Tag Archives: chain of command

Not So August Progress

It’s been a slow couple of weeks around here at Arkiegamer HQ. I did manage to finish up my 251/D, and knock off a regiment of Blue Moon 18mm ACW figures for Regimental Fire and Fury, but have only now gotten around to photographing them. I had posted earlier progress work on both of these little projects here.

These panel gaps are more 1980s General Motors than any-decade vehicle of German manufacturer.

These panel gaps are more 1980s General Motors than any-decade vehicle of German manufacturer. Still, those MG-42s should prove fearsome to my Chain of Command opponent.

No tripod!

No tripod!

Possibly ahistorical placement of Panzer Lehr division marking.

Possibly ahistorical placement of Panzer Lehr division marking. + Panel line gaps.

Troop compartment.

Troop compartment. I’m particularly happy with the weathered wooden slats on the benches. Not that I managed to record the recipe for future use.

I think the Hanomag turned out OK, painting wise, but I need to do a MUCH better job of modeling on the remaining two halftracks from the Plastic Soldier Company box. I’m still a bit baffled as to how I got the panel lines so off, when it came to final assembly! Better track weathering and stronger use of color, overall, are two other areas that could be improved.

General's View

Yank general’s view

The Yank View

The private Yank soldier’s view

I like these Blue Moon figures. They’re not particularly realistically proportioned, it’s damned hard to get three of them on a 1″x3/4″ RF&F base, and they require more cleanup than the AB figures that I’m used to, but I like them. You’ll probably see more figures of this manufacture on the blog in the future, when I finally get around to starting my Union force.

This is not my best painting job-I’m regressing! Maybe I need to invest in a pair of glasses, or just be a little more patient. They look decent on the tabletop, though.

This particular regiment appeared in last week’s game as the 6th Mississippi. They acquitted themselves quite well for a newly painted unit!

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That’s all for now-I should have a couple of terrain projects to show in a few weeks, but updates are going to be iffy in the immediate future due to real life interruptions. Bah!

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Ch..ch..chain

In my unending (and potentially ill-advised) quest to interest some of my non-wargaming friends in miniatures wargaming, I set up a game of Chain of Command, which I refereed, while two of said friends played.

The scenario was a simple patrol, centered around a crossroads (as usual). The western side of the board was dominated by a stone bridge over a decent sized creek (represented by some stones and clump foilage lined banks) and a small orchard, while the eastern side was chock full of bocage, and other hedges. Both ends of the battlefield featured commanding heights, which were, for one reason or the other, ignored by the players.

We only made it through about three phases of the game before having to call it a night. I played the game out to what felt like a conclusion this morning and afternoon. The game was a close-run thing, with both sides force morales dwindling considerably.

In the end the Germans won, despite a couple of blunders on my part. The weight of all those MG-42s was too much for the Americans to overcome. Of course, the best part about playing solitaire is you always win!

On a somber note, I still need to build more bocage.

Patrol Phase

Patrol Phase

Panzergrenadiers deploy

Panzergrenadiers deploy

Sniper in a commanding position (but unable to hit anything the entire game)

Sniper in a commanding position (but unable to hit anything the entire game)

PzGrs defend a low stone wall.

PzGrs defend a low stone wall.

A US fire team moves out.

A US fire team moves out.

Overview

Overview of the 4’x4′ battlefield

The Luchs prowls the table.

The Luchs prowls the table. Interestingly, the presence of armor (at least armor this light) didn’t have an immediately decisive effect on the game. By the time the Lynx appeared on the table, the Germans had some command and control problems due to low force morale, which limited the number of opportunities to get the tank into action.

fierce fight at the crossroads.

fierce fight at the crossroads.

An ill-advised assault...

Dear readers: Don’t assault a full strength American squad in cover behind bocage with a half-dozen Panzergrenadiers. Not that you were stupid enough to try such a thing in the first place…

Lieutenant and Panzerschrek team try to slow down the US advance

Lieutenant and Panzerschrek team try to slow down the US advance

German Jump-off Point

German Jump-off Point

Lieutenant rallies the Panzerschrek team, after they were driven off by heavy US fire.

Lieutenant (red band around his base) rallies the Panzerschrek team, after they were driven off by heavy US fire.

Overview of table at game end.

Overview of table at game end. Note the bazooka team just down from the Luchs. It might have had something to do with the lack of impact by the armor.

I don’t think my friends hated Chain of Command, but they certainly didn’t love the game, either. Chain of Command is just too complicated to use as a vehicle for introducing new players to miniatures wargaming. Or at least it is with my nascent command of the rules. Maybe it would be different with new players who are highly motivated about the period and the idea of playing miniatures games. Obviously, it’s entirely my fault for trying to use them as an introduction to the hobby. Especially since I’ve now made the same mistake twice!

