Monday, March 17, 2014

Intro to Chain of Command

I started messing around Chain of Command the other night after being told about it by a fellow gamer. We had discussed it over the course of a few days and some things really jumped out as being appealing. Leaders in this game play a huge part. The "lists" are meant to be historical based on doctrine of the time. LMGs/MMGs have a much higher ROF than in Bolt Action. (There will likely be comparisons, but these are really apples and oranges for what their intent is - at least IMO). Another BA deviation, and one for the better IMO is the absence of heavy guns, mortars, etc. 45mm, 5cm, and 60mm mortars will be seen on board, but an 81mm mortar (medium mortar in BA terms) will be called in by a Forward Observer. To me, this is a much better representation of what should and shouldn't be on board in a skirmish level game of this scale. 

This is Scenario 5. An attacker/defender scenario where the attacker is moving from the left and rear as seen below. The defender started in the quadrant to the upper right. 
The Patrol phase didn't gain much ground for either side on the small board (4'x4' as opposed to recommended 4'x6'). The black and brown BA dice represent Drop Off Points (DOP). These all say Rally as a reminder. All German DOPs had to be moved back to the edge. The Polish DOPs are behind cover of the ruins and wall.

There's a blue BA dice out there on the German Senior Leader that says Down. I'm using this to represent that he moved Tactically. If needed, I'll likely use an Ambush order die for Overwatch. 
There are also markers available - free to print from TooFatLardies (TFL)
The bluish-gray dice with copper pips are the Command Dice. The Command Dice are a cornerstone of this game system. 

For my intro game, I have down sized the Polish Platoon to one section (same as described in 1939 list) - Jr Leader, BAR with 3 crew, and 14 riflemen. This is all one section - no separate teams. 
I also included their two Sr Leaders and ATR team. I do not have the light mortar at this time.

For the German list, I included their 1 Sr Leader and 1 of their 3 Sections comprised of their Jr Leader, an LMG team (LMG, 3 crew, 1 rifle) and an 8 man Rifle team. 
Normally, the Force Morale of these two would be +5 for the Poles and +1 for the Germans. But since I had broken up the platoon structure, I wasn't quite sure how this would be affected. I went ahead and gave the Germans a medic (List 1) and a flamethrower team (List 3). That still came out to a +4 difference. Hopefully it's not too skewed.

The photo above had just seen the German Sr Leader send the Jr Leader and his attachment of riflemen to the left on the Double (3d6" -yes, the maximum distance for movement is randomized by die rolls), moved himself closer to then remove their Shock from the Double Time (need to make sure that was legal use of Command Initiatives), and then ordered the LMG team to move into a firing position where they opened fire with half effect (all missed). 

The play is dynamic. How long will the Turn last? Which side will have the next phase? Who will be able to activate in the current phase? All of this is a focal point of the Command Dice. And it instills a bit of randomness or chaos. War as they say, is chaos. If I were to draw similarities to board games, Chain of Command has the feel of GMT's Combat Commander series or Lock N Load's Band of Heroes series (both favorites of mine) which is why I think I will enjoy this set of rules for 28mm WWII skirmishes. But what about Bolt Action? As I said before, there will be obvious comparisons, but I feel these are comparing apples and oranges. Overall there is a place for both of them. For some, the relative ease of entry into Bolt Action and lack of excessive chrome will appeal to many. For others, the more historical centric lists and tactical gameplay with a focus on leaders will be a bigger draw. While others will split their time depending on their mood or game partner.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to picking up where I left off last night before having to pick up my Poles for tomorrow's Bolt Action Escalation League game. Stay tuned for more Chain of Command... That's an order!

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