Sunday, April 6, 2014

CoC - Spoiling Action At Vitebsk - 1943 – Part 2

For those of you arriving here for the first time, please check out the previous post Spoiling Action AtVitebsk - Part 1 for the AAR of the first part of the game. Part 1 will get you up to speed and provide the lead in to this Part 2.

Picking up where we left off at the end of Phase 25. Russian Force Morale = 8, German = 9.

Phase 26 – Russian roll: 5,5,5,2,1     CoC Dice = 3
Next phase is German. Kap. Muellerov uses the 1 to activate the 45mm AT Gun to fire on Wagner's PzIV for the big side shot. He gets some solid hits! However, the PzIVs armour roll is hot so it survives, just causing a net 1 effect with only 1 shock and a gunner panic. Whew! Wagner was sweating bullets over that one. After that, the 2 is used to have Myshkin's south squad fire at Hirsch's German squad in the crop causing 1 casualty on the Rifle Team, missing Hirsch. (no photo)

Phase 27 – German Roll 6,6,4,3,1     CoC Dice = 5
Next phase is German! A bonus! Hptm. Lowellinski uses a 1 to activate the F.O. to try and contact the battery, but no contact is possible this phase. The 4 is used to activate Jaeger's Command PzIV. Jaeger spends 1 CI to radio Wagner's shocked PzIV for him to order his driver to move behind the building, which he does with a big sigh of relief! Jaeger uses the second CI to radio Eichmann's PzIII for him to order his gunner to fire his MG at Myshkin's squad behind the hedge, causing 2 shock. The third CI is not used. The 3 is used to activate Hirsch's squad in the crop to also fire at Myshkin's squad at the hedge causing 1 shock and 2 casualties, missing Szt. Myshkin. End Phase.

Phase 28 – German Roll 5,3,2,1,1     CoC Dice = 6 Full!
Next phase is Russian. Lowellinski uses a 1 to have the F.O. attempt to contact the battery. No luck for the rest of this Game Turn! He uses a 3 to activate Eichmann's PzIII to order his gunner to fire the coaxial MG at Myshkin's squad again, causing 1 casualty and 1 shock, finally pinning the squad! Seeing this, Lowellinski uses the 2 + 1 to activate Hirsch's squad in the crop to move At The Double into Close Combat with Myshkin's squad! The Germans easily win the Close Combat because the Russians are pinned, but also inflict enough additional shock and KIAs that Myshkin's squad breaks, routing off the table and taking Myshkin with them. The Bad Things Happen Table rolls for both the squad and Szt. Myshkin routing off the table cause the Russian Force Morale to drop by a whopping 3 down to 5! The German squad gets off light with 2 casualties and 2 shock. [Error: we forgot to add a shock to each German Team for moving At The Double but one less German die would still have caused the same Close Combat result] End phase.

Phase 29 – Russian Roll 6,5,4,1,1     CoC Dice = 4
Next phase is German. Kap. Muellerov uses a 4 to activate Lt. Vasilyev and with 1 CI he orders Pashin's squad to fire on Ritter's Rifle Team at the stone wall, causing a shock and a casualty and finally causing it to break, taking Ritter along as well! The Rifle Team and Ritter retreat back into the woods out of LOS. The Germans roll on the Bad Things Happen Table and lose one Force Morale point, now at 8. Lt. Vasilyev uses a second CI to put the AT Gun on Overwatch. Then Muellerov adds the 1 + 1 to activate Szt. Denisov's squad on the north hill. They notice Obgfr. Braun's squad in the crop backed up with Wagner's PzIV and decide to withdraw back behind the hill and over the road.

Phase 30 – German Roll 6,5,5,4,3     CoC Dice = 6 + 2
Next phase is Russian. Hptm. Lowellinski sees Obgfr. Ritter and his broken Rifle Team and wants to get the shock reduced on it before the Game Turn ends, so he uses a 4 to deploy Lt. Klein, his second Senior Leader (SL), in the woods nearby, attached to Ritter's one-man Rifle Team. Then Lt. Klein uses 2 CI to take 2 shock off Ritter's Rifle Team and the third CI to activate Braun's squad in the crop to make a Tactical Move into the crop ahead.

