Following the US defeat on table four, the radar station at Cardonville, on the campaign map below, Ian our German commander opted to push the Americans back to table two thus delaying the US advance and forcing a refight on old ground.
The map below shows the position with the US troops having to get across a significant amount of open terrain to have any hope of getting into the German position and grabbing one of the German jump off points to secure a victory.
The battle for this table has proven a jump up the learning curve for all involved and hence the fact that I am posting about two games fought over this ground separated by the recent Easter bank holiday.
The table below shows our set up for game six with three US jump off points (JOPs) at the top of picture tucked in behind the hedgerow to the left of the road, one in the orchard on the other side of the road and the third on the table edge, centre top of the picture.
The German JOPs were all placed mutually supporting in and around the buildings of the village.
|German JOPs in the form of an Opel Blitz truck, supply dump and another truck amid the orchard|
The US attack plan had become rather predictable in that we turned to using the tanks massed and held back, out of hand held anti-tank weapon range, ready to shoot up any spotted German positions as the infantry attempted to sprint across the fields, throwing out recon teams, as and when the opportunity presented, to force the Germans to deploy in defence of their JOPs.
|US tanks massed in support with infantry close to their supply dump JOP, ready to cover the approach of the other platoons on the US left flank|
In this game Ian applied the attack shattering tactic that is a medium mortar barrage catching our squads doing their best to dash into the German position before getting caught out in the fields beyond.
|Still a lot of ground to cover and down come the bombs!|
The mortar attack stopped the US advance before any other German troops had needed to deploy and, with our force morale shot up as badly as our squads, Steve and I called the attack off giving the German force a second victory.
|Recon team forward, with the squad ready to move in in support just before all hell let loose|
Ian chose not to follow up this win with an immediate counterattack but instead opted to carry on with the delay his two wins had imposed by holding table two, adding some field defences and forcing the US to have another go.
This of course forced Steve and I with some input from Jason our Gamemeister to seriously rethink our tactics if we were to avoid another defeat to similar German tactics.
US infantry tactics are built around the advancing fire ability that the M1 Garand offers their infantry squads allowing them to fire on the move as well as put down a significant amount of suppressive and covering fire.
However with the German mortar barrage, likely to be a feature, given the amount of ground needed to be covered before the proximity of US troops to their German counterparts limited the safe zone for such an attack, we needed to change the approach.
The table below shows the position of the respective forces when the game ended with the Germans opting to withdraw rather than carry on the battle.
|Two thirds of the German force have deployed and the US armour together with the first squad of infantry are now up close to the village ready to press the attack.|
The Germans opted to place a minefield on the US table end close to the road in an attempt to interfere with any similar US tank deployment as set up in the previous game.
Likewise they opted to position their JOPs similarly close in and around the buildings although Ian admitted that he should have put one of them in the orchard to the front of the position to allow rapid deployment in there as required.
The US JOPs were similar to the previous game except that the table edge location was shifted to the other side to offer a different approach opportunity.
|German Pak 38, knocked out one Sherman but couldn't stop the advance on the other side of the village|
The German plan followed the prediction with a quick deployment of an OP in the forward buildings, but were met with an empty battlefield except for three US Shermans rumbling across the table as mortar bombs fell among them.
Apart from an odd bit of shock the Shermans proved the best way of advancing on the German position using the cover of the mortar barrage to aggressively close on it.
The tactic worked in that the first troops to deploy were German with a section and a Pak 38 AT gun which eventually knocked out the Sherman command tank, although the crew baled out without loss.
The US commander then ordered up a mortar barrage of his own via a deployed FOO that got off one barrage before a double one caused the support to be lost!
|The US tank commander's Sherman burns as the other tanks press on to the other side of the village|
With an inevitable lull in the German barrage, the American tanks were able to push closer to the village, surviving another antitank attack from a rapidly deployed German section, lobbing a panzerfaust at long range in a desperate attempt to stop the forward momentum.
The advance of the tanks enabled the US to bring forward one of their JOPs and deploy a squad off it allowing both tank fire and small arms to start to soften up the closest German squad near to the most forward German JOP.
With the potential to bring on more American infantry close in to the buildings and with their tanks up in support, the Germans ordered a withdrawal.
|The Sherman starts to shred a nearby German section as the newly advanced US JOP (the scout car) allows a US squad to deploy forward in support|
Obviously Ian's platoon had done their job and imposed a two game delay on the US advance which works well for the German overall plan and thus a needless bloody exchange with the US troops at this stage with two more tables still to fight before the end of the campaign was wisely avoided.
|The German section in the house was taking a battering from tank fire and US small arms when the order to withdraw was given. Note the JOP close by.|
The US armour has been a significant factor in the games that the US forces have won and continues to be so, however this was the first time that events had forced a more aggressive use of them which proved their worth in open ground under fire that would have shredded an infantry advance across it.
The clever part of Chain of Command is that the rules really force you to think about the way you use your troops to deal with the challenges these scenarios are constructing.
I don't think I have played a set quite like them, other than Carnage & Glory, for a very different period, with both leaving a very satisfying feel when a plan works and a real hard think when it doesn't.
Thanks to Jason, Steve and Ian for a lot of fun and back to the Cardonville Radar Station we go.