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I’m still trying to formulate my opinion on Chain of Command as a potential regular part of my gaming diet. Bear with me while I throw out some random thoughts from my experiences.

There are a lot of fiddly parts to the rules-the mechanics are modular, meaning the armor mechanics aren’t the same as the infantry mechanics, aren’t the same as the sniper mechanics, aren’t the same as the artillery mechanics, aren’t the same as the morale mechanics, etcetera. There are numerous exceptions and clarifications, which make it difficult to play from the cheat sheets available online. Finally, in certain circumstances, you have to roll a TON of dice. Mega-dice rolling is fun occasionally, but over the long term I’m finding the large dice pools to be a pain in the butt. On the other hand, I loathe single-die-hit-a-target-number systems, because, to my mind, they’re far too unpredictable. You just can’t please some people, can you?!

I really admire the stated goals of these rules-emphasis on command and (lack of) control, period flavor, and mechanics that reward historical tactics, but the rules overhead required to get to those goals is significant. I’ve played three times now, which equals 9-10 hours of play, and while I have a decent grasp of the general flow of the rules, I’m still constantly referring to the book, or one or more of the dozens of tables, to figure out particulars. Even with a complex game, I would expect to have gained significant facility with a set of rules in that amount of time. I wonder if I’ll ever memorize the rules well enough to support the once every month or two months that I’ll get to play the game. That’s a shame, because I can imagine how great the game could be with sufficient rules mastery. The myriad of design-for-effect subsystems all work really well as individual systems, AND the effect of the aggregate feels quite good. If only stitching it all together weren’t such work!

I’m going to continue on with the rules set for at least a couple more tries, hoping everything will start to gel in my brain. For the next game, I may tone it down on the bocage a bit, and see if a simplified terrain situation might help things go a little more smoothly. In fact, I have another game tomorrow with The Scarlet J. Hopefully he has actually gotten around to reading the rules, and will be some help in that department. I give it a 5% chance :/

 

D-day +70+1/365

The Scarlet J and I had our first game of Chain of Command today. I was fielding a straight platoon of Panzergrenadiers, and TSJ had a US Rifle Platoon. We did the bog standard patrol scenario, but didn’t roll for support, because we figured we had plenty to handle learning the infantry rules. Much fun was had!

First, let’s get the bragging rights out of the way. I was the only one that knew the rules, but I still managed to lose the game, which tells you all you need to know about my tactical acumen! I think my main problem was that I did a poor job of managing squad cohesion. It’s very tempting to an overly aggressive player like me to spread those hard-hitting MG-42 teams around, and they can do a tremendous amount of damage, but without the rest of the squad there to support, the individual teams are pretty easy to pick off.

We still have a long way to go coming to grips with all of the moving parts in the game, but the only thing that has bugged me about the system so far is the tremendous amount of dice that you have to throw and count. A panzergrenadier squad can easily muster 21 dice for an attack, and even more at close range, when the squad leader’s MP-40 comes into action. Actually the throwing is quite fun, it’s The counting that’s can be a bit of a drag. Still, small price to pay for a game that creates a nice story, rewards real world tactics, and keeps you engaged for 4 or 5 hours.

We may get crazy and add in some mortars or a scout car, next time we play. I’m looking forward to exploring the rules further, and maybe getting a campaign going.

The Scarlet J's riflemen stack up for maneuvering.

The Scarlet J’s riflemen deploy and stack up for maneuvering.

Resorting to moss because you haven't built anywhere near enough bocage, yet.

Resorting to moss because you haven’t built anywhere near enough bocage, yet.

Festung Cottageopa

Festung Cottageopa

Panzergrenadiers take up position

Panzergrenadiers take up position

Amis maneuver around dense bocage

Amis maneuver around dense bocage. The mysterious Scarlet J looms over the battlefield.

The claustrophobic byways of Normandy

The claustrophobic byways of Normandy

An MG-42 team in big trouble

An MG-42 team in big trouble

My Germans are all Warmodelling. TSJ’s Americans are SHQ (I think).

Another Squad for Chain of Command…

I haven’t been very productive the past couple of weeks, but I did finish up another squad of US troops for Chain of Command. These are Fantassin/Warmodelling figures that I’ve had for quite some time. They’re nowhere near the quality of AB in sculpting, or in casting, but they’ll certainly be serviceable on the table. The figures with static grass are re-paints, and had previously been decked out in late(r) war green.

.30 cal machinegun team on the left, squad in the center, Bazooka Joe (and his pal) on the right.

.30 cal machinegun team on the left, squad in the center, Bazooka Joe (and his pal) on the right.

One more squad to go, and I’ll have a full infantry platoon, plus a couple of support options. I may bulk these guys out with more bazookas, a 60mm mortar, and a machinegun squad, so that they can also serve as an armored infantry platoon. If I go that route, I’ll probably order the AB ‘prone’ US squad to serve as the figures to round out the machine gun teams, who are suppose to have crews of 5. The standing figures really don’t make sense in the context of a deployed .30 cal.

