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The Château-Thierry Salient, 1918


The Great War, Chain of Command, 28mm

This week I didn’t have a game organised – my arranged game fell through thanks to a sick cat. Not mine I hasten to add – I’m a dog owner – but I was lucky enough to get involved in a game run by Campbell Hardie, using a prototype Great War version of Chain of Command. Now, I’m a great fan of CoC, and recreating the horrors of the trenches seemed a good fun way to spend an evening. I got to play the German defenders, who were outnumbered, and had a reduced morale thanks to some hefty pre-game bombardment.The French had two platoons – one of Senegalese Tirailleurs, the other of conventional French poilus. I had certain advantages though – an on-call artillery battery, a pillbox with a field gun in it, and a flamethrower. They had several machine guns to support the attack, and a couple of trench mortars.The assault began with a madcap charge across the table by the Senegalese. The leading unit reached the midway mark between the two trenches on turn one, but then it sort of stayed there, thanks to some heavy German defensive fire, and some bad French die rolling. The artillery battery was called down, and this pretty much broke up the Africans’ attack. So much for my left flank. things were a little hotter over on the right, as the French machine guns and rifle grenadiers targeted my flamethrower, wiping out the team.For my part I did what I could to stop the French, but they edged forward cautiously, using old communication trenches and shell holes as cover. My stosstruppen held their ground though, and the advance up the trench was eventually halted when my artillery began hitting the infiltrating squads of Frenchmen. That of course was when the tanks appeared…A puny little FT-17 tank and a Schneider appeared, and began a duel with my pillbox with its 77mm field gun inside. The FT-17 was hit first, and its gun knocked out – which effectively rendered it useless, save as a mobile screen to protect the infantry advancing behind it. Then the German A7v appeared, and it and the Schneider duelled away with each other. The French tank was outgunned though, as after knocking out a French anti-tank gun the German field gun joined in the fun. Eventually the Schneider was driven off the table, its crew demoralised. That was around the time the French infantry stalled through heavy casualties and a general lack of progress.Effectively it was a short game, designed to familiarise the players (including me) with the nascent “Great CoC” rules. So, when Campbell pointed up the two sides, he realised the Germans might have been outnumbered, but thanks to their good quality Stosstruppen and support fire they enjoyed a hefty advantage. this became all to clear in the course of what turned out to be a fairly one-sided game. While I’m quite happy to mow down 28mm Frenchmen, next time we’ll make the game a little more balanced.The thing about these rules is there are a few subtle differences between them and the original WW2 version of CoC.  One of these is the way artillery works, which is taken from a slightly more complicated Too Fat Lardy set of rules called Through the Mud and the Blood. My artillery was far too responsive and deadly – something we’ll have to work on by using more of the mechanisms from TTMATB next time. However, the game was fun, and it looked great. The terrain by the way, was built several years ago by Dougie Trail and I for a Verdun game. I’m delighted its still being used!The guys in the club have been building up 1918 forces for these rules, to refight parts of the 1918 German offensive and Allied counter-offensives between March and August. I have two German armies – one for 1914, the other for 1916, so I’ll need to buy a few more automatic weapons and guys in steel helmets top join in the campaign. So, expect more fun and frolics in the trenches in the near future!

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