be comparable to those facing a platoon commander at the sharp end
- I need to think more about how they can be made to work with e.g. the Skirmish Campaigns scenarios
- I want to tidy up the appearance of my WW2 infantry who've been accumulated over many years.