So today was the second day of the Guns of August Convention here in Williamsburg, Virginia. I spent most of the day with another hobby of mine. The Barn Burners Slot Car Club hosts races as an adjunct to the show. I again did this during most of the day.
In the evening I ran “The Outskirts of Etalle”. This was a world war two scenario using Too Fat Lardies excellent Chain of Command rules. CoC is a platoon level infantry skirmish game and for this scenario it was set in the first few hours of the Fall of France, May 10th 1940.
Historically, the leading edge of the German invasion into Belgium met elements of the 2 Division of Light Cavalry on their initial push to Sedan. At Arlon and later Etalle this meant portions of the 12 Light Mechanized Brigade. At Arlon this was motorcycle troops of the 2nd RAM and at Etalle the mechanized infantry (dragoons) of the 3 RDP.
As is my common practice when I run games of CoC for groups, I planned on two players per side. Together each team would operate the platoon dividing it as they see fit and sharing their command dice rolls. I know some people doubt that this will work but I have yet to see any problem with the arrangement at all. My players for this evening were my old friend Mark Schneider and Oscar as the French, and Justin and John as the invading huns. I mentioned that Mark is an old friend (and coworker if truth be told) but I have known Justin for a few years as well. All the players knew each other though I just met two of them tonight. Mark was also aided by his young son Armand.
The scenario was based upon scenario two (The Probe) from the chain of command book, with some alterations made for the historical encounter and to match the models I could supply. The Germans had the excellent score of 11 for their Force Morale, while the French, perhaps historically gained the lesser score of 9. The Germans rolled very poorly for their support roll and what few points the had they decided to use on a Pre-Battle barrage. The French choose to spend their support troops to bring along an additional section of infantry.
The French begin the patrol phase with their markers already 12 inches into the board. The Germans rolled as well as they could have and had four free turns of patrol movement. This was more than enough to lock the French markers in place.
The Germans began to deploy their squads along the western bank of the trout stream running along the outskirts of Etalle. The French were hindered in bringing their forces forward by the Artillery Barrage, but they did manage to deploy three squads. One in the white house along the main road who were placed on overwatch, one behind the out building on the left and the third behind the small barn on the right.
Early in the game the Germans fired a surprisingly effective attack upon the white house. Besides devastating casualties to the section, they also saw their Junior Leader shot dead. Certainly not an auspicious start for the French!
Here the action slowed. Perhaps due to the bloody nature of that first firefight. Mostly the two sides stayed in their positions exchanging fire with the occasional casualty. The French were however moving forward, slowly, looking to take positions forward in the two farm houses on either flank. the Poilu on the left were successful and the Germans took notice. Almost immediately the sent a squad forward to assault the house and remove its occupants.
The French fought very bravely and repelled the Germans with great casualties to both sides. What remained of the Germans assault pulled back into the stream where they were pinned. The french were also pinned but unbeknownst to the Germans only three fusiliers and a Junior leader now held the place. The Germans attacked again with a second squad who now easily took the place and in the process captured the now wounded Junior Leader.
On the other flank, the Germans moved into the farm house before it could be occupied by their enemy. Apparently not having learned from the example on their left, the French decided to close assault this house. This proved disastrous for them. The were repelled and moved back into a defensive position in the barn
Meanwhile withering fire from the Germans in the center and some successful hits with their little mortar began to take their toll. Another French Junior Leader was lost and the the section who had lost there’s early on. the French began to see their Force Moral, already lower than their enemy, drop. Due to the lateness of the hour, the beating they had already taken, and the shakiness of the men, the French decided to pull back and left their positions to their enemy.
Everyone had a great time and the general consensus of the player none of whom had played Chain of Command before was that it was not only enjoyable but that the game unfolded as it should have. All evening long the French were cursed with horrible dice rolls compared with their opponents and all agreed that sometimes that is just the way war goes. They were pleased.