Lowellinski then uses the 3 to activate Hirsch's squad in the south to move over the hedge toward the tasty Russian JOP. End Phase.

Phase 31 – Russian Roll 3,3,3,2,1     CoC Dice = 4
Next phase is German. Muellerov adds a 3 + 1 to activate Lt. Vasilyev who spends a CI to have Pashin's squad fire on Fiedler's German Rifle Team in the south woods but they miss. Then he uses a 3 to order Szt. Denisov's squad in the north to move At The Double toward the centre hill, picking up a shock. Jaeger's PzIV does not Overwatch Fire on Denisov's squad since he is waiting to see what Szt. Torchinovich's T-43 will do. With the last 3 Muellerov activates Torchinovich's T-43 who orders his driver to carefully reverse behind the wooden building, all the time staying behind the abandoned T-34 and out of LOS of Jaeger's PzIV. End phase.

Again we ran out of time for our evening game session so had to mothball the game until our next gaming night. Here is how the table looks at the end of Phase 31.

This session we played 17 phases in 2-1/2 hours so we are improving. On with the "cat cover" and siesta time for the little guys. With the variable ending beginning after Phase 36 there should only be about 8 phases left on average if the game goes to 40 phases, but it could be as low as 4 phases left. Now Russian FM = 5 and German = 8.

Back again to finish off the game! Hautmanns Lowellinski and Pollockstein on the German side gang up on Kapitan Muellerov of the Russians, hoping for a quick German win before the impending game end. [We corrected an error in Phase 28 in our last session by adding 2 more shock to Obgfr. Hirsch's squad in the south woods that we forgot to apply from their At The Double move into Close Combat.]

Phase 32 – German Roll 6,5,5,5,2     CoC Dice = 6 + 5
Next phase is Russian. Not the best roll with only a 2 to work with. The Germans use it to move Hirsch's squad to capture the JOP in the South. End Phase.

Phase 33 – Russian Roll 6,6,5,3,3     CoC Dice = 5
Next phase is Russian! One less move for the Germans before game end! Kap. Muellerov uses a 3 to activate Szt. Denisov who spends a CI to remove the shock and the other to have his squad move At The Double toward the woods on the hill, picking up a shock. Then he uses the last 3 to activate Szt. Pashin on the hill to order his squad to shoot to at Fiedler's Rifle Team in the woods. They take a whopping 4 shock with no KIA's. End phase.

Phase 34 – Russian Roll 5,4,4,3,1     CoC Dice = 6 Full!
Next Phase is German. Muellerov uses a 3 to activate Szt. Denisov who uses a CI to remove the shock and another to Tactical Move his squad into the woods. Then a 4 to activate Lt. Vasilyev to order Pashin's squad to fire on Fiedler's Rifle team again, pinning them with 4 more shock (now at 8) and 2 KIA, but missing Fiedler and Lt. Krause. They are very close to breaking! End Phase. (no photo)

Phase 35 – German Roll 6,6,5,3,2     CoC Dice = 6 + 6 2 Full!
Next phase is German. With 2 turns in a row, this is do or die for the Germans with the first roll for the variable game ending beginning after Phase 36. Overhearing Lowellinski's and Pollockstein's field command discussion, they prefer trying to cause the Russian Force Morale to drop by 5 more to win instead of trying for capture of the Fuel Dump. Their plan is to try and bag Torchinovich's T-34, capture the 2 remaining JOPs, and eliminate the AT Gun. A bold plan! So first, Hptm. Lowellinski uses the 2 to activate Obgfr. Braun's squad in the crop to Move & Fire. The squad advances to their right to get into LOS of the AT Gun on the hill and fire at it with half-rate. The gun shield gives the AT Gun crew hard cover, but despite that they suffer 1 KIA, missing Vasilyev and are now down to 1 crewman! With the 3 Lowellinski next activates Wagner's PzIV, who spends 1 CI to remove the shock and the second to order his driver to move Flat Out toward the north end of the woods and he gets a big 15 inch move. End Phase.

