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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Lebisey, Normandy, 1944

The Second World War, Chain of Command, 28mm

We’re back in familiar territory again this week – the fields of Normandy. In this attack-defence scenario set during Operation Charnwood, the British were attacking towards Lebisey, to the north of Caen, while a scratch force of German Luftwaffe troops were holding them off. In this game I (rather unusually) played the beastly Germans, while Sean and Gyles shared the British command between them. This was a game of points – both sides had a platoon of infantry, but the British enjoyed eight points of support, and the German half that.We both spent them on an observer with an off-table mortar battery, while the British also “bought” a Wasp flamethrower. We played on a 6×4 foot table, with the Germans placing their “patrol markers” 18″ onto the table from the southern edge, while the British advanced theirs on from the northern edge.As a result the Germans got to defend the crossroads in the centre of the table, and were able to deploy in the thick bocage-like hedgerows to the north-east and south-west. In Chain of Command the arrival of troops depends on what dice you roll. The Germans put all theirs on at the start. The British almost did the same, but held their carrier section back in reserve. The first clash came to the west of the crossroads, near the small house there. As the British advanced towards the lateral road they came under fire from a squad of Germans deployed on its far side.The Germans get an edge in firepower thanks to their belt-fed light machine gun, and the British suffered their first casualties. They promptly dropped smoke along the road to cover their section, and pulled back a little to the far side of a convenient stone wall. Over on the German right my squad had advanced up to the lateral road to take advantage of the cover on its northern side. The British had two sections ranged against me here, so I needed all the help I could get.The first probe by the British ended badly. A section broke cover on the eastern side of the table, emerging from behind the cover of a stone wall. The British ran into heavy German fire, and retired back into a nearby copse, leaving two men dead. In the centre the third British section advanced through the low-hedged fields in the centre of the table. They too came under fire from the same German squad, and suffered casualties. So far the British had launched three tentative probes, and each of them had been repulsed. The British platoon commanders decided to call in the artillery.This meant their forward observer with his battery of off-table mortars. In Chain of Command you call in a “stonk”, and the next phase you activate the observer his battery “fires for effect”. You can actually call the “stonk” in without this intermediate stage, but then there’s a dangerously high chance the rounds will land anywhere – like on top of your own men.Sean and Gyles fired for effect on the crossroads itself, and the following turn the bombs began to land. In fact the only German casualty was one of the two-man panzershreck team, deployed to cover the north-south road. In the picture above you can see them, about to run off to the left towards the road junction. I retaliated by calling in my own mortar “stonk”, but thanks to the smoke dropped by the British, my observer couldn’t see far enough to the south to spot the enemy. I played my “CoC die” to end the turn, and the British players matched this by playing theirs, to keep their mortar barrage in operation. When the turn ends the smoke screen clears, and mortar barrages are lifted. Not in this case though. Instead they “walked” the barrage down the east-west road, to pound my other squad facing the little house. I’d anticipated this though, and had managed to move most of the men out of the way. I didn’t get a chance to move my observer, who was hit and wounded. This meant he couldn’t move for the rest of the game. Back to the east of the north-south road the British in the centre of the table had been driven back by continued German fire, while the third British section had worked its way forward again, and was trying to outflank the Germans from the east. The Germans redeployed an LMG team to face them, which stopped the British advance once more. Over on the far left my third squad advanced past a small outhouse, to threaten the British from the west.In other words, my line was holding, and my guys were actually moving forward. It was now almost time to pack up, so the British played their last card – their carrier section. it began advancing up the road leading from the northern table edge, but progress was so slow that it actually had no impact on the course of the game. We ended the session, which was declared a German victory. After all, the British hadn’t advanced beyond the centreline of the table, they’d suffered far more casualties, and and the German line was as strong as it had been when the firefight began. Still, I’m sure they’ll be back…


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