04 November 2013

Chain of Command: Eastern Front 1941

Our second game at the Hobby Bunker using this great set of rules was held on November 2. As before Tom Ballou hosted, refereed and supplied all the terrain and figures. Again he did a great job, and double the number of players showed up to play then for the first Chain of Command game. I believe there was probably a total 6-7 active players at anyone time.

From what I understand, this scenario was the first game in a 4 part campaign adapted from Skirmish Campaigns by Tom. Skirmish Campaigns has published a series of books with scenarios for several different theatres from WWII, this scenario was from the Russia 1941: Ghosts at Smolensk release and like most of their books has 10 scenarios that can be easily linked into campaigns. At $20-25 each they are an excellent value.
Since I am new to WWII gaming, a lot of the nuances of tactics and weapons are lost to me, but I have put some work in to understanding the ruleset and I believe I have most of the essentials down. Tom put a lot of work in modifying the scenario for this ruleset which he has discussed at length on the Too Fat Lardies forum. He also developed some very cool Commissar rules for the Soviets.

I acted as the Soviet commander with much advice from the more seasoned WWII players. So what you see below is the battle from the Soviet viewpoint. I will leave it to Tom to discuss the nuances of the Campaign and the Victory conditions. He has posted an excellent narrative of the game with some analysis on the TFL forum.

In general, the Germans had an excellent patrol phase as well as some amazing dice with multiple back to back phases in the first half of the game. The Soviets had a devastating patrol phase, and I do not remember us having any back to back phases except when we played our Chain of Command dice. The Soviet dicing improved in the middle of the game and the German's failed in the later half. Anyway, I would recommend that you open a couple of tabs on your browser with the photos in one and Tom's excellent narration in the other.
From Skirmish Campaigns Ghosts at Smolensk
Looking North, with most of the terrain placed, we missed a bit that was added just before the game started.

Looking South

The Soviet forces, essentially the forces above the line were available to us and we threw a D20 to obtain resources from below the line. We had a poor roll and got a Sniper and the Light Mortar as our supports. Our platoon was an infantry platoon with 3 squads (which could not be broken up into teams) as well as a senior leader and a party commissar. We also had an AT gun with a Junior leader as well as two AT rifle teams. The Soviets were rated green and had 5 Command Dice.

The German forces were elements of a PanzerGrenadier regiment as well as  some armour.  They were extremely lucky in their dice roll and got an extra squad of PG's in support. Their base force included two squads of PG's as well as 2 PzKpfw IVe with JL's. The PG's all have transport. Also in the base force was a Light Mortar team. The Germans were rated regular and had 6 Command dice.

Start of the Patrol phase, in this scenario the Soviets had to place all their Patrol markers first.  They would then be moved to lock down the German markers as each was placed. The type of terrain has also been marked.

The lock down phase with the first placement of a German JOP.

Final placement of JOP's, I was really flummoxed here, Tom for the Germans had unexpectedly (to me anyway) focused his forces to the north. He did a great job. The Soviet JOP's were well bunched. Definitely a game in a game.

Forgot to take some photos as the action was quite heated and we were trying to recover from the soviet JOP fiasco. The Germans have 3 PG squads on the table, two to the north in the heavy forest and one to the far west  in the light forest. The Soviets have two sections on the table. One entrenched just southeast of the river and one just east of the fenced field. Significant casualties have been taken on both sides.

By now the Germans have deployed their JL as above as well as their Light Mortar.

The Soviet section east of the river have now been almost pounded into non existence by the PG's, but the Soviets have been able to deploy their 3rd section west of the river also in entrenchments and have started to rain shock and death on the PG's in the far west. They have also deployed their sniper in the stream to start taking pot shots had the German leadership, with very little success I should say, maybe it was the vodka!

The Soviets had deployed their Commissar into the barn (the centre most building attached to the fenced yard),  he did a great job rallying shock and fortunately did not have to execute any of the comrades.

At this point I felt that the Soviets might be turning the battle, we were almost midway through the game and the Germans had taken no buildings.  The Soviet section west of the river was pounding the PG's in the far west. Unfortunately the section in the barn was being eroded despite the exhortations of the commissar, and the section southeast of the river was done, it was time for the JL with them to vamoose. The 2 squads of PG's in the heavy forest to the north really were not being challenged. The Soviet problem was that they had no useful reserves to take on infantry and now the Germans deployed their first armour, a PzKpf IVe!

As you can see the the entrenchments to the southeast have been abandoned with the  leader bolting to the east and a second Panzer IVe appears to the west. To counter this threat the Soviets deploy their 45 mm AT gun in the barn. It was not very effective against the Panzer IV's.

At this point the action started to heat up again, and Mike the German commander  launched a surprise assault on the Soviets troops with the Commissar in the barn. It was a blood bath, and almost every man was killed. The battle was now turning against the Soviets, morale had been eroded to 4, so they only had three Command dice to throw and then came the coup de grâce.....................................

..........................A Random Event! Mike had thrown 4D6, the Random Event table was  scrutinized, and the barn was set a fire! The Soviet AT had to be abandoned, with the crew bailing out into the fence yard with no cover. 

The smoke blew to the east, the Soviets were done. I am hoping that I do not end up in the Gulag, as the game was a clear German victory. The Germans gained 29 points while the Soviets gained 13, a significant margin of victory.


  1. Excellent report and accompanying pictures !!! Did you use the 15mil figures with the normal ranges as is or did you ammend the distances ?

  2. Excellent AAR! I'm hooked and I haven't even tried the rules.

    Unfortunately, I need to paint up figs for both sides to try this. Until them, I'll come here for more good CoC AARs.

  3. Great AAR John! We're using 15mm for our WWII games as well. The scale/ranges seem to work very nicely. We're planning a Winter '44 game this weekend so I hope to get some pics up on the blog next week.