Phase 36 – German Roll 6,5,4,3,2     CoC Dice = 6 + 6 +1
Next phase is Russian. There will be a 2d6 roll at the end of this turn and if it is an 11 or 12, the game ends! Lowelinski uses a 2 to activate Braun's squad in the crop to fire on the AT gun at full rate. They get 2 KIA so the AT Gun is wiped out! This drops the Russian Force Morale by 2 more down to 3!

The second KIA was heading for Lt. Vasilyev, but the Commissar, Lt. Gorev, bravely jumps in front and takes the fatal bullet meant for Vasilyev. What a patriot! No roll was made for Force Morale. [There are 3 different versions of Commissar rules for nationalities and periods: Winter War, Barbarossa, and Espana. Since there are none so far for the 1943-1945 period I used the earlier Winter War rules where the Russians were on the attack. The Barbarossa period was a desperate defensive stand with more ruthless conditions. We assumed that the Commissar is automatically eliminated without a die roll on the Leader Effect Table since he must "sacrifice" himself before the roll is done. Also with no indication of the consequence after a Commissar sacrifices himself we did not roll on the Bad Things Happen Table for his elimination]

Then Hptm. Pollockstein uses the 3 to activate Fiedler who uses both CIs to remove two shock from his Rifle Team (now 6). Lastly, Pollockstein uses a 4 to activate Lt. Jaeger's command PzIV who uses his first CI to radio Eichmann's PzIII to order his driver to reverse move back into LOS of Pashin's squad on the hill.

Then with the AT Gun threat gone, Lt. Jaeger spends the second CI to order his driver to move Flat Out up the road, straight toward the fuel dump.

Jaeger spends his third CI to radio Wagner's PzIV to order his driver to move Flat Out to the woods near the Russian JOP. Wagner gets a big roll and has to stop at the woods edge because woods are Broken Ground, which only allows 2d6 moves.

This ends Phase 36 and triggers the first roll for the variable game ending. The game will end on a 2d6 roll of 11 or 12. Hptm. Lowelinski rolls a lowly 4 so the game moves on to Phase 37.

Phase 37 – Russian Roll 6,6,5,3,3     CoC Dice = 6 +1
Next Phase is Russian! [Error: After the game I discovered that with a Force Morale of 3 the Russian side's number of Command Dice rolled should have been reduced by 2 down to 3.]

In a surprise move, Hptm. Pollockstein plays a CoC dice to Interrupt the Russian turn and activate Wagner's PzIV to move slowly forward, capture the JOP, and fire with full effect at Szt. Torchinovich's T-34, now within LOS and at point blank range. Lowelinski rolls a 12 on the To Hit roll which is a critical hit! This adds 3 more strike dice for a total of 11 and of these 5 are hits! Muellerov rolls the T-34s six Armour dice and he gets zero saves for a net 5 hits! This knocks out Torchinovich's T-34! We decide that his T-34 explodes without rolling for that event since there were no troops nearby to be affected. The roll on the Bad Things Happen Table yields a -2 so the Russian Force Morale drops to 1!

Continuing the Russian phase, Kap. Muellerov uses a 3 to activate Szt. Denisov to move his squad to the Fuel Dump as a final protective defense. Then he uses the last 3 to activate Szt. Pashin who uses his CI to order his squad to Normal Move down the hill and assault Lt. Jaeger's PzIV with the Molotovs they have. The squad rolls well on the move and gets right to Jaeger's PzIV at the hedge.

Pashin's squad tosses a Molotov onto the top of the PzIV, causing 3 strike hits. The PzIV only rolls 1 armour save for a net 2 hits. This causes 2 shock and because Petrol Bombs have all their shock doubled, this results in 4 shock which causes Lt. Jaeger and his crew to abandon the PzIV! They skulk off through the hedge coughing their lungs out.

There are now two rolls to be made on the Bad Things Happen Table. [No rules could be found for rolls on the Bad Things Happen Table for crews of abandoned tanks so we played that this equates to them being wiped out.] First, for the abandoned PzIV a roll for a Support Team wiped out which results in -2, and then a roll for Lt. Jaeger, a Senior Leader wiped out which results in -3 for a net loss of -5, dropping the German to a Force Morale of only 3! Force Morale is now German = 3 and Russian = 1. Close!

