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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Odon Valley, Normandy, 1944

The Second World War, Chain of Command, 28mm

This game was a scenario lifted straight from the rules. The British had to get a unit off the far table edge – all the Germans had to do was to stop them. We played it on a 12 x 6 foot table, which in theory gave the British an advantage, and the reinforced German platoon facing them had a lot of table to cover. Still, they were backed up by three AFVs, an PAK40, an off-table mortar battery and an assortment of support weapons. The British platoon had the dubious advantage of having half tracks to ride around in, and the more substantial backup of a platoon of Shermans, including a Firefly. Oh, they also had an anti-tank gun, their own mortar battery, and another assortment of support kit. In the pictures above, south is the opposite edge of the table, and west is to the right.The Patrol Phase of CoC saw the two sides establishing their front line on either side of the small river, with German “jump off points” close to the bridge, in the bocage behind it, and on the wooded hill. The British ones were on their side of the bridge, in an orchard on their side of the river, and next to the smaller bridge on the west (right) side of the table. The British began with a feint, to draw the Germans from their planned line of advance. This involved a section and its M5 half track advancing over the ford and up the road on the left (east) side of the table. They were hit by a mortar barrage, and the half track was knocked out almost as soon as it crossed the ford. The British dived for cover, and the advance came to an abrupt halt. Now, where was that pesky German observer?We decided the most likely place was the spine running along the top of the wooded ridge, which ran off the southern edge of the table. We called down our own mortar stonk, and this did the trick. The observer was caught in the beaten zone and killed, as were half of the men of a German squad lurking in the trees. For the rest of the game we walked the mortar barrage back along the ridge, pounding whatever we could. This proved to be the British side’s secret weapon – the barrage took out the PAK40, a panzerschrek team, a heavy machine gun and the best part of a squad of infantry. Best of all, the German mortars were now silenced.The British tanks headed west, and crossed the little stone bridge near the western table edge. At that moment the rain began, and visibility dropped to just 18″. The leading Sherman just caught a glimpse of the panzershrek team before the rocket hit them, brewing up the tank. After that the British tankers were a lot more cautious, and held back until the mortars had plastered the ridge. To their left a British section had moved up in support, capturing a small orchard on the German side of the river. Then they heard a rumbling, as a Stug III appeared, pinning them down with machine gun fire.The Stug and one of the Shermans duelled away for several turns, without any hits being scored, but at least it gave the British squaddies a reprieve. Emboldened we moved out jump off marker forward into a field beside the little (western) bridge, and deployed another section next to it. This began advancing behind the mortar barrage, to seize control of the ridge.The Germans though, had their own fiendish plan. The second Stug drove the British section back over the ford on the eastern side of the table, and it followed them into the apple orchard on the British side of the river. THey machine gunned a PIAT team, leaving the British with nothing to stop the advancing armour. This was when the Germans launched their weakest tank – an old Panzer III – across the main bridge. The British had their own trick though, and deployed their 17-pdr. anti-tank gun in its path. Amazingly the AT gun missed, and so did the panzer.What would have been a duel to the death was averted when the British tanks started moving  again over on the western table edge. Thanks to the mortars there was now nothing stopping them from moving off the road leading off the southern table edge, as there was now no German opposition anywhere to the west of the ridge. This then is exactly what they did, and the game was stopped there, as the British had achieved their victory conditions.Like almost all the CoC games we’ve played this was a tense, well-matched and highly enjoyable game. So much so in fact that when I was down in Edinburgh the guys in Orkney ran it again. The British still won, but the Germans did a lot better that second time, and could well have won the game. Chain of Command is shaping up to be our little group’s favourite rules set. We use it for three periods now – Second World War, Very British Civil War, and the Spanish Civil War, which will be making its debut later this month. Above all the game looked good – in fact most games involving a lot of bocage and all the trees and hedges we can throw at the problem usually do.


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