02 September 2013

Chain of Command: German flank attack Poland 1939

Following up last weekends testing of the rules, Magnus and I played a full and proper game of Chain of Command. This time around also knowing the rules a bit better and I think we managed to cover most of the rules during our game.

The game played was an Early War fight, set during the invasion of Poland 1939. I ran the Polish infantry platoon which was made official last week - Magnus ran a German 1939 infantry platoon and support options which I've put together and sent to TFL for "seal of approval" along with a couple other Polish and German Early War lists. Overall I don't think the Germans that we played had anything that felt wrong. They also still have their special rules from the main rulebook.

Our forces looked like this

Polish infantry platoon [Defender]
Platoon rating +5

2 Senior officers
3 rifle sections each with 18 men, including junior officer and BAR
1 light mortar section with 3 crew
1 anti-tank rifle

Platoon Support options (5+1 point for being weaker platoon)
1 anti tank rifle
1 R-35 tank

German infantry platoon [Attacker]
Platoon rating +6

3 rifle sections each with 12 men, including junior officer and MG34
1 light mortar section

Platoon Support options (11 points)
1 PzIII model A-C
2 Sdkfz 231 8-rad

The Polish deployment was 1/4th of the table and located in a corner. 3 Polish patrol markers begin in this zone. The German patrols arrive along the two opposing table edges (north and west) with 3 patrol markers each. At the end of the patrol phase the Germans place 4 jump-off points and remove all 6 patrol markers, the Poles place 3 jump-off points and then 1 additional 4th jump-off point anywhere inside their deployment zone.

Both forces had rolled very poorly on their morale roll, so both began with 8 morale points which is the lowest morale for regular forces.

The battle

In order to win the Germans must force the Poles to either withdraw or rout from battle, at the same time the Germans must keep their morale at a minimum of 3 points or else their attack has been stopped.

Forces began gradually appearing in the combat area, German vehicles arriving from the rear near the north road and infantry taking up position overlooking the small factory complex. The Polish R-35 tank arrived along the southern road and infantry made their way into the church ruins, up on the wooded hill to the west and to towards the ruins of the factory to the east.

The Polish squad on the right flank near the factory opened fire at the Germans who had gone tactical in the woods, the bullets had little effect but the Poles advanced into cover and set up position. On the left flank the Germans deployed a second infantry squad and occupied the small wooden shack with their MG34. The firefight between the Polish unit on the hill and the Germans in and around the wooden shack lasted a couple of phases. The Poles suffered some casualties, but ended up withdrawing out of line of sight since the amount of shock was starting to get out of hand. The Germans had lost a couple of men and the MG had lost 2 out of 3 crew and was now firing at a reduced rate.

Attempting to support the infantry the R-35 moved up near the factory complex and opened machinegun fire at the Germans in the woods, Polish infantry moving slowly behind it and into cover. The Germans took a casualty and a point of shock, however the Polish tank had exposed itself enough for the German PzIII to target and fire at it. The German tank fired once and missed, in the following phase it fired again - this time with the guiding instructions of its vehicle commander and hit the R-35 but the shell bounced harmlessly off the armor and inflicted a "No effect" on the glancing hit table. Things were heating up but the Polish tank was still not convinced about the  danger it was in, and  fired back - the German armor stopped the shell without problem. The Germans now fired back a third time, and smashed the optical sights of the R-35.

The Poles understood that they there was a very low chance of winning the firefight from the front angle against the German tank and they backed their vehicle around the factory corner and out of line of sight.

At this point the Polish light mortar was activated and began dropping smoke left and right. Some scattered, but most of it hit home with the guiding help of a senior officer. Smoke screens began forming in key locations, shielding Polish troops from German fire.

Not paying any notice to the withdrawal of friendly armor the Polish infantry near the factory pushed on, into the ruins, taking small arms fire but not suffering any casualties. They pushed on from one building to the next and set up a firing position very close to the Germans in the woods across the field. Smoke shells from the Polish mortar landed in such a way so that it blocked line of sight of the PzIII to the infantry in the factory.
Small arms fire from the Poles scored a single hit on the Germans in the woods, and the German Junior officer was the one getting hit and ended up dead! German morale dropped by 2 point down to 6.