A warning to anyone thinking of getting the US .30 cal team figures from Warmodelling-they have excessively large bases, so it’s impossible to properly mount the gunner behind his weapon AND it’s impossible to marry up the loader’s belt of ammo with the weapon intake. Well, that’s not exactly accurate: it’s only impossible if you don’t modify the figure bases and test fit everything together before fully painting up both figures and the gun. :/

SquadSquatch

Squad 1 (plus a radio-man)

Squad A (plus a radio-man)

 

Work has been insane the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t made a ton of progress on the miniature-paining treadmill, but I DID complete a squad of WW2 United States infantry. The figures are AB. Code INA01, from the Eureka Miniature USA website, to be more exact. These figures are a real joy to paint. The only downside to how nice the sculpts are is that now I’m considering going back and redoing my Germans using AB figures. Le Sigh.

I need to paint up another two squads of Americans, plus some miscellaneous support forces, and I’ll be able to field both sides for games of Chain of Command. Considering WWII skirmish is the initial project that sucked me into this hobby, it’s pretty exciting to finally be getting that project into playable state!

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail shot: 1/3 of squad A

Detail shot: 1/3 of squad A

Some command figures I'd already painted, but not taken a good (I use the term loosely) photo of.

Some command figures I’d already painted, but not taken a good (I use the term loosely) photo of.

In related news, The Scarlet J just about has an American platoon together, so there should be some Chain of Command after-action-reports appearing soon-ish. Which reminds me, bocage production hell awaits.

Accessories

I’ve built a few jump off points for Chain of Command. These are made out of some stowage from Academy’s “Light Vehicles” kit. Unfortunately there weren’t enough to do the Allied side, too. I may have to pick up another kit! Note: the jerry cans are modeled totally wrong, if that sort of thing bugs you…

Those barrels are full of schnapps...

Those barrels are full of schnapps…

These jump off points serve as points to distribute forces from. They’re placed through a rather clever abstracted ‘patrol phase.’ Watch the video I’ve linked above, if you think you might be interested in the rules set.

The tree on the leftmost base is by the amusingly named “WeHonest” from China. You can find their fine day-glo trees on Ebay. Trust me, they’re bright. If I hadn’t painted and dipped the tree in flock I wouldn’t have needed any other light source. I may add signs or some more greenery to these bases. Who am I kidding, I’m way too lazy to re-visit these.

Zig-Zug

I’ve been painting a platoon of Panzergrenadiers for Chain of Command recently, and I’m almost there. In fact, I thought I was there, until I tallied up my forces and realized I was two MG-42s short. A slight oversight!  Actually completing a unit would be completely out of character, for me, so I’ll just put up pictures of what I do have done, but will leave the offending Zug 3 out of the photos as punishment for having left their MG teams behind.

My real reason for posting these, is I’d love to hear some comments, criticisms, and suggestions about painting Germans and having them ‘pop’ on the table. These guys don’t look too dull up close and on camera, but they totally fade into the table at 3′ or more.

Ok. The figures (all Fantassin/Warmodelling, by the way).

Zug 1 on the Move (Plus a really badly painted Stug)

Zug 1 on the Move (Plus a really badly painted Stug)

German squads are made up of two LMG teams. Team one on the left, team two on the right. I think this Stug was the second or third thing I painted when I started this mad wargaming thing. It shows.

Zug 2 assaults the farmhouse! (rather lazily on the right)

Zug 2 assaults the farmhouse! (rather lazily on the right)

There’s that pesky Stug again. Notice the squad leader (a junior leader, in Chain of Command terms) has his base outlined in sky blue. I’m still debating whether or not that’s a good idea. It definitely takes away from the diorama approach, but I think I’m ok with that.

You can have additional forces in Chain of Command. These are a few of mine. Plus a senior leader for the platoon.

You can have additional forces in Chain of Command. These are a few of mine. Plus a senior leader for the platoon.

These are mostly support forces for Chain of Command. They are added on to your base platoon in a don’t-call-it-a-points-system-points-system way. These forces can range from a jeep (if you’re cool) to a King Tiger (if you’re not). I have a PZIIL on order, which is nearly as rare as a King Tiger but almost as ineffective as a jeep. I’m not sure where that puts me on the cool scale. Probably not very high.

If you’re still reading this, the forces in the picture are, from left to right, a sniper team, a forward observer (most likely for mortars), a tripod mounted MG-42, and the fellow on the far right is the platoon lieutenant. Who isn’t a support force. And who’s supposed to have an attached Panzerschrek team. Which is why he’s hanging out with these non-standard types, for the moment. You’ll notice he has a red ring around the rosey, as all senior leader will, if I adhere to this scheme.

Any advice?