Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Boxcars in Crete - Chain of Command AAR

Early Saturday morning, I returned to the Valley Forge Casino for game four of the weekend. 

I apparently got into a rather popular GM's game, run by Joseph McGrath. This game was featured in the 2022 issue of Lard Magazine, so it's got some pedigree!

This gorgeous table was setup for the German airborne invasion of Crete. The downed glider in the center of the table contained the dead HQ of the Fallschirmjagers and valuable intelligence. An Australian platoon, patrolling in the area, stumbled across the glider as well as an opposing Fallschirmjager platoon set on securing their general's corpse and the intel.

The Australians could search the glider by being on the model's base and spending an action during a phase (or in one phase of a multi-phase activation). They would roll a D6 and add it to the starting value of 3. The intel would be successfully secured once they reached 20. The Germans could decrease this number by 5 by spending a full CoC die. 

The Australians started with 8 points of morale, and the Germans with 10 points. 

As the attackers, the Fallschirmjager started off with all three of their platoons on the table; one in the vineyard, another through the orange grove, and the third occupying the villa. 

The Aussies (I was one of the two players on this side) started off with a much smaller force, only able to deploy the light mortar and MMG team. 

As the Fallschirmjagers advanced, the Australians brought the MMG up to the stone walls of the wheat field and began firing on the closest German squad, with support from the light mortar. 

The Australians also brought on their two squads; one to reinforce the MMG team, and another to start searching the glider. 

In what I'm guessing will be a once-in-a-lifetime event, my fellow Australian player and I kept rolling double or even triple 6s, phase after phase. For those of you who don't play Chain of Command, rolling double 6s give you a double-phase, allowing you to potentially move your units twice (at the cost of two potential moves if those 6's and been 1s through 4s. Triple 6s give a double phase and end the turn, removing ongoing statuses such as overwatch, tactical movement, or smoke). I think we have something like 5 double 6s and 2 triples 6s. It was absolutely wild. 

While the Australians only had two squads to the Fallschirmjagers' three, we did have three small partisan teams that appeared in random spots on the table and activated randomly. 

One group of partisans suddenly emerged into the villas, in the rear of one of the Fallschirmjager rifle teams. 

After some lucky combat, the partisans ended up breaking the German team and sent them running. 

That would, unfortunately, largely be the extent to which the partisans affected the game.

While the Australians had a decent line of defense, the weight of fire from the German LMGs began to show. The MMG team was the first to go, which was a big loss both in firepower and morale. 

Unfortunately, a loud drone in the air announced the arrival of German support; an ME-109!

You can also just barely spot the Vickers MkVI tank along the road on the left side of the image. Honestly, I made an error when deploying the tank. I thought that the infantry in the field would last longer, so brought the tank on further away from the Germans to try and hit the Fallschirmjagers in the villa. Unfortunately, the range and cover was enough that I wasn't able to do much. It probably would have been better used deploying on the road at the top of the images. A lesson learned for next time!

The Messerschmitt ended up buzzing the full-strength squad of Australian infantry holding down the left side of the defenses, wiping out most of them. 

With Australian numbers dwindling, the infantry searching the glider came under fire next. The sergeant leading the squad took a hit and was wounded. Despite this, the rifle team was close to securing the intel. 

The Australian lieutenant was trying his best to direct what was left of his platoon, but the Germans had rallied and 

The last remnants of one of the Fallschirmjager squads managed to reach the glider, dragging their wounded sergeant with them. This prevented the Australians from continuing their search. 

Another round of LMG fire sent the Australian rifle team running, leaving the Germans in control of the glider. They also had finally accrued a full CoC die, so even if the Australians had the means to retake the glider, the German players could have reduced the amount and kept the game going. 

All of these losses for the Australians resulted in multiple rolls on the Setback table, reducing our morale score and reducing our command dice. In the last couple turns we only had two command dice left, leaving the Germans mostly unopposed. 

With the rifle team running, this was enough to reduce the Australian's force morale to 0, ending the game.

While we had gotten very close to reaching the 20 on the search die, and had a mind-boggling amount of double phases in the first half of the game, we hadn't been able to reduce the Germans' force morale below 6. Meanwhile, it seemed like most of the casualties that the Australians took ended up with rolls on the Setback table, whittling away at the platoon's morale. 

Still, this was an incredible game (probably my favorite of the convention). It was a well-designed scenario on an incredibly well presented table, with a great GM and wonderful players. 

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