Kap. Muellerov is about to end Phase 37, hoping for a 10 or more on the Variable Game End roll to pull off a Russian win, but Hptm. Pollockstein plays the second German CoC dice to end the Game Turn. This causes a roll on the Bad Things Happen Table for the two Russian JOPs captured by the Germans. One JOP roll is negated by Muellerov playing a Russian CoC dice, but the loss of the second JOP must be rolled for resulting in a -1 dropping the Russian Force Morale to zero, immediately forcing them to withdraw from the battle! This suddenly ends the game in favour of the German side who force the Russians to withdraw from the field! The German second CoC dice play to end the Game Turn prevents Muellerov from rolling to see if the game would end as a Russian win. It doesn't get much closer than that! This is the table at Game End.


1. My reason for recording and posting these AARs in such detail is twofold. First to give other CoC gamers a sense of the game when described blow-by-blow. Second, having to record and describe the action requires me to learn the rules so it is a good way to do that. Future AARs of CoC will be posted with much less detail, more of an overview of the action with photos delivering most of the story.

2. Our wargaming group has warmed to Chain of Command since our first game. I think partly because this second game was a bigger game with a mixture of armour and infantry. We seem to like larger games where the outcome is less dependent on the survival of a single big support unit. However, this makes for a longer game than I'd hoped for. We spent about 6 hours on this game over three game sessions. I'm beginning to think that we just play slow and we'll just have to accept that our games will need at least two sessions. <grin>

3. For other CoC players looking to try big games with lots of extra Support Teams (say 20 - 40 List points), our experience is they lengthened the game by maybe one-third because the same five Command Dice need to activate so many more units. My "guess" to use 36 phases before initiating a variable ending worked out just right, but that is too long a game! I'd like to shorten the game to 25 - 30 phases.

For our future 'big" games we plan to add one extra coloured Command Die to the usual number indicated. This die will act as usual on a roll from one to four, providing the extra commands needed by the extra Support Teams, speeding the game up to the same rate of play as for a regular sized CoC game with normal List points. All fives that are rolled will be disregarded, keeping the CoC dice action the same. The six roll is interesting. If a six is rolled on a coloured die it will be disregarded when considering Player Initiative, so the probability of gaining initiative for each phase will stay the same. However, the six will be included for the Random Event/Extra COC Die and probably we'll also try including it for Turn Ends. Currently, rolling 4 sixes with 5 dice provides a Random Event with a probability of one time in 303 rolls. With 6 dice it drops to once every 115 rolls. A welcome improvement. Regarding Turn End probability, our last game went 37 phases without rolling 3 sixes even once. The probability that a random Turn End will happen is once every 28 rolls for 5 dice, dropping to once every 15 rolls with 6 dice. Elite troops with 7 Command Dice would not count the coloured die for Turn End because that would drop it too much, to once every 10 rolls. Personally I'd like to try some big games with more random Game Turn Ends that show up every 15 rolls on average in addition to CoC generated ones to see how that works.

4. The good news is that our group is interested to play more games of CoC. And for future games since we are a self-contained group (do not play CoC outside of our group) we are free to bolt on or change whatever rules we wish, going beyond the core CoC game rules. Using our group experiences from the last two games, and my half dozen solo games, we now feel comfortable to test out some draft house rules that have been percolating on the back burner. CoC has a good core set of rules but is a bit fuzzy in areas. When at a fuzzy spot in a game where discussion leads to "Play the period, not the rules," if you record the resulting conclusion it sometimes leads to a house rule easily remembered for future games.

I'm sure there will be more, but our current "hot" list of fuzzy spots that we will be developing and testing house rules for are: Defensive Fire, Forward Observers, LOS hindrances (hedge, wall, crop), Smoke LOS, and Molotovs.


OK, it's time to put the toys away for summer. These last games were played during winter temperatures as low as -35 C with a wind chill of -50 C. Easy to stay inside and hibernate with hobbies. Now it's melting outside and I've just kicked the snow plug out of the cave entrance. Time to soak up some rays, ride my motorbike, throw some beer in my little sailboat, and swat mosquitoes around the BBQ. See you next fall!