Chain of Command Boot Camp
Friday night slot. GM: Tom Primrose.
|Central board set up and initial deployments.|
Chain of Command is a game that I've been interested in trying since hearing about on the Meeples and Miniatures podcast. It's a WWII platoon level skirmish game by Two Fat Lardies. Normally, I don't play much in the way of historical games, but this one caught my attention.
This was a demonstration game offering a taste of the system without getting bogged down. The scenario featured an American patrol and a German patrol running into each other in the ruins of a European town. The GM took us through force construction, the patrol phase, using command points, the initiative mechanics, and combat.
|American G.I.s pile in and around a ruined house for cover.|
First Impressions - Pros:
Chain of Command force construction is based on historical deployments. This helps to avoid the "Tiger Problem" found in some WWII games. No showing up to a minor skirmish in a no-name town with every last Tiger tank historically deployed to this part of the front.
The patrol phase and the fact that neither side starts with forces on the board gives the game a very different feel. It avoids the race line start seen in many other miniature games. Instead, two forces grope to find the enemy and scramble to get available forces into the fight.
The initiative system uses dice to determine which units can activate in a particular round. Officers can use command points to activate other units. Senior officers can activate more units than junior officers since they have more command points. A unit with an attached officer is more flexible than one without an officer. This shows the importance of leadership on the battlefield.
The game succeeds at showing the differences between national armies. Each American rifleman had good firepower in the M1 Garand, but the BAR could only provide limited support. This had the effect of spreading out American firepower. Every rifleman not getting in line of sight to a target led to a measurable loss of firepower.
On the other hand, German infantry was armed with a bolt-action rifle, but was supported by belt-fed machine guns with a rapid rate of fire. This meant that their firepower was concentrated in those machine guns. Getting the machine guns into position was the critical part of maneuvering for the Germans.
|Decision point: German infantry deploy to stop the American advance.|
First Impressions - Cons:
The game never really came together for me. Every rule makes sense - I understand and approve of the logic behind each individual rule. But I never felt those rules flowing together into a system. The game remained a collection of rules. Part of this might be lack of repeated play or the convention experience of splitting a side up among multiple players.
|Endgame: the Americans wipe out the defending Germans with a courageous, but costly charge.|
This is a good game and I had a good time with it. The tactical challenges were interesting and the game was close up until the end. Chain of Command is a game I'll be keeping an eye on, but it might not be my next game.