As the German phase began the Sdkfz 231 cars began moving south along the road, which prompted the appearance of a Polish anti-tank rifle team which had been hiding and which was now deployed with a Chain of Command die. The ambush was a bold "hail Mary" action, the Poles were able to fire at the side armor of the German armored car, and they hit it - but the projectile completely failed to penetrate it, rolling below 4 on all 3 dice! The Germans responded with twin machinegun fire from the PzIII against one Polish anti-tank rifle team crossing the road, inflicting multiple shock on the tiny team and breaking their morale - which cause them to run off the table in panic. To make matters worse, the Polish anti-tank rifle team on the hill also came under fire, the loader was killed and the remaining gunner panicked as well - and too ran off the table.

This reduced the Polish anti-tank capability by 66% in a single phase! Polish morale dropped by 2 point, down to 6. Things were looking bad now, with 3 enemy armored vehicles and just a single damaged R-35 to stop them. Trying to take on the more weakly armored Sdkfz 231 the R-35 moved into sight and fired a shot, managing to score a hit, but the effect was just "damaged optical sights". Well at least one of the German vehicles was as crippled as the only Polish one at this point.

The Polish force not really having any real options left led to the Poles mounting and attack on the Germans and attempt to take their jump-off points to reduce German morale. The only unit that had any real chance and was in position was the Polish squad at the factory on the right flank facing the now leaderless German squad in the woods. Having suffered shock the Polish unit had a -3" movement rate, and could only roll a single D6 as they needed to move over a fence (obstacle). Still the "charge" was a success with the Polish squad rolling a 5 on their movement, climbing over the fence and running towards the waiting Germans.

The numerical odds were in favor of the Poles who had 16 men and still had their Junior officer (17 attack dice). The Germans were defending soft cover and had an LMG supporting their defense, giving them a fighting chance to stop the Polish attack. The attack was an extremely bloody affair and over quickly. The Germans killed 5 Polish soldiers, but succumbed to the Polish onslaught - taking 9 casualties which completely wiped out the German squad. The Germans lost another -1 point of morale and were now down to 5 points. The victorious Poles consolidated into the position previously held by the Germans, and were now sitting in soft cover.

Polish light mortar kept firing smoke, to force the German vehicles to move if they wanted to fire. The PzIII had to move through the smoke screen and turn around to fire at the Poles in the woods, luckily for the Germans they owned the current and the next phase which meant the PzIII could fire with both co-ax and hull MG. Unfortunately for the Germans, the next PzIII activation was abysmal, with a mere 3 out of 12 shots hitting the Polish position, and not a single effect being rolled! The Polish soldiers could not have been more fortunate, and this was pretty much the deciding moment during the battle.

In subsequent phase the Poles activated the squad in the woods, which was able to move far enough to capture both German jump-off markers. As soon as this was done, the Poles ended the turn and removed both jump-off markers. This caused the Germans to lose a total of -3 points of morale, dropping to 2 points. The German attack had been stopped, and the Poles who had been aided by a streak of luck had turned a desperate situation into a victory. I lost count of the number of phases played, but I think we were up to at least 20, thoug hwe only had 2 turn overs as we both used our Chain of Command dice to other things, such as moving jump-off points, deploying ambushes etc.

The casualties in soldiers were around 30% on both sides. The R-35 and one of the Sdfkz 231 had damaged optical sights.

Chain of Command really is a great game, and there is interest among a few more guys down at the club. I myself am open to buying additional forces (you don't need much for a platoon) and can even consider branching out into Mid and Late War - or even Early War in the desert. Lots of campaigns and support options have a lot more potential to be fun to play in this format as opposed to company sized battles using FoW. And I think a there is a lot of interest for trying out the Soviet and perhaps doing something on the Winter War. Huge potential and cheap to get into if played in 15mm scale.


  1. Replies
    1. Probably, but we have a ton of 15mm terrain down at the club, going with 20 or 28mm would require a lot of work to build new terrain.

    2. True but I think you might be surprised how well 1/72 works with 15mm terran. But I guess I'm not going to convert you ;-)

  2. A terrific looking game and very tense! I love your Polish infantry, they are nicely painted, bravo.

  3. 1/72 is a little cheaper , but I foun myself dreading the modelling aspect of it. Not sure why, 'cause this was modelling scale of choice when I was a kid. Even the terrain can be a little cheaper.

    Anyway, no matter the scale, this is a good batrep. Thank you.

  4. Very nice report. Having Polish ancestry I have always been intrigued by gaming this part of the war. Thanks for all your work on this.


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